The other day, I had a headache like I hadn’t had in years. It wasn’t a migraine, but it was big. It had been steadily growing most of the day, and by 3 o’clock, it was all I could think of.

Because I’m a hippie at heart, I try my best to avoid medication as much as possible. My first line of defense against a headache is meditation; sometimes when I meditate, a slight headache will go away. So, I went into a quiet room, got in a relaxed position, and concentrated on my breathing for about an hour. The headache’s strength didn’t budge. So, I decided to try and sleep it off. I took a nap for about an hour and a half, waking up…with the same headache.

Begrudgingly, I walked to the kitchen and took out a bottle of aspirin and swallowed two. Within a few minutes, my headache was gone.

The moral of the story is: Too often, we live our lives through dogma, beliefs and esoteric concepts, instead of what we actually need to do. Living by what we believe in is very important, but there comes a time when we are so welded to what we believe is right, that we don’t practically look at what we need to do. Life is not a matter of simply finding out and defining what we want and then only doing that.

A friend of mine once told me about a time when her mother texted her and begged her to call more. In the text, the mother threw in a lot of criticisms about the daughter not being a good daughter. Then, the mother called and left a pleading message for her daughter to get in touch with her. The adult daughter, who is a really nice woman and often available to people who need her, was riddled with guilt and immediately wanted to call her mother. But she had the same response a lot in the past and it never solved anything, it never satisfied her mother.

My friend’s belief was that she needed to be decent to her mother, but she also knew, from past experience, that if she called she would feel resentful, manipulated and all “twisted.” What she believed to be the decent thing to do (calling her mother) actually wasn’t. She instead needed to figure out a different way of being decentone that would be be defined by her and not her mother. One that would be practical and reasonablenot motivated by guilt or remorse, but by rationale and logic.

Sometimes, dilemmas in life come from the fact that what we believe is right and what the situation calls for seems contradictory. And they may be. But there are ways of working through these dilemmas by taking a step back from difficult situations and acting in a more practical, rational and logical way to take care of our headachesno matter where they come from.