Usually, when we are suffering in some way, we habitually grasp towards things that we know have previously made us feel good. For some of us, the pick-me-up might be eating chocolate, talking to a friend or watching TV. We basically look for anything that will distract us from the unpleasantness that we are experiencing. Many times these techniques can often lift us out of our depression and we can feel mentally balanced, enough to meekly dip our toes back into the world again. However, there are also many times when we continue to feel dissatisfied. Although our chosen forms of escapism may prove effective most of the time, we can see that our ‘infallible pick-me-ups’ aren’t so reliable all of the time.
The reason for this is because objects or activities in themselves have no concrete qualities that are reliable all of the time. For instance, if we are physically sick with a cold and we have an argument with our mother, then grabbing the closest block of chocolate probably won’t send you into bliss, but into wretchedness instead. This is because the chocolate doesn’t have any inherent qualities that make it permanently wonderful. In fact, for dogs, chocolate can be poisonous!
We have to look at what is inside us that makes us want to escape the unpleasant experiences of life? Why are we so afraid to look at the situation, or even challenge it to cause us greater pain? Without having voiced it out loud, we all have a strong inner belief that life should be pleasant, and if it isn’t, then there is something wrong and we need to fix it. However, the Buddha taught in the First Noble Truth, that life is a mixture of pleasant and unpleasant experiences, and that dissatisfaction and unsatisfactory experiences are simply a part of life. So we shouldn’t feel like we’ve failed if things aren’t going so wonderfully. That is just the nature of life.