We all want better lives. Yet, by wanting them, we are in reality continually reaffirming to ourselves that we don’t have one. Our response is to compile a list of things that we believe, like the rungs of a ladder, will take us to a different reality, where we will presumably enjoy more happiness.
The challenge is, we start this climb when we are feeling down. We see our target far above us, out of our current reach. That distance is depressing, and so our psychological energy is low. In these cases, rather than enthusiastically focusing on taking the step we are on, we tend to do what many of us were taught, and we simply stare far above us, focusing depressingly on all of the remaining steps between us and our goal.
Artists in particular, know that form of sadness. After a lifetime of beating ourselves up for not being as good as our heroes, we later learn those heroes themselves worked very hard, and they took a very long time to become truly good.
Their work continually got better because they gave no thought to how good or bad they were, because that steals energy from the work itself. Instead, they simply did what they felt compelled to do and were grateful for it. And in doing so, they gained the enormous amounts of direct experience that we had previously assumed they were born with.
In contrast to that, others have their minds and souls focused on all of their sorrow and despair over what they cannot yet do. And that drains people’s energy, and it prevent us from creating the works, and taking the steps, that will lead to the best results that exist within us.
Essentially, we want to arrive without taking steps. We just don’t feel we have the energy to climb the heights we perceive are above us, and because we believe that, it’s true. And yet each step only needs enough energy for that single step, and that can always be achieved through gratitude.
No matter what we’re trying to achieve, artist or not, our ambitions of all types need some type of spiritual fuel to keep our motivations going. We need some form of energy to expend on our climb upwards towards expanding ourselves and our lives.
If the weight of yang is formed by the challenges of climbing each rung, then yin is a type of energetic faith in the value of exploring more of the universe and ourselves. Like a spiritual vacuum, that ‘desire to know’ draws us upwards, closer to our goals, to where our perspective is even greater.
What this means is that people effectively mis-order their lives. Rather than giving thanks for all the abundance we enjoy, (but generally take for granted), we instead create a list of things that we feel need to happen before we can be happy.
We believe happy is byproduct of our actions, rather than it being about where we are placing our attention. We believe we earn happy rather than own it. This is a myth. Happiness will come to anyone who chooses to conjure it, and it alone can power many dreams into becoming realities.
Planning some route to happiness mistakes where happiness comes from. It exists inside us. But we must ignite it with our own attention and focus, like sunlight and a magnifying glass. We want to be excited by, and grateful for, our climb. That creates the enthusiastic energy that makes each individual step into something far less daunting.
Do not get the order backwards. Do not have conditions on your own happiness. Learn to open yourself up to it freely. In this way we are like the ultimate nuclear reactors, in that we can spin up our own energy any time we choose to be grateful.
Rather than focus on a big list of to-dos as some path to happiness, be grateful for what you already have, and find the happiness first. Once we have that, regardless of how many rungs are on our ladder, we are happy to take them because, as happy people, we are focused more on our growth, rather than on the weight we must lift to achieve it.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.