8 Zen Sayings For 8 Of Life’s Shittiest Moments
Life will inevitably throw curve balls your way. It does not matter whether you’re Steve Jobs or Martin Shkreli, shitty situations that make you feel like the universe is conspiring against you catches up on all of us.
When life gives you lemons and you’re so down on your luck that you can’t even make lemonade, you can comfort yourself with some Zen-like words of wisdom for some very specific misfortunes, such as…
8. When you sleep through the morning and miss out on an important life-changing event
There’s no disputing that sleep is an important part of life. So important, in fact, that we would literally die without it. But those pesky forty winks can sometimes get in the way, like it did for Brendan Zammuto who missed his own trial, was convicted even if he wasn’t there to defend himself, and ended up going to jail.
In the same vein, if you slept through an important meeting or missed a major life milestone because you were catching some zzz’s (serious neurological disorders aside), just think, as Chinese Zen Master Huang Po said, “The past has not gone; the present is a fleeting moment; the future is not yet to come.”
7. When it actually does rain on your wedding day
Not just an irony of life turned popular 90s song, rain on one’s wedding day is a big concern for many a bride (and groom, it can be assumed)–not only because it means you’ll get wet when you don’t want to be, but because when it rains, everything else that’s shitty just follows, like floods, bad traffic and people cancelling on you because the rain can be such a downer.
When it rains on your parade or some other major event that’s supposed to be the highlight of your year, just take it all in stride like this bride did, despite having just recently lost her dad and then promptly having the weather turn for the worst on her wedding day.
As the philosopher Alan Watts said, “The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”
6. When you do a No. 2 on date night and the toilet won’t flush
Some of life’s shittiest moments are those that involve actual shit. For example, the horrifying poop-in-purse story which was live-tweeted by a woman from Toronto earlier this year. In the end, her quick-thinking, self-deprecating sense of humor, and even the toilet, triumphed.
Considering pooping is something that everybody does every day, it should not be as embarrassing a thing as it is, whether you’re going to talk about it or acknowledge that it will be or has been done. Know that “there is no mistake in nature,” as American self-help author Byron Katie said.
5. When you commit a faux pas in front of a large audience
A faux pas in itself makes things especially awkward and embarrassing but when it’s witnessed by many people, possibly on live television as it was when Steve Harvey announced the wrong Miss Universe 2015, that embarrassment is multiplied tenfold.
In such situations, bear in mind that to err is human. You have to put your chin up. Swami Vivekananda said, “The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you.”
Never mind your critics. When repeatedly bashed, one can look to Rumi, saying this about meeting in a neutral-ground field that is between neither right nor wrong: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there,” said the poet.
4. When you’re so angry you can’t control what you say or do
Sometimes our anger can get the best of us and that primal desire to jump onto a moving car and bang your head into the windshield takes over. While letting the beast out may have its benefits in the way that breaking plates can be cathartic, sometimes it’s better to take a deep breath and try to control your feelings before things get out of hand. Keep in mind this quote by Buddha: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one that gets burned.”
3. When you’re literally counting coins to pay for your food
Being flat broke when you’re used to a more comfortable lifestyle is one of the easiest ways to feel shitty about your life. Instead of spending on things unnecessarily to keep up appearances, just remember that, as the wise Buddha said, “Poverty with dignity is better than wealth based on shame.”
But now that you’re broke, here’s something Buddha also said that may help get you by:
“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth and faithfulness the best relationship.”
2. When you lose your job after years of service and no one else will hire you
In the case of Michael Gates Gill, top ad exec turned Starbucks barista, it was after 25 years that he was let go from his high-profile job, presumably for being too old. He spent some time down in the dumps before taking on a blue-collar job that turned out to be his best job ever.
Reflecting on his new life, the 60 year-old barista said that “simply acquiring things does not bring happiness… there is a freedom to going through life without a lot of heavy status stuff—and just giving yourself the chance to do what you were meant to do, and be who you were truly meant to be.”
So, relax. As Buddha said, “You only lose what you cling to.”
1. When your pet dog of 15 years is sick and it’s terminal
It is a fact of life that death comes for everyone–your parents, your best friends and even your pets. When you have to come to terms with losing someone you love, you can do as photographer Ben Moon did for his pet dog Denali and immortalize your loved one through a short film.
To overcome your sadness, you can also take the prophet Muhammad’s words to heart and know that “People sleep, and when they die they wake.” The same must go for all other creatures that have known life.
Got any other helpful quotes for life’s other shitty moments? Do share them with us below!