Sometimes we can trick ourselves into believing that we are suffering due to some external cause. If things didn’t go the way that we want, it can be very tempting to decide that the reason for this is an unfortunate circumstance or somebody else’s mistake.
It is true that we don’t have control over most of the things that happen in our lives. However, that doesn’t mean that we have to be at their mercy. The reason that the Buddha’s teaching was so transformational is that when we apply his teaching we are no longer fighting with the circumstance to make it something different from what it is.
Instead, the Buddha encouraged us to rise above this kind of limited view. When we train in mindfulness with insight meditation, we learn to allow the ups and downs of the world to just be how they are. When we observe how things are changing from positive to negative and back again, we can see that we don’t have to get involved at that level.
A more productive approach is to treat the constant change that we observe as a flow of information rather than seeing it as a refuge for our emotional stability. Our refuge then becomes the observation itself where we can be safe and the mind can be at ease.
The real problem, therefore, is not the information that we are receiving but rather our decision that the information is something worthy of our emotional attention. By limiting energy we put towards grasping into the future or lamenting the past, we free space in the mind for happiness to come in. That is the path to true satisfaction.