Are You Going the Right Direction

Is it challenging for you to answer the question, “are you going the right direction?”

For me, part of the difficult is in defining the word, ‘right’. Somehow, I feel an assumption exists based either on what I want to experience or what others expectations are of my choice of direction.

It’s fairly easy if we’re talking about physical direction. If you’re old school like I am, you can get out your map and plot a course to arrive at your destination. Those with GPS only need to enter the addresses and let the machine take over the guidance. If they get off course somewhere along the way, it’s okay, they’ll be told a recalculation is in process and then a new set of turns to take.

What makes some of this interesting is that you never know if your planned route is the best. There could be an accident, road construction, or an unexpected traffic jam, any of which could pose problems for you.

But the ‘right’ direction applies to so much more than where you are going physically. It could be your intellectual pursuits, emotional stability, or spiritual direction.

How can you know when you’re on the right track?

Perhaps one of the answers lies in whether you’re achieving your goals and objectives, but what if you haven’t identified them yet? What then?

Setting down what you hope to achieve isn’t always easy. There may be some benchmarks the world offers, but they may not suit you personally.

Often, we think we must accomplish a standard set of goals to feel successful. Goals that bring us more credentials, money, prestige, awards, or notoriety. But are these the only achievements worth directing our efforts toward?

How can you tell what your most beneficial direction would be? Is it an intellectual, emotional, or spiritual decision?

Some part of me wonders whether if, ‘what actually happens in our life’, IS the answer to that question.

I probably need to explain this statement a bit.

What I’m trying to say is that our lives have a way of moving forward, and that each open space we experience eventually fills up and what fills the space, IS the answer/decision/direction. This certainly seems to suggest that we’re not particularly conscious during the process and that it just sort of happens.

An entirely different way to approach this is to take charge.

My nature is that of a goal setter and planner for most experiences in my life. This is an effective way to map a direction, but it isn’t for everyone. There are those who treasure the ‘stop and smell the roses’ approach, which offers wonderful opportunities to engage directly with life.

And there are those that place a premium on flexibility which allows one to pursue whatever objective or goal they choose without stressing about how or when it will be achieved. This also provides some space to discover that it’s more about the journey, than it is about the destination.

I wonder too, which direction will be the most worthwhile for me, the one my head plans or the one my heart seeks?

Over the course of my life there’s been a transition from prioritizing what my thinking mind wants to what my heart feels. It’s a huge shift and I heartily endorse it, while realizing it isn’t for everyone or for every occasion. The reason I’ve chosen it is because my sense of inner satisfaction is so deep when I trust my feelings to guide my way and choose my direction for me.

I’ll Be Happy When

Is there a right time to be happy in this life?

My answer to this seemingly simple question makes a big difference in the quality of my life.

I’ve spent a great deal of time living a conditional life. You may know what I mean already, but if not, here are some examples of a statements I’ve made.

I’ll be happy when I reach a specific goal.

I’ll be happy when my TO DO list is complete.

I’ll be happy when the balance in my account is high enough.

It’s possible you could add statements of your own, especially if you’re a pro at this like I am. I want to say, ‘like I was’, but I’m not there yet. I still struggle with this affliction.

The funny (and not so funny) thing is that I’m usually not happy when I achieve my objective. Sure, there is a momentary high, but very soon after, I set a new goal, add another item to the list or increase the account balance target.

I accept that this whole delayed happiness issue I have is fixable and I’ve made observations over the course of time which have helped. Here’s four that I’ve discovered.

The chances of my being happy decrease the more I look forward or look backward.

The chances of my being happy increase when I live in the present moment.

The chances of my being happy decrease with each prerequisite I attach to a goal or desire.

And the chances of my being happy increase when I release all the conditions I’ve attached.

Yes, it’s all up to me. But that’s fair because I’m the one who views the world this way. Yes, I had help. I learned by watching and listening to others. I saw what they did and copied them.

I was taught to have goals and aims and to accomplish wonderful things. You may have been to. And some of us were taught to wait to be happy until we’d fully achieved our goals. Perhaps the reason was so that we would continue to strive. Maybe otherwise we would be satisfied with less than our goal. Maybe we’d just be slackers.

I’ve always known that living a conditional life would be painful. I think I could tell from the beginning it didn’t feel right. But when you are a kid, you are trained to comply, so I did.

The problem with this is you can’t grow up without questioning things. Without knowing why they are important. And I want to grow up. I want to chuck all the conditions I attach to thoughts and ideas and dreams out the window.

I think that’s where they all belong. Maybe you’ll want to join me in this adventure.

My first step is to be happy to begin with. I’m not prepared to wait any longer. My life is far too short to wait any longer. I’m going to celebrate the simple things, like breathing, walking, sleeping, eating, loving. I’m going to learn from my rich history. I’m going to spend more time doing the things I love, because they are awash in happiness. And when I feel the need to pursue a goal or aim, I’m going to ask myself…why? Why is this important to me? If I can’t answer that, well then, it’s not going to make the list.

So, if you walk by my house someday, be careful, because I may still be throwing my unnecessary ‘conditions’ out of the window and I know you don’t want them either.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

To Know Flow

I’d like to share a poem I wrote in 1975 when I was 23 years old. At the time I was about to start my ‘real’ working career with two part time jobs; as a youth director at a church in Albany and as a teller at an Albany bank. It was mid-summer and I was finding my way in the world and seeking direction from whatever or whoever would speak to me from inside myself. I was surprised by the clarity of the voice that responded. The poem has stayed with me all this time, which I have to assume means something. Here it is.

to know flow

goals are the rocks of bondage

time is the eternal essence of mind

mind the essential ice to melt

acceptance is the bearer of peace

wisdom is the moderator of the flow

flow is the way of life

I’m a big believer in folks making up their own mind about things. You are certainly free to interpret this any way you choose, or read it and pass right on by. However, if you’d like to know why it means something to me, please keep reading.

goals

Perhaps you were taught to honor goals like I was. They were cornerstones to reach for. Inherently valuable and worthy of all of the time it might take to achieve them. They were what grown-ups ‘should’ strive for and the promise seemed to be that they would make you happy and satisfied with your life.

While this has been true in some cases, it has more often been that my goals were unattainable, or at least not achievable in the ways I want to experience them. Most of them became ‘rocks of bondage’.

It was not until recently that my vision shifted away from ‘goals’ and moved toward ‘aims’. This is a much more gently word and concept. It implies a certain amount of freedom, because the emphasis is on the direction of your movement, not the final outcome. I try now to leave goals out of the process and instead envision those things I am aiming for in my life. Maybe you might want to try this with one of your goals and see what happens.

time

It seems to me that everyone knows time is a man-made construct, an arbitrarily agreed upon decision to break up days into hours and minutes. I get how necessary it is, but somehow, I’m uncomfortable with the idea. I’ve never worn a watch for this reason and yet somehow, I’ve managed to show up for all of life’s meetings. I’ve also discovered that time is malleable. The same fixed amount of time can seem incredibly short or excruciatingly long, depending on the circumstances. Time seems to be an ‘essence of the mind’.

mind

Everyone has one. Everyone needs one. But, I’ve seen in my life how often my mind wants to be in charge, as if it always knows best. Knowledge is a wonderful thing, but to me, wisdom is far superior, so that ‘mind is the essential ice to melt.’

acceptance

Even though I’ve given intolerance, defiance and resistance every possible chance to solve my problems, they have all failed me. Quite miserably, in fact. Only acceptance has offered me a way forward, guiding me gently, yet firmly and being for me, ‘a bearer of peace.’

wisdom

As I see it, wisdom comes from the inside of me and knowledge comes from the outside of me. Wisdom follows a pathway through my feelings, while knowledge moves through my mind. When it comes to trusting, I choose wisdom over knowledge every time, because I recognize it as ‘the moderator of the flow.’

flow

Here is the truest way to feel and know your truth, are you moving against or with the current of your life? It is really a simple question and so revealing. Would life actually be trying to move you in a direction that did not benefit you? Not only is this a question of flow, but of faith. I hope that my choices are made in such a way that ‘flow is the way of my life’.