How ideal life can destroy your life
Common idea I have gained from people is that we must work hard and do sacrifices in order to achieve status and prestige. This goal of status and abundance usually holds the belief that this goal is happiness, freedom and all the positive aspects one assumes lays beyond suffering one goes through to achieve them. But we must be careful, as what you assume and work towards, you might get.
Visioning the ideal life
So, think through if that is what you want – do you want to spend 30 years struggling for the high life house, car and money for your old age? Really think it through. What do you do when you reach this goal in 30 years? You still have the same 24 hours a day with your body and thoughts being 30 years older of course.
If you really wish this high life that ultimately aims for happiness and positive emotions, think about what it is that makes you so happy and fulfilled about it. Is it the freedom that you can spend time with your family? Is it the beautiful vacations? Is it the safety and luxury? Idealize your best day and what makes the day so special and good.
At this point we probably have a clear view of rich life full of having fun and doing quality activities. Let us now go deeper into that goal space. How long would you like for this to go on? Would this be enough for you, if this really is your goal? Would you be ok to live the rest of your life like this, exactly how you imagined it? Think about the possible negatives you might have to face with your relationships and things that would not be available for you when you are in your goal space. I want you to think closely, would you be satisfied with what is and not wish more?
At first, one might say: “Well my goal is perfect, I wouldn’t wish for anything else.” But I would challenge you to consider this: What makes you desire this goal in the first place? Why do you want to change your life towards this goal? The answers to this can probably be found by analyzing the answers regarding question such as: What makes you happy in the goal space? This of course assumes that one is not happy with the current situation. Well why aren’t you happy? Why do you actually feel the lack of fulfillment?
Reality check about our life experience
Now let us pause the visioning for a bit and do a reality check. We all want autonomy, safety in physical and psychological sense and we have a tendency to grow self-esteem and abundance of things related to all the previous needs. On top of that understanding, we have three profound facts to consider in life. One is that life is lethal and we are all going to die one way or the other. Second is that we know only the moment we live in right now, and all the ideas of the future are images and predictions that we cannot know for sure. Third one is highly related to the second one, and that is the fact that we simply cannot know the whole image of the now-moment either and that creates the fundamental of uncertainty in life.
The uncertainty is something that can be addressed for example by understanding our experience of life itself. Our brain, simply put, is a prediction machine and it wants to keep us alive by creating memories attached to emotional states to guide our bodies through life. Problem is that we trust our brains sometimes a bit too much. We tend to take every sensory input that is processed though our brains as an ultimate truth. For example, if one has been stung by a bee in early stages of life, one might view all the bees as aggressive stingers. On the other hand, one might have spend more time with the bees and sees them as a necessity for flowers to blossom and does not even think about the stinginess of the bee.
Now in the same way we can view every idea we have about life. And in this way understand, that the perspective one has, is just a narrow view of the world, but that view is also true for oneself like some completely different view is to another person. What I am simply pointing out, is that we take sometimes our ideas and beliefs too seriously. Our subjective experience with all our memories has brought us to a unique view in life, but it is not to be taken as ultimate truth. Even though we might have a lot of knowledge in some areas and would strive towards understanding everything, we are still limited with our senses and hallucinations of our mind in the unpredictable world.
Re-thinking ideal life
Understanding that we simply know almost nothing related to the whole consciousness of mankind and life in our planet, I would like to ask a different question regarding your vision of life: When considering the things you need and desire in order to be happy in the mentioned context of uncertainty, would you still strive 30 years towards a goal, that according to your 30 years younger mind is a state where you accept yourself happy and fulfilled? Also consider, in the context of uncertainty, what would the years between these 30 years look like? How much struggle one puts oneself through moment to moment in order to reach a state in 30 years?
We all know how quickly life can change. A death of a loved one, world crisis, falling in and out of love – all are possible today and tomorrow. We can try to outrun the fact of unpredictability by creating safe place and security for ourselves, but in the end, we need to face the facts at some point. The more open we are to the fragile life we live, the more we can live in the moment of appreciation and happiness. All the things will disappear, and if you have them now, you just might want to appreciate them. Even the bad times you might have right now, those too shall pass.
By simply pointing out the way we can get ourselves busy when thinking about our future, I wanted you to see that even though dreams keep us on the track, we really have to remember that we are dreaming. The moment is the dream, your dream, and there is no-one else but you who is experiencing the dream exactly like you do. Do you remember what you dreamed of as a little child? What kind of life you wanted to have? How can you be sure you are not in the middle of your dream life you visioned?
By understanding that our life is our dream, we can start taking ourselves less seriously and at the same time keep in mind the seriousness of our ignorance. I am not saying to not have dreams. I am not saying you should give up the career you are working on. I just wanted to give the mental space for you to reflect and stop for a while to appreciate the dream of life you experience right now. I also encourage you to take responsibility of the track you put yourself to, so you won’t destroy your life rights now in order to be happy in the uncertain future.
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