The following is an excerpt from The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. It recounts the life and story of Buddha and how he went from being a young, spoiled child—who had essentially everything (and anything) he could have ever wished for—to the sage that we remember him as today who practiced severe asceticism before his enlightenment.
The suffering that the Buddha endured formulated the foundation for the teachings and philosophies on which Buddhism was later founded and the story of the Buddha shares a deep insight about how happiness is not the absence of suffering but rather a dance with suffering and non-ascetic, middle way living.
Below, you will find the story of Buddha as it was shared in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. While you read, we strongly encourage you to reflect on your beliefs of suffering and happiness and challenge you to take notes (real or mental) on areas of your life that might need some attention or reevaluation.
Some questions to consider: Are you pursuing happiness or happy in your pursuits? Are you waiting for a criteria to be met before you feel that you can be happy? Is meeting that criteria really going to make you happy or will it just lead to more criteria? If you’re feeling moved, drop some of your thoughts in the comment section below! We hope this helps and we hope you find value in this story. Enjoy!
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“Balance is the key. In everything you do. Dance all night long and practice yoga the next day. Drink wine but don’t forget your green juice. Eat chocolate when your heart wants it and kale salad when your body needs it. Wear high heels on Saturday and walk barefoot on Sunday. Live high and low. Move and stay still. Embrace all sides of who you are. Be brave, bold, spontaneous and loud and let that complement your abilities to find silence, patience, modesty and peace. Aim for balance. Make your own rules and follow your own path and don’t let anybody tell you how to live according to theirs.” ~ Rachel Brathen
“Eventually, happiness was just a speck on the horizon, way off in the distance. The closer I got, the farther I had to go. Turns out that I’d been running as fast as I could in the wrong direction. Oops. The stuff wasn’t doing its job; it wasn’t making me happy. Depression set in when I no longer had time for a life outside of work, laboring eighty hours a week just to pay for the stuff that wasn’t making me happy. I didn’t have time for anything I wanted to do: no time to write, no time to read, no time to relax, no time for my closest relationships. I didn’t even have time to have a cup of coffee with a friend, to listen to his stories. I realized that I didn’t control my time, and thus I didn’t control my own life. It was a shocking realization.” ~ The Minimalists, Everything That Remains
“The more you have and do, the harder maintaining fidelity to your purpose will be, but the more critically you will need to. Everyone buys into the myth that if only they had that – usually what someone else has – they would be happy. It may take getting burned a few times to realize the emptiness of this illusion. We all occasionally find ourselves in the middle of some project or obligation and can’t understand why we’re there. It will take courage and faith to stop yourself.” ~ Ryan Holiday, Ego is the Enemy
“A healthy sense of self-confidence is a critical factor in achieving our goals. This holds true whether our goal is to earn a college degree, build a successful business, enjoy a satisfying relationship, or train the mind to become happier. Low self-confidence inhibits our efforts to move ahead, to meet challenges, and even to take some risks when necessary in the pursuit of our objectives. Inflated self-confidence can be equally hazardous. Those who suffer from an exaggerated sense of their own abilities and accomplishments are continuously subject to frustration, disappointment, and rage when reality intrudes and the world doesn’t validate their idealized view of themselves. And they are always precariously close to sinking into depression when they fail to live up to their own idealized self-image. In addition, these individuals’ grandiosity often leads to a sense of entitlement and a kind of arrogance that distances them from others and prevents emotionally satisfying relationships.” ~ Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness
“Our culture is so focused on progress that we frequently don’t experience our own lives just as they are here and now. But the world will always be exactly as it is in each moment. It’s astonishing how much time and energy we expend in trying to deny this simple fact. This doesn’t imply passivity. Our visions and ideals are also part of this moment. Everything changes, no matter how slowly, and we can act to alleviate suffering. Yet if plans for the future are not balanced with acceptance and joy in this moment, just as it is, our lives go unlived. The challenge is to work with our lives as they are rather than imagine that things are different. If we can learn to soften our aversions and desires, our lives might become less frantic and more spacious.” ~ Robert Kull, Solitude
“We often seem to value activity above all else, but like all beings we need to rest and recuperate. I suspect the widespread occurrence of depression in our culture is linked to our refusal to allow ourselves quiet time. Feeling the need to remain constantly busy – mentally or physically – in socially productive activity can prevent us from turning inward to simply be with ourselves. Such inward turning requires time and might lower productivity and social standing. It is not that all activity is bad, but many of us are far out of balance and our activity does not come from a place of stillness and wisdom.” ~ Robert Kull, Solitude
“I don’t think of work as work and play as play. It’s all living.” ~ Richard Branson, via Talk Like TED
Be mindful of balance in relationships. If they fall into the negative, it might be time to move on.
“Would you rather be very successful professionally with only a tolerable private life, or have a great private life but an uninspiring professional one? …If you feel your private life is more important to you, do your priorities reflect this? If not, why not?” ~ Gregory Stock, The Book of Questions
“You can be fit without being healthy, but you can’t be healthy without being fit. Meaning… you can be in great shape on the outside, but if you don’t eat great and don’t take care of your insides, you aren’t necessarily healthy. History shows us there were plenty of athletes who were in great shape but suddenly died of a heart attack. Balance is key.” ~ Jesse Itzler, Living With A SEAL