What If… the Arrow is Shot?

I’ve heard a phrase a few times lately that sparked my interest to learn more.✨ It’s actually a Buddhist parable that uses a metaphor of arrows to illustrate pain and suffering in life.

The Buddha once asked a student, “If a person is struck by an 🎯arrow, is it painful?” The student replied, “It is.” The Buddha then asked, “If the person is struck by a second 🎯arrow, is that even more painful?” The student replied again, “It is.” The Buddha then explained, “In life, we cannot always control the first 🎯arrow. However, the 🎯second arrow is our reaction to the first. And with this second arrow comes the possibility of choice.”

Isn’t that awesome? The second 🎯arrow brings the possibility of choice.🙌

img_2278That parable is fitting for life in general. However, I can really draw parallels with our COVID-19 world. ☑After that first 🎯arrow was shot directly at us earlier this year, there have been countless 🎯arrows headed our way ever since. Some have been relatively 😊easy to handle, while others have potentially 😢devastating consequences. Some cause polarizing 😬opinions, and others bring the potential to 💞unite us. Each one holds the promise of that second 🎯arrow- and that is the choice of our reactions to it.

Those 🎯arrows will continue to be shot- like it or not. They’re not asking for permission. We better think long and hard about our reactions. If we’re emotionally invested, it’s tough to truly 🙉hear different views. When the arrow causes upheaval in our daily lives, it’s difficult to 🙈see how we’ll make the changes work. When we’re hungry or 😡angry or lonely, the 🎯arrows seem to sting just a little more.

When we’re tired, we just want it all to stop. And, let’s face it- we’re all 😴tired.

So, how do we use the power of choice with those second 🎯arrows? We pause. We breathe. We 😑meditate. We pray. We talk to someone. We spend time in 🌲nature. We go for a 👟run. We turn up the 🎶volume and sing. Maybe we even 😢cry before coming up with a plan.

There’s an exercise in psychology called the Three💝 Blessings. Some call if the Three 💝Good Things. I think it’s an excellent choice for a reaction when the second 💘arrows hit. The basic premise is to set aside time in the morning or before bed to recognize three things that are 💝good in your life as a way to enhance happiness and gratitude. Your three 💝blessings for the day. I also like this twist on the practice. How about actively naming three 💝blessings during those second 💘arrows moments when the 🌎world seems overwhelming?

There’s no right or wrong time to find the good 💝things in life. Despite the craziness, there are still good things. Look around. They don’t have to be big-ticket items either. Maybe there was no🚗 traffic on the way to work. Or the 🌞sun is shining. Your kid’s 😀smile. Your favorite song on the radio. Your 🐕dog sleeping at your feet. The perfect cup of coffee.

What if…the 🎯arrow is shot? I don’ t need to tell you that it’s going to happen again and again and again. With that second 💘arrow comes the possibility of choice. It’s up to you. How will you choose to react?💝


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