As soon as we sat down, Dharma reached for tea. After pouring us each a cup and helping himself to a slice of the cinnamon tea cake I'd prepared, Dharma began my lesson for the week. "Tadpole, a wise frog has the patience to wait until his mud settles and the swamp is clear. What does this mean to you?" "I dunno, Dharma, I'm a little confused. For a swamp, Lily pad has especially clean water and there is rarely any mud....except maybe right after a storm." "That's it exactly, Irwin. But the storm isn't weather-related and neither is the mud. I'm talking about what happens when a personal storm comes sweeping over the tranquility of our daily life. These storms tend to cloud our judgment. Our thinking becomes muddy. Now, do you understand?" I nodded a yes. My question to him was this, "What are we supposed to do when we feel overwhelmed by a situation?" "Son, sometimes the best thing we can in these situations is to do nothing at all." I wanted to know how doing nothing was actually doing something and here is what Dharma had to say on the subject.
My wise teacher explained that doing nothing, at least initially, is often our best course of action during troubling or difficult times. Know how much I rely on scientific fact, he said that new research shows that some of the worst decisions we make in our lifetimes are those made in haste. Perhaps you know this from personal experience. I know I sure do!
As Dharma explained it, it takes mastery of your self-control to simply sit and do nothing in the face of difficulty. And yet, inaction is often our best course of action. If it's possible, and Dharma knows it isn't in every circumstance, let things (the mud) sit for a day or two. Perhaps as long as a week or a month. The point is to wait until the hurt, wound, or obstacle isn't quite as fresh and difficult for our brains to process. As times passes, the human brain (and the frog's too) has more time to better assess what the right outcome is. Our fears lessen and our thinking becomes clearer. The swamp in our brain is no longer as cloudy as it was.
Dharma closed my lesson for the week with this piece of sage advice, "We shouldn’t make any decisions immediately after something profound happens in our lives. We have this mechanism of self where we want to mediate our feelings and do whatever will make us feel better initially. But that doesn’t always mean something that we’ll be happy with in the long-run. Giving ourselves a little time to process whatever has happened takes self-control but is very useful. On a grander scale, this means learning to to just be. When we stop the pursuit of always trying to immediately fix every situation so that we feel better, instead it is wiser to simply go with the flow More often than not, as our situation improves, we lose that sense of urgency to impulsively act. And should the situation require action, then looking at it from a distance and with fresh eyes gives us a new perspective and often far better solutions."
I enjoyed Dharma's lesson today and it was a good reminder for all us to let a little time pass before acting on our first impulses. He is one wise frog!
Please stop by tomorrow when I'll be looking at the best diet to improve our mental health. It may be easier to do than you think and isn't actually a diet at all! I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Until then, Dharma and I wish you a wonderful Wednesday.