One exercise to foster wisdom is to reflect on the four “mind-changers” fundamental to Tibetan Buddhism: (1) Life is inconceivably precious, (2) Life is short and death is certain, (3) Life contains inevitable difficulties, and (4) Our ethical choices mold our lives.
These four truths inform my approach to medicine and the living of each day. With each baby I deliver, I have not lost a profound sense of wonder and gratitude. Life is indeed a precious gift that we can take for granted, but with each day of life, we have the opportunity to grow in wisdom and express love.
We can get so caught up in materialism and petty self-concerns that we forget that our days are numbered – as are those of our loved ones. If you had but one week with the people you love, what would you say and what would you do?
No one is promised a carefree life. Suffering and misfortune are inevitable. Accidents happen, we become ill, and we are harmed by others. The suffering in life is not doled out evenly; there is no fairness.
What we can control and what we do choose is how we take the gift of this life to meet the challenges of health, fate and our relationships. It is our words and actions that define who we are, how we find meaning and how we express love.