“Everybody wants to be extraordinary, that is very ordinary. But to be ordinary and just relax in being ordinary, that is superbly extraordinary.” — Osho, Living Dangerously
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” ― Socrates
It’s so tempting to believe that success is measured by the accretion of more. And when I say more, I don’t just mean material wealth, I mean more of everything. It’s like the more we hold onto, control or own, the more our peers are apt to say: “WOW, what an amazing person”.
But it’s a myth and one that’s incredibly pervasive.
Instead, our pursuit should be 180 degrees in the opposite direction, i.e. to pursue something much less extra-ordinary.
Have I lost the plot? Am I saying this to be tendentious? Or, do I think you’ll buy my mantra?
No, and I doubt it.
But then again, if you trust to instinct — your innate wellbeing if you will — you’ll understand that pursuing a life of more, only leads to anxiety, worry and stress.
Think about it.
Cast your mind back to a time when you felt at peace, whole and connected with true self (i.e. one devoid of ego). I know this itself is only a thought, but try to sense as well as think about the moment.
I’d wager that you didn’t have much on your mind. Better still, you weren’t chasing another fix or faux goal. Oh sure, that state of reverie might have been brought about by a bit of thrill-seeking but, for me, as someone who’s tried a fair few things to get in touch with myself (jeez…), I can tell you that my happiest moments didn’t come about by ticking off another goal, having lots on my plate or even indulging in the next new craze. Now of course, this is all very personal and may have zero bearing on your life, but one thing I’m confident of (because I’ve seen and done this exercise many times), is when you ask people to deeply reflect on the few moments when happiness-bliss-consciousness was complete, they nearly always report it came about at a time of non-doing. And that’s why I think we’ve got it all wrong if we believe that in going out there — let’s bag a few more trophies etc. — we’ll be happy. (Life: fundamentally it’s an inside-out job.)
In short, if we want to find a place of contentment, we simply have to be, i.e. rest fully in the now, and everything, and I mean everything, gets a little bit easier.
At this juncture you might think me disposed to offering you a slew of tips of tricks to get into the now. But I don’t need to. The truth is the now can be found at any moment, if we bring 100% of our attention to the thing that we’re doing. I accept that sometimes that’s very difficult — commotion, violence and noise is everywhere — but if we make time during our day to align ourselves fully with the now, then you’ll find that that can have a profound affect on the rest of the day.
If you think I’m tilting at mindfulness then you’d be right, but I don’t want to give the impression that there’s a prescription, even one founded on sound principles, to bring this about. The point that I’d like you to consider — i.e. to let into your heart — is that you are already whole, well and spiritually alive and you don’t need to add to your already competitive self by thinking the more mindfulness you practice, the happier you’re likely to be. I’m simply saying that if by dint of a walk, a slow breathing exercise, physical exercise or whatever floats your boat you can find a way to bring all your attention to the present moment, in time (it differs for everyone but it doesn’t take that long), your mind will slow down and you’ll start to feel a little better.
If this looks weak on substance and high on hyperbole, then I’m not worried. As I continue to say, the way we decide to live our lives is a choice. If, like most people, you want to continue to chase some fairly unpleasant shadows, then that’s as beautiful for you as it is to sit and do nothing for 5, 10 or 30 minutes.
You might think I’m advocating that people ‘drop out’ and do nothing. Not at all. In fact, the whole tenor of my work is to make the most of the life we’ve been gifted. But my fundamental belief is that the more we think about making our life out there, the more we move away from who we truly are.
For me, if I can bring about any sort of change, it would be wonderful for people to start inviting the question ‘Who am I?’, rather than telling me who they are by dint of job titles, trophies and a life of more. Better still, for people to say I’m no-thing and I’m happy, truly happy as I am.