Compassionate Integrity Training Final CIT training manual 11-30 - Page 59

Compa ssionate Integrit y Tr a ining A S e cu l a r Ethic s Appr oa c h to C ulti vat ing Pe rs on al, S o ci al and E n vir on me n tal F lo u r i shing top 10%. 53 Statistically, this is impossible. By definition, 3. I do not want to feel physical pain, so I drink all day and night. I numb my pain with alcohol because I am half of all people in any category are below average. What so averse to physical pain. Due to my addiction, I steal this means is that each one of us is below average in about money from a friend and wrecked my car. This is an half of every category. example of how being averse to physical or emotional This distortion in our self-perception might be fine if it pain can lead down the path of unethical behavior. did not actually lead to harm. Sadly, this combination As noted, we can with practice reduce our attachment to of perfectionism and self-delusion does often lead to the external conditions we tend to associate with happiness. significant harm. Instead of having resilience, it means that They are mental states, and we have the ability to change when we fail, we may have very damaging experiences of our mental states. As Viktor Frankl realized while enduring self-hate, self-loathing or we may even feel like ending our unspeakable suffering in a Nazi concentration camp, lives. This is a complete overreaction, but it stems from “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last this unrealistic sense of perfectionism. of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any Such perfectionism is a tremendous cause of suffering given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 52 within our society, causing us to judge ourselves harshly Through practice we can increasingly gain more confidence when we fail even in minor ways, and causing us to judge in our power to change, reorienting ourselves away from others harshly when they make mistakes and fall short of an exclusive focus on external conditions toward a greater perfection. We can begin to fix this problem by analyzing focus on the inner causes of genuine happiness. these unrealistic expectations and shifting to a more real- istic view of ourselves and others, one that is humble and realistic. A fundamental aspect of self-compassion is simply Unrealistic Expectations learning to see things more realistically, despite our mind’s An especially prevalent mental state in today’s world tendency to distort reality. We tend to go through life that can be potentially quite harmful to ourselves is with assumptions about the way things are or should be. the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves and others. We live in a society where certain people are held up to be considered the pinnacle of success. These include: When we place these assumptions under scrutiny, however, we often realize they are not accurate. rich, famous, beautiful, successful, smart and articulate Self-compassion is deeply understanding the true causes people. We internalize these things and begin to believe of happiness and suffering, as well as cultivating greater that “I need to be like these people.” We think that we contentment with, and acceptance of, what we have. need to be above average in everything. Happiness and contentment are very closely related. The antidotes to the trap of the “hedonic treadmill” are However, common sense shows that this is a very realism, contentment and a sense of appreciation. This unrealistic expectation. For instance, if you ask people does not mean one does not strive for more in life, but where they rank in terms of intelligence, job or school this striving should be done with an awareness of the performance, popularity and many other areas, 80 to 90% of people will say they are in the top 50% of these categories. In some cases, as many as 40% will rank themselves in the genuine causes of happiness and suffering and remaining content with what one has in every moment. Ce n t e r for Compa s sion, I n teg r i t y a nd S e cu l ar E t hics | L ife Uni ve rsi t y | M ar ie t ta, G e or g i a - 53 -