As a female, I have to admit that I subject myself to some pretty uncomfortable shoes. They look so cute at the store, and usually I only buy the ones that feel comfortable while at the shoe store. Of course, after returning home and getting all ready to go out, I slip on the shoes only to find out 15 minutes into my night that they are super uncomfortable. And then the reality sets in, I still have hours to go before the night or event is over. It’s a real bummer…all this discomfort and I paid for it!
What is it that makes us want to voluntarily pay for discomfort? We do it all the time, and in many ways other than purchasing shoes, like when we decide to eat a type of food that tastes so delicious but causes us intestinal discomfort a few hours later. Or when we drink at a party, have too much, and wake up the next day with a hangover? How about when we want that golden tan, stay out in the sun too long, and realize we burned ourselves? So many examples of how we make decisions that later cause us “pain” at some level.
And of course this is so similar to emotional decisions. Thoughts come in: we make a decision to keep them, “run” with them, later to realize that it wasn’t such a bright idea in the first place. Every day, every moment in fact, we have to make decisions about which thoughts to keep and which thoughts to ignore. Are our thoughts that we entertain going to be like those shoes that seemed great at first, later to become a discomfort? A lot of the Buddhist practice is in understanding the relationship we make with our thoughts. It is one major distinguishing factor between a practicing and non-practicing Buddhist. Like the wise monk or nun advises us, “Watch and wait.” Are we going to indulge our thoughts or are we going to simply pass it up? (You know like when we actually resist that urge to buy that cute, cool, or awesome “thing” and wait it out to make sure it’s a good purchasing decision?) Part of the success in the mental game, is much like the success in the consumer game—don’t buy on an impulse—don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry—and don’t act or speak the first thoughts that come to your mind. Because if you do, you might just find yourself in some uncomfortable shoes!
Peace and Blessings!