You know the dream:
And to live every moment without being distracted by the past or the future. During that time, I lived with anxiety, insomnia and way too much useless thinking going on in my head. It was never easy. One of the reasons I was never truly at peace was because of one recurring problem: I couldn’t learn to “accept” where I was without wishing it were different. Because avoiding and fighting against what is happening inside you only makes it worse.
Unfortunately, acceptance is also really hard to cultivate. We’re practically wired to not accept the moment if it’s not 100% comfortable. So, what can we do?
What helped me was coming across Japanese Buddhist master Miyamoto Mushashi’s 21 rules of life. Known as Japan’s greatest ever swordsman, he wrote these 21 rules 2 weeks before his death.
Each rule teaches you to accept your circumstances in life, detach from outside forces you can’t control and be comfortable with who you are.
I find these rules powerful because the only way to cultivate acceptance is through continued practice in your actions and your attitude. The two things we actually have control over.
And these rules give you the necessary guidelines to do just that. It might take months to rewire your brain, but it’s well worth it.
Check them out:
1) Accept reality.
Acceptance is the most powerful attitude you can assume to overcome those nagging mental challenges in life. You are where you are, it’s a state of mind and there’s no destination or immediate goal. Through repetition you are training your mind to tolerate whatever poo sandwich God or the Universe hands you.
What makes this so powerful? Well, you are no longer fighting yourself and caught up in anxiety, stress or bitterness. You are not feeding the negativity which then creates more negativity and you take the power away from these negative emotions like letting the air out of a balloon and over time, they have less and less power over your life.
This works because you are no longer a follower and caught up in apathy or complacency—you are in control and are no longer judging what might be happening. You are allowing the natural flow of life to happen around you in a way that you get to choose how you respond (or not).
2) Don’t obsess over pleasure and seek it out for its own sake.
This is known as “the grass is always greener” desire. As humans, we are often not grateful for what we have and what something we are sure will bring us more immediate pleasure. This can trap us in a never-ending loop of desiring immediate gratification. Like a drug, we quickly begin need more pleasure and need it more quickly.
The key is to retrain your brain to learn to enjoy fun and joy by appreciating what you have in each moment and not be unhappy when you aren’t experiencing pleasure.
3) Do not, under any circumstances, depend on fleeting feelings or emotions for guidance.
Similar to #2, feelings don’t hang around for very long. Emotions are like clouds in the sky, they are only in one place for a short while. You can’t possibly be happy all the time, as there are some events that require serious thought and action and perhaps grief or sadness. Wanting to happy 24/7, will only make you unhappy.
4) Think less about yourself and more deeply of the world.
The happiest people in the world focus on helping others. When you spend most of the time thinking about yourself, you magnify your ego and any aspects of yourself that you may feel are unworthy. Being just a little humble and not taking yourself too seriously will quickly make you away of those less fortunate than you and release you from the chains of the ego—you’ll find yourself looking at those in need and trying to find ways to help.
There’s a beautiful Chinese Proverb which describes this perfectly: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
5) Don’t ever be a slave to desire!
If you become a slave to desire, you quickly get caught in an endless loop of just wanting and can never be satisfied with what you already have! If you can practice being calm and comfortable with what you have right this very moment, you will hold in your hand one of the most important keys to inner peace.
6) Don’t hold on to regret or dwell on the past.
Regret is a useless and damaging emotion. You know that you do not have any control over the past so focus on understanding what the lessons were from each experience that you feel regret for and let it go!
7) Don’t harbor jealousy.
Another emotion that does nothing but generate negativity. It also means that you might be insecure with yourself, because you’re envious of someone else. Once again, one of the keys to happiness lies in constantly reminding yourself of what you are grateful for in your life.
8) Never let yourself be saddened by separation.
It’s hard to be away from someone you want to be with. But wallowing in sadness has no purpose. Sometimes you just need use a little tough love talk on yourself and appreciate what you have, not what you believe you are losing.
9) Don’t harbor resentment and give in to complaining.
Complaining without doing something to create change or to move on doesn’t help you achieve anything. It only serves to create negative energy which you keep inside which can lead to physical illness. And remember that you cannot control what others do; you can only control how you react to what they do and judging others also adds to toxic energy that you might be tempted to hold on to.
10) Don’t be a slave to lust or love
This is a pretty controversial one for many of us. Most of us are probably in agreement that we don’t want to be driven be lust as we know that it will only bring temporary satisfaction. Love though… that’s a different story because we all know that love is one of the most important and powerful emotions in existence. Your family is everything, whoever they are, and your life is much more fulfilled when you do whatever you can for them. I think this means that we should temper our love with a little reality and understand that though no one is perfect, we do need to be selective about whom we give our love to.
11) Don’t be a slave to bias.
This is much like desiring in that you are not happy with what you already have and will only cause you to feel disappointment whenever things don’t occur as you’d most like to see them. So if possible, try not to prefer something over something else, especially if you can’t control it.
12) Don’t imprison yourself in one place.
While still appreciating what you have, always be open to move somewhere new and always be aware of any opportunities to move to a new situation. A new environment can quickly alter your perception of yourself and release negative energies you’ve been unaware you’ve been storing.
13) Don’t be a picky eater.
Focus on eating to be healthy and for nourishment. Desiring delicious food can lead to addiction and attachment. This goes for alcohol and drugs, too.
14) Don’t be a slave to possessions.
If it’s not benefiting your life, get rid of it. Eliminate clutter and appreciate having more space to live and breathe in. You’d be amazed at the release you will feel if you get rid of stuff that’s clogging your life up, especially if you pass it on to someone less fortunate or who can really use what you cannot
15) Don’t be a slave to tradition or belief.
Use your own common sense. Do what makes sense to your own values, not what other people think. Decide for yourself. You know what’s right and wrong. You don’t need someone else to tell you.
16) Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
Know how to defend yourself—but never intimidate or victimize.
17) Do not fear death.
Learn to feel fortunate and privileged for receiving the gift of life, period—in any duration. Death is something none of us will escape. We can either learn to accept that our own and our close one’s time will eventually come, or fight against it causing anxiety and sadness for the rest of our lives.
18) Don’t obsess over your legacy.
What good will they do you when you’re gone? Only collect what is useful. Don’t waste your time. Enjoy the time that you have to be alive, and do the most amount of good that you can, while you can. Let history decide what your true legacy will be—it will do so whether you try to interfere or not.
19) Respect your God without counting on their help.
If you can utilize your faith in order to be more productive in life, then do so whenever you’d like. However, be aware that you are responsible for accomplishing what you’re required to regardless of whether or not you receive divine help or energy.
20) Preserve your honor.
This means always saying and doing what you feel is right.
21) Learn for a lifetime.
This means that you must continue to learn and grow as a human being every day for your entire life.
I hope these ancient truths have helped you and given you some food for thought. Please feel free to share your own experiences and comment on our social media pages.
Introduction excerpted from our friends at Hackspirit: A Japanese Buddhist Master reveals 21 rules of life that will blow your mind. Please check out their website, we love their articles.
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