Monday, March 24, 2014

Stop Chasing & Start Living

Photo by Kai Z Feng for Numéro magazine
The day I got the news that I had won the good mood blogger contest, felt like winning the lottery. Two months of built-up excitement, anxiety, and hard-earned daily marketing efforts had finally come to an end.
I remember the moment it happened, I felt a sense of relief and elation wash over my body, and I finally took a deep breath—for the first time in a few months, it seemed.
That same day, just a few hours later, I was running around doing last minute preparations for Ryan’s birthday party, and dealing with other personal drama. Suffice it to say that I was no longer in this bubble of joy and elation.
Even with over two months of built up anticipation and hard work, in a matter of hours, my mind was already racing for the next moment, seeking some other problem to hold on to.

By the time the next day rolled around, I was feeling normal again—as if nothing particular had happened recently.
This observation brought up an interesting point: We live our lives jumping from event to event; constantly chasing the next moment.
We work tirelessly, day and night, over some goal. And when the goal is reached or comes to a particular happy ending, we experience joy for a very short amount of time, before moving on to chase the next thing—that next goal.
The experience of an event is never quite the same as the image anticipated in our imagination, and the joy we actually experience never lasts as long as we originally thought.
In other words, what we imagine and anticipate in advance, always seems better and sweeter then when we actually experience it in reality. It’s never quite the same.
Many of us will try to cover our disappointment, caused by the clash between that which we’ve anticipated and that of reality, with some logical explanation. We might try to hide it, by pretending, or by seeking some other goal to chase after, so we don’t have to deal with the silent disappointment from this moment.
On some level, perhaps you can relate to what I’m saying. Here are some examples of where I’ve seen this show up:
  • Spending a fortune on a wedding. Months of planning and anxiety all leads up to one simple day consisting of a few nerve-racking hours. Many brides and grooms can probably recall being exhausted, not relaxing, or not having eaten anything all day. The day rushes by and you don’t remember enjoying yourself.
  • Working your butt off to create a business. When the business reaches a particular goal, even though you felt temporarily elation, once the excitement wears off, you’re left feeling a little empty.
  • Spending 4 years in school so you can get a dream job. And then you get the job. Once you get the job, it’s not quite as sweet as you imagined.
  • Wanting badly to be with someone romantically and then finally “getting” them. The reality isn’t the fairy tale you had imagined.
  • Wanting a physical possession and finally gathering enough resources to acquire it, and then taking it for granted once we acquire it. Examples: house, gadget, car, clothing.
  • Dreaming about traveling to some destination, and finally making a trip to that place. It’s never quite the same image as the one crafted by our imagination prior to the trip.
Recall the last time you worked hard towards the achievement of a goal or had much anticipation towards a desired ending. When the goal was met, when the desires were fulfilled, how long did the excitement last before you moved on to another target?
… a day? Maybe a few hours? Not very long right?
This is the power of our mind. This is our unbound, never-ending chase towards the next desire.
I’ve once heard a clever quote by Sri Ramana Maharishi that said: “As long as you desire something, its like getting a mountain; the minute you get it, it becomes a mustard seed!” Isn’t that so true?
And so, here we are, reminded once again to be present.
We are reminded once again to enjoy the fullness of this moment, regardless of what we are doing.
It is through the focused attention of doing in the now, where lasting happiness lies. The goal itself is just a superficial target, disguised as the source of happiness.
What goals are you striving towards right now? What desires do you have? Take a moment to reflect. Take a moment to consciously see that even if you’ve reached that desired accomplishment, it may not bring the kinds of lasting fulfillment that you might be seeking.
So, remember to slow down in your race towards the next moment. Start living in this moment.
This moment is just as important as the next. It is up to us to choose to fully experience the now, and in doing so experience lasting Joy. As Scott Dinsmore said, “Happiness not spent today does not equal more happiness tomorrow.
Regardless of what you are doing today, remember to enjoy the doing of it. It is in these seemingly insignificant moments that Life happens. And if we don’t take advantage of these moments, life will happen anyway… without our awareness of it.
For today, remember to live a little, or to live A LOT!
Try your best to fully embrace the gift of life. Do something simple, but doing so in a magnificent way.
Take a few minutes to fully enjoy a cup of coffee or a cool glass of water. Get up from your desk and stretch out your body, and take some deep breaths. Go for a walk, enjoy the fresh air, and notice all the wonderful details along the street. Write your thoughts down in a journal. Go grocery shopping, and notice how blessed we are to have so much variety to choose from.

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