Ever notice how, despite your best efforts, life is a bit of… a shit-show? From the time we are old enough to entertain semi-intelligent thoughts we fantasize about living some form of Nirvana (not the tragic Kurt Cobain kind). We each tend to dream of what it would be like when (fill in the blank). Generally speaking, when we are kids we just want to be an adult. This is usually a half-formed thought - clinging to the freedom being an adult provides. Given the chance to actually be an adult, no kid would accept this insane agreement: shoulder the responsibility of what feels like the entire world and all of its vast problems and sometimes you can do whatever you want.
As we grow up (become more of a conformist) we take on new ideas of what Nirvana looks like. We each express our uniqueness and individual creativeness by imagining a tightly-held, somewhat secretive, poorly understand, and seldom articulated idea of what Nirvana looks like. Usually the idea becomes more specific and invariably harder to obtain. The minute we get within 100 yards of Nirvana we immediately change our value system to ensure more effort is required to obtain the next-level Nirvana we now crave.
Let me be clear: aspiring for more is great when the motives are positive. Pushing yourself to be a better version of yourself (however you define better) is a great goal. The blister I am jamming my finger in is the assumption that “fun” and heaven-forbid I used the obvious word here: “happiness” are something we obtain through arduous work and sacrifice. Blood, sweat, and tears (or more appropriately “conquering fears”) is a requisite for happiness, but not in the way this method is commonly applied.
Most of the effort we put into our adult lives is motivated by fear and our desire to provide some protection against things we fear happening. We work to protect against “the wolf” who is always at our door and strive for some sense of security. The major fallacy here is the assumption that we have control. While there is much we can do to ensure that curveballs have a less significant impact on our lives, we will always be surprised by the ever-changing and chaotic nature of our lives.
The magic sauce here is embracing our fears. The more you accept the worst possible reality you can conjure up, the more free you are to live your life without fear. Happiness is not obtained by changing your circumstance, rather a continuous acceptance of one’s fears. Dread, stress, and misery are all motivated by fear and cause us each to limit our ability to be creative and reach a higher-consciousness.
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