I do this work because I love it, but mostly because we have so much more potential to live better lives than we think we do. While I was on holiday recently I met a man who asked me what I do back home. As I explained to him what I teach and practice, tears welled up in his eyes. It was like a part of him had just revealed itself as he responded “I don’t think I have been present for over 30 years”. He had worked in a fast-paced job that required long hours, travel and a lot of stress. He had missed his kids growing up and he and his wife had drifted apart. Even when he was ‘physically present’, he said he wasn’t really ‘Present’ as he was preoccupied with worry, planning and other thoughts. Stories like this break my heart. As we spoke he knew immediately what I was talking about as he knew it was something he yearned for. It doesn’t have to be this way.
This man suffered from the ‘if…then’ disease.
If I work hard and earn more, then I will be happy.
If I can lose 10 pounds, then my life will change.
If I can find a mate, then I will be complete.
If I can reach this goal, then I will be happy.
Does this sound familiar? This is the soundtrack that we are trained in. The problem is, it’s the wrong model. We are dancing to the wrong tune. Outcomes are generally out of our control and they can be like shooting at a moving target. There are so many variables at work, and the goalposts move all the time. Invariably there is another goal after this one, because it is a state of mind, not an outcome that will create passion, happiness, awe, peace.
I have studied this stuff for a long time, simply because I wanted to make sure it was true. I will tell you that it is. We live in a society that tells us we need to achieve and be successful to be worthy, important, a good parent, and then we can feel good. I’m sorry but it’s ass-backwards.
Do you really want to make each day an adventure filled with possibility and passion? Then focus on the process, not the outcome. Outcomes will come, that’s their job. But they may be something entirely different than you had imagined.
Do you remember a time when you felt complete amazement and awe? Perhaps a sunrise, a spectacular view from a mountaintop, a newborn baby, the absolute miracle of a flower? Think about it now. The reason you were in awe was because you accepted it completely as it was. You weren’t thinking “I wish that sunset had a little more red in it” or “Could we move that mountain a little to the left”. If you were, then your mind just came in and ruined it.
The same goes for our lives. Imagine if we could accept them in the same way… with complete, absolute appreciation and love for what is. Now it gets interesting. Experiment with that. Focus on the process, not the outcome and each day becomes an adventure.
Many of the most successful people are very present. Take Oprah for example. People say she is the most present person they have met. She eats and breathes this stuff, and she’s a billionaire businesswoman! It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. You can be a busy, super-acheiver and not miss out on your life. You don’t have to slow down, you just have to make an effort, throughout your day, to be there in the process. This is one of the biggest myths of mindfulness: that if you become mindful you will just sit and become a slug and never get anything done. Yes, you may indeed slow down but paradoxically, you will GSD (*get shit done). But more importantly, you will enjoy your life more. After all, why are we here?
The conversation I had with that man is why I do the work I do. Ok, now I need your help. I am always looking to make my work more effective and relevant to you, my readers.
Could you take a moment and let me know what you have liked in the blog or in classes or even counselling, and what you would like more of? You can comment down below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would sooo appreciate it! Your feedback is so crucial to my work so I can know what your challenges are and how I might help.
Now, go and enjoy your journey today. Let go of the outcome. Ahhh… freedom!