Experience. Dream. Risk. Close your eyes and jump. Enjoy the freefall. Choose exhilaration over comfort. Choose magic over predictability. Choose potential over safety. Wake up to the magic of everyday life. Make friends with your intuition. Trust your gut. Discover the beauty of uncertainty. Know yourself fully before you make promises to another. Make millions of mistakes so that you will know how to choose what you really need. Know when to hold on and when to let go. Love hard and often and without reservation. Seek knowledge. Open yourself to possibility. Keep your heart open, your head high and your spirit free. Embrace your darkness along with your light. Be wrong every once in a while, and don’t be afraid to admit it. Awaken to the brilliance in ordinary moments. Tell the truth about yourself no matter what the cost. Own your reality without apology. See goodness in the world. Be Bold. Be Fierce. Be Grateful. Be Wild, Crazy and Gloriously Free. Be You.
For the teenager who is not doing dishes but is watching TV, because that means he is at home and not on the streets.
For the taxes I pay, because it means that I am employed.
For the mess to clean after a party, because it means that I have been surrounded by friends.
For the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means I have enough to eat.
For my shadow that watches me work, because it means I am out in the sunshine.
For a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing, because it means I have a home.
For all the complaining I hear about the government, because it means that we have freedom of speech.
For the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means I am capable of walking, and that I have been blessed with transportation.
For my huge heating bill, because it means I am warm.
For the lady behind me in my place of worship when she sings off key, because it means that I can hear.
For the pile of laundry and ironing, because it means I have clothes to wear.
For weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day, because it means I have been capable of working hard.
For the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours, because it means that I am alive.
Most people sabotage themselves because they aren’t mindful in the moment. Let your daily actions be governed by your goals and dreams. Whenever you are making an important decision, first ask if it gets you closer to your goals or farther away. If the answer is closer, pull the trigger. If it’s farther away, make a different choice. Conscious choice making is a critical step in making your dreams a reality.
Aristotle said that the ultimate aim or purpose or human life is to achieve your own happiness. You are the very happiest when what you are doing on the outside is congruent with your values on the inside. When you are living in complete alignment with that which you consider to be good, right, and true, you will automatically feel happy and positive about yourself and your world.
Know What You Really Want
Stephen Covey once said, “Be sure that, as you scramble up the ladder of success, it is leaning against the right building.” Many people work hard to achieve goals that they think they want only to find, at the end of the day, they get no joy or satisfaction from their accomplishments. They ask, “Is this all there is?” This occurs when the outer accomplishment is not in harmony with your inner values. Don’t let this happen to you.
Trust Your Intuition
Self-trust is the foundation of greatness. Self-trust comes from listening to your intuition, to your “still, small voice” within. Men and women begin to become great when they begin to listen to their inner voices and absolutely trust that they are being guided to a higher power each step of the way. Living in alignment with your true values is the royal road to self-confidence, self-respect, and personal pride. In fact, almost every human problem can be resolved by returning to values.
Watch Your Behavior
How can you tell what your values really are? The answer is simple. You always demonstrate your true values in your actions and especially your actions under pressure. Whenever you are forced to choose between one behavior and another you will always act consistent with what is most important and valuable to you at that moment. Values, in fact, are organized in a hierarchy. You have a series of values, some of them very intense and important and some of them weaker and less important. One of the most important exercises you can engage in to determine who you really are and what you really want is to organize your values by priority. Once you are clear about the relative important of your values, you can then organize your outer life so that it is in alignment with them.
Determine Your Hearts Desire
The spiritual teacher Emmet Fox wrote about the importance of discovering your “hearts desire.” What is your hearts desire? As a friend of mine asks, “What do you want to be famous for?” What words would you like people to use to describe you when you are not there? What would you like someone to say about you at your funeral? What kind of reputation do you have today? What kind of reputation would you like to have sometime in the future?
Your Past is Not Your Future
Many people had difficult experiences growing up. They fell on hard times and became associated with the wrong people. Some were convicted and sent to prison for crimes. But at a certain point in life, they decided to change. They thought seriously about what kind of person they wanted to be known as, and thought of, in the future. They decided to change their lives by changing the values that they lived by. By making these decisions and sticking to them, they changed their lives. Remember, it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from; all that really matt
Our lives are inundated with practicality and productivity. We think that if there’s no purpose to something, there’s no point in doing it. In reality the best things in life have no purpose.
We sacrifice our time and our sanity doing what we don’t want to do, so at some future point we will create the freedom to do what we love.
We seek happiness in things. We seek happiness in the acceptance of others, in material possessions, in social status. We even search for happiness in some future-promised afterlife. We sabotage ourselves and our entire lives because we fail to understand a very simple but easily overlooked fact.
The Search for Happiness is the Single Greatest Cause of Misery
You can’t find something that’s already there. Happiness exists now. It’s not something you have to find. That’s like trying to find your breath.
It’s the grasping of the mind that causes unhappiness. If you’re not happy, it’s because your mind doesn’t allow you be happy. And the reason your mind doesn’t let you be happy, is because you’re stuck in the vicious cycle of productivity, judgment and purpose. That’s not to say productivity is bad, or that doing things that have a purpose is wrong. It’s basing the reason for your existence on them that causes so much anguish.
When we place our happiness solely in “getting” something, completing a certain number of tasks on our to-do list, or achieving a goal, we’re fooling ourselves. We’re like a rabbit with a carrot stick attached to our heads. We keep chasing the carrot, but we never get there. We never stop to think that it might be the chasing that’s causing the problem. We’re too distracted trying to find a better way to beat the game. As soon as we reach one level of success, we’re hurrying to upgrade our search and move on to the next level of the chase. We never stop to think that it’s not the failure to win the game that causes our grief, but the game itself.
We neglect to realize that sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem. Sometimes the best way to to solve a problem is to just stop caring (see: not giving a damn).
- The best way to solve the problem of not having a lot of cool friends is to stop caring about having cool friends.
- The smartest way to be happy with the place you live is to stop caring about living in a two story house with a pool, a fireplace, central air and satellite TV.
- The simplest way to be content with yourself is not to achieve greatness and praise, but to accept yourself fully for who you are now.
- The quickest route to happiness is to stop caring about finding happiness and to start being happiness.
By not caring, we immediately release ourselves of the grasping of the mind. But it’s not easy to stay in this mindset (the mind loves to grasp); it’s something we have to constantly cultivate.
It’s especially difficult when our society tends to place more value on things, than on experiences. We value what we do more than how we feel.
This is completely ridiculous when you think about it. Because the way you feel should be more important than anything else. Isn’t the purpose of everything you do to feel good? Isn’t the purpose of that new car, that promotion, or college degree to give you a feeling of accomplishment? Isn’t that supposed to make you happy?
The problem with this is we’re basing our happiness on temporary things. We’re deriving our joy from an achievement, or an attainment. This isn’t true happiness; it’s an addiction. We get a short burst of endorphins to our bloodstream from our new TV/television, or new iPod, and then what happens? It disappears. It leaves us feeling empty and we begin looking for our next fix.
Our advertising and consumer culture doesn’t help this much. We are constantly bombarded with messages that we need this, or we need that. Incessantly, we hear: “Buy this and it will solve your problem!” If only we could solve that problem we may finally be happy. Wrong. It’s not the problems that are the problem. I mean, buying a more efficient vacuum or sowing on that button you’ve been meaning to for seven years is great. You may feel a sense of achievement for a few moments or days. But you’re still looking for happiness in a thing.
It’s the same with productivity. If only we could finish all of the things on our to-do list, could we be content. If only we could accomplish all of our goals, could we finally be gratified. This thinking is based on the illusion that you’ll reach a certain point where everything is done. You finally made it! There’s nothing left in your inbox, all your projects are complete and your lifelong goals are achieved! Now you can rest easy.
But this point never seems to come, does it? That’s because there will always be things to do. There will always be challenges, because everything in life is constantly changing. If you reached a point in your life where you had no more problems, no more struggles, no more worries, life would stop. The game would end and there would be no point left in playing.
So… what can we do about this?
We Need to Stop Caring
That doesn’t mean we stop trying to achieve our goals or striving for personal growth. It just means that we no longer base our happiness on fleeting, semi-permanent things.
There are obviously some situations where not caring may have serious negative consequences (see paying your rent). Excessive caring, however, is likely to make you miserable.
The reason caring too much can be detrimental to your health, is you’re so focused on the future. Your identity is too attached to outcomes. If something does, or doesn’t go your way, it will likely have an enduring effect on your mood for the rest of the day.
Instead, we should base our happiness on permanent things. Things that don’t change. Desires that don’t shift from moment to moment. We choose to find our happiness in living. In life itself. In fact, we don’t even need to “find” happiness. We can be happiness.
So stop searching. You can’t find something that’s already there.
We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough and we’ll be more content when they are. After that we’re frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire.
The truth is, there’s no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when?
Your life will always be filled with challenges. It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. Alfred D Souza said, “For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have. And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time … and remember that time waits for no one…
So stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you’ve had a drink, until you’ve sobered up, until you die, until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy…
Author: Crystal Boyd , 1998. From the book: “Midnight Muse.”