It's okay to be doing okay during hard times
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It is comforting to know that other people have wrestled with the same questions we're facing, and have left us their best wisdom.
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.
When you receive bad news:
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.
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.
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