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The Primary Cause of Unhappiness

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness.

Today, I'm going to explore the

primary cause of unhappiness.

So Eckhart Tolle said, "The primary cause

of unhappiness is never the situation,

but your thoughts about the situation."

Now, that's a pretty radical thing to say.

So you might find yourself kind

of thinking right now, but you

don't know what I've been through.

It's been horrible.

And I absolutely agree.

Many of us have been through

incredible pain and suffering and

loss in our lives that is very real.

And we would never expect someone to feel

good during a time like that, you know.

In times of challenge, loss or crisis,

a certain amount of fear, grief,

sadness, or stress is really inevitable.

And that's a completely natural response

to the more difficult times in our lives.

However, I think it also does hold

true that for many of us, we also tend

to cause ourselves a lot of excess

unhappiness, excess suffering through

the thoughts we have about a situation.

An example.

Two years ago, I developed a

really debilitating illness.

I had it for months and months on end.

Of course, this is an unpleasant

thing to have happened, but it was

my own thoughts about the situation

that made me suffer so much more.

Oh my God, what is going to happen

to me if this keeps going on?

Maybe I'll lose my ability to work?

Or, you know, thinking to myself,

who would ever want to be in a

relationship with me when I'm so

sick and unable to work or play?

Or just thinking, I don't like this.

I don't want this.

Why me?

So my sickness was one thing

that was fairly simple.

I have less energy.

There's some pain in the

body, foggy head, low mood.

Now when I could just accept

that, you know, when I could just

accept this as my situation right

now, I could be at peace with it.

But in the times when I did add all

those unhelpful thoughts about my

situation on top, I suffered so much.

I felt anxious about my

sickness, sad about my sickness

or hopeless about my sickness,

depending on the inner narrative.

Now there's an old saying, you

know, "Pain in life is inevitable.

Suffering is optional."

And I think this is what

Eckhart is pointing to here.

While we cannot control the fact

that painful or difficult experiences

will come our way in life, but

we can choose not to add more

unhappiness, more suffering on top.

So the invitation for practice today

is just to be aware of the mental

habit of adding unhelpful thoughts,

to already difficult moments.

It could be, you know, in that

moment, when you miss the train,

make a mistake, experience a setback,

or have a difficult conversation.

In these moments, just noticing any

thoughts that get added on top that

make things feel so much worse.

And as best you can, just letting

them go and bringing your focus back

to the present moment on what you can

see, hear, and feel all around you.

So that's the practice.

And as always, thank

you for your practice.

Let's settle in now

for today's meditation.

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