Your Top-10 Problems

A while back, I went to a bar with a friend whom I knew through his girlfriend, whom I had worked with and befriended. As I sat down next to him at the bar, he was all smiles and cheer.


Despite the fact that he needed no reminding, I reminded him that he’d recently been (very wrongly) arrested for a very serious crime and was out on bail.  I reminded him that he’d have to spend tons of money defending himself and if he were found guilty, he’d likely go to prison for many years and/or be deported.  I also reminded him that he’d recently been diagnosed with skin cancer and had also lost his job.  


I asked him, “How can you be so happy, with all these problems?”  He calmly asked, “What does one have to do with the other?”  He continued, “Everyone has a ‘Top 10’ list of things that’s annoying them at any point in time.  This is my Top 10.”  


He saw that feeling has nothing to do with circumstance, only with thinking, even if he wouldn’t have put it in those words.  He saw that despite being saddled with seemingly crushing legal, medical, and financial problems, that we, as humans, have the capacity to experience friendship, levity, joy and humor even in the face of darkness.


I’m sure that sometimes, as scary thoughts popped into his head, he was scared.  But clearly there were other times that he was showered with other thoughts that created a completely different experience.  And all of that happened -- both sides of the coin -- without him having to *do* anything.  This is what minds do.  The go to dark places imagining a horrible future.  But they also “reset” themselves, without intervention, just as the pond disturbed by a rock returns to calm, without intervention.  

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