We Can Only Find Clarity In The Present

Take a moment to reflect on the things that give you major and minor anxieties in the everyday. Such examples might be as simple as waiting on a text message from a friend, waiting in line at the Starbucks or thinking about what you are going to eat for dinner tonight. Some might be a bit deeper, thinking about if you are in the right marriage, if you and your friends will still be friends 20 years from now, if you are going to be broke your whole life or well-off.

If I asked you what all of these worries had in common, what would you say?

These anxieties are all attributed to the uncertainty about the FUTURE.

Many of us spend more time worrying about the future throughout the day than the very moment in the day itself. Ever drive to work and not even know how you got there because of all of the things you were thinking about on the drive? Ever leave the house and not remembering if you brushed your teeth because of all of the things running through your head during your brush?

Our minds are so flooded with these future worries that we do not focus on what we are doing in the moment we have. We are not even guaranteed to have those moments we focus too much energy on in the future. What if you have been imagining cooking a steak for dinner the whole day, what you are going to serve it with, who will be there, what drink you will wash the meal down with, and then when you get to your house, you find out the steak had expired 2 weeks ago. The reality of the situation is that you have been ignoring many of the days moments that you had with this daydream about a rotten piece of meat that you can no longer eat and satisfy your fantasy with. Sadly, we waste away moment in the day for trivial thoughts like this all of the time without even noticing.

The most disappointing part of all of this is the fact that we worry about things that are never guaranteed to us. We live life with a need to know, trying to solve life’s equations that are unsolvable because we will never know the future or have complete certainty. All we know is the truth in the moment we are experiencing right now.

This brings me to the next point about decision making. Sometimes when we feel this angst about the uncertainty in our lives, whether is it questioning if we are in the right career, relationship, friend-group or even workout class. In our heads, we can run through an extensive pros and cons list until it drives us crazy, and oddly enough, it will still not even bring us CLARITY we are looking for in making the right decision.

Why is this? Because we cannot make clear decisions when trying to predicting the future. It is okay to consider the future but we cannot try to predict it because these anxieties then fog our heads with fear, worry, and doubt in the present moment. Thinking is oftentimes not the answer to decision-making at all. In fact, NOT thinking and just being in the moment is where we will find more clarity. In these moments, you will feel engaged and free from emotion, anxieties, and stress about the future.

Rather, you are putting one foot in front of the other and navigating the bumps and cracks to step over along the path. Here we are clear on where to walk, whereas THINKING about where our next step should be might cause us to fall in a ditch we would have never seen coming.

All of this is to say that when you are considering a life change, minor or major, remain engaged in the present moment where you are free from anxiety and see your next step clearly. Thinking about the next step will only cause a cloud in your judgment filled with fear and worry which may misdirect your journey altogether. Let us not confused fear with intuition, for intuition can only exist in the present.

Allow the present to be our guiding light as we put one foot in front of the other and navigate down our path.

 

Luck or Attraction?

Many of us have a tendency to credit “luck” for things both good and bad. When something positive happens to us, we may say we just “got lucky”, and when something negative happens we say we just had “bad luck”. I have never been a proponent of the idea that things happen for no reason at all and we also had nothing to do with it.

For a simple example, I think about why a particularly negative co-worker of mine constantly has problems with his computer, outlook, traffic, and the list goes on, while I find myself to never have any of these issues or at least not to the extent he experiences.

Our energies have much more to do with the way our life is going more than just sheer luck. I will paraphrase the Alchemist saying, when you want something, the universe conspires to help you achieve it. The same is true with negative thoughts. If we are constantly complaining and being negative, that is the energy that is sent out into the universe and the universe will return this energy in a negative form because you have asked for it.

Now, with all of that being said, being more of a believer in attraction than in dumb luck, I am beginning to understand that luck does exist in some form. It is luck to be born into a family with wealth, connections and experience, for example. Perhaps you aspire to be a doctor and your father happens to be a successful doctor, alumni to a prestigious university and well connected at the school. Even if your grades upon application to medical school are average, do you think you might have a better chance at gaining admission than someone who is slightly above average with no connections at all? Of course you do, and you were simply born with that advantage. There is no way you would have been able to manifest this fate in the womb of your mother.

However, we are all dealt a different deck of cards when we are born. Some of us are luck in other ways, more simply, even just being born in a safe neighborhood in the United States of America has been your luck.

Still, luck can be the starting point for some people but attraction remains to be the more determining factor when it comes to the trajectory of the rest of your life. Dealt a good or bad hand, as we grow up, it is up to us to determine what we will attract in our lives. We have full responsibility.

Perhaps the student who grew up with a well-connected doctor father who is an alumni of a prestigious university DOES have a better chance at getting in than you do, BUT you have the ability to ATTRACT a similar advantage.

Even without luck, we can manifest this same chance luck with attraction. Perhaps you are able to network and connect with another well-connected doctor and university alumni through your research and effort to reach out to befriend this person. You may not have been born into this connection but you were able to create this connection and the same advantage as the student born into connection.

It is easy to make an excuse for other’s success and say things like “oh, well they have a shore house because the grandmother left them money, we can’t do that” or “oh yeah, she got that job because her father knew the principal of the school, lucky her.” Yes, maybe these people did have a built-in advantage but it does not mean that just because you did not have one that you cannot achieve the same.

I encourage us all to define what we want to do in our lives, and begin to live each day manifesting positive thoughts for the accomplishment of what we want to do and recognizing opportunities for action that will help you get there even if you were not luck enough to have it given to you. Attract it.

“What is This Here To Teach Me?”

In life we expect to encounter our share of failures, whether it is as trivial as not being selected for the softball team or having a business deal fall through. No matter the magnitude of failure, they all exist to teach us something as long as we are open enough to listen to the message. The most successful people in the world have all risen from failures of the past, and have adopted them as contributors to their story, not a tarnish.

It is easy to give up after failures, not wanting to face family at holiday parties and admit to the lack of tangible accomplishments. It is easier for us to give the whole thing up and just stop feeling the pressure of others expecting something from us, right? Well, that feeling of embarrassment exists to do just that, to have you give up in order to protect us. Our minds, which were once wired for protection from predator threat in the wild, are still wired for protection but protection from negative emotions. Now that we no longer have to fear the attack of a wild animal, our minds have evolved to protect us from mostly social fears. It is the protective mind that will tell you that you should stop if you don’t want to feel that embarrassment or rejection again. It will stop you if you let it.

Knowing that each failure exists to teach us something is the most powerful thing to get us through the debilitating fears the mind as produced, and have us continue our journey to be great (whatever that may look like for you). Next time you are faced with a failure, ask yourself,

“What is this here to teach me?”

In my own life, I have found that the lesson to cultivate the persistence to continue pursuit after failure, alone has been enough to continue my journey. There are times when I do get discouraged and think things would be easier if I just gave up and throw up the white flag to all of the people who have never understood what I have been moving towards.

Who you are meant to be evolves from where you are right now. So, learning to appreciate your lessons, mistakes and setbacks as stepping stones to the future are clear signs you are moving in the right direction.

~ Oprah Winfrey, What I Know For Sure (2012)

Oftentimes these failures can feel like taking steps backwards, but the fact is that simply taking that action was progress enough because those who never took action could have never failed and learned, or won anyway.

Perhaps the answers are just you need to better equip you for the step in your journey. Keep going!

Better than None; Worst than None

Over the past few days I have been thinking about the concept of jealousy and, conversely, superiority. The feeling of jealousy and superiority may be juxtaposes but they do ultimately come from the same place, for both of these beliefs are rooted in the fear of not being worthy.

In jealousy, we feel unworthy when we hear of someone traveling to a place you’ve always wanted to go to, someone getting engaged as you await a confirmation from your partner or someone earning an income greater than your own. Although many of us are ashamed to admit our jealousies, all of us experience them at one time or another.

On the other hand, the feeling of superiority is also reflective of our feeling of unworthiness because feeling like we are better than another, constantly comparing our status and accomplishments to someone of a lower status and few accomplishments to make ourselves feel better is just the same.

For myself, I have been guilty of possessing a perfectionism mentality which has perpetually made me strive to do better than others in order to prove a sense of “worthiness” to myself.

“BUT the gag is” (Keke Palmer 1) this is not true worthiness.

True worthiness is the acceptance of yourself in whatever position or status you are in REGARDLESS of accomplishment, failure or comparison to others.

Many of us may feel guilty about this feeling of jealousy and/or superiority, knowing that we are no better or worse off than anyone else because we are equality worth of love, compassion, understanding and belonging, but in the events of the day to day, especially in a social-media-drive society, we all fall victim to these reactions. Luckily, recognizing our reaction is the first step in truly understanding our feelings of jealousy and/or superiority in order to take a better look at ourselves and letting go of these feelings.

For myself, my true intention IN LIFE is to remain grateful for all I have and never yearn for more than what I have in the present moment. I wish the same for my friends and family, so each day I meditate and pray for each of them individually, sending them peace, love and happiness in their days.

Even in having this intention, the feeling of jealousy may arise, for example. So, how do I transform jealousy into genuinely joy for another’s accomplishments then?

The answer I have found is recognizing that because of the intention you have for another, YOU are partially responsible for their achievement. YOU are partially responsible for the joy they are experiencing in that moment. If our intention is for another to genuinely experience joy in their day, and the effect of that intention was an accomplishment that brought them joy. And how can we feel jealousy when we ultimately nourished that very accomplishment?

To free ourselves of jealousy and superiority we must truly understand we are no worse nor any better than another. It is understanding that we are all silent contributors to the story of another. It is the acceptance of ourselves for who we are and where we are in our lives in the present moment.

 

Chemistry Bonds and Valentine’s Day?

Encompassed by the walls of Hallmark cards, I embarked on a journey to select the perfect card for the loving people in my life on Valentine’s Day. I rummaged through endless lines of punny, corny and endearing messages found between the flaps of cardboard for at least a half hour before I settled. I grew impatient in my search for the perfect cards. Then, on my way out of the store I noticed one card I had left unchecked. Its top left corner peeked from behind the pink envelopes before it and seemed to give me a wink. (Weird, right?) I slid my sneakers across the carpet floor to give just one more card a chance.

It had an image of the periodic table on the cover and inside read, “You are the Sodium to my Chloride.” The former chemistry nerd in me jested at the pun. Though I found much enjoyment in reading this card, I did not select it as my chosen one, but it did get me thinking.

I began to think about the relationships between element bonds and human bonds. Was this card an accurate personification of what goes into forming real HUMAN relationship bonds? Now, I do not remember much from chemistry class 10 years ago, but what I do remember is that the entire premise of the subject is studying the composition of elements and their reactions with other substances.

If I were to translate this into the study of human chemistry, I would say it is a subject which studies the composition of personalities and their reactions to other interactions. When we say someone has “chemistry” with another person, what we typically mean is that Sally’s personality and Harry’s personality react positively with one another. The interactions between the two of them have made them feel a sort of closeness. Perhaps I would argue this is where the creation of a “bond” would come in. A bond comes out of furthering interactions between people in sharing similar experiences, having intimate conversations and going through challenging circumstances. Similar to the chemical interactions which create a bond, human bonds are then created.

I guess there is some reason to why we use terms like “bond” and “chemistry” to describe human relationships after all.

Still, chemical and human bonds can be broken if such interactions are no longer present. Maybe you and your partner do not share much anymore, you don’t trust one another, or you have given up on creating experiences together. The good news is, I believe bonds can be strengthened overtime even more simply than they can be broken. 🙂

This Valentine’s Day, I hope you took the time to look at the chemistry that you found between you and your partner and all of the interactions you both have created to manifest your unique bond. I wish for all couples, friends and relatives to keep up these interactions with the people you love dearly, and keep that bond everlasting.  ❤

 

Finding Purpose in Life

Ask yourself, “What do I believe my purpose is in this life?” When reading this question it is easy for our minds to go straight to work, and list all of the achievements and accomplishments we strive to attain in life. But, after taking a step back from those answers, we may encounter some falsehood in answering this seemingly simple question.

Is PURPOSE in life really to move up the ladder, build wealth, or buy a beach house? These are some examples of what some of us might set goals to have one day, but can we say with confidence they are our purpose? Consider the fact that our goals may not have anything to do with our purpose in life, perhaps.

If our purpose is NOT to attain nice things, go to cool places or have a house on the beach, what is purpose?

Personally, I identified my purpose(s) in life by following my will for meaning (as expressed by Victor Frankl in his novel, Man’s Search for Meaning), or a feeling that I contribution to a certain area in my life. I found much of this purpose had to do with my relationships with people and nothing to do with work or accomplishments at all at the end of the day.

I believe our society may have purpose and goals mixed up to be synonymous. As a result, our professions can truly distract us from our spirituality and understanding our real path in life. In pre-historic times, our lives were surrounded around maintaining existence, our purpose in life being the need to provide food for our family and keep them alive. Now, we take our existence for granted, and since we have less concern about survival, we embark on a search for some greater purpose to our lives through work and checking off goals. But, are we searching too far? Are we trying too hard? Is our true purpose found in our everyday existence after all?

Perhaps our life purpose is simply relieving another of their suffering by being a friend, giving love to another in a time of need, giving purpose to another, or serving as a positive figure in the life of a growing adolescent. Such examples are not necessarily sought, for these are all opportunities to pursue a purposeful life exist in our everyday lives in our experiences with friends, family, and loved ones. We are given opportunity for purpose no matter what our status, occupation or wealth. Dig deep into understanding yourself, and know purpose can be find in the simplest existence. Then ask yourself, “What is my purpose?”