We are conditioned to believe something that has very little truth to it, so little truth that it’s more accurate to call it a myth: We believe that things could be better. We deeply believe that we can have a better experience or a better life or become a better person. And, of course, the flip side of this is that we believe that things could be worse.

One clue that this belief is a myth is that not everyone agrees on what’s better or worse. There’s always someone who thinks the exact opposite of what you think. You don’t even have to look to others for such contradictions: What you think is better or worse is always changing. What you once felt was good often becomes bad and visa versa: One day you think it would be better to be in a relationship, and then when you’re in one, you think it would be better to be alone. The fact that your ideas about better and worse are so variable is another clue that this is a myth. Better or worse are just ideas with no substance or final definition.

The effort to try to make things better or to avoid something worse is our suffering. In order to hold the idea that something would be better, you have to narrow your awareness. Take the example of a relationship: In the beginning, we’re all masters at narrowing our awareness onto all the good qualities of the other person. This narrowing of awareness is effortful, and it causes us to suffer. This struggle is not natural, so awareness doesn’t stay contracted. Just naturally, our awareness expands, and we see not only the advantages to being in a relationship but the disadvantages.

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