Life is all about growing, essentially ‘seeing what we can be’.
I don’t find the temporary nature of life, or our ignorance about it, to be unfair. In fact, to me that’s the whole game. That’s the table we find ourselves playing at. There’s a time limit, and there are rules (even those are flexible), but beyond that we make it all up.
People approach their lives in all kinds of ways. Some people are happy just to be in the game, others are going through the motions until it’s over (even at a young age). Some choose to widen their perspective, while others can’t see past their own stories and the emotion of the moment. Some decide to see how much they can become, while others spend their time complaining about the rules and making excuses for their results.
Ultimately it’s our attitude/approach that determines our results and our life experience.
I’ve been in the process of digging into the underlying systems, well, sort of my whole life. As an engineer I learned that the way to get desired results was to solve problems at the root. In a business, the same principle is at work. To get better results, you need to work on the systems of the business – the boring stuff like written procedures, process improvement, and so on. The results flow naturally from the underlying systems. No more profound than simple cause-and-effect. So, I’ve been busy working on the causes.
It takes effort and practice. Some of it is really deep in there, the stuff from our reptilian brain like fear, desire, comfort. Can’t get rid of that stuff, so the work needed there is to learn to accept it, and to gain some mastery over it, or at least not allow it to control us…too much.
Most of the stuff that controls our behavior (and therefore life results) is vastly easier to change. Things like procrastination, superstition, self-deception/storytelling, poor thinking, scarcity mindset, negativity, and so on. While all of these habits are deeply rooted in fear, they can be corrected at a much more surface level. For example, procrastination is very much fear-based, but is easily overcome as a habit with some simple techniques, without having to master anything nearly as daunting as ‘fear itself’.
If we dare to access the deeper stuff, the fulcrum gets real leverage, and it makes life easy lifting.
I read somewhere that life gets easy if you’re willing to do the difficult things. I agree. Life was very hard when I was trying to do it the easy way. Too many shortcuts, too many bad habits, too many ‘someday’s. It added up to a pretty steady decline over the years. Mine was steeper than most, but hardly uncommon. Just look around and you see it in peoples’ eyes (and waistlines and bank accounts). In a game over which we have ultimate control, most of us end up losing way before our time is up.
I’ve read everything from religious writings to business books, success and ‘motivational’ speeches, psychology, self-help, self-improvement, Navy SEAL mental training, performance books by world-class athletes, and timeless stuff by everyone; Einstein, Thoreau, Aristotle, Lama, Hahn, Tolle, Hill, Rohn, Goethe, and recently some stuff by atheists that is amazingly some of the most enlightening and spiritual.
What I was looking for was convergence – timeless TRUTHS, and I definitely found them. They run through these books uninterrupted like veins of gold. The main idea recurring over and over:
“It’s all up to you.”
Simplistic, sure, but to me it basically means that we create our own happiness. The first step for me was learning that as a truth. The rest of my life will be spent practicing it.