Continuing from Part I on March 23, 2013
Tip number six is to get a good night’s sleep. I know that sometimes this can be difficult to do. For example, as I have gotten older it has become increasingly difficult to sleep the entire night. And I fondly remember the times when I could sleep for hours and hours at a time but as a person gets older they also sometimes require less sleep. Getting enough sleep, regardless of how your body actually manages it, is important. It is not just resting our bodies that occurs when we sleep but also a resting of our brain as it allows us time to assimilate all of the day’s stimulus and an opportunity to process all of our daily experience as well as refreshing itself.
Tip number seven is to build self discipline. Every day when we remember to do our daily prayers we are in fact building our self discipline. How many of us find it very easy to skip a service, thinking that there will be little harm in doing so? And perhaps there will be very little immediate discernible harm that occurs by not doing our daily service. But the greater harm comes as a result of not building our self discipline. It is the accumulation of this daily activity, of adhering to this discipline, that we set for ourselves that can ensure our continued growth. Think of it in terms of a musician or in terms of an athlete, every day they must practice in order to ensure their continued development and to ensure that they stay in the best of condition. It is the self discipline they have developed that is a large factor in the success of what ever their undertaking.
Tip number eight is to wish upon a falling star. While this may seem fanciful and childish it is actually very important. When we have a wish or when we have a dream we have a goal and we have something to reach for. This dream or wish allows us to further expand our lives to further increase our capabilities and also to become happy. If we had no dream or if we had no goal then we would be content to live each day exactly as the day before. To have a dream expands our lives.
Tip number nine is to remember that being is better than having. This should be especially evident for us as Buddhists. Every day in prayer we remind ourselves to be mindful and to be content. This may seem contradictory to the previous tip where we are wishing for things or where we have dreams. But in fact they are very similar. When we have dreams that are based upon improving our life for improving ourselves in some way or in helping others we can actually fulfill both tip number eight and tip number nine at the same time. Being a human being, alive in each moment is much better than possessing something that will in time deteriorate or change or vanish from our lives.
Finally tip number ten says to not take it personally. All too often, when someone says something about us, or when someone criticizes us, we take it too personally. We should remember that someone else’s opinion of us is their possession and not our own. We are under no obligation to accept their opinion or judgment of us. Now of course, it is important to be always aware of a constructive suggestion on how we may improve our lives when others give them to us, but it is entirely up to us and not up to them. What matters most is your personal development. What matters most is your joy in your life. It is not something that someone else can decide for you. By the same token, we should not take it personally when someone praises us either. We must maintain balance in both regards. Remember, while some people may have your best interest at heart, many people really have their own interests at heart. It is important to be always aware of the differences. If I criticize someone, often times I have experienced that it is a criticism based upon what I want and so I try to be careful to not do that. While we may make suggestions for how people may improve their lives it is always cautionary to do so. So when someone makes a suggestion to you or criticizes you in some way please try to process it in a healthy way, in a balanced way.
I hope you find these ten tips helpful in some small way. I know that you may forget some of them, that is alright. Even if you only remember one and work on that you will, I am sure, be developing yourself in a most positive and beneficial way. It is the small steps accumulated over a long distance that matter most, rather than taking a few large steps and then becoming tired and abandoning your journey.