Tonight I went in search of treasure and I didn’t have to go far. I knew I wouldn’t, and neither do you.
I am reminded of some of the ra ra feel good seminars of the eighties and nineties, but I suppose they happened before that as well. I would go to one of those things and get all charged up, and really thought I would never be down again. This isn’t the kind of treasure I am talking about, but it is similar in some ways.
I long ago accepted the insanity of placing a condition on a decision to be happy. We say I will be happy if I can just have or do that one thing. Yet we get or have that one thing and we are happy for a couple weeks, and now it’s something new. The treasure I have found is both in every moment, and also in brief moments that I give myself.
Some time ago I started meditating, and once all the cobwebs cleared away, I realized that I am not the person with all those neurotic thoughts. I am the one who notices all those neurotic thoughts. Now when I go into meditation I decide in that moment to be happy, and it is easy. It is easy because I am normally sitting in my office, or with my wife enjoying life. During that time I think of all the things I have to be grateful for, and then I get grateful for all the things in my life that most people aren’t ever grateful for. During this particular period of time I have a couple welcome to midlife kind of medical issues. It would be really easy to look at all the reasons it is terrible, but I have chosen to let it be a reminder that I made it through all the things I didn’t think I would, and that this too shall pass.
Right now some people might be tempted to dismiss what I have said here because they don’t understand it. I haven’t given up on having an impact on the world, I have just refused to let the process make me miserable. Uncomfortable maybe, but not miserable. Discomfort is natural, but miserable is just what you think about your discomfort. I don’t set goals the way the “experts” tell you to set them. They say set S.M.A.R.T goals, and I say be smart about goals. If I set a goal their way, at some point it gets really uncomfortable, and I usually end up back where I started from. When I set goals my way or rather intentions, I have a much higher success rate. Instead of setting a goal and a date I set an intention, figure out what I “think” needs to be done to achieve it. Then I focus on doing the best I can to achieve it, all the while enjoying the process. I used to hate making beds, and doing dishes, but now I make the bed every day and often do dishes. I realized that the thoughts I had about doing the dishes, or working on a goal related task were much worse than just doing them. I just do the dishes or make the bed well, and pay attention to each step rather than what I think about the process. I do the same with goals.
The key to this, and other things that will make you more effective is coming to the realization that you aren’t your thoughts, your past, or how you feel. Most of your thoughts are not voluntary, and if you don’t believe me, just sit down and take a deep breath or two for the purpose of just noticing what your mind thinks. You will find that you don’t choose to think about something. Thoughts just pop up. So let them pop up, notice them and then get on with what you want to do with your life. This is the treasure of life, staying happy no matter what happens. It is a work in process, but works most of the time. I hope it makes you as happy as it has made me.