There are few certainties in life. The life we are living today is not a guarantee; there is no way of knowing if tomorrow will be the same.
One thing that remains consistent throughout life, though, are the challenges and problems we must overcome. Although these challenges differ from person to person, the solution for any problem can really be broken down into 7 key areas for personal development.
In a sacred text called the Sabbasava Sutta the Buddha outlines these 7 areas. My condensed interpretation of this text follows below, and I hope it will help you overcome challenges in the future.
We live in an age of easily accessible information. While this stockpile of knowledge is sometimes overwhelming, one should not discount it’s use for overcoming challenges in life.
The Buddha teaches that when you have a challenge there is always a solution out there. It is your job to seek the information you need, syphon the good from the bad along the journey, and formulate a solution based on the knowledge of those who have come before you.
Be confident that the solution is out there, if you search hard enough you will find the knowledge you need to overcome.
Resistance to temptation is an important skill to have in life. It is especially important when beginning a new journey.
For example, if you are trying to change a bad habit, such as snacking on sweets in the mid afternoon, there will be times when you have to resist the temptation to go back to your old ways.
To give up a bad habit using resistance alone is very difficult, so when you are trying to change a bad habit you will find it easier to resist if you consciously replace it with a more productive habit.
If you stop eating your afternoon sweet snack, you could exchange it for a quick walk around the block outside, or perhaps a nice cup of tea.
It is very important to consciously look for a healthy, sustainable replacement to your bad habits, this will help you to overcome your past behavior and reach your goals.
Consumption can mean one of two things: over consumption or under consumption.You could be eating too much or not enough. You could be drinking too much soda and not enough water. You could be buying superfluous things, or depriving yourself from the things you actually need in your life.
Whichever situation you are in, over or under consumption, finding balance in this area is key to overcoming life’s challenges.
This lesson goes hand-in-hand with knowledge. The more you learn about yourself, and the more you over come challenges of different natures, the more you learn about what you need more or less of in life.
Consumption also applies to the mind. Your thoughts become your actions, and your actions speak to who you are. If you are stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts, you should try to seek balance, and replace negative thoughts with positive (yet realistic) ones.
You can’t always have what you want, the second you desire it. You must remember, however, that this is a blessing in disguise. Imagine if everything you desired, or set out to do, was satisfied immediately. You would have nothing left to aim for, no goals or ambition, nothing to work for.
If you have something big that you want to achieve or obtain in your life, you will have to be patient and persistent.
Working everyday towards your goals is key – just one small action a day.
It is important to enjoy this journey. If you think a certain goal will bring you happiness, but you struggle to find anything to be grateful for along the way, chances are you will still feel unsatisfied when you achieve it.
Celebrate the small victories en route to your big goals. Be patient and persistent and you will get there in the end!
Some things in life will be out of your control. People or experiences can leave a bad taste in your mouth, and sometimes it will not be possible to just walk away from negative situations.
You should always try your best, however, to avoid them. If someone at works always cuts you down, leaving you feeling defeated – avoid them! If you are making dietary changes in your life and you know your friends want to go to the awesome new (unhealthy) restaurant – don’t go!
No one can take you out of these situations, and keep you on track, but yourself. Sometimes you must confront difficult people or situations, but it is important to recognize when to avoid or ignore them.
There will be times in your life when avoiding a problem is simply not enough, and you must make a decision to completely remove yourself from a situation.
Sometimes friendships or relationships must come to an end. If you have a career that has a severe negative impact on your personal happiness, sometimes you just have to leave. Sometimes you can’t rely on your will power to avoid the sweet snack in the pantry – sometimes you just have to throw it away instead.
When certain things have a consistent negative impact on your life, you will have to make a decision – I will either accept this or remove it and move on.
This is one of the hardest things to do, but sometimes the toughest decisions in life result in the biggest positive impact.
It is important to imagine and decide what type of lifestyle you really want. So many people age into adulthood without knowing what they want or what they stand for.
Your lifestyle will effect your health, wealth and relationships, so it is important to set your goals in these areas and build your lifestyle around that.
Your lifestyle is a combination of the knowledge you acquire, the daily habit your partake in, and what you deem acceptable into your life along your journey.
Related to avoidance and removal, it is important to set strict boundaries in some areas of your life, to make sure your life is one you want to be living.
It is amazing – we all have the same amount of time in one day. Some people can run a Fortune 500 company and find time to meditate, exercise and spend time with friends or family. Yet, others can barely manage to get on top of household chores, or complete even one action towards their goals a month.
Your perception of your time and life is extremely important. If you follow what is productive and empowering, while avoiding or removing the negative and unproductive things in your life, you will be armed to overcome any challenge and reach your goals.
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