Day 164: Is it worth it?

Last week I was taking a run along the American River, and I found myself thinking about mind states (something I do a lot). I was thinking about the negative effects that can often come from getting upset. I then asked myself,

“Is it worth it to get upset? What does that accomplish? Does it help?”

There are so many things we can’t control. We can’t control other people. We can’t control the news. We can’t always even control our own thoughts and moods. Even our actions can sometimes feel like there’s someone else pulling the string (that someone is actually the power of habit, which automates a lot of our lives).

Is it worth it to judge ourselves for these things, as if we have control over them and are therefore to blame? What good does that do?

Is it worth it to get upset at someone for being the way they are? My wife and I have a cat, one of two I wrote about last week. This cat is at times quite difficult to live with. She hisses reflexively at inappropriate times, such as when we walk by her to feed her. She walks on us gracelessly to get on the bed. And cleaning after her in the litter room … fageddaboudit! I decided a long time ago that she is here to remind us (or at least me) to be unconditionally loving. Because there is absolutely nothing I can do to change her. She is what she is, she is not what she is not. I can’t lecture her and tell her that she needs to be different!

So is it worth it to get mad at her? Not a bit. It’s completely pointless, in fact.

Another thing I have been thinking about a lot: the past. Like many humans, I have spent my share of time pondering the past. Today I was looking through old photographs (yes, the kind that humans used to develop and physically hold in their hands), and I realized I was getting upset over some old memories. I asked myself, is it worth it to get upset about the past? Does it do any good?

And the answer: Nope not really. As Eckhart Tolle writes, the past is gone. Everything that is happening is happening now. Is there any value in feeling bad about past moments, about using this present moment to think on those things? I have tried it for many years, and it just seems to be a waste of time.

Certainly dropping the habit of getting upset or dwelling on the past can be difficult. But I’m finding that asking myself the question “Is it worth it?” is really helping to put things into perspective.

Because more often than not, it just isn’t.

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