BY KIM GILES, Life Coach Here are five important universal principles about the nature of life: Principle 1: It is the nature of the universe that everything changes. Every misery, problem, blessing and joy is impermanent. They come and go, ebb and flow. In every situation you can accurately say “this too will pass” because though some situations take longer to change, everything eventually changes. You can see the truth of this in nature, the seasons and in life and death. Principle 2: In every moment there will be things in your life that you don’t like and wish weren’t there. You may have health problems, financial problems, a leaky roof, a mean neighbor, or a wife who is struggling with love. You can experience a great deal of aversion towards these horrible things and their presence in your life. You can create feelings of misery, anger or self-pity. Your disappointment and frustration towards these less than ideal circumstances can create suffering. Principle 3: In every moment of your life there are things you want but don’t have. You can have intense and painful cravings for these missing things. You may have an urge to shop and buy things to feel better, drink alcohol, take drugs, you may obsess over clothes, your house or hobbies, you may watch too much television or overeat. You may ache because you want a child, to be married or have a better marriage to someone who is more affectionate. All of this can lead to craving, which creates misery and suffering. Principle 4: In every moment of your life there are great things you do have in your life and are glad you have. You may take these things for granted, though, until you lose them. When you experience loss, your perspective often shifts and you realize how grateful you were for the blessing. There are countless good things to be grateful for every moment of your life. Principle 5: In every moment of your life there are bad things that are not in your life, which you are also grateful for. These are often taken for granted until they happen to someone near you. This causes your perspective to shift and you realize how grateful you are not to have that in your life. When we put these five principles together it gives us what I call “The Law of the Nature of Life.” It says everything is impermanent and changing, always shifting between these four categories every day, but all four categories always exist in one’s life — all the time. Your misery or happiness is based on your focus and how you choose to see, feel and think about your life as it is. This is the one critically important secret of happiness: You are causing your suffering with your craving and aversion towards "what is." You can end your misery right now with a shift in your perspective. You can choose gratitude and happiness in this moment. I know in moments of intense suffering and heartache it is hard to accept this idea. You will want to believe your circumstances are responsible for your misery. You will want to be a victim of the situation, but this doesn’t change the truth. You get to decide how happy each moment will be. Your life will never be perfect. There will always be problems, but you can focus on what’s right in your life and understand that everything is here for a perfect reason to help you learn and grow. Life is a classroom and every experience is here to educate you and teach you love. If you want relief from suffering, you will have to focus on what you do have. You must decide to be grateful and happy as things are and refuse to dwell in misery, craving or aversion. It is not easy to do, though. I’m battling chronic health issues myself that I wish I didn’t have, and it is a battle night and day to choose happiness over misery, but I promise you — you have the power to do this. As you practice this you will also show up less needy and more confident. You will be able to give acts of service without any strings attached. There is a chance this change in you could change the environment in your life and relationships, but you can’t start craving this outcome. You must let go of needing or expecting it to be better and be happy now. I find that ViPassana meditation really helps me, and you may want to work with a coach or counselor who can help you learn to control your thinking. There is also a new worksheet on my website that shows the nature of life and helps you inventory your situation daily and choose gratitude. I also recommend that you work on shifting your perspective and learning to be happy now. If you don’t learn how to be grateful and happy in this moment, you may find yourself in a new situation (which will still have something missing because that is the nature of life) and you may still be unhappy. If you would work on choosing happiness now, it will do one of two things. It will either create more love in your life or you will still know that making more drastic changes is right for you, but you will leave with the skills to create happiness wherever you end up. There are obviously periods of situational suffering and misery in life where you are entitled to some disappointment, grief, misery and pain — and it is OK and normal to experience this. You should feel unhappy, mourn, have a pity-party and feel a sense of loss, but you shouldn't live there. Understanding the true nature of life and learning to focus on the blessings will help you to accept situations you can’t change and choose to be happy anyway. Buddha said, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” He meant that your situation does not determine your happiness. The way you choose to think and feel about life does. You have the power to be at peace right now. I know this is a hard one — but you can do it. Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a coach and speaker.
about the author
Lizzy Smith was diagnosed with myeloma in 2012 at age 44. Within days, she left her job, ended her marriage, moved, and entered treatment. "To the extent I'm able, I want to prove that despite life's biggest challenges, it is possible to survive and come out stronger than ever," she says.