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People often ask,
"Does being mindful mean I can't have opinions or preferences?"
Does it dictate that I can't like Mexican food better than Chinese food? Or, that I can't enjoy this movie more than that movie?
No. Opinions and preferences aren't a problem. The problem is, we become attached to our opinions and preferences. We turn them into stories, and build our identities around them.
For example, I prefer not to eat Chinese food. And, if I get agitated when I'm presented with Chinese food, I create a problem. I'm holding up my opinion, and making those around me suffer because they don't share it. Or, I make myself suffer because I want things to be different than they are (I want my friends to stop wanting Chinese food!).
This can easily lead to me feeling so strongly about my opinion I start thinking it's the only legitimate view. Everyone else is wrong, and I refuse to entertain what they think. It's not hard to imagine this escalating to me considering anyone who feels different as not worthy of my time (i.e., no longer my friend - or, my enemy!).
Do you see where my aversion to Chinese food is leading? Suffering. Conflict. It sounds a bit silly, right? But, what about attachment to opinions over religion, culture, or sexual preference?
People are oppressed and wars are fought over strongly held opinions and the deep-seated beliefs they create. We inherit them from our ancestors. We pass them to our children. And, we constantly reinforce and strengthen them in our groups and social circles.
Attachment to opinions prevents us from seeing we are all connected. It divides us into groups, and fosters the mentality of "me vs. you" and "us vs. them."
Mindfulness, on the other hand, helps us drop those attachments. It helps us see we are all connected. It allows us to have a preference without closing our minds.
Which means you can like Mexican food better - just don't start a war over it!
You can't escape your mind...
Life seems to be a roller coaster of ups and downs. All of us are endlessly searching for happiness as we stumble from one problem to the next, trying to cope as best we can.
Are you ready to do something different?
If so, we wrote "An owner's guide to the mind" for you. Click here to read more.