As an example, when people speak about the roads on a snowy day and say it is a mess, that is a negative attitude. Even if it is true, it may be messy but it is what it is. You will deal with whatever you must to get where you are going and it will be over with. There is nothing that can be done, and being negative does not make it better. I know this is a small thing and you may not have even noticed, but it is significant. Remember that it is the little things we brush off that stay as the sleeping undetected virus that erupts one day and kills us.
So by seeing things this way, simply as what it is rather than allowing yourself to become negative by association and identification, you will begin to be free of anger. If you catch yourself identified with what everyone else says rather than objective seeing, then you can begin to eliminate the small angers and negativity’s from your life. Those small steps make big changes. The idea that the roads are a mess and it is going to be hell getting home and all that, is what you hear on the radio and news. That is why the media is so dangerous to a seeker of truth, as well as the ignorant. We are so programmed to see events in the way we hear about them rather than seeing them objectively and neutrally.
This is what your meditation practice is for, to see when and how you are negative and to focus your mind. You see, negative thoughts come when we are asleep, not in control of our mind, not focused. If you where focused, you would never choose to be negative, right? So therefore, any negative word or thought comes from a sleeping state. If your meditative practice is strong, you will be aware at all times, and therefore not ever negative.
This can be achieved two ways, the first is to meditate all day, and the second, more practical way, is to catch yourself being negative, even in the tiniest thought, and catch it. Just remind yourself of the Dali Lama who replied to the interviewer about how he stays positive despite the atrocities that have fallen on his land and people. “Do you have any better alternative?”
Basically, watch how often your comments or thoughts about something are more in line with what is common rather than as a Buddha would see it. Everyone is one being, there is no difference between the Buddha and a sentient being. The essence is all the same. The only difference is in the way each looks at what is in front of him.
Whatever is in front of you has no inherent value, good or bad. It has a value you place on it. Think about this and see if you can look at all events this way. Just a little more practice in those things that bother you. That is the place that the effort need be placed, not on the good things, only on the disturbing ones. In rooting out the small apparently insignificant moments that you are bothered, that will change how you react to the larger events.
And of course this gets more difficult as you progress in your growth rather than easier. It is the same as climbing Everest. Easy in the foot hills, harder at snow line, very difficult near the peak, but once on top, you are there.
Equanimity and indifference are not the same, but they are similar. Indifference is where you run away from things, you say what the heck, and it doesn’t matter, that is avoiding life.
Equanimity comes from dealing with life and not being upset, which means you can only develop true equanimity when you are constantly inundated by the frustrations of life so you can test and develop yourself to be able to deal with them without getting lost and crazy and out of control.
The other practices like meditation are developing your ability to have equanimity. And the challenges of life are your perpetual examination and tests to see if you have developed it or not, and so you know what exercises or things you must continually be doing to develop it.