The definition of stultified is “to cause to lose enthusiasm and initiative, especially as a result of tedious or restrictive routine.” Sound familiar?
We all have an instinct for how life should feel and let’s face it, because egos seek security over experience, a lot of folks feel like their lives are small dashes of fun amidst a sea of monotony, responsibility and anxiousness. And who can blame them? Who wants to think that’s all there is?
But here’s the deal: think or live. The world is not completely terrible, we aren’t completely inadequate, our life does not completely lack potential. So why are so many people thinking those three things?
The answer is habit, supported by the fact that every other ego around us is doing it too, which makes it appear sane when it’s actually the key form of mental disruption for people today.
People want answers but there aren’t any; we are an answer. Our life is an answer. And we write that answer as we live and that is a part of the perfection of how this all works. That’s once again why Kierkegaard went on about how you live forward but understand backward.
Everyone can just be, and life would then become the simple, collective jostles we experience as we move through life together. But we can’t do that because too many of us avoid the jostling. We have resistance.
We don’t like being uncomfortable. We don’t like it if someone doesn’t like us, and we don’t like to fail. But achieving comes from trying and trying is another word for failing, so now what do we do?
Success is on the other side of failure. Do we go for it anyway? Or do we live in the past or present, constantly thinking; always trying to figure out who we were supposed to be? Calculating what’s wrong now, and then figuring out how bad our future is likely to be?
Seriously? No way. We all have way too much potential for that.
First, we stop the fearful thoughts by carefully considering what’s actually happening. That leads to the eventual realization that often the only suffering brought on by failure is that which is produced by our own thinking.
Fortunately, we control that. We’re free of everyone except ourselves. And even if we do attack ourselves, it is always harder to take that criticism seriously once we’ve truly considered how meaningless our transient fearful thinking is to the world.
Rather than living our life afraid that the world is too big for little us, we should live knowing that life is a powerful imperative within us. Standing in its way is sure to be painful. We were meant to be.
As the naturalist David Attenborough said about plate-sized lichens, surviving for hundreds and thousands of years, “They simply exist, testifying to the moving fact that life, even at it simplest level, occurs –apparently– just for its own sake.” If you’re going to feel an urge to live anyway, why be a lichen? Why not live and enjoy a bunch of it?
I recently saw a quote: “The worst kind of sad is not being able to explain why.” But either we found out we have cancer or we didn’t. Someone died or they didn’t. We feel lonely or we don’t. Let’s not pretend that sadness just shows up like some kind of invisible cloud. It’s brain chemistry that’s fired by what’s in our consciousness. There’s freedom in that.
If something didn’t recently happen, then the reason we’re sad is why anyone would be sad: we’re taking our Now to think about depressing thens or whens. It hurts because those aren’t our path. We went this way. The rest is just thinking.
The pain just increases as we avoid life and think more. It is our nature, our destiny and our future to fill our lifetime.
The universe simply wants some things to be and the internal arguments we replay in our heads mean nothing in the face of it creating our lives. Instead of talking to ourselves about ourselves, it’s time we climbed on board our own life. And let’s ride it to wherever we really feel like going. Even if the route is challenging.
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.