Your life takes place within your mind. There’s nothing limiting about that because your mind is as large as the universe. There are no borders on ideas. There are no limits to what thoughts you could have. So why do you keep having the same ones over and over and over?
That’s how you avoid living in the Now. You’re busy thinking about times other than Now. It’s not difficult to gain control over this. You just have to keep trying, just like you did when you learned to walk, talk, add, subtract, jump, and throw and every other thing you’ve learned. The more you do it the better you get at it. But you have to do it. You can’t just post quotes on social media and get healthy. You’ve got to get conscious. You’ve got to be spiritually awake. You have to stop searching for peace and start enacting it.
By being Present—by getting into the experience of your life as you would get into a dramatic film or TV series by a writer you like—you have to profoundly realize that your enjoyment of that viewing experience includes feelings of fear, anger, betrayal, a sense of loss, etc, etc. In other words, you feel all kinds of feelings when you watch a TV show and not all of those feelings could be called pleasant. But it’s not like every time you hit one of those feelings you change the channel as though something’s wrong with the show. You accept those feelings as appropriate. They are where you must travel to get where you’re going. They are what make the drama enjoyable.
So why are you hiding from those same feelings in your life? It’s because while you’re watching the show you’re thinking the character’s thoughts not your own. So the pain in your “real life” feels worse than the pain you feel for a character because in the personal case there’s a strong sense of you, whereas in the character’s case there is the sense of another. You want to see the character succeed or fail at their specific challenge, but you don’t have a sense that they have a life after the movie, so what anyone thinks of the character is irrelevant. Now you have to get that way about your own life.
There is nothing wrong with being sad or angry or frustrated or alone. But because the world is so good about lying about its challenges you think you shouldn’t have those feelings if you’re living in the “right” way. You think that a good life is a wealthy, attractive, youthful one and that will automatically lead to a good life that is happy, balanced and rewarding. In reality life is actually just life. They all really suck sometimes. Even in the best of cases life will naturally include all sorts of disasters that people will try to edit out of their social media. But they’ll be there. Every time.
Your friends essentially assemble the image of a life. They want you to think thoughts about them as impressive, attractive, or in some way compelling (even if that extends all the way down to sympathy). In short, their ego wants to get its value by having you envy it, or by having you feel superior to it. Either way they’re trying to get you to confirm their inclusion as a tribe member. It’s like your approval is some sort of social glue.
They’ve been convinced by things like advertising and peer pressure to believe an untrue idea—that they’re not worthy. They think people wouldn’t choose them if they were just themselves. But this is not true. No one needs to be anything specific other than who they naturally are. The rest is all just a self-talking monkey climbing around on a mountain of ego.
Stop thinking you have to Be something or someone else. Stop thinking health is outside of you. Stop thinking it’s something you have to go and get. Just Be. Stop attacking your experiences with your thoughts. Just let the feelings of your life pass through you the same way the TV show does; moment by moment. Have the experience of one scene and then move on to the next one. It’s a mystery where each scene might go—that’s the beauty of it.
Enjoying the series of scenes each week is the only path to what could be called a good life, because every channel, every show has pain as part of it. So get conscious. Don’t panic about finding the right channel, just choose your channel and then relax and enjoy the journey.
We can get rid of a great deal of the suffering our chattering mind creates but we will never dispel the world of pain. That would be, in other words, to dispel it of comfort too. And we ultimately want both things in our world. So stop over-thinking about times other than the moment you’re in. Get Now. Feel what’s there to feel and move on to the next moment. That’s what health is.
Enjoy your day like it’s a TV show you chose to watch because, in a really profound way, that’s closer to the truth than you think.
peace and a big hug, s
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.