At the end of the day, we all want what is good all of the time. The mistake of samsaric thinking is grasping at some things as being inherently good and other things being inherently bad. This is a problem because there are far more problems in samsara than there are good things. Difficulties come effortlessly, whereas good things usually take tremendous effort and are very short-lived.
The Dharma takes as its starting point that problems are inevitable (samsara is the nature of suffering). Paradoxically, it is by accepting this reality that we can completely change our strategy in life to one that will really work. Our focus shifts from trying to avoid the inevitable to learning how to adapt to and transform the inevitable. My Grandmother would always say, “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This is exactly right, and the Dharma simply gives us a palet of tools with which to do so. Things are good or bad depending upon whether we can use them to accomplish our purposes. If our purposes are worldly, then most of what happens in samsara is bad. But if our purpose is to train our mind, then everything that happens becomes useful.
Our job as a Dharma practitioner is to learn how to make something spiritually good out of whatever life throws at us. So when adversity hits, instead of vainly wishing it was otherwise, we accept things as they are and get down to the business of making something good out of it. If this becomes our focus, we will gain more and more skill and experience at doing this until we reach the point where we can effortlessly and joyfully surf life’s waves to the beach of enlightenment!
Your turn: Describe some particularly difficult curve ball life has thrown at you, and how you made something good out of it.