We are not our plans for our future, we are the sum of what we do in the present moment. Our lives are not made of ideas, they are brought to life by the verb of living –through our daily action. Charting a course is worthwhile, but movement keeps an airplane aloft.
Many of us have worked long and hard in an attempt to awaken because we failed to note we had an attachment to certain changes within ourselves. We’re not looking for something pedestrian like, ‘you are already okay, just live your life and be increasingly aware while you do.’
That sounds too easy, and yet that very objective and state of mind can make even grocery shopping feel pretty awesome. But instead of something that ordinary, people are looking for lightening bolts and profound new genius. The elated feeling we get from optimistic pursuit is like that, but the source of the spark is created within us, not from without us.
Most people spend most of their lives wishing for, hoping for, or planning for a life they will never live simply because they are always planning it based on some wholesale change that will suddenly make the experience easier. We act as though our signal to ’go’ will be when we feel totally awesome.
In reality, in life it’s most important to ’go’ precisely when we are feeling down and out. Not out of duty or obligation or guilt –but because we are in active, conscious pursuit of the rewards of living. We can be legitimately excited about where we are going.
That’s why more optimistic people put the effort in; because they know the effort pays off in and of itself. By approaching it this way, even bad times have the feeling associated with chasing a valued goal. It’s a rewarding feeling, regardless of how it comes to our lives.
Planning is something that can be done in the present moment and it can be a wise investment of Now. But those sorts of plans have targets and goals and action that allow us to recognize we are in movement.
Unhealthy planning is little more than depressed rumination. We just keep talking about the great life we’ll have once we’re feeling better.
When we’re in the wrong state of mind it always seems too simplistic to tell people the truth: that we don’t change and feel better, but rather we feel better and then note the change after the fact. But that’s true because our health is a verb, not an idea. It even explains why so many people find new life after disasters or emergencies. Those events simply force us into motion.
There are many forms of unhealthy rumination, but some are tricky and disguise themselves as positive things like planning. But beware. The difference between real planning and hopeful planning is fairly obvious if we’re watching for it, and knowing one from the other can literally save a lifetime.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.