First of all, I have to put it out there that I’m a HUGE fan of Eckhart Tolle. Some may think he’s all new age mumbo-jumbo, but his teachings resonate with me deeply.
I was recently reading A New Earth when I came across the following quote:
You don’t have to wait for something meaningful to come into your life so that you can finally enjoy what you’re doing. -Eckhart Tolle
This got me thinking quite a bit.
Why is it that we’re so consumed with finding meaning?
I’ll be the first to admit that this is something that’s definitely consumed a lot of my time. I think many of us think that there is some magic answer out there to what will give us meaning in our lives. I’ve talked about this before, but I thought it was worth digging into a little deeper.
It really all comes down to not accepting the present moment as it is, doesn’t it? I mean, if we’re constantly searching for meaning in our lives then that must mean there’s something wrong with the way things are right now. In reality, there isn’t because all we have is the present moment. It can be a tricky concept to grasp, but once you do, it can profoundly change the way you look at your life.
When you’re searching for meaning in your life you’re always focused on the “future.” More than that, you’re under the impression that some “thing” will bring you that meaning whether it’s a job, another person or some object. Obviously this is never the case, which is why people often get trapped in a perpetual state of searching.
It’s extremely difficult to get out of the cycle, so whenever you find yourself in this searching mode tell yourself this: You’re never going to find happiness and meaning if you search for it. To be happy, just be.
Ok, enough of the heavy stuff, what about an example?
Travel. I think one of the reasons that so many people love to travel, including myself, is that we are naturally drawn to the present moment when we travel. Think about it. If you’ve ever gotten off a plane in a country or location you haven’t visited, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
All of your senses are focused on the new smells and sights. You take everything in almost as a child who is seeing something for the first time, which you are if it’s your first time to the location. This is why I love traveling so much. It’s one of the easiest ways to get me in the present moment. Work is off my mind. Other people are off my mind. The only thing that is “on my mind” is what is happening to me right at that moment.
Extreme sports are another example. Why else would someone be crazy enough to jump out of a plane or bungee jump off of a bridge? It’s because doing those activities put you in an ultra-intense state of presence. It’s in those moments that you’re one with the present moment.
There are some inherent problems with this though. We’re still always waiting for the next experience. The next new country or city to visit. The next “high” we’ll get from jumping out of a plane or climbing a mountain. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m all for traveling and new experiences, but how do we fill the gaps?
Stop waiting and start living
The “waiting to start living” syndrome is one of the most common delusions of the unconscious state. -Eckhart Tolle
Maybe you’re not happy with your job or your present situation. There are a couple of things you can do:
- Accept your current situation as it is (which you should always strive to do).
- Take action to change the situation if you’re not happy with it.
I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. For many people it’s not like they can just quit their job on a whim. In that case, start being more present in your job. Accept where you are at. Put presence into the work you are doing. Again, I want to try to keep it real here so you don’t think I’m getting overly spiritual, but this does work. You’ll be amazed to see the changes within yourself when you stop resisting life and start living it.
Acceptance of what is and what you are doing right now will do wonders in reducing the amount of stress in your life. I can give you a personal example. I used to get so crazily stressed out when I drove my car. If someone wasn’t going fast enough I’d get pissed off. If someone cut me off, I would get angry and take it personally. Sitting in a traffic jam? Forget it. I would freak out.
Finally, one day I said enough is enough. I can’t control all of these outside influences, so I’m going to accept things as they are right now. Now if I get into a traffic jam, I don’t mind it. I’ll sit in relaxation or crank up some tunes on my iPod. There’s no point in getting all worked up, wishing I could be out of the present situation. It is what it is.
So, what about you? Are you caught in a search for meaning in your life? What do you do to bring more presence into your life?