In order to survive, you have to harness your own brilliance. Brilliance is the process of loving those things which appear to be ugly at first. By examining their ugliness, you discover their beauty. Things that are not pleasant become pleasant when they are given space, and allowed the privilege of moving. Things are happening on their own – you just have to tune in, very gently, and appreciate that. Then a lot of problems start to melt away.
Let’s say you want to stop drinking, because you’ve been depressed and hangovers are awful if you’re truly depressed. The wisest person befriends the part of their mind that arises, that considers staying away from alcohol. And they simply wait, and let the whole situation pass by. Then they are left without having consumed alcohol. They befriended the confusion, and it helped them wait it out.
But how to befriend the mind? Well, you have to start somewhere. By becoming aware of where you are, you can celebrate that aspect. If a friend tells you a local avant garde museum is gorgeous, you might initially feel appalled. This museum is, after all, objectively ugly – you’ve been there! But in truth, it is not objectively ugly – the person who enjoyed it learned to appreciate the strangeness in there, and once they saw how beautiful it was, they couldn’t unsee it. They eventually become bored, perhaps, but that is a better way to feel than afraid.
If they were smart, they even appreciated the security guards and the other attendees. They realized the whole situation was avant garde, and the challenge of appreciation was enlivening.
As time goes you, you start to link up your compassion with mindfulness more and more. You discover that awareness of anything can be an exercise of compassion. You walk into a room you have to clean, and feel perturbed. But then, you fall in love with how messed up the room is, and how step-by-step you can clean it up. And how you can watch that improvement, in real-time. As you soften and watch the dirt settle, watch the space reveal itself, you use that scariness as encouragement to clean it.
Since we are social creatures, this process becomes very social. You start to realize that it’s actually an incredibly wise investment to love other people, because they’re connected to you. Loving them is loving yourself. And it will definitely come back to benefit you.