I know of those times when I’m a little down. I just don’t feel enthusiastic about anything. Life seems dull. Nothing seems exciting. Sometimes I just want to change things, but I don’t know what or how to. Sometimes I feel like hiding in my house and never seeing anyone.
I am sure it happens to you, as well. Your friend got that job he didn’t deserve, or maybe you didn’t get one that you deserved. Your colleagues seem to be doing better than you at work. Your better half doesn’t seem to understand you or the girl/guy you desire doesn’t seem to be interested. You start doubting your choices.
When that happens, and if it is happening right now, stop. Take a deep breath, then take another one. And then take a third one.
And then, let’s talk. What is this happening to you? You can never be better than everyone. No one can be better than everyone. Does that mean you should be satisfied with what you have? Yes and no. Being satisfied does not mean that you don’t strive for better. You have to try for a better life. You have to go that extra mile at work or anything else that you’re pursuing. It’ll grow you, it’ll groom you.
It also does not mean that you have never made a mistake or that you’ve never failed. You have done both. But understand that both failing and making mistakes are critical part of success, for they teach us something about ourselves. Mistakes are real and worth repenting only when you repeat the same one more than once.
But, being satisfied does mean that you have to relax. It means realizing that you know better, and that worrying about things you can’t control is counter-intuitive, it dulls your life’s quality and impacts your well-being. It means to relax and calm down!
What is dullness? It is monotonicity. Dullness means there is never any surprise, never any twist. Everything is known in advance, everything is planned…. Is life really planned? I know you’ve heard the answer a million times, but it is still “no.”
Once you are a little relaxed, start looking closely: not a single moment in life is planned. What you plan is the bigger stuff: when will you buy a car, when will you pay your bills, when will you meet the client, etc. But you can never plan the smaller stuff: how you’ll feel the next instant, who you might meet today and what they might say, and, if I may point out, if you’ll live to see tomorrow morning!
You can generally choose your life’s direction, but you cannot choose the micro events that form it. And that’s the exciting part of life.
The long run is planned, and time is uni-directional. It keeps on ticking — and no matter what Albert Einstein might have said, it does not come back. That’s not its nature. And your body has an expiration date, too, which is directly proportional to time. So yes, it is planned that the body will expire. As Keynes said, in the long run, we’re all dead.
But guess what: the long run, by definition, will never arrive. And now is all you have. Your life is in this instant. Your only option is to work through this moment, one at a time. That’s life. The only way to live through the darkness is to live in the now. And it’s not as if you have to work hard to realize this, on the contrary, this is your only true nature.
Try to observe the moment, because each one has some unexplained wonder. And that’s precisely because you have no idea what life is going to be or how it is going to shape up. Every moment comes with a very small bit of uncertainty. It is this unpredictability that makes it worth cherishing. You’re not really scared of challenges, you enjoy them, and you already know that challenges make you stronger, a better person. So good or bad, it’ll never be dull!
The other thing to think about is that there are things that you can do something about, actions that you can own. And then there is stuff that you cannot really do anything about. As the Bhagavad Gita says, “Karma kar fal ki iccha mat kar” (Act, but don’t desire). Truth be told, you cannot do anything even if you do desire. And it would have been okay to desire if it wouldn’t have left you miserable. But it does.
So when life seems overwhelmingly negative, just take three deep breaths, and then let yourself flow with the moment, let yourself realize that there are things that are still under your control, and there are things that aren’t. And as long as you’re concerned with the former, you’ll be much more effective, peaceful and happy. The latter are not yours to be controlled, for they belong to someone else, your friend’s hard work, your boss’s schedule, your life partner’s mood, and trying to control them will only do you harm.
So to recap: Firstly, you cannot control the world, you cannot be the best. If you really think about it, this moment is all you’ve got. Life is in this moment, and the long term is not coming. And here you’re trying hard to live in long term, but you’re not even sure of your tomorrow. Every moment is unpredictable, and dull is the last thing in the nature of life. Good and bad are both flavors of life, worth cherishing.
Secondly, wanting isn’t getting. Working is getting. There is always something you can do to get closer to your ambition. And if you can relax and let yourself realize this, the world will become a wonderful place again. And even though we already know all this, it’s good to be reminded sometimes, isn’t it? The mind is a tricky fellow indeed!