For the past week, I have been contemplating a very popular perception amongst humanity: the more you do, the better. So much so that it seems being exhausted and “having no time” is considered a sign of success and worthiness. Comparison tends to also be a good motivator for the need to do more. “What good are you if you aren’t at least accomplishing as much as your neighbor? What stories will you have to tell your friends if you don’t do anything? You gotta at least do something to be worth something!”… If you’re human, chances are you know these stories very well.
I don’t mean to promote the opposite of “doing nothing” like many spiritual teachings tend to glorify. Actually, I don’t mean to glorify anything at all. I only mean to bring attention to the reasons why we do or do not do.
I myself have felt a bit bummed out at certain points in the past little while. I have observed my mind bully me around and telling me I should do more while pushing me to look at other’s lives and compare them to mine. Social networks seem to be a very fertile ground to such thoughts – not only when it comes to self-judgment, but also when it comes to self-validation. How often do we post something and absorb each “like” or positive comment as a short-lived confirmation of our self-image? And how often do we take a negative comment personally or use it to distance ourselves from others with the whole “us vs. them” game? How about when we focus our attention more on how our lives “appear” online or via conversations, instead of actually being ourselves and enjoying the moment for the sole purpose of enjoying it?
“The better you feel about yourself, the less you feel the need to show off.” – Robert Hand
It doesn’t matter if we are busy people who have a lot of material accomplishments to brag about, or if we haven’t got much of an action-filled story. The only way we can step into our power and know which steps we are truly guided to take in our lives – the only way we can actually ENJOY each step of the way instead of always focusing on a destination – is by removing our attachments, string by string, to the outside world. In other words, we need to let go of trying to find ourselves through other’s opinion of us, in what we do, in how we appear and in outcomes.
The thing is: we won’t find ourselves there because we’re not there – we’re right here. And that’s all that matters. Here and now is literally where life happens, while we are busy obsessing about everything else. That is why getting the prize or getting the gig won’t bring us ever-lasting happiness. That is why ego-gratification is often so short-lived. That is why everything becomes heavier and more effortful when external or even self approval is in the back of our minds. Because our minds are scattered all over the place instead of being here and now.
“I remember thinking ‘oh that sitcom is coming, it’s coming it’s coming,’ and when I got it… I mean I won’t say it was a depression but you kind of go through a disappointment. Because that fame didn’t satisfy the way you thought it was going to satisfy. And it was a massive lesson of: If you’re not practicing contentment where you’re at, you’re not gonna be content when you get what you want.” – Tony Hale, Actor (Click HERE to access the video of the interview)
Remember yourself as a young child before you knew about the concept of “self-worth” and the idea of “becoming someone.” Was the main emphasis of your life to find some way to feel bigger and better, to compare and define yourself, to gain approval, to chase after a purpose or to accomplish something to feel “good about yourself?”… or were you simply looking for the next thing to create or play with? In a similar way, our true nature does not need to define itself to experience life joyfully, playfully and purposefully. In fact, defining can be quite confining, limiting you to a narrow race towards this mind-made idea of “perfection.” It can keep your ego happy for a while but the moment the thing you’ve defined yourself with slips away or doesn’t feed you anymore, you feel lost again.
We need to question our motivations and intentions behind what we do, and let go of the voice in our head that only seeks to patch up an already shaky foundation. Because the sense of self that seeks to either make itself bigger or smaller is shaky by nature. It is an identity born out of not knowing who we are. We responded to this unknown by seeking to define ourselves and accumulate reasons to feel like “somebody.”
It’s been quite the learning experience… but the most precious learning to be extracted from it all is that we do not need to be on such a chase for definition. We do not need to feed the belief that we lack and aren’t enough as we are.
“A lot of times we have this perception that what we came here to do is something outside of us. We have this belief that ‘I have to do something grand, I need to do something huge, I need to do something that shows i’m transforming the world and people around me so that I can feel good. That’s just another part of the ego saying ‘you’re not doing enough, it’s not showing on the outside, so you’re not on purpose.’ We feel that we need to do do do… but a lot of the work we need to do is inside. It’s an inside job. The rest will come into play once we let go of those beliefs.” – Franco DeNicola
I think that it would serve us all to let go of this idea that we need to “do” in order to “be.” We already Are. Let’s create and do from this space of acknowledgment. We Already Are.
Earning the right to be (hence the expression ‘earning a living’) is simply an old state of consciousness that no longer serves our expansion and freedom. The addiction to being (or looking) busy is simply an excuse to avoid reacquainting ourselves with our own presence. Imagine a world in which we would allow ourselves to be who we are, opening the door for our unique gifts to emerge naturally. Not because “we should,” not because “we’ll arrive last if we don’t start now,” not because that’s how we’ll “look good.” Simply because life is our playground, and we are here to play.
“As often as we might get sucked into thinking otherwise, it’s well worth remembering that we are not what we do, what we say, what we think, or even what we feel. Whilst these things may define our experience of life, they do not define who we are. To train the mind is to witness this for ourselves. To witness this for ourselves is to find peace of mind.” – Andy Puddicombe
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