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Your Peace Is More Important

Several years ago, I was talking with Thich Nhat Hanh about anger.  

Being a movie producer usually means putting out lots of fires every day. Film shoots move fast, and the cost per day can be really high. Sometimes people make, well, unskillful and costly mistakes because they didn’t pay attention or were just plain lazy.

“It’s normal to get mad when this happens, right?” I once asked Thay. “I mean, you can’t hug everybody all the time.”

He said, “Your peace is more important.”

Those words really changed my life.

He explained that while it might be a “normal” reaction to get mad or be annoyed, it won’t help me or the situation. But it will destroy my peace for the time being.

Keeping calm, still, and peaceful even if mistakes could have been avoided and cost a lot in quality and money, on the other hand, will help me.

But here is the big surprise: it will also help the problem.

Thay gave me a second piece of wisdom, one that is now framed, hanging in my bedroom, in calligraphy.

It says “Be still and know.”

He explained that still water reflects the sky and mountains and clouds accurately—the truth. If water is agitated and choppy, it won’t reflect the truth.

The additional benefit of focusing on my peace in times of mistakes, annoyances, and problems is that by being like still water, I will see solutions. I will see the truth. I will know.

And it works!

So not only is it better for my peace—which is a healthier, happier way to live—it is better for the actual problem that once threatened my peace in the first place.

As a result of Thay’s knowledge, I have gone from once getting angry and annoyed at costly mistakes to playing with my dog or drawing or meditating or walking on the beach.

I think this is especially helpful now. People respond to the lockdown and stress in different ways. People can do things which might seem rude or disrespectful or lazy. But in reality, they might be suffering in ways we don’t see or understand, especially during the pandemic.  

As a result, yes, I go for more walks, draw more pictures, meditate more, walk more, and play with my dog more.

I am happier.

And so, by the way, is my dog!

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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