Pain is unavoidable, but suffering is caused solely by the mind. One of the greatest causes of our own suffering, our own lack of peace, contentment, and happiness, is the complexity that we allow to rule our lives. Complexity impedes our ability to look deeply at any one thing, to be mindful of what life presents, here, now.
In my life, complexity prevails in excessive responsiblities or, rather, what I interpret to be responsibilities. I'm not speaking of true responsibilities such as cleaning, laundry, or grocery shopping. Nor am I speaking of such enjoyable "responsibilities" as spending time with family, friends, and my fiance. I have many interests, many things I enjoy doing: I train very regularly for volleyball; I play volleyball; I am starting my Ph.D. studies in electrical engineering on Monday (gasp!); I write on this blog; I write offline in hopes of publication; I enjoy a number of strategy games; I am designing a campaign around one of those games; I read on a lot of topics; I enjoy one or two television shows; I raise bonsai trees. I'll stop here, but there's more.
The number of interests I have does not necessarily engender complexity. Complexity arises because I take many of these interests too seriously, and I want to improve my skill level in them. But to do so requires time. For example, I need to weight train at least 2-3 times per week and perform aerobic conditioning at least 3 times per week for volleyball; any less, and there's really no point because I'm not reaping any benefit from it. So life becomes complex for me because I see these activities as responsibilities—I need to train 3-5 days per week; I need to write every day; I need to work on this campaign if I want to have it ready to play by the end of September—and responsibilities weigh on our minds. My attachment to these interests, the need to accomplish "X" by "Y" date (a self-imposed deadline with no true consequences for missing it), causes me to suffer.
1-Minute Contemplation: How does complexity arise in your life? What can you do to simplify? Can you eliminate? Can you re-frame (i.e. learn to see "responsibilities" as interests)? What benefits might come from simplifying?