Tiny Wisdom: The Same, But Different

“What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.” -Unknown

My boyfriend, who is an aspiring screenwriter, has told me that the film industry and moviegoers essentially want “the same, but different.”

We want the same themes, but with different people; the same humor, but in different circumstances.

We want to see good rewarded, and for love to conquer all; we want the hero to change for the better, and the villain to reap what he sows.

We want action, excitement, adventure, and romance; we want to feel terrified and then relieved; we want to doubt and then believe.

We want to see people fall and survive—struggle and thrive. We want to feel the full spectrum of emotions, from low to high. We want to be moved, inspired, and maybe even in some small way, changed.

In the real world there are no happy endings, since we’re perpetually in the middle—and often, there’s gravity where filmmakers would insert levity, and unfairness where they would create justice.

Still, this is all very similar to life: from one day to the next, it’s often the same, but different.

We experience fears, insecurities, and emotions that we’ve known and felt for years. We deal with challenges that seem so familiar they may even seem like a part of us.

We might make mistakes we’ve made many times before. We might come against the same resistance we’ve been battling all our lives.

We may repeat the same patterns in relationships that we’ve known since we were young. And we may find ourselves receiving guidance that seems like nothing new.

And yet it’s always new. It’s always different. Even if the days are similar, we come to each one totally new people.

We come to our struggles with new insights. We come to each other with new understanding. And we come to each moment with new potential to be that hero—to make a different choice, to change for the better.

Sometimes it can seem like nothing ever changes and nothing ever will. But everything changes, in tiny shifts, every day. The real question is whether or not we’ll recognize the tiny shifts within us and act on what we feel.

Regardless of our circumstances, we always have a choice. We can choose more of the same; or we can recognize this moment is different—and that we can be, too.

Photo by malfet_

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • Donald

    I actually  prefer movies that aren’t cookie cutter –  characters that don’t survive;  endings that aren’t happy; bad winning over good….  What I do expect however is to learn something about life in when it is most unfair.   If this happens, I walk away from the movie satisfied. 

  • CiaraConlon

    To quote Yoda from Starwars “If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are … a different game you should play” too often we do the same things and expect different results but it is necessary to change to evolve and improve. Great post Lori thanks

  • Geekgyrl36

    This is so fitting for me today…thank you!

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  • What an awesome piece of writing, Lori! If I were you and had written it, I would feel peace for a while. Really! I find one of your statements so smart and brilliant that it almost shocks me: “We deal with challenges that seem so familiar they may even seem like a part of us.” What an incredibly powerful truth. And you’re right: Once we recognize that they’re not part of us, just have been for a long time, we can make a choice. And from there, everything changes. Thank you for this! You’re amazing.

  • Bambooo

    So true! Thanks for posting this. I’ve been feeling miserable all day. Time to move in a new direction! Enough already with this self pity and moaning etc.

  • AM22

    It’s amazing how relevant this blog is from day to day.  Makes me feel like I am normal 🙂

  • Lynnfux

    Because yo uall give so much hope ,love strength and comfort,this is for all of you :

    Who was The Laughing Buddha

    Every one must have seen the statue of “Laughing Buddha”. He is also called as the “Happy Man”.

    In actuality he was named Hotei or Pu-Tai is best known as the jolly Laughing Buddha.In China, he is known as the Loving or Friendly One.He is based on an eccentric Chinese Ch’an (Zen) monk who lived over 1,000 years ago and has become a significant part of Buddhist and Shinto culture.Because of this monk’s benevolent nature, he came to be regarded as an incarnation of the bodhisattva who will be Maitreya (the Future Buddha). His large protruding stomach and jolly smile have given him the common designation “Laughing Buddha.”.
    He was truly a great zen master and legend has a great story which is so inspirational for all of us.
    The jolly good saint that he was used to go from one place to the other.He went to the Town Square and soon people gathered around him. He was so funny looking and always smiling that people used to crowd around him.
    He would then distribute sweets and small toys to all children who had gathered around him. Then keep his bag down, look to the sky and just start laughing. He used to laugh madly and he was not interested whether other laughed or not. Soon his laughter used to be contagious and all who had gathered would start to laugh.
    The whole town used to laugh and laugh.After sometime he would pick the bag, which he had kept down, smile to all, and go to the next town. All his life he did only this action and it was said that many people attained Nirvana, enlightenment just through this process.Hence he was called as the laughing Buddha because Buddha is someone who is enlightened and laughter was his unique method. Never before him or never after him such a simple aspect was used to achieve what all humans strive for-moksha or enlightenment.
    He would rarely speak and once when he was asked to describe his method he told, that he gave sweets to children to symbolically that the more you give, the more comes to you. Thereby he unveiled the secret of “Giving with joy”. Children are said to be GOD because they represent the GOD Nature, which is always, be in Present time, smiling and joyful, ego less, and most important is without judge mental mind.
    The bag represented problems that all humans encounter. We are mistaken that when we have problems, that GOD only gave you a problem and the rest are so happy. The problems appear big because we are associated with it- calling it as “My Problem”.Look at a funny phenomenon, if anyone comes to you with any problem of theirs and seek solutions or advice, what you do. You tell them so many solutions so easily as though you are an expert in all the fields in the Universe. However big the others problems are you can solve it so easily, you are a master solver of problems. But then what happens to your own problems. Hmm Hmm it is impossible to find any solution.
    This happens only because of your attachment and association with the problem.So laughing Buddha said, simple keep your problem down (symbolically keeping the bag down) means “Disassociate with your Problem”, “Separate form it” and yes just Laugh. What else can one do? Think and thank GOD that you only have such a small problem as compared to so many others. Whether you laugh or cry the problem is going to be there right. So why not laugh at it. Therein is the magic and mind you no small magic, it is huge, apply it to realize about the power of laughter.
    On laughing your whole internal chemistry changes and thereby the body produces certain enzymes that are only released in a state of laughter. The problem now looks too tiny and as you pick it (symbolically he picks back the bag before going to the next place) the problem is solved.
    Such a great zen master was Hotei or Laughing Buddha. So next time you look at the statue of “laughing Buddha” associate with that great teaching he gave all of us, the power of laughter. Each time you see the Laughing Buddha and if it reminds you to laugh, a great work has been done.
    Whole life Hotei lived in Laughter. And when the time came to pass away, he knew he had to give up his life at an appropriate time. He called his disciples and said that after he passes away, they should immediately burn his body. The disciples were surprised because there was no tradition of burning in Zen. But they followed the master wishes. And as they lit fire to his body, “Fire Works and Crackers” started flying all over.
    Hotei was so great that just before he died he hid a lot of crackers and rockets in his clothes.So there also he created such laughter by the suddenness of the situation.So Hotei not only lived in laughter all through his life, he also died in laughter.
    Let us all learn from the great zen master that “It is our birth right to laugh” and “No matter what happens we should come back to laughter”.

  • Lynnfux

    The Laughing Buddah was posted by me,Lynn fux a practicing Nichiren Buddhist from Israel.Love to all and many many thanks.

  • I enjoy those myself, as well–though I like the cookie cutter ones too. For me, it depends on my mood!

  • You’re most welcome!

  • You’re most welcome Dagi! I actually did feel kind of peaceful after writing this. It’s amazing how sometimes writing can bring me so much joy and provide a sense of inner calm. It helps me make sense of the world. I’m glad you enjoyed this one! =)

  • I’m glad this was helpful to you! =)

  • You’re most welcome Bambooo! I’ve always liked the quote, “It’s a new day, a new chance to be healthy, happy, and free.” I think I actually saw that in a magazine once, but it’s true. On any day–in fact, on any moment, we can begin again. =)

  • You’re most welcome. That Yoda was a wise one!

  • What a beautiful story, and a powerful message! It’s so true that it’s much easier to give advice than take it. People often ask me for advice, through comments and emails, and sometimes I wonder if it’s really helpful to give it. Generally speaking, we tend to make choices and changes based on our epiphanies–which is why advice often falls flat.

    I really loved this part: “Whether you laugh or cry the problem is going to be there right. So why not laugh at it.” So true!

    Thank you for sharing this. =)