Aim, a verb and a noun.
Both the means by which we hit the target, and the target itself...they are one in the same.
One doesn't plant mango seeds and expect grapefruit to grow, We know the seed becomes the fruit, that the quality of the seeds become the same quality of the fruit. Similarly, our thoughts, words, and deeds are our seeds, and their consequences the fruit:
Entertain thoughts of anger, become anger.
Speak out of anger, become anger.
Act out of anger, become anger.
If we aim to be happy, then entertaining thoughts of anger, speaking out of anger, and acting out of anger are setting us off in the complete opposite direction of our target.
The Importance of Establishing a Clear Aim
If we set an aim to derive happiness by being the most loving, kind, and compassionate being we can be, we then question what we are to do and not to do in order to reach that aim. What sorts of thoughts do we entertain? What quality of speech do we speak? What type of behavior do we condone?
Setting a clear aim creates an anchor point from which we can measure whether or not our thoughts, words, and actions are aligned with reaching the target.
As we develop and hone the faculty of mindfulness, we can catch ourselves acting and speaking out of anger. Measuring against our aim of being loving, kind, and compassionate, we can then abandon the behavior that has us missing the mark by shifting our attention to our thoughts. It is here we see that the thoughts precede the behavior:
1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; mind is their maker. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts, suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.
2. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; mind is their maker. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts, happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow
Dhammpada Verse 1 - 2
Broadening the Mind
We become upset when we don't get what we want or get what we don't want. In either case the mind becomes narrow, fixed to a perceived singular desirable outcome that is formed around/based upon opinion (which is always relative).
At this point we must honestly ask ourselves "do I really want to be upset?"
We understand that stewing in anger doesn't lead to being loving, kind, and compassionate to ourselves or others. So if we're honoring our aim of finding lasting happiness through being the most loving, kind, and compassionate being we can be, we then vow to abandon the behavior that is setting us off in the opposite direction.
We can then interrupt the cycle by interjecting the consideration that perhaps there's another way to view the circumstances that have led us to be upset. In encouraging the mind to consider at least one contrary point of view, after some potential initial resistance, with continued effort, and keeping a watchful eye on the mind, the continuous interjection of counterpoints leads to a letting go, allowing the mind to settle. In doing so we demonstrate to ourselves that it's in thinking that there's only one way of perception (i.e. our perception) that creates the problem. When we broaden the mind to consider other points of view, the suffering begins to subside.
The process requires and strengthens kindness and patience, for the mind is stubborn, set in its ways regarding how we react to the world around us, and requires effort and time to change. It's important not to give up, nor feel ashamed, but rather be ardent in the determination to come out of old patterns of thinking that aren't in anyone's best interest (first and foremost ourselves).
"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing at someone else; you are the one who gets burned first." - Buddha
A clear aim is so, so critical in this process. Without it we lack the framework within which we can discern between behaviors that are beneficial to finding lasting happiness and those that are not. It is the foundation of our practice from which we learn to operate.
May you set, maintain, and reach your aim.