Thursday, February 21, 2008

What Did Buddha Know About Great Relationships and Marriage? Plenty!

I’m not a Buddhist, and I was surprised at how relevant this advice was. Indeed, you may be as surprised as I was!

I subscribe to a lot of newsletters, newsfeeds, advisories, etc., in a lot of different fields to stay on top of various things that are happening in my life. One of them is Michael Masterson’s “Early to Rise” (
http://www.earlytorise.com/), which is a free daily with health, wealth, and wisdom tips, a word-of-the-day bit, and a few other interesting things.

I know Michael from years gone by when I was studying copywriting; he runs the American Writers and Artists Institute, and is pretty much a “brainiac” who is an expert marketer, has done very well for himself investing, has a lot of very good contacts in healthcare education (he’s also behind the Health Sciences Institute), and probably a lot that I don’t know about these days. This is not a paid or affiliate recommendation; his stuff is simply good enough for me to find useful information in and I’m sure you will too.

The main reason I mention it is in a recent edition, one of his associates, Robert Ringer, wrote a piece on Buddha’s quote, “All unhappiness is caused by attachment,” and it struck a chord, rung a bell, or however you want to say that it got my attention, because that is more true of relationships than anything else.

People get attached to habits, ideas, people, places, jobs, possessions, etc., and they make bad decisions out of fear of losing those things, instead of good decisions about advancing their life. I’ve addressed that in other newsletters and in “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage,” and will be addressing it frequently in the future, because it is so very important in keeping things in perspective. Let’s look at just how those five things I just listed could literally destroy you or your relationship:
Habits. Let’s say you and your wife smoke at the time you get together, and something causes her to quit, maybe a case of pneumonia or flu, adult-onset of asthma, a close call with lung cancer, or whatever, and she gives up the habit and you can’t, or won’t. What if you and your wife enjoyed clubbing before she became pregnant, and you insist on continuing to go several nights a week without her when she cannot go, and she takes exception to you being out drinking and dancing with other women in a place that is pretty much designed for singles to “hook up” in? Or maybe some dangerous hobby that you indulge in every week, that you should consider giving up now that you have children to support?

Ideas. Somebody tells you they think your wife might be cheating, because they saw her somewhere talking to a guy; she tells you it’s her brother, or a coworker, or somebody harmless, but your insecurity keeps you from letting it go and the idea continues to escalate even though there is no evidence. Or you have an idea for a business or product that you think the world will beat a path to your door to buy, and you continuously keep sinking more and more money into it, in spite of marketing data and other real-world facts saying that it was a bad idea, because you think you know more than the world does about what it wants? Henry Ford almost bankrupted the Ford Motor Company doing that…

People. Do we even need to go here? Ex-girlfriends or ex-wives that you continue to be involved with in spite of the objections of your current partner? So-called “friends” who trash every good idea you come up with because they can never come up with a good one and want you to be as miserable as they are? An employee who is bankrupting you with their incompetence but you don’t want to fire them because you’re concerned about the rest of their family? And biggest of all, a current partner who has declared it’s over and followed up by doing all the things that tell you that it’s not just a wake-up call and is definitely an unsalvageable situation?

Places. The house that you don’t want to move out of because of fond memories that keeps you from advancing your career because of the geographical constraints? The town you don’t want to leave because some ex-partner or friend lives there, in spite of the fact that your partner is going to leave town without you if you don’t go, or your career will dead-end?

Jobs. Don’t get me started! The job that you hate to get out of bed every morning to face but won’t leave because you’re afraid to look for another, or have yourself so over-extended that you can’t afford to leave it, even if the stress ends up killing you or ruining your marriage and alienating your children?

Possessions. Shall we start with the car, boat, or airplane that you can’t afford the payments on but would rather go bankrupt than to admit that you had overspent? What about the clutter of all those hobbies a person can start but never see through, and refuses to get rid of the trappings and clutter from those hobbies because they’re going to get back into it “one of these days…” Or my favorite, the stocks, real estate, collectibles, etc., that people get stuck with and take a bath on by holding onto them believing that they will forever continue to appreciate in value? Dot-com stock, anyone?

You’re quite right in observing that many of the things I listed don’t necessarily have a direct bearing on your relationship with your partner, but indirect relationships can be more than powerful enough to destroy it. Anything negative that is happening in your life stresses you out, makes you edgy, and possibly insecure, and those things do impact your relationship, often hard, and all too often fatally.

Another thing that caught my attention in that article was something that the writer has taken from something written by the Dalai Lama (the Buddhist leader, for those of you who are unfamiliar) about the dividing line between consciousness and unconsciousness being the interest in the alleviation of suffering and the quest for happiness. He supported this by quoting the four “Noble Truths” that Buddha taught in his first sermon:

Noble Truth No. 1: There is suffering.
Noble Truth No. 2: Suffering has an origin.
Noble Truth No. 3: The cessation of suffering is possible.
Noble Truth No. 4: There is a path to the cessation of suffering.

I’m not a Buddhist; my interest here is philosophical and logical, not religious. These four truths are indeed axiomatic, so profoundly factual as to be self-evident. There is suffering everywhere you look, and there is always a cause for it. A remedy for suffering can always be found and end it, even if that remedy is death (there are some political and religious leaders who take strong objection to this statement, because they want you to believe that your purpose for being here is to suffer). And last, due to the law of cause and effect, if suffering can be caused, so can its remedy. What does this mean for you and your relationship?

There are questions you can ask yourself to help you find that path to the cessation of suffering. Among those questions are “What did I do or fail to do to cause this?” and “What can I do or refrain from doing to fix this?” These are the questions a man will ask, a leader will ask, not a wuss who’s looking to blame everyone and everything else for his troubles. Asking these questions and formulating a factual answer is one of the most basic skills that distinguishes the alpha male from all others. He takes responsibility for his situation and takes charge of improving it. Women love that, and they’ll tell you so. Just ask them.

What you will also find axiomatic is that your path will never be found in the answer to questions like, “Who did this to me?” or “Why did somebody have to do this to me?” or even “What can I get somebody to do to get me out of this mess?” You get out of problems by identifying them, figuring out how they came to be a problem, and figuring out what you can do (or refrain from doing) that will fix the problem, and then following through. Period.

The more you can let go of ego, blame, insecurity, dependence, fear, anger, etc., and take responsibility for yourself, your actions, and your situation, the more objective and truly “enlightened” you will become. The Buddhists aren’t the only ones for whom “enlightenment” equates to happiness…

If you are having problems in your relationship, your “path to enlightenment” can very likely be found in “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage.” It contains the wisdom and experience of hundreds of people who have had relationship problems and overcome them, and then turned solid relationships into truly great relationships by getting tuned in and turned on to each other. (No, Baby Boomers, you DO NOT drop out – Timothy Leary was a long way from being “enlightened” or happy).

Seriously, it will help you figure out where you are, what got you there, where you need to go, and will give you the tools to lead a happy life whether it’s with your current partner, if she’s the right one, or another if she’s not – sometimes mismatched partners are one of those things you have to detach from to put your life back on track. Go to
http://www.makingherhappy.com/ and download your copy right now, and get started down your own path to happiness, because life is too short to spend it wandering down any other path.

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

1 comment:

Andy said...

that's a great post. There are so many things people do which can jeopardise relationships. Can't really think of much else to add!