So, let’s say you go to Starbucks and try a flavor of coffee you’ve never had before. And you LOVE it! In fact, you like it so much that you start doing the Starbucks drive-thru regularly in order to get a cup of what now has become your favorite coffee. Perfect! It becomes your little daily cup of happiness in a world of difficulty and drama.
One of those day you drive through at Starbucks and order your coffee, and you’re told they don’t have that flavor that day. Bummer!! How disappointing! You look forward to that little cup of happiness. It’s your favorite flavor, and you’ve become attached to it. How frustrating!!! It’s not like you’re asking for the moon; you just want a cup of the frickin coffee you like! Is that asking too much???
So you order a different coffee, and the minute you take a sip, it’s even more disappointing. Yuck!! It’s not anywhere near as good as the other flavor you like so much. No way! I want my coffee back!
So your mind says. “We have a problem, and it must be solved. That favorite coffee is something you like and want. It brings you comfort and pleasure. It makes you happy. We have to fix this. You need to have this coffee.”
Your mind decides first that it’s reasonable as an initial response to wait a day or two to see if the flavor returns. It doesn’t! The second option your mind comes up with is to go to the grocery store to see if they sell that specific Starbucks blend. That way you can brew your favorite coffee at home, and won’t be held hostage to whatever blend happens to be available at any given time at your local Starbucks. You go to the grocery; they don’t have your blend either. Your mind decides to drive to the Starbucks on the other side of town; they don’t have it either. WT???
Finally, you are so exasperated that your mind tells you to go inside the Starbucks, and find out what is going on. You find out that your favorite blend has recently been discontinued!! That figures! Sucks! You ask the Starbucks worker if there’s any possibility of getting bags of the coffee before it all gone. She gives you a number to call at Starbucks corporate. Your mind instructs you to call and inquire about the coffee. When you call you’re told that the flavor has indeed been discontinued and there are no remaining bags for sale. For your trouble though, they offer to send a bag of any other Starbucks blend at no cost. You pick a blend, receive it, brew it, and hate it!
You give up! You’re discouraged. Somehow the whole ordeal feels like a metaphor for your life – things never working out. Something always going wrong. Can’t even enjoy a cup of coffee you like!
Okay, I decided to use the example of a cup of coffee because it’s something very simple and concrete. What I want you to see is that this is always what the mind does. It’s always going to focus on addressing a problem on a circumstantial level. This isn’t wrong. We should be responding to situations as they require. No problem there. But the problem can’t always be fixed or solved, like the scenario with the coffee.
Consider that the real problem here is not that your particular flavor of coffee is no longer available, but that we need it to be that particular flavor of coffee.
You can substitute any circumstance, situation, any desire in your life for that cup of coffee. I’m sure there are many things that we think if we had, we’d be happy. The mind is always going to identify as a “problem” something that you want and don’t have. The mind is going to try and fix it by addressing the circumstance. That’s always going to be the way your mind deals with it.
Look at all the energy the mind exerted and all the drama it stirred up, chasing after a frickin cup of coffee! That’s what happens when we start chasing all the situations and circumstances that we imagine will make us happy in life.
But consider this. Your true sense of peace is not and cannot be linked to the favorable resolution of your circumstance. As I said, responsible human functioning involves doing as situations require. However, true peace is not contingent upon favorable circumstances.