Not really, because it is thought that makes a life circumstance difficult (i.e. challenging) or easy. When there is no thought (i.e. truly present), life circumstances are neither difficult nor easy…they are what they are.
Furthermore, what we call a “challenging life circumstance” is usually a life circumstance we are resisting and denying. For example, losing your job – the eighth most stressful life circumstance per the Holmes and Rahe scale.
In 2008, I was laid off because I was a recruiter. As the recession was deepening, fewer people were being hired and so companies were laying off their recruiters. I was one. Almost 2/3 of the recruiters I knew were also unemployed. I knew this recession would last more than a year, so I knew the odds were very small that I could get a job in my field any time soon. There was just too much competition for the one or two recruiting jobs available at an given time.
This would often be considered a challenging life circumstance. Many people would be filled with worry about the future. How am I going to pay the bills that keep arriving in the mail? When and how am I going to find work? The questions could be endless.
I had no questions. I was not worried. I had totally allowed and accepted the situation…and I was doing what I could in the present for a better future. I started a video production company. It was the recession, so not many were spending money on such things, but there was little competition as I was highly specialized. It never really made much money, but it was a part time project to pass the time and fill what would have been an inevitable hole in the employment history of my resume. I learned new skills, showed entrepreneurial spirit, and met lots of people.
In 2009, I had to foreclose on my condo…because unemployment payments were not enough to pay the mortgage and I had depleted all of my savings. I saw it coming and had accepted it, so I was not worried. When I could no longer keep the condo, I mailed the keys to the mortgage company and said it was theirs. I moved in with my fiancé. We married later in the year. Marriage is the seventh most stressful life circumstance per the Holmes and Rahe scale.
In 2010, the unemployment insurance payments ran out (no more extensions) and I was still looking for work in recruiting. I went to a professional association meeting for recruiters and I met someone who was looking to hire a recruiter for a contract. She liked my background especially, because she was working with social media and making videos for recruiting. She loved my video production background. She hired me a week later (after some interviews). The pay was low for my skills and it was a long commute, but it got me back into the profession. It is difficult to get jobs when you have not recently been in a similar job and almost two years had passed since being laid off. While there, I met someone who had a lead for another contract recruiter position (that paid much more)…just as my current contract was finishing. After that next contract, I got a full-time permanent position in recruiting that paid well and have been there since.
In the course of almost two years of unemployment, foreclosing on my condo, a relationship moving from girlfriend to fiancé to wife, depleting my savings, and unemployment insurance running out…I was never worried. I was not plagued by thoughts about the future. I just remained present…doing what I could and leaving the rest to God/fate (so to speak).
How can this be? Because a deeper realization and understanding was there. The reason anyone is not present is because they are lost in thought about the past, imaginations about the future, or pure imaginations. They mistakenly believe this is of help in some way. However, will worrying about the future change anything? Will thinking about past and future change anything? The only place of power and ability to change anything is in the present. You do what you can…now.
There is a saying among Tibetan Buddhists – if a problem can be solved there is no use worrying about it. If it can’t be solved, worrying will do no good.
If a problem can be solved…you do what you can in the present and there is no use in worrying. If a problem can not be solved…why suffer with worry…just accept and allow what is for as long as it is…until circumstances change and something can be done.
In a way, it comes down to choosing to use two oars with lots of effort (and challenge) to row upstream or to use one oar to effortlessly steer the boat going downstream. Reality has a flow. Do you resist and deny the flow…and so feel it to be challenging? Or do you allow and accept it, decide to go with the flow, and thus gain the entire strength of the river to get to a place downstream…and find it not challenging at all.
In order to get a sense of the direction of the flow of reality, you have to be present. You can’t think about it (pondering past or future), because then you are not aware of the moment to moment changes. Perhaps it is more akin to surfing, to ride that wave requires being with the wave from moment to moment…responding immediately to the change in the moment.
I understand the futility of thought in this situation. It is about feeling…not thinking. So regardless of the circumstance of life, I am 100% devoted to the experience of it…feeling it…moment to moment. Only occasionally glimpsing up (so to speak…to the future), to make sure I am on course towards the future I would like to see come. Then immediately back to the present. In being totally present (not thinking), no circumstance is difficult nor easy…it just is what it is; and I do what I can. Allowing and accepting everything along the way.