Success?

In these modern times we are raised to seek out success. From early on in school we are treated as we if we are preparing for one day when we will be “successful adults”. Our education plants this little voice in our heads that keeps whispering “That day is coming, and if you aren’t ready for it you will be blindsided by it and you will have missed your chance at happiness forever”.  Once we get out of school that little voice swaps out good grades, colleges, and whatnot for a few more milestones: we need the good job, we need a spouse, a house, and a kid or two (insert your idea here, there’s infinitely more). Throw a nice TV or car somewhere in that mix and we should be all set to just be happy for the rest of our lives right?

I have always enjoyed Alan Watts‘ metaphor of treating life not like a race or a ladder but like a song.

Life does not seem to fit very nicely into that plan, and happiness does not flow from milestones. These goals and milestones we set for ourselves can be helpful guidelines for keeping us on track, but they often leave us in fear and discontent with the moment we live in now.

So accept the discomfort of not having a finish line somewhere that when you cross you will finally have the happiness you have always craved. Live now, live today, and enjoy every day, some days will be better than others, and that’s ok. I mean, really try and think about it for a moment… how boring would being completely happy all the time be anyway? it would lose its flavor, you need the challenges that life brings with one hand so you can enjoy the happiness and satisfaction it brings with the other. The treasure of life is in the journey, and all you can do is enjoy the moment that you have right now.

I’ll close with this great animated short about two guys who are on a quest to find a magic treasure that will transform them into great heroes, with all the perks that comes with it.

The Reward from The Animation Workshop on Vimeo.

Identifying Discomfort: Fear

Discomfort appears in many different forms and if we are not aware of it or if we ignore or avoid it it can have a powerful (and often negative) impact on our lives and relationships.

Do you know where you are?

Fear is a very powerful type of discomfort, and is quite pervasive in our society today. Imagine being a human thousands of years ago, hours away from your village on a hunt, and you hear something rustling in the bushes in front of you. You first thought drift toward a tiger, getting ready to pounce and tear your face off. You heart starts pumping faster, blood in your brain and other organs moves to the heart, lungs, muscles, getting ready for “fight or flight“. This places the body in a high state of tension, adrenaline is pumping through your veins and nonessential processes like digestion, higher level thinking and healing, all are placed on hold.

Unfortunately,our bodies have not learned to distinguish the fear of a tiger from the fears we face like sitting down to take that test, approaching the cute girl on the street, or presenting your new idea at staff meeting at work. You body still responds to fear in these situations as if they were all tigers, and the more fear your harbor the more deteriorating it can be. You mind and body are not functioning properly, you lose control of your thought to emotions, and are capable of doing things that you would never do with a clear mind. Suddenly all of the time you spent studying is worthless because your brain is bleeding out (almost literally), the girl on the street passes by and you pretend not to notice her, and instead of presenting your idea at work you sit on the sidelines.

So, in most situations these days we can see that fear is unnecessary and antiquated at best. Learning to recognize fear, and accepting the fear empowers you to act despite it. Being aware of your fear disconnects you from the fear, simply stating “I am feeling fear” can help you regain perspective and control of the situation. If you catch yourself feeling fear, so a brief survey of your surroundings to see if there are any tigers around, if not, then fear is probably not necessary. But without taking the first step of accepting the discomfort of fear, it will control you instead of the other way around.

The Scared is Scared

It seems like children are born with all of the secrets of the universe already in their minds and that wisdom gets knocked out of our heads by the time we become “adults”.  This video below does a great job at addressing fear, and fear of change.