I wished that life would be easier. I wished that I wouldn’t have this problem right now. I just wished that right now I would be happy, and life would be easy. Be honest with me, how often have you said this? How often have you either thought it or said it out loud? It’s probably a lot because we’re sort of taught that problems are bad and that we should at all times try to fix them and make them go away. Yet we are never taught to deal with problems in ourselves. To be aware of them, instead of feeling the need to get rid of them.
At the same time, a lot of people seem to have accepted that problems are part of life. Right? Because I also see that there are a lot of people out there saying that problems are part of life. Quotes like “Life isn’t just rainbows and sunshine” or “life is rough” are among them. Which accepts the presence of problems. But to that I would like to raise the question: if we accept our problems, won’t that mean we stagnate? Wouldn’t that mean we will be in a constant state of problems?
That’s what this article is about, about why you want to be free from problems, and just be happy. And at the same time why accepting, our problems still isn’t the freedom we seek. Finally, I want to give you something to think about, something to be aware of, because I think that’s the way of freedom. It’s done yourself, not by me, or anyone else on the internet. I am only bringing it to your attention. See me as a guide, that shows you the path, but you still have to walk that path yourself. I cannot do that for you.
Freedom from Problems
Let me start with this, to understand why we want to be free from problems, we must first understand how problems are created. Don’t you think? Because to understand the matter of being free of problems, we must understand what a problem is.
For that, we must look at what we have been taught. A problem, in fact, is nothing more than a thought. It’s a label we give to a set of events that don’t go the way we desire. Let’s say you were on your way to school or work. You make your way to the train station, and in your mind, you have this idea, this desire, or expectation, that the train will arrive on time so that you will be on time for your meeting or class. Then when the train doesn’t arrive on time and therefore doesn’t meet your expectation, your desire, you are a bit annoyed.
“A problem is nothing more than the mismatch of two or multiple events that don’t align the way you expected them to align.”
It’s not the end of the world, but it is a problem. At least you see it as a problem because something didn’t go the way you expected it to go. So now you have to make sure you text your teacher that you’ll be late, or call your manager that you’ll be a few minutes late. Nothing life-changing, yet still that’s not the point. The point is that because you expected to be on time you created a problem out of the fact that the train arrived late.
But if we are totally honest with ourselves, there isn’t really a problem. It’s just us waiting for the train to go to our meeting or class, and the train that arrives late. It’s only the collision of these two events that creates a problem in your head. So now you understand that you create the problem out of a collision of two or multiple events that don’t align the way you want them to align.
Now let’s look into the fact that we would wish a life free from these problems. A life only lived in perfect harmony, without any anger, or frustration, with nothing but happiness. A life in which every train, every day again, is right on time, and you never miss another class or meeting. Would that be a life we want to live?
Well, if that were the case, there wouldn’t be a life to live. Let’s say that if you were able to eradicate problems in your life and just be happy. What would your life look like? Without problems, there wouldn’t be any solutions. Without solutions, there wouldn’t be any change. Without change, there wouldn’t be any growth. Without growth, there wouldn’t be any life. And without any life, there wouldn’t be earth. Without earth, we wouldn’t have existed. So why do you want to be free from problems?
“Your desire for life to be something different than it is at this very moment is the cause of problems. It’s your desire, your attachment to the idea that life can be perfect that creates the friction with life, that results in problems.”
It’s only because you desire something different from your life than the way it is at this very moment. It’s your desire, your attachment to the idea that life should be perfect and happy all the time. That’s why you want to be free from problems. But isn’t that a problem in itself? I hope you see, that we can’t get rid of problems. I hope you see that I am not trying to persuade you to believe this, so if you don’t agree that’s okay. This is a conversation, and I hope that if you have things to argue on you will share them with me.
But let’s say you agree, and you now understand that we can’t get rid of our problems. Wouldn’t we be able to accept them and still live a happy life?
Accepting our Problems
We could, I just don’t think that we can be happy when we do accept our problems. To understand, answer this for me: why do we want to accept our problems?
I think that we want to accept our problems only because we still want to get rid of them. Or at least not be disturbed by them anymore. Let’s compare that to the train again. If the train is late, and you are therefore late for your meeting or class you can accept that. You can accept the fact that you’re late, but only if there is no desire for it to be different. If you are frustrated and then want to accept the fact that you’re gonna miss your meeting, just so that you aren’t frustrated anymore, would mean you accepted it for the sole purpose of yet again change in your life. Does that not mean that we are still looking for something to free us of our problems?
On the other hand, acceptance could also mean non-action, to do nothing with the problem. To accept that life is full of problems, and just let it be. That implies that life is inherently filled with pain, and problems and to me that sounds kinda pessimistic and depressing. It is to say that life was meant to have problems and that it was meant to be painful sometimes. But I don’t think that’s true, because yet again, a problem is nothing but a thought.
So saying that life was meant to have problems means you aren’t looking into the fact that we create problems ourselves. Therefore you are still attached to the opposite idea of life. Which is the more pessimistic view on life, which is that life is inherently filled with problems.
We now have two views:
First, a perfect idea in life where we want everything to be perfect. Which then creates problems when things don’t align to that perfect idea.
Second, the idea that life is filled with problems, and we can do nothing but accept them. This then results in saying that we can’t be free from problems, and we start living in a depressing and dull state of life.
There is a third way, a way to set yourself free. But only if you do not desire any outcome from it. Only if you do neither desire to get rid of your problems and be everlastingly happy, nor to accept them and hope to just live a peaceful life.
Freedom of our Problems
We can neither get rid of our problems nor do we have to accept them and do nothing about them. This is because problems are nothing but thoughts. We cannot get rid of thoughts, so therefore we cannot get rid of problems. We can accept thoughts and do nothing about them, but that wouldn’t set us free. We would still be in the grip of our thoughts. But we can free ourselves from the illusion we have created for ourselves. We can do so by recognizing and understanding what a problem is.
To be aware of its true nature. That’s the third view. To be aware. To understand what a problem is. To see that every problem in our lives is self-created, and when we can see that we can start to observe what the problem really is. We can be aware of it. For the final time think of the train example I gave.
When we are aware of the fact that we have created a problem out of the train that arrived late and therefore causing us to be late for our class or meeting, we can start to understand it. We can see that it’s our expectation, our desire for life to go in a specific way, that created this problem. Now when we can see that, that we have created the problem, we can go a level deeper, and see that even the idea of a problem was created by us. It is then, when we can see the true nature of the problem, that we can then observe life as it is.
We can observe the problem, without actually seeing it as a problem. We can objectively look at it like you would if you were to examine a plant. You look at the plant and see its color, the way the light hits it, the little lines on it, or maybe even holes in it. When you examine a plant you do it without any thoughts, judgments, or desires, you are just observing the plant as it is, you are aware of the plant.
Can you do the same to your problems? Can you observe them, be aware of them, without the need to change them, without the need to get rid of them, or to accept them, but to just be with them, and observe the way they feel, act, behave, or look. Can you see what’s happening that we call a problem, and can you, therefore, see it without attaching any desire for it to be different?
That is the only real freedom from problems when we are only aware of it, neither attach a desire to accept or get rid of it, but simply observing it. Like a child observes the new world it’s in and tries to make sense of it. That’s what being alive is, to observe, and be aware, of every experience we go through. To end our days and say, today I lived! I made the most of it.