The futility of trying to get life RIGHT
Pause for a moment and consider how much of your behaviour is driven by some kind of attempt to get life right.
Whatever right means to you. Whatever that behaviour may be. Healthy eating, treating yourself, exercising, relaxing, spending adequate time socialising, addressing your partner’s behaviour with him/her, striving to do a good job at work, to get a promotion, to look right, to smell right, to be punctual. Whatever it may be.
If that resonates with you at all, then let’s look at this a bit further. How much energy goes into this. The actual behaviour itself is neither here nor there. The emotional attachment to it is what I’m looking to address in this article. Would it sit just as comfortably to you whether you went to the gym or not? Whether you spoke to your partner about that thing they said, or didn’t? Whether you start that business, or stay in your job for another year? Whether you went to the music festival, or stayed in bed and read a book?
If not, I want to look at why not.
It looks to me like most of us have some kind of idea about getting life right, and a fear of getting it wrong, of making mistakes, of ending up living a life of any kind of regret. It also looks to me like what we actually do in life has very little to do with whether we feel the fear, or feel satisfied. So if that’s the case, why do so many people experience the angst of trying to get things right, and what’s the alternative?
To answer the first question, it’s conditioned. From early childhood we are compared to others, and it is constantly commented on how we are progressing, and these comments come from people who love us. It’s possible then to start to associate our self worth (whether we are loveable) with our apparent progress. All completely innocently done. Fast forward a few decades and we’re still doing it.
The alternative is to recognise that no matter how hard we try or strive, how good we get at things, how straight our teeth are, how Instagram worthy our dinner looks, there will always be more that could be achieved. In comparison to the more than can be achieved we can always judge that we still haven’t quite got it right. So that can’t possibly be the path to satisfaction.
If that isn’t the path, what is?
The path inwards. To knowing who you really are, and where your wellbeing really comes from. It’s actually incredibly simple. When you see that these outer things can’t bring you lasting peace or happiness, and you relinquish your need for them – peace and happiness show up. They show up because they were there all along. The only thing stopping you from seeing them, was the idea that they were yet to be found. This is the pathless path. Of finding that you had the answer all along. That you never needed to seek it in external pursuits, or an attempt to get things right. What a revelation. What a relief!
With this understanding – that we are peace and happiness already – we are free to curiously explore anything that takes our fancy, without any attachment to whether we are doing the right thing, or to the outcome of the activity. We know that none of that matters. Not really. None of that affects who we are. Who we are is not measureable in achievements, appearance, likeability. That’s the never ending quest of the ego. The ego’s number is up. It’s been spotted, called out, seen for the futile chase it’s had us on most of our lives.
The old saying about the definition of madness seems appropriate here. “The definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result”. I call out the madness of trying over and over to get lasting happiness and satisfaction through external means. It doesn’t last. How can it?! There will always be something else to notice, to crave, to wish for. How about we stop banging our heads on that brick wall and call off the search. Try ‘not trying’ instead and see what happens.
I’m running a seminar that explores this antithesis in more depth soon:
Want to know more about how I can help? Drop me a line or give me a call. A successful coaching relationship depends upon a great rapport, so it’s important to talk. I want to get to know you, see inside your world and we can assess how we’d go from there!