It is hard not to define our lives by expectations. Our societies have created ideals which cause us to measure our happiness based on the judged success upon their completion. We are all guilty of believing that money and things will help to fill the void we feel. Our lives are built upon big events with big expectations, but then after the prized moments come and go we are left with the realization that we have not really changed who we are.
We like to put a value on everything. Money is inevitable in modern society and it is indeed an idea that most everyone has come to believe. Living in Ecuador and interacting with some of the local tribes in the Amazon it is refreshing, yet mind-blowing, to witness how they regard our paper. To them, it has no value, no real value that is. You cannot eat it, wear it, or use the material. It is just a piece of paper that will only ever be an illusion of riches to them. Yet we in the modern world define our lives by it. Some of us even believe it is the key to our happiness. This isn't totally false. Money can get you to experiences that make you happy, but it should not be confused with happiness. It is not a means to an end but simply an opportunity for enjoyment, and like all opportunities intended for enjoyment we must be careful with what we choose. Rather than using money to indulge without meaning we can choose to use money to invest in ourselves. Experiences create a lifetime of rich memories. Plenty of people are happy without money and plenty of people are unhappy with money. So if it isn’t a lack of money to blame for our unhappiness then what is it?
I find that most disappointment comes when we attach ourselves to a result. As I have come to learn, especially while living in Ecuador, things don't always happen how we envisioned they would. When we become so attached to the outcome we become disappointed when reality doesn't live up to our assumptions. I do not refute that it is good to hold ourselves and our peers to a standard. We cannot become complacent and believe that things will be done for us (I promise you they will not). There is a difference between attaching yourself to a result and holding yourself to an outcome. Where do you start if you don’t have anything to go off of? How do we define success if we don’t predict the result?
We learn to take each experience for what it is. We learn to live in the present. We learn to appreciate what is in front of us and what we are given in this moment. We learn to trust the journey.
This is a nervous concept for most people, essentially trusting in something they cannot control. My personal experience has found that when I enjoy the present I give less thought to what I hope the result to be. Instead of living for the somedays we need to fully indulge ourselves in today. This frees your mind because there is only ever one today, while there is a potential endless of somedays. From a personal standpoint I feel that when we give ourselves specific outcomes we limit ourselves on the possible solutions when things change. And things always change. I have found that it is better to give yourself multiple options for one path and therefore if one doesn't work out, it simply means another will. Instead of planning your life with options A, B, and C just give yourself options. When you let go of the ranking or expectations you allow yourself to be content with the organic nature of life’s events. I never judge my life on ranked experiences, each outcome is simply an alternative, bringing as much happiness as the other.
I don’t want to confuse this with determination and preservation of the future. I will come back to this point but for now I am happy with this. Until next time, keep enjoying the now :)
**Slow internet means more pictures to come...
It has been a whirlwind of feelings as I realize this is what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve always lived my life working towards the “whats next” so it is a beautiful lesson to realize for now, this is the moment I’ve been building up to. Things are working out as I have planned and worked for and whats left is to fill in the details… what’s next is the stuff inside the planning, this is the stuff of life. It is an exciting and comforting time for self discovery and future endeavors.
“We have to acknowledge sometimes that this moment is enough. This place is enough. I am enough.” -Sue Monk Kidd
I have been taking lots of time to just sit and be, assess my body and realign my mind. One morning as I sat by the river contemplating contentment I realized the sounds of rushing water infiltrated my meditation and thought... and that was exactly the point.
A river does not stop for the big questions of life or reason with the stones it goes over. It simply keeps on going, finding new ways of least resistance to get to its final destination. And while I relish the fact we humans can contemplate our paths and stand for the things we believe in it got me thinking that allowing yourself to slowdown and not over complicate your life is a crucial step in enjoying were we are at.
We are all here to figure out what we want from life and where we can make our mark. We each indulge in different habits and believe in a variety of ideals, but at the basis of this I think we are all looking to feel connected. Love could be described as the ultimate connection, to not only enjoy the experience or person but also to keep that feeling with you through time. The ancient greeks described 6 different types of love, or rather emotional attachment; eros (sexual passion), philia (friendship), ludus (playful), agape (selfless love, a love for all people), pragma (mature love, “standing” in love), and philautia (love of self). (Source: Roman Krznaric “How should we Live”)
It’s a beautiful thing to come to terms with the varying levels of love we can have in our lives. I believe disappointment comes from the attachment to the expectation that all love should fulfill the same niche, but this is so not the case. We must learn to feel and filter our emotions to best fit our daily lives. For the moment, I am most immersed in the pursuit of philautia, the love we have for ones self. I believe that the relationship you have with yourself should be the strongest in your life. Take all the time you need to sort your thoughts and connect with your emotions because at the end of each night and beginning of each day you and you alone wake up with your happiness (regardless of what or whom may fill the space next to you). Find what it is which gives you true happiness and seek it until it no longer brings you contentment. If it always continues to, look no further, slow down, and enjoy. You are enough. I am enough.
There is much to come and exciting progress daily with On Both Sides of Life. While in the field I am enjoying a much simpler form of living than I have been used to. My days are filled with yoga, reflection, cultivating the land, ukulele, good company, fresh produce, and of course frogging :) Stay tuned for more and please get in touch if you're interested to join the movement.