Thursday, December 11, 2014

Equalizing the Head

Many people have the perception that I don't easily get stressed out. People have even "labeled" me as a Type B personality (as opposed to the anxiously ambitious, Type A personality). There is certainly a lot of truth in people's perception of me. I truly don't get anxious about things very easily, and generally maintain a cool head in situations that many people would consider highly stressful.

That said, it would be grossly incorrect to say that I never get stressed out. Sure, I do not worry about things much, but I do have a tendency to beat myself down when I don't seem to meet the imaginary standards that I set for myself in my head. This self-berating usually happens at a mental level. So to the outside world, I seem to have it all together. Of course, how can they see the mental battles I'm fighting inside my head, especially when I don't have much trouble keeping a cool head while dealing with the external challenges of life?

People reading this post might feel like I'm giving myself, what some of my friends call, a "back hand complement." After all, is it not enviable if one can keep one's cool during stressful situations? However, I disagree. As so eloquently expressed by Rumi, "The lion who breaks the enemy's ranks is a minor hero compared to the lion who overcomes himself." The Buddha also says the same thing in The Dhammapada, "One who conquers himself is greater than another who conquers a thousand men on the battlefield." And so do all the enlightened people I have read.

So it doesn't matter much how well I deal with the external challenges in my life. What really matters is how well I deal with my own internal demons. I believe I have been getting better at reigning these demons since I started practicing meditation seriously about a year ago. However, I still have long way to go, and that's completely fine with me. As the character of Denzel Washington says in The Equalizer, it's all about "progress, not perfection."

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