“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.”‘ -Eckhart Tolle
There is little in life that is more stressful than thinking you need be somewhere else but feeling powerless to get there.
There’s this dream I used to have over and over again. I’d want to get somewhere, but my body wouldn’t move. I’d start running, but I would essentially be jogging in place, like Wile Coyote when he was pushed off a cliff but he’d continue moving his legs while suspended in mid-air.
No matter how much energy I expelled, I was immobile; but I always kept fighting, sweating, and screaming, hoping something or someone would save me from the pain of my paralysis.
That’s how I lived my life. There was always something I visualized as the end-all-be-all in terms of happiness, and it was always something that evaded me—a relationship, a job, an adventure, and usually underneath it all a feeling I desperately wanted.
It was always something just out of reach until I got it, and my internal supervisor gave me a new assignment to target my aching, endless want. There was no reward to achieving; just a new demand to cower before.
I’ve realized there will always be the possibility of a tomorrow that could be better than today. There’s always going to be a there that sounds like a fantasy—someday when you’ve gotten what you want.
You could easily wrap your whole life around the promise of getting there and tie your emotions to the illusion of getting closer. You could stress out if you don’t think you’re making progress or feel frustrated that you haven’t seen enough results. You could complain to people about feeling stuck and dwell on how much better things would be if only you could get there.
You could do all of that—if you want to choose unhappiness. Because this moment, right now, is life. And where we are is where we have an opportunity to be happy.
We can fight it and feel stressed or let go and feel peace.
That doesn’t mean we can’t strive for things we want. It just means we’ve realized the path to a bright tomorrow starts with a choice to recognize and create light today.
Dig your heels in and take a deep breath. You are here, and this is all that’s guaranteed. What’s good about this moment, and how can you appreciate and enjoy it?
Part of this post is excerpted from my book, Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions.
Photo by Viewoftheworld