We have a constant battle going on inside our heads. We see life as either a progress or as a decline. But things are a little bit more complex than that.
Our brains might have helped us reach the top of the animal kingdom but it’s also our greatest pain source. Human beings appear to be happy just as long as there’s a bright future they can look forward to — whether it’s an exciting trip next weekend or finally getting that hard-earned degree.
The only problem is that when that good time arrives, it’s difficult to enjoy it to the fullest without the promise of more to come. We pride ourselves with our binary reasoning. Life is either a zero or a one, where we are caught in the middle. We are either progressing towards one or declining towards zero. We end up in a mind-numbing loop of constant tension.
When you train yourself for so long thatand that you need to constantly chase something, even when things are wonderful, in the back of your mind you’re always expecting things to implode at any moment.
Most of us believe that to live a complete life we must fight for our happiness. We create a firm belief that the more we chase happiness the better we can grasp life and control it. Ironically, we create a. The more we are attached to an outcome, the more it evades us. In contrast, accepting the flaws and randomness around us gives us more space to be happy.
This immediate truth might sound harsh and makes us feel unsettled and depressed even. People cannot live without a belief or story that justifies their chase, that the routine and pain they are fuelling right now has no significant meaning in the future.
From birds and fish to cats and dogs, and everything in between, all animals except us seem to have it all figured out. For them to feel alive it’s enough to simply exist. But humans are. We are either chasing something or trying to escape something else.
Imagine one week from now you have scheduled to have a surgery. The doctor tells you that recovery will take a couple of weeks. Even though in the days prior to the appointment you aren’t feeling any pain, you have a place to live and you are surrounded by loved ones, the act of enjoying these things is taken away by the constant dread. Replace the surgery with an important exam that determines your next 5 years or the fear that life has already passed you by and you get the perfect recipe for a mind exhausting noodle soup.
A seesaw where we are constantly oscillating between chasing and avoiding. Where the present happiness is stolen from us by some disaster that never seems to arrive. All tangled up with hundreds of more thoughts that keep us tired at 2 PM and awake at 2 AM. The moreof it all the more stuck we get. That’s what anxiety feels like.
So how can we find peace of mind in a world whose very nature is a mixture of insecurity and unbalance?
Here are 3 simple things you can start doing from now on.
1. Stop comparing
If from the moment you were born you became the only human alive on the planet, you wouldn’t feel that you’re missing out on anything. Sure it might get lonely but you would never have defined what it means to be a zero or a one. You would’ve simply lived. But since you share the planet with 7 billion more people things are more complicated. With the simple tap on a screen, you are bombarded with the collective awesomeness of the entire planet. You tend to feel like despite whatever you achieve there is someone out there who has it figured out better than you.
Think about it this way. When you try to find a location using your smartphone, what is the first thing that you see when you open the map?
You see your current position.
Everyone has a different route depending on. Comparing your journey with someone else’s means taking away resources you could use to focus on your own path.
2. Stop trying to avoid
We want the rewards without the risk. The glory without the sweat. But this unwillingness to give something in exchange makes us feel miserable. We want to fly as close to the sun as possible without getting burned. Most people believe that if they just reach a higher status, they would have made it. But then the struggle becomes one of maintaining that status.
We see life as a checklist.
3. Stop trying to be happy
Our choices are usually motivated by pleasure and pain. We try to get into pleasure andas much as possible. But the best pleasures are those that we didn’t plan for and the worst pains are the ones that we expect and try to avoid.
You can’t plan to be happy. You can only plan to exist. Whether you are going to enjoy the trip you planned for next weekend, you can’t be certain. But the expectations you create around it will likely make it harder.
Nothing ruins happiness more than watching yourself in the middle of it and starting a mental debate whether it pleases you or not. You can’t fully immerse yourself in listening to the sound of the waves and also observe if you are truly enjoying it or not. You can only live one moment at a time.
That’s the best kind of freedom you can get.