Complacent Or Competitive:
The definition of success needs us to be ambitious, courageous and always aiming for our next move. Society expects us to be passionate and goal oriented, or else we’re labeled lazy, mediocre or complacent with ourselves.
Why did we move away from living out our lives in keeping with the pace of nature? And why did we become compelled to compete with each other in super hectic man-made environments?
In our journey from the vision we have for our lives, did we lose track of our personal missions?
Contentment Vs. Ambition:
Our life at best is our continuous effort to navigate the thin line between presence and productivity.
To traverse this world, we must balance deep contentment with our fierce ambitions. How can contentment be good for progress? If we’re not content with how things are, we will keep trying to fill the gaps of inadequacy we feel about ourselves. And we will never start working on our most ambitious plans for our future. We must tell ourselves at any point, “This is my best so far, and I am going to work hard to build on it.” Thoughts like these empower us rather than bring us down.
When we sit down to ruminate on our life, we can use the silence to develop self-compassion for the beautiful journey we’re on. We can use our time to sit still to lead ourselves from compassion to understanding our competence in the different aspects of life. We can use our contentment of our rich life to drive us to a terrific pace of ambition.
Being And Doing At The Same Time:
So, once in a while, we must become a witness to our own life and just use stillness as a great weapon for self-discovery. But, if we only “be” and not really “do”, how can we progress in life? Does being still mean we must become passive?
Nope, action IS life. The point here is that even stillness can be a source of great momentum. How?
Ok, let’s look at this. If you’re raging about someone cutting you off on the road, what will I tell you as your passenger. “Calm down, just take a deep breath.” What if you just fought with your teenage daughter. What would I tell you? “Just go for a walk. That will clear your head.” Isn’t it?
So, for a long time, humans have been using the body to calm down our brains. Similarly we can use our brains to create momentum on some of our most toughest problems.
While we stay still, we can use our minds to plan, imagine and decide a lot of things we want to act on. We can use our thoughts to create momentum for our goals and the direction we want to go in. And, isn’t that the primary difference between animals and humans? Animals cannot simply decide, imagine and act on things that are not in the room.
Commit To Less And Less:
The main source of anxiety and overwhelm comes from how we manage our expectations of ourselves especially in front of others. We find it difficult to say no, either because we don’t want to disappoint the other person, or because we fear repercussions.
And when it comes to taking up tasks, and filling up our calendars, some of us feel special excitement in keeping ourselves busy all the time. We’re constantly checking off all the boxes in a timely fashion, and performing for others instead of living for ourselves. But, one way to look at our greedy selves wanting company desperately is because we simply can’t stand having tough conversations with our own selves.
The problem is we live like we will live forever, when the reality is that our time on this earth is the thing we absolutely cannot be sure of. There’s a great need to simplify irrationally. Because micro decisions are mostly the reason for overwhelm. And when we think of our lives with the urgency of our imminent mortality, we can start to see things clearly. We can begin to appreciate how in fact time is really a very limited resource of ours.
Surrender To Silence:
If you’re still not convinced if you should be incorporating some downtime in your daily life, then here’s a gem from Lao Tzu whose writings form the basis of Taoism.
Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub;
It is on the hole in the center that the use of the cart hinges.
We make a vessel from a lump of clay;
It is the empty space within the vessel that makes it useful.
We make doors and windows for a room;
But it is these empty spaces that make the room livable.
Thus, while the tangible has advantages,
It is the intangible that makes it useful.
– Lao Tzu