Janet Lipner had a realization recently. She attended a tree care program and, after getting certified, she helped to plant trees. She commented on all the factors that help a tree grow: depth and circumference of the hole, soil quality, water, etc. But wherever you plant the tree, the tree has to deal with whatever conditions are present in that location. This is really true of any kind of plant, since they cannot move or change their circumstances. But the tree doesn’t complain about its situation saying,
“I should have been planted in a better spot; now I can’t grow well.”
The tree does its best with what it gets.
It’s easy for us to focus on how we were dealt a lousy hand in life and use that as a constant source of complaint and excuse as to why we haven’t done better. This type of attitude contributes to our own suffering and to the suffering of others. In fact, by complaining like this we create conditions for the “trees” around us that make their lives more difficult. So perhaps we can take a lesson from our friends, the trees, and simply do our best with whatever situation we encounter. The conditions of our lives will always be less than ideal. But just to be planted on this earth for the short period of time we call ‘this life’ is truly a gift that we should continuously reflect on.
So for today, just try to work with the conditions you encounter in your life. You won’t be able to get life to conform to your wishes. Your strength and wisdom are measured by your ability to conform to life. Do what you need to do, given the conditions of your situation — the less than ideal, challenging, not-what-you-wanted conditions of your situation. Work with the situation instead of fighting it, resisting it, lamenting it and complaining about it. Save all that energy and use it for something worthwhile.
An excerpt from, The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology by Gregg Krech. The book is scheduled for initial release on Wednesday, November 5, 2014.
Visit www.artoftakingaction.com for more information and sample chapters.