When I divorced seven years ago I expected to be married and having kids within two or three years. I got obsessed with getting remarried but I went on so many bad dates with so many stupid horny guys that I have given up on the idea of being with someone. The challenge now is that I can’t decide what to do with all of this time in my life. Now that I can see all of these non-relationship choices I have I’m overwhelmed by them. I am scared. What if I pick the wrong thing? How do I figure out the right direction for me?
Blinded by Choice
Okay, so when it comes to your “problem,” I believe this is what the term embarrassment of riches was meant for. I’m very happy to hear that you’ve started to look at what’s there rather than what you perceive as missing. Nothing is ever really missing. We just get attached to certain ideas of permanence and then we act like something is wrong when our ideas don’t align with the ongoing, roiling action-of-being that appears to us as the outside world. In the end nothing is permanent, the only question is, are we present for its transition or some aspect of that transition?
I will not lie: you have every ability to continue returning to that same old bundle of lonely thoughts for the rest of your life if that’s what you choose. You could re-live that identity forever and no one could do anything about your choice of thoughts but you. But you’ve got to ask yourself, why would you choosing those ones? I mean really; that’s worthy of some serious meditation. Because those thoughts hurt. So why choose to think them when they’re so incredibly painful?
To escape this cycle of painful thinking you don’t need a whole new life. You just need to live your current one more consciously. You don’t need some big decision and a grand master-plan for change. You just need to—moment by moment—choose thoughts and experiences that feel good rather than choosing ones that lead you to feel some form of suffering.
All thought-habits are basically addictions so I’m not going to pretend I’m doing anything other than getting you hooked on feeling good, but that’s how we made it here. That’s how mankind and every other animal got the way they are. That’s how the world works. You just move toward what feels good and it all jostles out. It doesn’t need us figuring out some over-arching plan. We just do our bit moment by moment.
Great lives aren’t lives of note. They are lives well lived. If some guy makes all kinds of sacrifices and as a result he wins an Oscar or a Nobel or a Pulitzer or a Tony, you can’t look at him and say, “Oh that guy’s successful. If I would have been as dedicated as him I could have done that.” That may be true. But why would you do that if that’s not what you felt compelled to do?
For all you know that “successful” guy could go home to a marriage that makes him want to club himself to death with his own awards. He could have a debilitating disease. Or a horrible sex life. Or ungrateful children. Or any number of things that would make his life not so impressive to live. It’s not how notable you are that dictates how good your life is. The only measure of a good life is the percentage of moments that were spent at peace or loving, as opposed to how many were spent in torment, or not-loving.
You don’t build a great life by making one that compares well to others. You live a great life by moving boldly and certainly toward your own interests. Don’t waste your precious existence on anything other than discovering all of the wonderful intersections between you and this remarkable world we co-create to live within. And you don’t need a big plan for that.
You just need to be fully in the moment you’re in and choose what feels right for you then. That will still leave you with challenges in life but at least this way you don’t overthink them, and it really is the thinking that’s painful not the living itself so live boldly and have fun.
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 organisations locally and around the world.
Following a childhood accident should have left him dead, Scott McPherson spent his life meditating on thought, consciousness, reality and the self. Seeing the emotional damage done by ego-based overthinking he began dedicating a part of his life to guiding students toward more peaceful and rewarding lives. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, Canada.