How have I been spared? Why is it wonderful?

When things don’t go according to plans, I can ask myself:

How have I been spared?

How may this be a more wise choice?

Why is it better? How is it wonderful for myself, others, and the world?

For each of these questions, I can find genuine and specific examples. Even if they are small, they help open the mind to new possibilities, and it gets easier to find other examples. If I can find one, I can find two, and then three, and then one more. I find that when it seems difficult to think of another genuine example, that’s when it pays off staying with it and waiting for another genuine example to surface. That’s when I can find something I hadn’t recognized before.

It is often good to do this at the end of or after a more full inquiry, and not skip ahead too far. And it is fine to select just one or two of these questions.

Here is an example from my own life, and I will answer all the questions to do it more thoroughly. Each one offers a slightly different lens and angle.

At the time I got married, I lived at the Zen center in Salt Lake City. It was the best possible situation for me, in my own mind. It felt deeply right. It was fun. Meaningful. Exiting. I had good friendships. I lived in a great place with nature I felt deeply at home in. Everything felt right. My wife had just been accepted into graduate school in another state, and after much back and forth, we decided to go. I followed a belief about marriage (I need to live in the same place as my wife), and went against what “everything” in me told me – to stay at the Zen center. I have seen that as a bad decision, which lead to a sequence of other things that seemed bad at the time and for a long time afterwards. So….

How was I spared?

Hm. I was spared from becoming a monk, which would have happened if I stayed. A part of me wanted it, another was more ambivalent. It felt like too much responsibility, and perhaps too confining. (Those are beliefs I could/would have questioned, and still can.)

I was spared from having to go back to Norway. At the time, I wanted to stay in the US, and this allowed me to do so.

I was spared from – most likely – getting a conventional 9 to 4 job in Norway.

* I was spared from living with my wife being unhappy in Salt Lake City. I was spared from having a two-continent relationship with her, had we not gotten married, and the relationship most likely ending.

How may this have been a more wise choice?

Hm. It was better for her in many ways. I got to experience things I otherwise most likely wouldn’t have. It helped me follow my own process, independent of traditions. Also, I entered the “dark night” this way, which helped me face a great number of fears and beliefs I otherwise may have skimmed over. I knew this would have to happen at some point, and I guess the Universe wanted it to happen quicker than I did consciously.

Why is it better?

I got to see what happens when I follow my beliefs, in this case about marriage. I got to examine this belief, and find more freedom from it. I got many experiences I otherwise wouldn’t have. I created friendships with people I otherwise would not have met. I got to live in the mid-west, experiencing and taking active part in the more cooperative and community oriented culture there.

How is this wonderful for me?

I got to work with a wonderful sustainability group, with amazing people, working in a consistently partnership- and solution oriented way. I met many people I admire and learned from.

I started up a large number of groups on simple living, sustainable living, deep ecology and related topics, and I am sure these groups changed the life of many people. That itself made it worth it. My work there impacted a large number of lives. (Just in these groups alone, which was one of many projects, hundreds or perhaps thousands of lives were impacted.)

I helped start up and shape an organization that is still going strong, and now with more staff. Without my work, that may not have happened.

I learned how to grow food, how to build strawbale houses and much more that I had wanted to learn.

I lived in a great town with great people. I got to volunteer at the local community supported radio station. I was member of a food co-op with great people. I did work-trade at a wonderful CSA farm and got to know amazing people there. I lived near a lake where we went skating in the winter. We went to gatherings and potlucks often several times weekly.

How is this wonderful for her?

That one is easy. She grew up in Utah and wanted to experience something else. Also, we had a fun, interesting and rewarding life in Wisconsin, with a large number of friends. We were part of a real community there. She worked at a wonderful office with wonderful people.

How is it wonderful for others?

Through my work there, I impacted a great number of people. I helped them find support for living a more meaningful and deeply rewarding life, aligned with their values and what was good for themselves, their families, their community, the Earth, and future generations.

I created friendships there that I know was rewarding for others.

I know my work there was inspiring for others. They saw me do what they would like to do, and it nudged them in that direction.

How is this wonderful for the world?

I helped start and shape an organization that is doing important work, and is still growing and going strong. I helped support a culture of solution-oriented and partnership-based work.

After going through this, answering each question honestly, with specific examples and in some detail, I notice a shift. I have worked on this before, but there is still some regret remaining. Answering these questions now, I see that there are many genuine reasons why going to Wisconsin was better and – yes – wonderful for myself, others, and the world.

* The asterix shows examples I hadn’t found before. They surfaced when I stayed with the question as a meditation, even as a thought said I may have exhausted the examples.

Source: These questions are all from Byron Katie and The Work.


– find genuine examples, even if they are small – helps open the mind for the possibility, gets easier to find other examples
– often good to do at end of or after more full inquiry, not skip ahead too far

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