If you look at Buddhist philosophy without any background knowledge, it can sound really bleak. Number one truth of existence? Life is suffering. Everything is impermanent, and it’s clinging and desiring so much that makes you suffer. Oh, and you have no everlasting soul — that’s a total illusion. On your way, now! Go spread the word of how awesome Buddhism is! Actually, though, it is pretty awesome. Here are 6 ways Buddhist philosophy can transform your life.
1. You feel less alone.
Everything in the universe is in constant flux, and your soul doesn’t magically rise above that reality. Because of this, Buddhists believe you have no soul, or no present consciousness that is separated from the rest of the world and in some sense, unchanging. Here’s what’s good about that: You are in absolute connection with everything else. How can you possibly be lonely when you’re a part of a never-ending, wildly complex ecosystem? Next time you feel alone, think about it. You’re made of stardust!
2. You become more balanced.
Buddhism is also known as the Middle Way, and this is because the Buddha taught that the best path in life is not immense self-denial a la serious monks, but it also isn’t total hedonism a la trust fund kids, either. The ideal life is perfectly situated between the two extremes — everything in moderation. When you live accordingly, you find more balance in your career, relationships, and perspective.
3. You learn how to handle emotions.
Everything is impermanent, and one part of impermanence is that the good times — and the bad times — don’t last forever. When you realize “this too shall pass” applies to negative emotions, you can deal with them more easily. A large part of Buddhism is mindfulness meditation in which you accept thoughts and emotions, and you experience them to an extent, but you also understand on a higher level that they will end sometime in the future. This helps you get through them.
4. You learn how to stop worrying.
The only reality we have is the present moment, according to Buddhists. What this means is that the past and future aren’t tangible realities. Yet, we spend most of our time looking back on the past with nostalgia or regret or looking forward to the future with worry and stress. This constant anxiety is illogical — you can’t change the past and you can’t control the future. So, let go and stop worrying!
5. You learn how to have healthier relationships.
One of the essential ideas of Buddhism is that the greatest cause of human suffering is clinging, or desiring. When we become attached to something that will surely go away or change so much we don’t recognize it someday, we set ourselves up for suffering. Another dimension of this is that it is unhealthy to project all of your energy onto one person, and it’s also unhealthy to cling to them, as if you can keep them from leaving someday. Understanding someone can come and go from your life, and that they aren’t the center of it, will make your breakups and other struggles less difficult.
6. You learn to enjoy the present moment more.
A moment of true presence is a time when you feel the most alive. For Buddhists, the continuous goal is to be as present as possible, fully immersed in what you are experiencing in the here and now. When you realize there’s no use fretting over the past or future too much, you’re able to root yourself in the present. Practicing mindfulness meditation also helps promote this. Ready to convert yet? Buddhism may seem a little strange to a westerner at first glance, but it’s ultimately a philosophy that takes realism and shapes life around that to reduce your suffering. When you understand the true nature of reality, you can begin to live more in sync with it.