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What You’re Looking for Is Not Out There

I was always working for something.

As a kid I worked to get an allowance, so I can buy something I wanted. Then I got a job so I could get a car. Then a better job so I could get a better car. I took guitar lessons because I wanted to be like Eric Clapton. I took piano lessons so I could be like Billy Joel. I went to the gym so I could look better, to get a better girlfriend.

Everything was a means to an end.

Happiness was always “out there” on the other side of the rainbow, and I thought all I had to do to get there was to work hard.

“Do these things”, then I get what I want. I assumed it was only a matter of working harder or finding the right strategy / secret.

For years, I never considered that there might be a flaw in my way of thinking. Until I got old enough and had sufficiently failed myself, that I stepped back and asked, “maybe I’m the problem?”

Instead of working to get something in the future, what if I put some of that energy into working on right now?

Is it possible to enjoy the moment I’m in, accepting things the way they are, and just stand there and smile? Can I find gratitude in the things I have instead of only focusing on what I don’t have?

It’s possible, but it takes work.

But I know how to work! I’ve worked hard at things all my life, so why not put some of that effort into being present? Practice keeping focus on whatever is right in front of you, being where your feet are, embracing whatever you’re feeling and not following the thoughts as they try to lead you somewhere else. Stay here for a while.

If you can make this shift, and adjust the way you operate – instead of looking for answers out there and in the future, look inside and in the now – it’s actually an easier, more enjoyable life.

Because the truth is, experience tells you that no matter how much you achieve, how much money you get, how good your body looks, as long as you’re looking for outside things to make you whole, you’ll never be happy. You might be for a while but it doesn’t last. Like a drug addict, you always need more.

Yet, ironically, if you focus on the inside first, not only do we experience true peace, joy and freedom, but we can still achieve outside success – because we want to, not because we have to.

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4 Comments

  1. David Broder David Broder

    What if right now is completely what you didnt want for your life. That all life seems to be is going through the motions to stay alive in a situation you despise.
    Camus wrote: “living is never easy. You make the gestures required by life mostly out of habit. Dying voluntarily suggests an understanding, even instinctively, of the rediculous character of that habit”.
    That’s why I roll my eyes when people tell me accept things as they are. Be in the moment but if the moment sucks you’re stuck with a string of moment’s wrapped tightly around your neck. Anything else seems to be merely a self serving platitude constructed to deceive yourself so you can have a reason to get out of bed.

    • Thanks Dave, I appreciate the comment. To me, living in the moment is not about plainly accepting whatever “bad things” are going on, and telling myself a bunch of platitudes to make myself feel better. It’s not about just looking at the bright side. To me, it’s about being awake to reality and open to options that I don’t even see while I’m closed up inside my head, repeating the same old thoughts that keep me stuck in the same place. It’s a subtle thing that we can debate, but words can’t really describe. It needs to be experienced. I guess the key word is open mindedness.

  2. Scott Scott

    Like Urban Meyer wrote in his book, “Above the Line” and continually teaches today,
    E+R=O
    The Events of your life plus your Reaction will equal the Outcome.
    It’s very easy, the R factor is life. If you want a different outcome, change the R factor. It may take a lot of work, but whether you want to be content with the “now” or you want something different, apply the R factor to be content.

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