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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Do You Know What to Ignore in Order to Find Peace?


Normally we ignore the superfluous things in our lives; the things that don't add to its value, or the things that teach us nothing new, or those that we simply don't need, that are bothersome (but only to a certain degree), and that distract us from a task at hand. We might also ignore a slight headache, the itch from a mosquito bite, as well as the news blaring in the coffee shop (or in future we might choose a different one with less blaring). We might ignore the fact that it's raining - precisely today - when we had wanted to take the kids on a picnic, we might ignore the noise from the insistent and concurrent ubiquitous lawnmowers in our neighborhood as we sit at our laptop composing yet another blog post, and we might ignore the little voice that says: get up, move about for a few minutes to stimulate your organism - you've been sitting far too long. You might ignore your spouse's retelling of that old joke for the 89th time simply because - although you no longer think it's funny - you love your spouse, and know that he/she derives enormous pleasure out of the telling of it. And you might ignore your colleague's boasting about the fact that a given idea that has been successfully implemented was mainly hers/his - because - you're the one who got the promotion!

What about ignoring slightly more important things that can wreak havoc on our lives such as: a family member's rudeness, lack of consideration, or downright unkindness? Or perhaps finding out that your best friend whom you always 'dragged' along to parties by asking the hosts to invite him/her, is now throwing a party for all these people he/she met through you, and has not invited you? Or imagine coming back to your car and seeing it has been keyed and is therefore now defaced on that side. What about the 18th rejection letter you received for that novel you so lovingly wrote?

Ignoring things such as these - that, I admit, can be hugely hurtful or annoying and upsetting - nevertheless means that you choose inner calm over being hurt, annoyed or upset. Isn't that a benefit derived from this business about ignoring certain things?

You might object - in the example of the family member - that he/she needs to learn about boundaries, manners, and rules, and of course, if this is an on-going behavior that occurs frequently, then yes, something (such as a talk about boundaries, for example) might need to be done. Or in the case of the friend who did not invite you, you might object that this deserves a reaction of some kind, and of course, that is your choice, but in that case you might first sit down to discuss what happened with the friend, and then perhaps come to the conclusion that you have been used, or that this was never really a friend - or - you might get a deeply-felt apology and reasonable excuse and things might return to normal.

Knowing what to ignore - and then deliberately choosing to do so - is what partially composes the stuff of a life worth living. Rumi said the art of knowing is knowing what to ignore and I would gently suggest to you that you carefully analyze all those things you don't ignore that create havoc and discomfort for you, in order to decide whether they are, perhaps, things you would do well to ignore. Part of it is, of course, caring enough about yourself to choose to ignore that which simply does not serve you. You could even take it one step further, by following Jiddu Krishnamurti's reason for why he lived a happy and content life: I don't mind what happens. And lest you think this is apathetic, understand that what he means (I believe) is that first you find a place of calm and balance inside, whenever something happens, and then you look once more at what happened, and that is when you begin to understand how it might be possible not to mind.

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