A few months ago, a monk said to me, “It’s easy to be thankful for our friends, family, good health, and positive experiences, but it’s much more difficult to be thankful for challenging situations, difficult people, and other difficult experiences. Now you’re probably wondering: why should we be thankful for these things? Well, sometimes, difficult experiences and people who make us angry or sad can show us where we might need more wisdom.”

He went on to clarify that this doesn’t mean that we surround ourselves with difficult people and experiences—that’s a bit extreme. But, what we can do is learn how to change our reactions to difficult people, experiences, and times.

“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.”

Additionally, one other thing we can do is surround ourselves with the very best human beings— people we want to be more like, people with positive qualities that we’d like to mirror, people who help us grow and push us to “search.” Fundamentally, the path to enlightenment (and life in general) can be done alone, but, as the monk reminded me, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have supportive companions along the way.

Today, as I walked through the empty New Year’s Day streets of Bogota, I thought about (among many other things) all the new and old kindred spirits from this past year that have pushed me to search— from my mindfulness tribe in S.E. Asia, to my biological family in NY, to my chosen family in the Carolina’s, to my best friend and life travel partner.

Thank you, cast of 2016. <3

 

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