Oakville Zen Meditation

#94. Feeling miserable.1FEB16

Despite our rich Western society and “all you can get“ life style, feeling miserable is a common complain. Of course, there are cases when misery is obvious and our duty is to help others the best we can. For the lucky ones we are privileged and yet, quite often, we do not appreciate or realize it.

There is a difference between being miserable based on facts and feeling miserable based on perception.

Where is this negative & reactive emotion “I feel miserable” coming from?

When we are prone to misery, there is almost always a reason behind it. Causes of misery can be serious and justifiable such as a loss of a loved one, being fired, physical / mental pain, sickness, stress, unhappiness at home, at work, fear, anger, etc. They can also a precursor sign of depressive disorders and other neurosis and proper medical approach will be needed.

More often however, causes for feeling miserable are a bit more “trivial” such as rainy days, cold, boredom, upset neighbor, and flat tire, a ticket, not having what we want, having what we don’t want, too many expectations, expectations too high... etc. In fact, some of us are chronically miserable. These “trivial” causes of misery are not really good reasons to be truly miserable; they are just temporary experiences that we have to go through. This is part of life whether we like it or not. Our ego mind sees them as an opportunity to trap and keep us in these negative feelings. Our ego mind creates conditions and decides what we like and dislike, what we want now and don’t want, what is right and what is not, what is possible and what is not, what is important and what is not. When we encounter the conditions we like, it’s OK but when we are facing the opposite we feel miserable. In order to deal with this feeling we share them with partner, family members and friends. We whine, gripe and complain and the listeners will or will not agree that we are completely justified in being miserable, considering what we are going through. After ventilating we feel a bit better despite any proposed solutions.

 How to deal with this misery?

Like for any other negative feelings, you have to learn to 1) recognize this emotional & reactive state 2) Pay attention to it without being judgmental one way or the other 3) Accept it and finally 4) Control it. Then, after a careful review, decide whether or not there is a good and rational reason to feel so bad. By doing so, you will discover that most of your little misery traps that poison your daily life do not justify this state of hardship and anguish. You will realize then that it is more a mindset or a mind trap than anything else. Like while dealing with our thoughts during meditation, being aware of those little traps in a mindfully way that is without an analytic attitude will help you not to fall in the trap of gloom and doom. If you feel that the winter wind makes you miserable, feel the wind again and realize that you are alive. If your boss is making your day miserable, let it go, everything is transient and tomorrow is approaching. When these little situations make you miserable you have only 2 options: either you can change them or you can’t. In the latter case the only option is to accept them as they are and not as your mind wants them to be.


Our ego mind, prone to illusion (wrong perception) and delusion (wrong belief), is always looking for solutions even when there is none because it is the role of the ego to solve things. It is OK as long there is a solution. It is meaningless and very destructive when there is none. When there is no solution there is no problem just a fact to accept. Trying to find a solution when there is none is like trying to fill up a bottomless bucket. It will drive you crazy.

 Thoughts to contemplate:

  • How often on a scale from 1 to 10 do you feel miserable?
  • Do you know why? If yes? Is there a good reason or is it something more trivial?
  • How did you deal with it?
  • Are you trying to find solution even when there is no problem to solve?

Thank you.   J.G.Sunim     1FEB2016