We don’t need to always win.
We don’t need everything in our lives to be positive and advantageous in some way, whether it be in regard to our careers, our relationships, or our level of happiness and fulfillment. We don’t always need to get the better of things.
But, what is perhaps necessary is that we don’t get beaten down by it all—that we don’t allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the chaotic flux of the universe, otherwise it may become difficult to enjoy our lives.
Now, I don’t necessarily like to view life in terms of winning and losing, but I use these terms so as to allude to our inner states—in the sense of whether or not we are feeling good about what is happening in our lives.
Ultimately, we are going for the good feelings, right? We would prefer to be happy than to be unhappy. We would prefer to be at peace than to be inwardly tumultuous. We would prefer to be in good relations with our family rather than bad. I feel like this goes without saying but, for whatever reason, many of us lose sight of this.
We want to “win,” in essence. But the truth of the matter is that no one wins all the time. In fact, it is quite healthy that we understand the sensations that lie at the opposite end of the spectrum in order to be grateful for what we do have. Though, what I’m really imploring us to do is remember to show up no matter what, to always try to be the best that we can be in any given moment.
When we get to the point in our lives when we really feel as though the world has gotten the better of us—when we feel as though all hope is lost—then it is vitally important that we observe ourselves deeply and attempt to understand what it is that we might be doing wrong.
If we are to have a winning record, so to speak, or rather if we are to derive more joy from life than the amount of suffering we endure, then we must take responsibility for our lives. It is important that we hone the capacity to look within and acknowledge our deeper drives, our unconscious propensities that might be compelling us toward certain actions that are not healthy for us.
For instance, if we keep running into the same problems in our relationships, at a certain point we have to say to ourselves, “Something’s got to give!” What are the odds that it is just always the other person’s fault? Not very likely, so it is important at times like these that we look inside and find what it is within ourselves that is causing these problems.
Try not to be a reactive person. Instead, be a responsive person. When we seem to be caught in some loop, rather than pointing a finger at someone or something else (which is a reaction), let us look deeply at ourselves (which is a response) and try to find out why it is this keeps happening.
I’ve been contending with a deeply rooted chronic illness for a number of years now and, through it all, these notions of introspection and showing up have been quite valuable in living a full and happy life.
There are some days that I just feel rotten, days that I just can’t find the peace and equanimity that I tend to feel when I am in alignment with my deeper nature. When I feel this way, I have trained myself to respond almost immediately by reflecting upon my inner state. I can’t just pretend I don’t feel this way, or distract myself with some trivial pursuit. I have to deal with it, otherwise all of the pain that I’ve dealt with over the course of this illness would just overwhelm me. If I didn’t cultivate the capacity to look within, then surely the stress would come to be too much.
I need a winning record, otherwise I would just give in to the suffering. I don’t want to suffer any more than I have to. I don’t want to feel badly if it can be avoided simply by acknowledging how I am feeling and investigating why it is that I am feeling this way.
Isn’t life painful enough? Do we really need to expand this pain and difficulty by being ignorant of our deeper selves, by not acknowledging our subconscious inclinations and impulses? I say no. I say the suffering of life can be mitigated simply through self-understanding and self-reflection, and I feel as though anyone who says otherwise is doing themselves a profound disservice.
Of course, I am not saying if we are feeling bad that we should just ignore it. In fact, I am saying the exact opposite. If we are to live freely, powerfully, and with great love, then we must hone this ability to look within ourselves when times are tough.
Ultimately, much of the pain we experience in our lives is an opportunity for self-expansion, an opportunity to grow as a human being. If we do not take these opportunities and grab them with both hands, then the pain just compounds and perpetuates itself.
We lose. We lose the game of consciousness. We stay asleep.
If we want to have a winning record, then we must wake up. We must awaken to our essential nature as pure consciousness, pure awareness, pure perception, otherwise we are asleep at the existential wheel. We do this through self-inquiry, through taking the pain that we’re experiencing in life and using it as an opportunity to understand ourselves more profoundly.
There really is no winning or losing in any absolute sense. We are here for a short while, have a few kicks, and then disappear like the morning fog in the brilliance of the day’s first light. So, let’s enjoy this. Let’s be fulfilled. Let’s suck the marrow out of this life.
Let’s choose to embody the good, to err on the side of joy and freedom, and, in that, perhaps we can make some sense out of this mad, mad world.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Gerry Dincher/Flickr
Editor: Leah Sugerman
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