Attention and Response

Thinking about what to do with your life can be a bit daunting at times.

For starters, the average person lives to be 80 years old or so these days, which is really quite a long time. If you do the math, that’s over 29,000 days! Even if you discount that total by a few years for your childhood, which is largely beyond your control, you still have a significant number of days to choose what to do, with whom to do it, and where. The beauty of it is that you really do have a say in the matter!

Granted, certain restrictions on your function may be present at any given point in time, but in the main you have discretion over the direction and intensity of your daily experience. Regardless of what is going on round about, you may choose that upon which you fasten your attention and that to which you respond. This is of vital importance because you move in the direction of your response.

I’ve spoken with many people who feel like they are victims of their own lives. Many place blame on external factors (e.g., genetics, upbringing, present or past circumstances, other people) and all feel trapped in an inescapable purgatory. They’re not really living, they’re just surviving, if not inching toward the grave. Their plight is understandable, as most have not been provided with the tools necessary to live, to truly live.

They’re thrown headlong into the world and expected to fend for themselves, come hell or high water. And both come, in abundance, with little reprieve. They strain to catch their breath, but are pushed back under time and time again. It is a dreadful way to spend one’s days on earth, really, but so many struggle and suffer in exactly that manner day in and day out.

While I don’t propose to have the specific solution to each one’s needs, I do believe that there is a universal solution to all the suffering and misery on earth. And it is not a nuclear option!

No amount of effort to obliterate or wipe suffering and death from the face of the earth or the life of the individual will ever succeed. Resisting evil doesn’t work. It never has and never will.

Resistance is a form of response. So, too, are hatred, disgust, dislike, and contempt. One of the most basic laws of living–one that all should be taught from an early age!–is this: you move in the direction of your response.

The working of this law is absolute. If you hate someone or something, you keep them near. They are present in your mind and heart even if they are not physically near you. Hell, they can even be physically dead and still be alive and well in your heart. Talk about being haunted by ghosts!

You move in the direction of your response.

What will you respond to today? Remember, fear, worry, and hatred are all forms of response. So are love and appreciation. The emotions you give weight to today declare the nature of your response. And every ounce of your response matters. It really does! Why? Because you move in the direction of your response, always.

You have a choice as to which emotions you shall back or support. Just because you feel something doesn’t mean you need to pour your life into it. If there is a mud puddle in the path you’re following, you wouldn’t feel obliged to drop down and roll around in it, would you? Your emotions are what you have, not what you are. Use that distinction to your advantage!

Just because you feel a flash of anger or a moment of disdain doesn’t mean you have to drop everything and slather yourself (and others) with it. You have a choice in the matter, always. No one can make you feel a certain way. The malevolence or stupidity of others will lap upon your shore…or even slap you across the face. But you have a choice as to where you shall place your response. And remember: you move in the direction of your response.

Mankind has been sinking to the level of the adversary for far too long. All the misery and suffering that man has experienced through the ages boils down to this simple point: misplaced response. That which we focus on grows. Resisting evil does not diminish it, it fortifies it. Just as a bully loses his sway over others as soon as he is ignored, evil eventually dries up and blows away when it is not fed.

You cannot be good by resisting evil. Resisting evil is self-righteousness, not righteousness.

This is why focusing on healthy exercise, food, breathing, and attitudes is so much more effective than trying to improve your health by focusing on not eating junk food, not abusing harmful substances, trying not to be angry, stressed, resentful, etc. This is why utopia does not emerge from the ashes of war. This is why any pattern of beliefs that centers on resisting evil, be it a religion or political entity, will never rid the world of it.

Every time anyone resists evil, faith in the unreal is reaffirmed and the adversary is fed valuable life force. Evil has no life force of its own; evil must steal (or be given) life force if it is to survive.

Evil destroys itself, but it will not do so unless we let it.

Photo by Mishaal Zahed on Unsplash

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