Attitude Shifting

A flower has a blossom, a stem and a root. This is a realistic (and simplistic) way of describing a flower; each of the 3 parts belong to the plant and each must be taken into account when explaining what flowers are made of. However, we don’t say “plant”; we say “flower”. We define the whole by its most relevant part, that part that is beautiful and is meaningful for us – the blossom. The rest (stem & root) is overlooked.

Similarly, our passage through life is defined by the duration of our lifetime and the quality of our time. Some people focus on how many years someone lives, others focus on how interesting someone’s life is. Then, changing perspective, some people focus on what they can do with their time (what they experience, what they feel, what they build, what they learn, what they think, what they understand), while others focus on the impermanence (or ephemerality) of life and on the fact that our lives are relatively short. In other words, some people focus on life itself and others focus only on the last moment, on death itself and when that moment might come.

The parallel between the flower and our lives should be obvious by now. Focusing on what can be done with our time is akin to focusing on the blossom. Focusing on death (and the anxiety of death) is like focusing on the beauty of a flower’s root. And, personally, I have never encountered someone who would choose a flower, or develop an obsession, for the beauty of its root…

For many people, the question “Why?” is truly haunting. Why this? Why that? Why it had to happen this way or that way? Why there is no fairness? Why it’s never easy? Why we can’t do anything about it? Why we couldn’t see that coming? The questions beginning with “why” are often called “unproductive questions”. The reason? You may never find the answer, or the answer is impossible to find or, even if you get an answer, you still can’t do anything about what bothers you. So, upon encountering the “why”, I learned to replace it with “how”, where that is possible. How this happened? How that could happen? How can I avoid that, if it’s possible and advisable? How we failed to see that happening? What blinded us? How we ended up in a situation of abuse and lack of fairness? What we didn’t do so as to prevent that? How can we do stuff easier? Is there a shortcut? How we’ve got this situation, what can we do and what can we learn so as to never experience something like this?

Similarly, focusing on the root or focusing on the shortness of our lives are “unproductive attitudes”. It’s not about living in denial that there is no death; it’s about CHOOSING what we focus on. It’s not about deluding ourselves that everything is fine, but about ACCEPTING what is while FOCUSING on what is productive, on what serves our interest: the “how” or that part of the story that simulates good vibes. This involves having enough emotional control on our attitudes so as to actually be able to make the shift or the switch. Not everyone can do this and few can do it easily.

So, resuming what I just wrote, if you ever catch yourself being blocked or hitting your head against a wall (metaphorically speaking) or looking into the abyss (whatever that abyss might be – suicide, grief, mental issues, stupid people, loss of any kind, etc.), remember that you might have become too fascinated by a flower’s root. In that case, remember that each flower has also… a blossom!

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