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Frustration causes stress: you want something but you are blocked; events beyond your control are preventing you from proceeding. You lack the money, you lack the time.
Your neighbour is noisy and will not be quiet. Somebody scratched a line down the side of your car last night. At work, you are treated like a resource and nobody cares about you so long as you do the job.
You want to buy a house but find that you do not earn enough money to qualify for a mortgage.
Frustration occurs when we feel thwarted by external events. At the root of this problem is the fact that people can be extremely selfish and many do not care about one another.
Our world has been destroyed by greed and commerce; people live in poverty and poor health, animals are hunted to extinction or treated abominably whilst alive.
The Western world has become a world of adult-children, bored, restless, overworked - addicted to food, television and videogames.
Business and media have not necessarily created the situation but they have exploited it.
Most studies agree that there
are a number of key personality characteristics that are important for
healthy aging: easygoing, cheerful, self-confident, adaptable, active,
independent, creative, happy, relaxed, satisfied, calm, open, agreeable,
conscientious, sociable and having a high tolerance for frustration being
mentioned most often.
The traits that lead to an unhealthy, shorter life? Being repressed, dogmatic, stubborn, hostile, neurotic, angry, guilty, sad, fearful, anxious, depressed and aggressive.
(Dr Bradley Wilcox, Dr Craig Wilcox and Dr Makoto Suzuki)
People like to be treated with fairness and respect. Some want more than this:
• They want to feel special, important, above other people
• Their insecurity leads them to abuse: they take more than they need, they demand recognition, prestige
This behaviour has consequences; it affects everything else, it creates an imbalance that spans the world.
When people only look after their own wellbeing and think nothing of others or the future, they make life difficult for others.
Modern society is filled with situations that make you feel helpless and annoyed. Consider property/ownership: You want something, so you buy it. If you cannot afford it immediately, you save.
If you are too impatient to save or need it immediately, you go into debt. Yet, buying the item is just the beginning.
Now you need to look after your property, safeguard it from others, from theft or damage. Fear creates anxiety, so maybe you insure it.
Insurance sounds alright in principle, yet if you make a claim, you might be penalised.
A whole chain of events has now occurred as a consequence of one purchase. It is worth considering what is making you stressed and frustrated; and whether or not you can do anything about it.
The Book of Changes teaches that there are often many different ways to consider one situation.
Making the best of it
Taoism looks at the world as a system of relationships that we must find harmony with rather than try and change. Krishnamurti argues that if life seems unfair, you cannot hope to change everyone else.
The change must come from within, from the individual. Even if you succeed in solving one problem - removing one external barrier - there will always be another.
Tai chi encourages you to roll with the punches, to make the best of every situation. Life will never be problem-free or perfect, so accept it and do what you can.
Tai chi is frequently promoted as being incredibly easy to learn... yet the sheer complexity of tai chi is very intimidating to a beginner. There is just no end to the detail and the refinement.
The art cannot be learned and then put aside; it is a process of continuous development and change.
As your sensibilities become more subtle and awareness grows, the training becomes a greater and greater challenge.
Challenges keep you young
When the challenge seems insurmountable; you may become frustrated at your apparent lack of progress. And that really is the whole point.
If you approach tai chi as a goal, or something to own or to have... it will elude you. There is always a further layer of detail and subtlety.
Becoming angry or feeling powerless is pointless in tai chi; you just need to be patient and accept your situation.
You cannot rush, hurry, buy or cheat your way through the syllabus: it makes everybody equal. Only the dedicated, patient student will experience its benefits.
Tai chi is a journey that will take a lifetime to complete and even if you feel to have mastered the art, there is some further nuance within your training just waiting to be uncovered.
A wild bird nesting in
the deep forest needs no more than a single branch;
a wild animal drinking from a river takes no more than its fill.
8 December 2004
Last updated 15 February 2020