Most people think that where they are right now “isn’t it” and that something in the future will produce satisfaction. But in reality, this moment is all we have – the past is over and the future hasn’t yet arrived.
Once we saw a goat who was put out to graze in a lush field. The grass was high and feeding was plentiful. But he wasn’t satisfied. He made a funny picture as he strained toward the field next door. His front legs were suspended mid-air, dangling over the fence as he vainly reached for a tempting bit of green, just out of reach. Of course the grass wasn’t any richer or higher or more succulent in the next pasture but try telling that to the goat.
What pastures are you straining after? Most people are strenuously efforting toward what they think will make them happy or satisfied, straining toward something more, better or different. The problem with this philosophy of life is that there is always something else that needs to be bought or produced in order for you to be happy or satisfied. Truthfully, in this moment, you can only have what you have and anything you yearn for robs you of the possibility of reveling in the richness of your life.
People are so busy worrying about what they don’t have or how it is going to turn out in the future, they rarely allow themselves to really relish and enjoy the way things are right now. Life becomes a worry about what isn’t, rather than a celebration of what is. For if we, like the goat, invest our energy only in wanting what we don’t have and lusting after tantalizing goals currently out of reach, satisfaction is set aside for a mythical someday that never comes.
Here are three common impediments to moment-to-moment satisfaction that, when overlooked, can encroach upon your experience of living and make even the brightest of days dim.
Webster’s defines envy as “a feeling of discontent and ill will because of another’s advantages, possessions, etc.; resentful dislike of another who has something that one desires.” What most of us don’t realize is that when we are envious of another person’s position or possessions, we are at the same time denying the possibility of attaining for ourselves the very position or possessions of which we are envious.
If you feel misgivings toward another for having what you say you want, you will ultimately deny those things to yourself. The reason for this is simple. By envying another you think of them negatively. You mentally hold them as bad, wrong, or undeserving for having some attribute which you desire.
Here is the catch. In your heart-of-hearts, you know you are not a bad person and you do not want to be thought of negatively. Because this is so, you will automatically keep yourself from being like the person you are resentful toward. Unwittingly you will deny those things you want, in order to be a “good” person.
2. Old Hidden Agendas
Webster’s defines an agenda as “a program of things to be done.” This in itself seems quite innocuous. However, some of our agendas or goals are hidden from us. They came from decisions we made, at some point, early in our lives when we were less aware and had a less expanded version of ourselves. Ideas we had of what was necessary for our satisfaction may no longer be applicable to our current circumstances and our continued striving for them may in fact diminish the quality of our lives.
Here is a simplified version of how it works: Say your father or mother asked you to mow the lawn and you did. However, from your parent’s point of view, you did a sloppy job. So he or she said, “Forget it, I’ll do it myself.” Now comes the decision that runs forward to the present — you could have said to yourself, “I am no good at this kind of thing. I am inept.” If you are still proving your ineptitude, that hidden agenda will keep you repeatedly failing in life. Another possible reaction might have been, “I’ll show them. I can too do it well!” You might think that this is the better decision because it will drive you to achieve results.
Yet no amount of proving yourself by producing results engenders true and lasting satisfaction. The drive to prove one’s worth adds a great amount of stress to one’s life.
3. Disagreeing With What Is
Whenever you compare your current circumstances to how you would prefer your life to show up, the result is always the same: Dissatisfaction. People haven’t realized that what is going on in their life in any given moment of now really, truly is the only way their life could be showing up. We may have preferences but it is rare that our preferences are congruent with our current experience. In other words, if you are comparing how it is to how you would prefer it, you rob yourself of any possibility of satisfaction.
When you engage in your life as if the circumstances are “perfect,” you will be empowered to experience well-being even when things are truly challenging. Your world view will expand to include the wealth of your life, rather than focusing on a series of goals forever out of reach.
Most people are afraid that if they are satisfied with where they are and what they have then they will not advance, improve, or achieve their goals. This is far from being the truth. It is far easier to accomplish your heart’s desires when you are feeling well in yourself and when you are being kind to yourself as if you and your life circumstances are perfect.
Try it out. You may be surprised at the outcome.