You may be richer, smarter, prettier or more charming tomorrow. But none of this means you have less worth today.
What if we knew our life’s purpose with absolute clarity? What energy we could draw on! How free we would be from worrying about unimportant noise and distraction!
Even better, imagine we understood how to fulfil it. It’s possible, but it demands great self-awareness, intimately knowing who we really are.
What we unknowingly seek is our own wholeness - to express and experience all that we are. What stands in our way of finding it? Our own childish definition of the ‘me’ who seeks it, the labels we hide behind and the priority we give comfort over curiosity.
We carry unnecessary emotional backpacks through life. The more we see them in their proper context, the more frequently we can set them aside. They may always accompany us, but we needn’t bear their weight.
The Stoics counsel amor fati or ‘love of fate’, while Zen and other Buddhist paths encourage the related practice of acceptance. We are regular people, you and I. I smile often, but not always. Your forehead sometimes wrinkles. We’re not ideal beings with equanimity beyond ruffling. Is acceptance possible?
Throughout my life, my highest priority has been to be right, and I’ve assumed that being right would bring me security. Now, I value learning over knowledge, and I realise that learning requires admitting fallibility and befriending uncertainty.
The most profound personal growth comes from a deeper understanding and acceptance of Now, of What Is. Any moment, regardless of its particulars, is dazzling in its completeness, and this insight brings a new perspective.
We’ve lazily equated impatience with drive, with high standards. But patience does not imply satisfaction with current results. It just shows we are mature enough to accept present reality as the basis for action.
We can build resilience. The good news is that it takes only three simple steps. The sobering truth is that it may involve repeating those steps several times a day for the rest of our lives.
Life carries us within it. Taoism sees Life as one big process in which ‘things’ or ‘happenings’ are related and progress in a single flow. That movement follows one principle called Tao. Tao is how reality unfolds. Life’s fundamental relatedness means that you are not independent of nature.
The world’s wisdom traditions point to one truth, but each highlights distinctive features. Spend time with each to see the summit from different angles before choosing your path to it. Here’s what I’ve found in several.
Spiritual progress involves movement toward surrender or letting go, and this corresponds to a shift in the view of self: from being a separate agent to being an inseparable aspect of a unitary process. With that recognition, it becomes clear that security, certainty and control don’t exist and never did. We may feel anxiety as a product of moving into vulnerability and openness, while still carrying a sense of separateness.
Stoic wisdom from the cradle of Western civilisation is at odds with the 21st century global mindset of chasing short-term pleasure and avoiding discomfort at all costs, but it resonates strongly with principles from the East. It has improved countless lives across varied cultures and eras, suggesting that it might still have value for us today.
As a person, I walk this Earth for some eighty years, a body harbouring a mind. Beyond this human evidence, I suspect there is more to me. In magical moments I can conjure a glimpse of my greater self. When I access it, my world calms.
I’ve not managed to meet the challenge I set myself last week, an exercise in giving. Still, neither the world nor I am worse off for the effort. In fact, we might both be just a bit better.
I’ve been told that the best way to improve low mood, doubt or worry is to give to others. I’m going to find ten people a day who I can give to, along with ten distinct things I can give. After five days, I’ll let you know how it’s gone.
I have to be careful to keep my stress and anxiety from making things worse for the remote loved ones I most want to help through this. Can I avoid crossing the line that separates supporting my loved ones from demanding that they feel well?
Whether we call it Life, the universe, reality or God’s will, there is a whole of which we are a part. As a part, we can’t bend the whole to our will. You have never been secure. No one has ever been secure. Now we can admit it.
Much of my reading tells me I long ago settled into who I am. Am I fixable? Are you? I think the answer to this has three parts: 1) a tough truth, 2) a reason for working on ourselves and 3) the prospect of a liberating perspective.
What if it is not the love of another that you feel? Could it be that in moments of being loved, you stop asking reality to be different? Perhaps that warm, magical feeling comes when you stop fighting life; when you stop withholding your unconditional acceptance. In other words, when you love.