Tiny Wisdom: On Realizing You’re Complete

“On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a playful, joyous energy behind what you do.” -Eckhart Tolle

In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle explores how people attach their happiness to achievements in the future. A perfect relationship. A promotion. A salary increase.

Since all of these things exist somewhere other than now–and they're all impermanent, even if you do achieve them–this thinking creates pain on multiple levels.

First, in the present, when you’ve yet to achieve what you think you need. Next in the acquisition, when you realize even though you've met your goal, you're still wired to look for happiness somewhere in the future. And later, when life changes, and you no longer have exactly what you had.

Life always changes. Nothing is permanent.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue goals. It’s just that we’d experience a deeper sense of joy on the journey if we realized there’s nowhere to get to. There’s no someday when I’m someone, or someday when I'm happy. There’s no salvation in the future. It's an illusion that strips the present of joy and makes it a stressful experience.

Life is now. It will always be now. At some point we have to decide now is a perfect time to be happy, peaceful, satisfied, and complete.

As you work toward your goals today, tune into your underlying motivations and ask yourself: Am I focusing all my energy on a happy tomorrow to the detriment of my today?

Photo by jamiehladky

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • The pursuit of happiness is surely a funny thing -and it does drive the economy too. But the simple logic really is, if I can’t be happy now with me, just being, then I’m simply not happy. Period. And the idea that I would be happy if only, does not make any sense.  But we’re all caught up in it, right! Love Tolle’s work. Thanks!   

  • JMF

    This is just what I needed today.  A reminder that I have a wonderful life…right now.  There is really nothing I need to continue to strive to do or to be.  My life is great right now and I am complete right now.  By continuing to strive and think that I should somehow be “more” or “better”, it robs me of the happiness I can have today.  Thank you for the wonderful reminder. 

  • Yep. “Now” is the definitely the answer. 

    The past should be a place of reference and not residency and as for the future, most of what we worry about never happens: its like interest on debts that you don’t yet have!    

  • Anonymous

    This totally spoke to me this day.  Somehow even though we know this to be true we slip back into old thinking.  Thanks for the reminder Lori.

  • Blerta Haxhijaha

    Wonderful, just what I needed. This truth has resonated with me for a long time, but these couple of weeks I’ve felt a bit disconnected with my true self. I think now it’s the time to stop the illusion. Thanks for always helping me.

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  • You’re most welcome. Glad to be helpful!

  • I know exactly what you mean! I have definitely noticed my mind’s tendency to jump from worry to worry, problem to problem. I used to think it was a defensive tactic, so that I could be prepared for whatever is coming, but then I realized that I would often obsess about something long after I identified a solution.

    I think that simply being can feel very vulnerable–like I’m not bracing myself for what’s ahead. Then I remember what I’ve read about people who get into car accidents. When they stiffen up, they’re far more likely to break a bone, whereas when they relax they’re less apt to be seriously hurt. It’s the same with the mind–bracing yourself doesn’t protect you from pain in the future. It just creates more pain.

  • You’re most welcome! I think you’re absolutely right. When we fixate on “the pursuit of happiness,” we’re unlikely to find it, because it can’t possibly exist somewhere other than now.

  • You’re most welcome. =)

  • I know what you mean! I think that knowing and applying are two very different things. I need to remind myself of the same simple ideas every day, over and over, to continuously act on what I know.

  • I love the car analogy Lori, and will use it at my next seminar. Thanks.   

  • I’m definitely guilty of this. It’s hard to balance happiness in the present with my strong desire to change many aspects of my life. Even when I remember, which I do most of the time, to check in in the morning and take a moment to be grateful and choose happiness, it’s easy to lose that over the course of the day as I get caught up in tasks and goals and busy-ness. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  • I know exactly what you mean! I think this is one of those things we all need consistent reminders to do. It can be challenging to be fully rooted in the present while you’re working to create change for the future. However, having these types of conversations helps quite a bit for me!

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  • It’s one of those lessons that seems to call for repeating over and over. I remember this, then I get in the trap of “everything’s cool but…”, or “I’ll be happier when…”, or “the only other thing I need to be complete is…”.

    And it’s all BS – when we try to create a sense of completeness or security or well-being in the world of form it is doomed to fail. The only abiding wellness emerges from the formless, from our true self. And we keep learning this until we really get it.

  • I definitely needed to hear this today. And the answer the to the question at the end, for me, is “yes.” Now I just need to make it a habit to live in the moment. My acting professor is a big proponent of living fully in the moment. Sometimes I feel that I can do, sometimes it is harder. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Gsalemi1954

    Why do they say in Zen Buddhism…there is no such thing as “now”….or “moment”. If you live in the moment and that moment ticks by, then where do you live? A monk said to a Zen master “nothing exists” (there is no now). The master struck him on the head and said “does that exist”. If we say that blow on the head does exist, can something non-exist? Am I right or wrong? 

  • I don’t really know if you’re right or wrong, to be honest. I try to keep things simple by focusing on what’s in front of me, to the best of my ability. That seems to help me stay peaceful, happy, and available to connect with other people!

  • You’re most welcome! I studied acting in college, and I had teachers who said the same things. Most of what I’ve learned about mindfulness and connection lends itself to better acting (though I don’t do that anymore–I miss it!) It was really hard for me to truly engage with other actors when I was hiding from myself, my emotions, and the moment. I think I was attracted to acting because I could leave myself–which is ironic since I became a better actress when I learned to connect with myself!

  • I know what you mean Jack. I think much of life is just re-learning and applying the same simple ideas over and over again. it’s definitely been like that for me!

  • Gsalemi1954

    I am peaceful too Lori and thank you for your response. Right or wrong is a trick question that many Zen masters use. Which, by the way, am not even close to being a Zen master. They use it to test your mind. They ask the question to see if you have transcended the use of words. Right and wrong are not in Zen. The answer using either word would be incorrect. I just wanted to try to invalidate the use of the words “be in the now”. So many people say that in relation to Buddhism but the true meaning is not understood, in my humble opinion. You are “available” to many people and clearly you help them as I hear them express their appreciation for your blogs. I bow to you. I was trying to be helpful too but I’m just not as good a teacher as you are. Clearly it is not so much that Buddhism is misunderstood as I have expressed, but me. lol

  • I think you are, indeed, a great teacher, as I just learned from you. =)

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