Last week I was in a candy store. A really big candy store at the beach. Every type of candy you can imagine plus some that you haven’t. They had about 20 different types of fudge that they make in their shop. Free samples! So many flavors of jelly beans and a wall of nostalgic candies. It was a candy lover’s dream come true. This was not a good place for me to find myself but, due to matters beyond my control, there I was.
I walked out of the store 15 minutes later with nothing purchased or consumed other than an extremely small sample piece of fudge. It was a small miracle to say the least.
Last night I had a craving. A serious, powerful and overwhelming craving. I wanted a Big Mac. I wanted one so badly I could taste it. My brain was screaming at me for one. I’d just spent 45 minutes mowing the lawn and burned over 600 calories so I could justify one burger from McDonald’s. Instead, I ate carrots. Another small miracle.
However, when you look at the bigger picture, you see that these weren’t miracles. The miraculous is something that happens without explanation or reason. I know exactly what happened when I was facing temptation. I was able to avoid the candy and the burger is because I had a friend who was there to listen to me (as I whined via text message that I wanted a Big Mac) or by being there to physically hit me in the head if I were to purchase anything at the candy store. I didn’t have to rely on my strength alone to resist temptation because I have a friend who wants the best for me.
Later, I found out that this friend of mine has made positive choices on their own because they committed to help me make good choices. This person isn’t trying to lose 100 pounds like I am but has had a lot of success recently in losing weight and wants the same for me. The fact that we are working together means we are both making decisions that have a positive impact on both our lives.
If you are trying to do something, it helps if you have someone to work with. In this case, I want to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. I have been successful in the past because of friends who are pulling for me and I am succeeding again because I have others who are helping me along the path.
Working with others is so important that being a part of the community, or Sangha, is a critical component of a Buddhist practice. In Buddhism, there is something called The Three Jewels. They are, The Buddha, The Dharma and The Sangha and it is no surprise why they go together. The first is fairly obvious if you think about it: after all, it’s called Buddhism for a reason. The second is also pretty easy to understand; if you’re going to follow someone’s teachings, you follow their lessons (in this case, Dharma). The third is the one that is often hardest to understand. Without a group to share a practice, to encourage and walk with, the practice can wane. The same is true with weight loss.
Do you have someone to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle? Do you have someone to exercise with? If you are trying to achieve a goal, do you have a confidant and someone to help you on the way? If you want your path to be as easy as possible, it helps to have friends.