The mind rules our emotions. We define nine basic human emotions: Love, Joy, Sadness, Anger, Courage, Fear, Disgust, Curiosity and Peace. They are all necessary as they prompt us to react properly. Love is necessary for our connection with our partner in life and with our children and parents. Fear protects us from danger. Sadness creates those moments of contemplation that help us to grieve and let go.
If we are aligned, these moments of emotion are very helpful. However, when out of alignment, the mind can drift and create emotional imbalance. Sadness turns into a deep depression, love turns into an all-consuming, overwhelming attachment, fear can paralyze us, and so on. Staying in tune with our core is thus essential for our emotional balance. With good alignment, we can afford to be sad, happy, or angry. Meditating to put the mind in the right perspective is the answer during these moments.
We can avoid most things we don’t like in life by hiding, escaping, distracting, suppressing or by any number of other means. But, we mustn’t waste our lives trying to escape from the monsters of our minds. How do you run away from things that are in your head? The mind never forgets. It stores everything.
The answer lies in what we call “Psychological flexibility”. Accepting imperfections is healthy and necessary. The refusal to accept some of our basic emotions can make us psychologically rigid. Rigidity is the inability to change habits or to modify attitudes once developed. Psychological rigidity is closely related to mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, substance abuse and declining work performance. Psychopathology is even worse and defined as letting only some parts of our mind dominate all of the others.
The positive effects of the acceptance of weaknesses are shown by a study on chickens in 2008, “How to get peace and productivity in the hen house”, Muir, Purdue University. They selected and allowed the best individual egg layer and best egg laying cage to reproduce, then followed the experiment for six generations. The result was a disaster. Contrary to the expectations, the sixth generation of chickens was unhealthy and underproductive, compared to regular breeding. The conclusion is that the acceptance of imperfections leads to a healthy balanced life. The acceptance of pain, for instance, reduces suffering as well.
“Develop the courage to solve those problems that can be solved, the serenity to accept the problems that can’t be solved and the wisdom to know the difference” is an old and wise prayer.
The mind is a rule-making factory that constantly tries to make sense of the world. It does this by making rules that tell us what to do next, what we should feel or what we should think. These rules can be helpful. They can save us time and energy. But, when the mind becomes rigid and inflexible they can divert us from our path.