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“We are at peace when we accept life on its own terms, not ours.”

~ Elise Fee

When life presents us with huge challenges, when pain and suffering overshadow our sense of joy and fulfillment, it is easy to despair and become paralyzed.

No one is immune to times when it seems like nothing is working as you hoped. Jobs can become unsatisfying or, worse, you are suddenly let go. Your marriage can become a minefield of conflict leading to a divorce that leaves you lonely; or, you discover there is simply no one you have found to love or be loved by.

It is easy to feel like a victim of some unkind person or a capricious God. We’ve probably all felt moments like this, but we don’t have to suffer so intensely. We do have a choice.

We are ultimately creating our own suffering in many cases by holding on to a rigid requirement of how life is supposed to be.

Several of my clients are moving through some truly challenging circumstances – divorce, financial limitation, job loss, death and such – that are all part of the human condition. Each of these clients has come to me seeking hope that sometimes I can offer and sometimes I can’t. After all, I can only share what I see in the chart.

However, what I have noticed is that those who suffer most are holding on to their personal picture of the way life is “supposed” to be for them. Some others who have moved through profound challenges with little pain have chosen to adjust their expectations and accept life in the moment on its own terms.

That’s easier said than done, you may say. Perhaps that’s so, but the following teaching story may hold a clue to how it is done.

Become a Lake

~ Posted by S. B. Rose on, Apr 5, 2009

An aging master grew tired of his apprentice’s complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.

“How does it taste?” the master asked.

“Bitter,” said the apprentice.

The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake, and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”

As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”

“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.

“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.

“No,” said the young man.

At this the master sat beside this serious young man, and explained softly, “The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same.

However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

Though it may be your wish to avoid the challenges that life presents, inevitably life will throw you a curve ball. If you are ready to let go of how you think life is “supposed” to be and in essence “become a lake,” you can enlarge your sense of things and become receptive to the ultimate good that is being presented to you as a result of the changed circumstances.