During 2020, some have lost loved ones, some are working on the front lines, while other's don't have enough food or a safe place to live.
If you are not one of these people, you may feel gratitude, and maybe a bit of guilt. You may feel uncomfortable or even shameful to be enjoying comforts while others are in distress.
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The second arrow can manifest as shame ("I'm such a weak person...") anger ("How dare they...!"), guilt ("I don't deserve to..."), rumination ("If only...") or catastrophizing (I'm going to die, too!").
The second arrow is self-inflicted; in other words, it's optional and the cause of your suffering. If you are brave enough to look at the initial painful feeling, you can avoid making up a story around that second feeling that will cause you to suffer.
When you receive bad news:
It is comforting to know that other people have wrestled with the same questions we're facing, and have left us their best wisdom.
Guilt is often counterproductive. It makes us feel paralyzed. However, when we are in this state, we are not helping anyone.
One Buddhist teaching could be helpful as one wrestles with this problem. It's found in a discourse called the Sallatha Sutta, known as "The Arrow." When someone has a painful experience, like a physical illness or witnessing suffering, it's as if the world has shot an arrow into the person. The pain is normal. When one tries to make up a story around the pain, you shoot a second arrow into yourself.
Being alone and, therefore, forced to face our own thoughts, can prove rather disturbing. People need other people to feel well: being sociable is not anymore just a skill to develop, it is a mere condition of our existence. However, learning how to feel well while being alone is another skill at least as important.
In 2005, studies began to point out that meditation can change the structure of your brain by thickening the cortex. The cortex controls your attention and emotions.
You can reap the benefits if you practice meditation for half an hour a day over eight weeks.
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy that was founded by Zeno of Citium, in Athens, in the early 3rd century BC.
It is an ancient tool for remaining calm in adversity, a philosophical framework, useful in providing an ethical scaffold for both everyday life and in times of difficulty.
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