I used to think happiness was achieved when I made it to the American dream. Whether that included a big house, a happy family, nice cars, and exceptional vacations. I was happy before this trip to Thailand, I’ve been happy on during the duration of this trip, and I intend to be happy in the future. After talking with a monk named KK in Chiang Rai, achieving happiness in the future will be different from how I originally intended to find it. Western culture revolves around stress, long hours, and negative attitudes. Don’t get me wrong, there are many significant aspects of western civilization, but I feel like many people could benefit from the teachings of Buddhism.
Initially, I thought Buddhism was a religion, and to only practice Buddhism, you needed to attend temples and to believe in its God. Buddhism is a way of life, and the key to this “religion” is finding the perfect balance. The ideal balance entails finding peace between your mind and body. Before this trip, I pushed the limits on working out some days and overly stressed myself out in school. However, at the end of your lifetime, what will matter most? Will it be the experiences that you’ve lived through, the people you surround yourself with, or the amount of money that you have? When you put that idea into perspective, the hours of stressing and working long hours of the day won’t matter when you’re laying on your death bed.
Continuing, after that hour-long talk, I’m going to start achieving happiness a lot differently. I will try my hardest to have an excellent job to provide for my future family, but I will also prioritize myself also. Meditation will solely be the reason for this difference. During high school and my first half of college, my mental health and focus was never a priority. Now, when life becomes too overwhelming, I will meditate. It was the critical teaching that KK touched on and I never truly realized the importance of it.
Along with meditation, KK also informed us of the idea of suffering. Before, I would do anything in my power to avoid pain. I also hated the idea of death and fearing those that I’m closest to, passing away. But death is a part of life, and it’s important to learn how to accept it. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be sad about the person passing away, but it’s important to understand that death is a way of life. Trust the relationship that you have with that person and remember the memories that you have with them forever.
Lastly, KK talked about the idea that you can’t dwell on the past, you need to accept that it happens and move on. Hearing this statement brought me back to the times in high school where the most unimportant event occurred, and I would act like the world is ending. My dad would always tell me that I was focusing on something that was in the past and that there was nothing in my power that could change it. You can only control the future and trust that your good intentions and values, will bring you wisdom in those hard times. There is just no need to focus your time and energy in those times, and they won’t matter when you’re at the end of your life. Going forth, I will focus on the positives in my life and not dwell on the past.
Overall, these few teachings that I learned from Buddhism will help guide my future to everlasting happiness. I’m determined to return back to America with a new mindset in life, that will help focus my energy and time to what is essential, and I couldn’t be happier to learn this in Thailand. Truly a memory that will last forever and will ultimately change my life, eternally thankful.