Only if you try to pick it up

Ajahn Chah, the Thai forest monk and teacher, asked his students one day when they passed a big boulder, “Do you think that boulder is heavy?” His students said “Yes, it’s extremely heavy.” Ajahn Chah replied, “Only if you try to pick it up!”

– Kaira Jewel Lingo, Plum Village App

Happiness is simply the absence of desire. When you observe a cue, but do not desire to change your state, you are content with the current situation. Happiness is not about the achievement of pleasure (which is joy or satisfaction), but about the lack of desire. It arrives when you have no urge to feel differently. Happiness is the state you enter when you no longer what to change your state.

–James Clear, Atomic Habits

Discussing feelings of task paralysis takes up a decent portion of my therapy sessions lately.

The idea that when I start doing something distracting, like going down a rabbit hole on some internet search or doom scrolling, it’s hard to stop even if I can consciously acknowledge that there’s something else I’d rather be doing at that moment.

Sometimes the most effective way to stop is not to start.

Holding off the momentum of my attention going in a direction I’d rather avoid is harder than not giving the boulder that first gentle push down a hill.

I can simultaneously acknowledge the way that some things are designed to exploit my mind through dopamine loops as well as acknowledge that the demons can stay in the box a little bit longer if Pandora can get comfortable with not knowing what’s inside.

But it’s not just those smaller moments within the day that come to mind here, but the idea that if there’s something that could cause suffering if you choose to pick it up, sometimes it’s better to let it lie there.

Seeing the potential for suffering doesn’t create an obligation to take up that suffering in that moment.