If you’re reading my blog, you’re probably interested in personal development in some way or form (or you’re my Mum – Hi Mum!). If this is true, you probably have an innate sense that things can be better for you, somehow happier, more exciting or less stressed… You just know that there is more to you, that you can be more and do more.
You may also be the kind of person who is forward-focused, thinking of what-could-be or mulling over what you could do to progress. This tendency to want things to be better, I have found, can also be linked to a kind of frustration with how things are for you right now. While this may drive you to growth in certain ways, it can leave you rarely feeling genuinely happy for more than fleeting moments.
Before I start on finding “joy in the moment”, I just want to say a couple of things about happiness.
- The word “happiness” is problematic. I think it was Peter Russell, a wonderful teacher on Science and Nonduality, who first brought this to my attention. We all want to be happy, I’ve no problem with that, but the fact is, the feeling of being happy comes and goes. Like all things in life, nothing is permanent, all things change. This concept of “happiness” leads to an idea that it is something which can be discovered and held. It’s the “ness” part of the word which suggests it could a permanent thing. When you add the postfix “-ness” to an adjective, it becomes a noun and describes the state or condition of a thing.
- In my mind, the word “happiness” is very similar to the concept of “happily ever after”.
Whoever came up with that fairy-tale-ender has a lot to answer for! I don’t want to be a killjoy or a pessimist but no one is happy all the time. The notion of chasing happiness or finding your “happily ever after” is a chasing after the wind… Rant over.
Yesterday, I wrote about auditing where you are at right now before setting any solid resolutions. Today I want to write about fully embracing where you are at right now.
What do I mean by embracing right now? Ambition can draw our focus forwards, towards visions so compelling that we cease to pay attention to the wonder and beauty of ourselves and what is around us at this moment. Embracing right now means appreciating the great, good, beautiful, inspiring, amazing, extraordinary, delicate, elegant, fascinating, delightful and exquisite things of life, including you and the qualities of you.
Don’t allow your appetite for more prevent you from appreciating the banquet you already have.
I believe the best launchpad for personal growth, the best foundation to build on, is one which fully appreciates all your positive qualities, characteristics and skills. Being able to see how amazing you are right now will propel you on your way.
That journey to becoming “the highest and truest version of you” is one in which you expand your current capacity and become someone of greater capacity. You become someone who can handle more, achieve more, know more, understand more, give more, create more etc.
I think a useful addition to the audit I wrote about yesterday (New Year Audit) is the completion of an audit of all the great things about you. Recognising all the good about who you are now will help foster at least two things. One of them is self-esteem and the other is gratitude. As I wrote yesterday, knowing who you are now will facilitate good decisions moving forward. That in combination with self-esteem and gratitude will facilitate a positive mood-state as you drive forward.
I believe, if you don’t feel good about who you are now, the chances are, when you develop into someone more capable, you still won’t feel good. The pattern will just continue and all the success in the world will leave you feeling empty. I’ll write more about self-esteem tomorrow.
Having a hunger for more can be a good thing, it can push you to excel but if it outweighs your appreciation for who you are and what you have, that hunger will eat your joy. Don’t allow your appetite for more prevent you from appreciating the banquet you already have.
Mindfulness training (yes, I’m writing about this again:) involves noticing the experiences of what is occurring in your world in this moment. Though we pay attention in a nonjudgmental way, the practice of noticing life’s details lends to acknowledging the beauty of life. When we pay attention to now, even just for brief periods, described as “dropping in on the moment” by Jon Kabat Zinn, we naturally begin to feel more appreciative and grateful – it’s a wonderful side effect of the discipline.
Mindfulness isn’t the only model which promotes awareness and an unconditional appreciation of the wonderful qualities inherent in each of us. TA (Transactional Analysis) has a very humanistic approach which embraces the principle that we are all OK, despite all our faults and failings, The more I study it, the more I am able to recognise not only the value in me but in others too. It is like a series of maps of human psychology, behaviour, relationships and groups which has allowed me to examine myself more fully in an unconditionally positive way. These new maps have helped me to see my flaws more clearly, something that in the past might have lead me to feel discouraged. These days I’m better able to see them as areas for growth – not always, I still get defensive and insecure – and parts of me to be embraced.
By embracing who you are right now, warts and all, and celebrating the great things about you and around you, you give yourself permission to be more fearlessly authentic and pursue your dreams; not your parent’s, your boss’ or partners’ dreams, yours.
So, get your grounding secure, build your launchpad, embrace who you are right now and from here, prepare to venture into new territory.
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Wellbeing… it means different things to different people but one thing is for certain, it means a lot to everyone. We all want to be well, healthy, full of vitality and joy. But life is sometimes tough and there is no such thing as a pain-free life.
Learning to live well, despite the tough times, is key to being happy and fulfilled. This is what this blog is all about.