Watch and Question your Habitual Tendencies to live and act more skillfully in the world.

Right effort is all about abandoning unskillful mind-states and building up skillful ones. Someone following the Noble Eightfold Path practices questioning and examining their thoughts, views, and perceptions, as these have the potential to cause much suffering in their lives.

This is especially important in this very divisive atmosphere and outrage culture, where people dig into their position and feed off media(news, pictures, videos, stories etc) that supports their views and “destroys” the other side , or shows how wrong , ignorant , or evil the “other” is.

If you are a practitioner being mindful of your thoughts and intentions, then you can watch that side of you that desires to be fed, and you can observe what that does to your mind, it may feel good in the short term to watch something that supposedly proves your view and makes “the other” look wrong or stupid, but then you can see how in the long term it can make you more anxious, angry, and tired.

The reality of the situation is that life is complicated, and people are also complicated and nuanced, regardless of our efforts to put people in nice neat boxes(liberal/conservative , religious/atheist, etc). if you really look at life I can’t see anything that is really black and white, but innumerable shades of grey.

Knowing this, and following the path, it’s important for those of us who wish to lessen division, not add to it, to practice going against our habitual tendencies. This is a very slow and tough process of gradual exposure to other points of view , and resisting the minds tendency to “other” people who seem different or threatening.

I challenge you to go to a website or news organization that you dislike, and read/watch the opinions and views of others that you disagree with.

While doing so watch your mind, observe the sense of resistance, as well as the thoughts, desires, and intentions that arise , your mind trying to “protect” and reinforce the views and sense of self you identify with.

Guns, abortion, immigration, whatever divisive (and also very complicated and nuanced) topic that those in power use to keep us distracted and fighting amongst ourselves , really make an effort to explore and understand the views and beliefs of other people not like you, in doing so you simultaneously practice goodwill and compassion and slowly lessen your own attachment to this sense of self and identity that the Buddha calls a burden, and the root of much suffering.

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