Phew, I’m learning what it means to be busy again. Let me say that I adore my job and my coworkers. I’m giddily happy in my job.
But in the process of transition, I have allowed myself to regress by eating poorly, neglecting my tea/meditation time, sinking into Internet distraction when I get home, failing to update my blog.
To distract myself from my perceived failures, I started thinking about all the new things I could buy for the apartment I’m moving into next weekend; new clothes for my new job. All while munching on Oreos and frozen pizza.
But behind the frustration and boredom, the void lingered.
The problem with filling that nagging void with external objects is that we’ll always need more, bigger, and better external objects to keep us “happy”.
That is something I know, but I needed a reminder.
Last night, I checked Zen Habits, a blog I follow religiously, and Leo had finally put out his new e-book, The Little Book of Contentment.
I settled into bed and read the whole thing. One thing in particular struck me. Leo writes,
When we fail at habits repeatedly, we lose trust in ourselves, don’t believe in our ability to stick to something, and feel guilty and sometimes disgusted with ourselves.
We say, ‘What the hell, self? Why didn’t you stick to that? What’s wrong with you? Gosh, I really wish you could do better. You suck at sticking to things.’
…We internalize [our failure], not as ‘this is just something that happened that I need to recognize,’ but as ‘this is an indicator that I am unreliable, not good enough.’ This becomes a big data point that shows us our self-worth.
(Side note: Leo has a whole game plan for regaining trust in yourself. Download the book and read it.)
So how do we escape this inner thrashing we give ourselves each time we fall short of an expectation? Do we try harder? Do we make more goals? Write on the blackboard 1,000 times “I will not fail”?
No, instead, we give up the expectation.
We trust that we are doing as well as we can in that moment. We forgive ourselves and sit quietly with our bodies and realize how amazing this thing called life is.
Charlotte Joko Beck writes that “ninety percent of the thoughts spinning around in our heads have no essential reality. And we go from birth to death, unless we wake up, wasting most of our life with them.”
Read that again: 90% of our time is wasted on false judgments, harmful expectations and insatiable fantasies.
Take a second to imagine that.
When you are lying on your death bed – hopefully long from now – you could think back on your life and realize 90% of it was spent elsewhere than in the moment. Elsewhere than appreciating the person and situation and natural beauty right in front of you.
If that hits you as hard as it hit me, take a moment to sit with yourself right now. Smell the room around you. Feel how vibrant your body feels. Notice the light and life in the room. Do you see how much the person you’re with has to offer you?
Do it now, because this is life.
We never need to reach outside of this moment to be content.
So, forgive yourself as I am for falling short where you wanted to succeed. Cultivate patience for yourself and others.
Change will come, but first, this moment.
See if you can’t expand that 10% awareness to 20% or even 50%.
Every moment choose life by returning your thoughts to this moment. Fill yourself with the incredibly sacred around you.