When we talk about difficult time, if we call specifically, there are lots of time of difficult time, it can hard to choose if we talk particularly. But, I divide, difficult time or the time we are not happy, and how to overcome it in few easy ways to deal with the problem that we face or deal with uncomfortable feeling. No suffering, I would say, but more of unpleasant feeling. 

But before that, I would like to talk about, what is that unpleasant feeling, what is difficult time? Sometimes, in Tibetan, this word is “duḥkha” often translated as “suffering” in English. I am not talking about physical suffering, let’s talk about the mental suffering, in a bit different level. 

Our mind often experiences many different levels of unpleasant feeling in each and in one day. Many different kinds of unpleasant feeling, if you observe your mind, your mental for one day, you will find the hundred of time of pleasant feeling and the hundred of time of unpleasant feeling. Those time when you feel unpleasant, not a deep suffering but slight suffering, sometimes you get what you wish to drink and then you feel a bit happy; if you don’t get what you want to drink, you feel like a bit unhappy. Let’s say, you watch television, if there is something nice, it gives you a pleasant feeling, if there is something sad, it gives you unpleasant feeling, even when we read some newspaper, there would be lot of good and bad things, positive and negative things. So, each and every small negative point, and that makes you feel unpleasant feeling, and then, when these unpleasant feeling combined, a lot of things exchange your mood and make you feel like a bit down, a bit sad, that literally makes you feel uninspired. Sometimes you feel unhappy or uncomfortable or uneasy, and when you look back to track, what is the reason for that? But you may not find a reason over there, but still a bit uncomfortable.

If I categorize those uncomfortable time or situation, I would categorize in three things, let’ say:

  1. When you depart from what you wish, it can be of many types, for example: if there is a nice show that you watch every week but then today you are a bit late for the show, you wish to stay at one place that you really enjoy but you can’t stay anymore, or some of you have friend or family member passed away.
  2. To meet with something or situation that you don’t wish to be around, for example: if you meet with the wrong friend, if you have to stay with a person that you don’t like, or some sickness as well. 
  3. When you don’t get what you really wish to. We wish many things day-to-day time, but many of the time, your wish doesn’t come true; you wish to do something and you can’t able to do that, then that make sure uncomfortable feeling.

So, this sort of feeling, whether we are aware of it or not aware of it, this feeling arises in day-to-day life. So, what are the practice over here? What are the things to be practice so that we can literally deal with such situation without any problem, without being suffer, without being feeling uncomfortable, without feeling unpleasant? Because this sort of situation, we have to pass through such of situation, doesn’t matter we like it or not as long as we live in this world.

Now, all these uncomfortable feeling arise because of some level of unsatisfaction. So, that’s why happiness is often elaborate, or happiness in other word has been none unsatisfaction; that’s why you can achieve happiness whether you are rich or poor or whatever you are. You can be a billionaire, that doesn’t mean that you experience happiness, even if you are extremely poor, you can experience happiness, even if you are satisfied with one piece of bread a day, you really experience happiness. If you satisfied with one bread for one day, you are happy, if you are not satisfied, even if you eating a pile of food, or golden cup, you won’t be happy, because you are still lacking something in your mind, and still want something in your mind. 

So, those above three points, how to get rid of these three things? 

I would like to talk about two ways, two techniques or two methods. If you practice two methods, you can literally transform those uncomfortable feelings, many of the situation that you experience in your life, can be transform into a piece of mind of happiness, a pleasant feeling, a real satisfaction in the mind.

One of the techniques that the senior monk tells the junior monk to practice when they are studying, it’s extremely effective one, this may sound easy, but the important of the technique or practice is something that you knew or experienced. 

The first technique or the point that I am supposed to talk over here is that, when you feeling uncomfortable, feel unsatisfied, the best way to deal with that feeling is to see or to meditate or to contemplate on those people who are less fortunate than you. You will literally transform that unsatisfaction of having something into a satisfaction or a very pleasant happiness, you start to feel fortunate when you contemplate on those people who are less fortunate than yourself. If you are complaining that ‘I have only two milk a day’, if you think of those people who just one milk a day, your happiness or your unsatisfaction or the complaint that you have for your own life start to become a situation or a thing through which can practice fortunate. You start to feel ‘how fortunate I am that I have two milk a day when the rest of people having just one milk a day’. 

So, with this practice, you start to realize, start to understand, start to see the value of what you are already have. By seeing the value of what you have, you start to enjoy the life that you are living. There are many people who are satisfied with the bicycle, and there are some people who are not satisfied with one car by hoping that “I may have two cars or three cars”. There are surely some people who have just one private jet but they are not satisfied because their friends have two or three jets. So, there could be many people who are much more happier having one car than some people who having one or two private jets. 

So, the state of happiness is something that you can achieve when you are satisfied with what you have. And the secret behind how you can be satisfied with what you have, that is by looking down or contemplating on who don’t have what you have. So, this is something that very important and it’s more like there are some people who drink a tasty coffee, they don’t enjoy the coffee by thinking that ‘Oh I don’t have another thing’, but by thinking what you don’t have, contemplating too much on what you don’t have, you start to lose the pleasant feeling, a beautiful time of tasty coffee that you are having.

So, first one that I talked is very important: to contemplate, to think about those who are less fortunate than you to be happier in your life, to be content with what you have, to be satisfied with what you have. That content and satisfaction is what’s called happiness.

The second point is, when you have ego, doesn’t matter whether you are educated, whether you have: nice job, nice house, clever brain or whatever nice thing that you have in your life, when you start to have something that you think many people don’t have, it’s very likely that you may have a sort of ego or pride. When you start to have sort of ego, that literally avoid you from progressing. When you have an ego based on something, it literally blind you to see other’s quality. So, that time is very important to see the quality of other people. When you have some ego, try to think about those people who are much more than you: who look better than you, who have more things than you, so that you can reduce that ego, and then, you can progress. By looking at people who are more fortunate than you, you can inspire yourself and improve yourself to become better in whatever you are good at. 

So, these two techniques are very important. First, when you have thing, not to be ego and pride by looking at those who are more fortunate than you. Second, when you feel so depressed, when you feel so discouraged, you need to look at those people who are less fortunate than you. By training in these two ways, you can literally manage your mind.

And then, one another point which is also very important. When you have such difficult time in your life, one of the wonderful things that Buddha explained, that is to think about impermanence, the nature of changing. You must have problem and situation now, but think about the problem and situation, it was not there last year. So, this problem and situation come to exist because of many causes and conditions. Each and every problem is made of many small things, it’s like our body, with vitamin A or B, the body doesn’t come to exist, you need to have lot of different types of vitamins and minerals to form our body, if any of those things is lacking, there would be a problem in our body. So, problem is also similar, it caused by many causes and conditions. When these causes and conditions don’t come together, these causes and conditions were not together before one year or ten years, so you had not the problem that you have now. So, any of each conditions fall collapse, go away, the problem also goes away, and these causes and conditions and problem are not permanent.

There is a saying in my hometown, that is “Without passing a dark night there is no bright sunny day, there is no rain without the cloudy sky”. If you wish to have a rain, at the same time you won’t have a bright sunny day all the time, it’s not possible. So, when you don’t have something, then you know how wonderful is to have a cup of tea, when you don’t have a house to live, then you know how wonderful is to have a small room, if you always think about the palace to live, you won’t be happy even you are living in a luxury house, because all your dream is a palace. 

So, happiness doesn’t come with thing, happiness doesn’t come with the situation, happiness comes when your mind set a target. For example, there are two students, the first one just wishes to get forty marks in an exam, then he would be so happy when he gett fifty marks, another student, also get fifty marks but he is not happy, because he had an expectation of eighty marks. The both students have same fifty marks, the first one is very happy because he got ten marks more than he expected, while the other student is not happy even if he got sixty or seventy marks. So, it’s pretty much your mind, it’s not the mark or the number you attain or achieve. Now, Buddha said ‘don’t expect anything’, when you don’t expect anything, there is no point to be unhappy. 

Buddha asked monks to wear just three colors: red, yellow and blue. So, different monk chooses different color, according to the place. In Ladakh or in Tibet, we choose red color, because it’s extremely cold and the red color attracted the heat. Buddha gave three colors because these three colors are the simplest colors of Buddha time, very simple colors. In India, they choose yellow color, because it’s in very hot weather, then yellow color is not attracted the heat. In China in ancient time, they choose the blue color; they could not choose the red color because the red is the auspicious color, yellow color is more like a royal color. So, these three colors are considered a high color, they had to choose the blue. 

And also in ancient time, having a long hair is more like a fashion. It’s more like is an object to show a sort of beauty, then male and female both have a long hair in the past, because they are to attached to the hair. Because of that, Buddha said that the monks like to live a simple life, so the monks cut their hair so that they don’t have any attachment to the hair. 

So, to live a very simple life without any expectation, when you don’t have any expectation, whatever you get is a bless, whatever you get is much more than you expected, so, there is much more chance for you to be happy. There is million ways you can be happy, even a cup of coffee can make you happy with that, when you don’t have any expectation then there is no place for any of disappointment in life. Yes, you can expect something, but don’t expect something very big. You can be inspired from those people who achieve a lot, you can work hard to have a good result, but with a less expectation. If you live a life in this way, and also you feel like a bit ego and pride when you have something, try to look at those who have more than you to reduce your ego. If you feel discouraged, like ‘this life is no meaning, I don’t have this, thing doesn’t go this way, I want to have that…’, then stop complaining about life and think about those people who are less fortunate than you, so you start to feel more comfortable. 

If you lose something, there is something to gain it back. Don’t waste your time and energy by worrying on something that you don’t have. Work on that, if there is achievable work, don’t spend your energy on worrying, but spend your energy to achieve that. If there is something can not be there, for example, my grandpa passed away, so, do something in the name of grandpa, do something which is more important. Many people blame others or blame themselves. What’s the point of blaming? Try to cultivate something together with your friends and family, try to do something in your life so that you can feel content; so that when you die, you can die in a way with a bit satisfaction in your life, in your heart. 

If the situation can be solved, then you should solve, don’t waste your energy on worrying. Your worry has nothing, instead of worrying, try to work on something which makes you happier in future, makes your life much more meaningful. 

When you generate love and compassion, when you really keep something for somebody without any expectation in return, without expectation to achieve something back, even a little bit of respect, that is the moment when you understand really yourself. That’s a time when you can feel different level of peace and happiness.

That’s a sort of suggestion, try if you have time. This is really something that can literally change somebody’s life. And also, there are some people when they go some difficult situation, it’s very difficult for them to deal with such situation. They really cannot work on anything else, because the thought of the past doesn’t really let them move on in the future. So, I recommend them to do some charity. There is no need to give away money, or materialistic thing. What you can give for the society is your precious time, the skill and knowledge that you have. You can teach something what you know, you can give some times to help someone. So, this kind of thing really helps, even if you are going through a such difficult time in your life./. 

The note down from Dharma Talk of Lama Nawang Kunphel on ‘How to Overcome Difficult Time’.