When we talk about our biggest enemy, we gravitate to outside factors, it could be our government, a person you dislike, your grade, etc. But our biggest enemy in life is ourselves. Think about this: our brain processes all the pain we perceive, and judging whether it is painful or not largely depends on our mindset. If you are someone who always thinks the worst thing is happening to you, your mindset will affect your perception. But if you have an open mind and think about your situation, consider whether this is your fault or if you have misunderstood a particular situation. I often hear that the older we get, the less happy we feel. In this case, the older we get, the more desire and expectation we have towards things. If we read, we look forward to that reading will make us more knowledgeable. If we have a little run, we look forward to losing weight. And taking a dance class might make us feel more attractive. But when the result is not what we expected, we will fall into a miserable and disappointed mood. The older we get, the more we forget how to be happy. The first step to happiness is to lower expectations and enjoy the moment. As the Buddha said, «Your worst enemy cannot hurt you as much as your unguided thoughts.» And the days when we have genuinely defeated ourselves and befriended ourselves will lead us to happiness.
Take me as an example. I started to do stock trading seriously in my sophomore year in high school. More specifically, I was doing options, which are a hundred times leveraged compared to typical stock. And whenever I start trading, my mood is impacted by the ups and downs of the stock price. And it has affected me so much that it caused me trouble sleeping at night, made me more anxious than ever, and my grades started to drop tremendously. All of this was due to my fear of my decisions. In response, I began meditating, which helped to boost my confidence and change my mindset. I now have more composure and control over my emotions.
And also, the most occurring mistake that I made was I let the opportunity slip away when I had enough margins, I was hoping it could reach my target price, but it usually backfires. And when the stock went down, I continued loss to prevent further loss. And I was hoping it could bounce back. Back things are only sometimes the way we wanted them to be. Having a logical and clear mindset about whatever you do is vital. If you are trading stocks, you need to have a clear trading strategy and a strong mindset; otherwise, you will easily be affected by the stock market’s volatility.
Often, we dwell too much on our past and hope too much about the future. «The latest research suggests that young people tend to fixate on their regrets, whereas older adults generally learn not to waste time wallowing in remorse about past circumstances they cannot change.» (Jabr, “The Rue Age: Older Adults Disengage From Regrets, Young People Fixate on Them”) Dwelling on our history makes us reflect, and don’t get me wrong, and reflection is an excellent method to improve yourself. But history is already past; people will easily get stuck in the past and torture themselves for all their mistakes. But it is better to think about why you did that, to begin with. Could I react differently or opt for a different way to approach it in the future?
On the other hand, we focus too much on the future. We often get excited by a lot that is created in our minds, and most of the time, this is unrealistic. We think of ourselves, but we rarely know ourselves. Because we are too busy chasing the future, «The problem is that excessive focus exhausts the focus circuits in your brain. It can drain your energy and make you lose self-control. This energy drain can also make you more impulsive and less helpful. As a result, decisions are poorly thought-out, and you become less collaborative»
Also, sometimes we feel bad because we have too many aspirations about life; it could be money, reputation, or friendship. We aspire too much for this world. And the greedier you become, the less able you can fulfill your goals and the lesser chance you have to become happy. For instance, a greedy person might not be fully satisfied after making the first million dollars. This is why even the rich continue to work – our appetites are too big. Also, materialistic satisfaction can never be the cause of true happiness. I say «true happiness» because it might bring you a short moment of blissful enjoyment, but that only lasts a short period. It does not make a difference from you to another, and it only makes your life even more miserable.
The bigger your appetite is, the greater your fall. It is a burden or even a kind of suffering. If you care too much, gains and losses will become a kind of fetters. And if you get lost for too long, it will become a pain. Give up. Don’t give up pursuing happiness, but face life with an open-minded heart. If we are attached to love, we will be hurt by love. If we are attracted to money, we will suffer because of money. If we are bound to pain, we will increase by one point daily. Instead, learn to ignore some things and let go of some people. Let what shall come, come. Let those who should leave, leave. Everything is fated, attachment is a kind of injury, and the heart is deeply tortured and painful.
A poem by Sir Edward Dyer, ‘My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is.’
«My mind to me a kingdom is;
Such present joys therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
That earth affords or grows by kind:
Though much I want that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.
No princely pomp, no wealthy store,
No force to win the victory,
No wily wit to salve a sore,
No shape to feed a loving eye;
To none of these I yield as thrall;
For why? my mind doth serve for all ….»
The idea of this poem is that our mind is an imperative source of happiness. It examines the importance of speaking your mind with authority and rationality. It suggests we must serve ourselves and should not dwell on what our lives lack. The best way to govern our kingdoms is to focus on our minds.
In conclusion, suppose you focus on living in the moment. In that case, I mean every moment, you know you are breathing, your heart is pounding, and the trees outside the window are aging. People who are tentative about the details in life know what they are doing, which will prevent them from hurting each other. You will better understand yourself and learn to tolerate and be kind-hearted. When everyone is tolerant enough of each other, then the world will become a much better place.
(The reason that I put a picture of this tree is because I walk past this tree everyday, and it makes me realize I need to focus on myself and appreciate the nature, the environment that I live in. It is a beautiful tree too! And I get happy just by seeing it!)
- 51. My Mind To Me a Kingdom Is. Sir Edward Dyer. 1909-14. English Poetry I: From Chaucer To Gray. The Harvard Classics. http://www.bartleby.com/40/51.html. Accessed 3 Nov. 2022.
- Jabr, Ferris. “The Rue Age: Older Adults Disengage From Regrets, Young People Fixate on Them.” Scientific American, 19 Apr. 2012, www.scientificamerican.com/article/old-people-manage-regret.
- Jabr, Ferris. “The Rue Age: Older Adults Disengage From Regrets, Young People Fixate on Them.” Scientific American, 19 Apr. 2012, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/old-people-manage-regret.