A common phrase we’ve all heard is ” just be happy with what you have”. The way I see it and if we take that phrase literally then why should we try to better ourselves or achieve anything in life at all?
While I get what the phrase is pointing to I think a better thing to say is to appreciate what we have but never stop trying to achieve more. My blog for any regular readers is heavily influenced by spirituality as you may have noticed. When I was first delving into spirituality I was learning and practicing the art of being happy with what I have which did wonders for acknowledging and appreciating the blessing I did and do have.
Something came to my mind though, if I was to take this to an extreme, if I was to give up all my possessions and live in a cave as the stereotypical story of a spiritual seeker goes could I still be happy? Or would doing that even be necessary or make any sense?
Reading the story of the Buddha (and I’m really skimming through it ) we come to see that he was originally a Prince, he had it all, all the sensual pleasures at his fingertips yet he wasn’t happy with what he had realising it would all be taken away as he gets sick, gets old and dies which is why he became a spiritual seeker. He then went about denying himself, starving himself, torturing himself, thinking that an ascetic life was the answer to inner peace and enlightenment, he went about doing the complete opposite to how he was living previously. He again realised this did not bring him happiness either.
He eventually realised the ” middle way” was the path to happiness and inner peace. Overindulgence won’t make us happy and too much hardship won’t either. Like many of my posts I take a massive detour to get to my point. The point I’m getting to though is that the point of this life, to quote Marcus Aurelius isn’t to ” huddle up under the blankets and keep warm” that is to say we are not here to have an easy life all the time, doing so makes us ungrateful, lazy, unappreciative and kills us quicker mentally and physically as we are designed and built to struggle, overcome adversity and achieve.
This must all happen in a balanced way though, as the Buddha found, everything must be in moderation. There are so many worldly people thinking achievement and success will make them happy and are miserable until they achieve it. On the other hand there are many spiritual practitioners that want nothing to do with the world and are convinced that getting rid of all external possessions and interactions is the true path to happiness. The worldly persons denies their spiritual side and the spiritual person denies their humanity. Doing one or the other leads to suffering as we are human yet we are divine simultaneously, leaning to one side too heavily is not living in moderation.
In my opinion and it’s just my opinion and what has worked for me is the middle way. Everyday I’m grateful for what I have but am not attached to what I have, if it stays that’s good, if it goes I’ll be ok too. From that foundation of just appreciating what I have I also have realised we are put on this earth to do something. I work to pay the bills yet find no true passion in my work, some people are lucky enough though to find passion in their work and put all their energy into achieving more in the workplace and that’s perfectly fine.
My passions personally lie in writing, learning, keeping mentally and physically fit and to hopefully become wiser and a better, more useful human everyday. I’m always grateful for what I have and am always at peace with what I have but like I said if I was just to stop learning and achieving then life doesn’t become much fun at all, I see it as such a waste to stop trying to achieve and grow if we are capable of doing so.
I encourage you to do the same, learn to be happy with what you have but don’t make it an excuse to stop striving and achieving. On the flip side don’t make your whole life and self worth about your success and accomplishments. Success and accomplishments are great but they don’t make you who you are.
When we take some time to look inwards through practices like meditation and spiritual philosophy we will come to see we are always perfect and complete as we are at our very core. Once we realise this once we realise in the end everything will be ok, that we don’t live a life but are the essence of life itself we can then see and live life how it should be lived and seen, as a playground.
Our achievements, goals and hardships give us something to do but they don’t add to or subtract from our true essence. Chase dreams and goals but don’t take any of it too seriously as life isn’t meant to be taken too seriously ” it’s just a ride” to quote the late Bill Hicks.
Thanks for reading have a great day guys.