We are more likely to remember experiences that caused suffering rather than enjoyment: They leave more of a mark. Yet we all have the key to leaving suffering behind. The more content and fulfilled we are, the more we are able to tolerate whatever life may bring.
You have to have tolerance, unless you are going to live in a cave, or surround yourselves with so many comforts that you are cushioned from the reality of life. But if you do that, think how many things you would miss!
It is important to change your attitude and awareness so that you see the positive side of life. Even if circumstances are not as you would wish and you are uncomfortable, if you deal with them by adjusting your perception, then you do not suffer.
Tolerance is required on many different levels. One is towards the elements and nature; another is towards challenges presented by the body; and then there is the level of other people, be they relatives, friends or strangers.
With the elements, it can be as simple as bringing an umbrella in case it rains. With physical challenges, it may mean making some practical adjustments to manage and keep on top of them.
Be careful not to pay too much attention to whatever irritates you. You realise that what you tolerate with some people or situations, with others you do not. If you give attention to a small thing, you feel it. But if you focus on the wider picture, you do not.
Find enjoyment in your experiences. Accept that some are good, some not so good; it is your approach that makes the difference, bringing either enjoyment or suffering — why choose to suffer?
Dadi Janki taught me that, to really tolerate, I have to be fulfilled, content. When I lack tolerance — and the signs of that are stress, complaining, irritation, lack of sleep — that means there is something within me that I have to fulfil. If I am content and full, then using the power of tolerance is not only easy, it is so natural that I do not even notice it.
If I am unable to tolerate a person or situation, then there is something in me that I need to work on. I should talk to myself deeply to see what is wrong, what I am missing. And let me try to be content. The more content I am, the more tolerance becomes a natural part of my life.
Dadi Janki described tolerance as an active power; It moves the energy, finds solutions. In contrast, patience is a passive acceptance of a situation that you cannot alter; best to sit and enjoy it until circumstances change. While patience works alongside tolerance, it is important to discern when you should be patient and accept things, and when you need to act and move them along.
Finally, tolerance brings individuals together in a process of creating unity. This cannot be forced. It is a natural outcome of the inner work you do to change your attitude and awareness.
Marcelo Bulk, a Brazilian coach and business consultant, is the National Coordinator of the Brahma Kumaris’ services in Colombia.