In The Road Less Traveled, author M. Scott Peck makes the claim that life is difficult. On the surface, I agree. Being a spiritual entity in a heavy, physical body on this dark, dense, material plane is definitely no picnic. Our bodies never look how we want them to look, they rarely function as we hope, they break down often, and, eventually, they fail each and every one of us. This is one thing we know for certain.
So it is that each of us is trapped in a limiting form and bound by time. Of course, life is difficult! What an inherently frustrating experience this is. I know I am so much more than I can show you in this physical form and in the short amount of time I have. I suspect you feel the same. This is why many of us cannot accept the present moment. It is also why so many of us focus our time and energy solely on getting to what we believe will be a better place. We are working to make our image of ourselves a reality. “This is not yet me,” we all unconsciously say. We are simultaneously inspired and envious of those who have (or appear to have) what so many of us do not: a lean and healthy body, an intrinsically and financially rewarding career, a truly happy family. “How do I get there?” we each silently scream.
I find it humorous that millions upon millions of us are walking around, looking and acting like we know what we are doing and where we are going, when not one of us knows. Many of us have strong beliefs about why we are here, as do I, but I want to stay away from religion, faith, and deep spirituality only because there is not the time to cover it adequately in this short post.
On the surface, we are all just busy. Busy doing what? Stuff. Survival things mostly: eating, finding shelter, making the shelter more comfortable and the food more delicious. Sometimes, we are helping others find shelter and food. Outside of this, our time is largely spent entertaining ourselves or seeking to entertain others. In the Western world, we really just busy ourselves with moving things from here to there, most of it designed to allow us to live more attractively.
We spend so much of our time trying to look good, often at the cost of how we feel inside. Do you ever marvel at how we organize our lives around what we see so much more than what we feel? Look around you right now and what do you notice? People—yourself included—living as if what they do matters so very greatly. On one level it does matter, but in the greatest picture, it matters not at all, at least not in the way you think it does. Life is not personal. Perhaps you can see this best in others—they are all wound up about something you think is no big deal. Or, you can feel them trying to impress you and what you want to tell them is that their efforts only have the opposite effect. The irony is that they probably think the same about you and all your efforts.
Far too many of us spend our entire lives trying to “make it” in this world, competing so we can finally be someone, arrive, relax, and enjoy our lives. What we rarely realize is the reason we never “arrive” or “win” is that there is no place to get to and there never was a competition. Yet we spend our very short lives living as if there was—and then we die.
Funny? Painfully so.
Life does not need to be as challenging and painful as many of us experience it daily. Most of our suffering is, in fact, self-inflicted. This may not be what you want to hear, but before you dismiss this post as negative and accusatory, please read on. I don’t doubt that something may have happened to you that was wrong (sometimes terribly wrong) but what I want you to realize is that now you are continuing the abuse by the thoughts you think, the identity you have formed around key life events, and the story you rehearse to yourself daily—and then feel compelled to act out over and over and OVER again.
It isn’t true, you know, the story you are telling yourself.
“What if my whole life has been wrong?” – Ivan (on his deathbed) in Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich
I want to offer you hope, an awakening, an entirely new way to experience life and yourself in it. But please know that this won’t come from you working harder. I’m sure you’ve already tried that approach. It will come only from surrendering, from a COMPLETE CHANGE OF MIND. You cannot get there from here. You can only get here from here.
Can you glimpse it?
The beginning of peace and freedom is to be yourself, fully and completely, in each moment. At any time, you can simply choose to be present to the person or task right in front of you. It is the possibility of a life not bound by the constraints of having to maintain an identity. It is the possibility of a life filled with presence.
Please consider this: you are exactly where you need to be. Relax. Don’t judge as good or bad what has occurred or is occurring. Just show up. Focus yourself to be fully present for the next person or task that you face. Bring your whole self and full attention to the moment. Repeat as often as you remember throughout your day. See what you notice.
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the place for the first time. – T.S. Elliot
Read: The Untethered Soul or The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer
Listen to: Living a Life of Inner Peace – Eckart Tolle (audio)
Susanne Biro is a coach to C-suite and executive level leaders. She is the founder of Inner Life Leadership, an app for business professionals who want to reach an unprecedented level of personal understanding and corresponding leadership and life success. Susanne is an author, program designer, facilitator, Forbes & CEO Magazine contributing writer, TEDx and keynote speaker.
For over two decades, Susanne has worked internationally with senior-level leaders in some of the world’s best companies. Whether coaching one-on-one or authoring, designing, and delivering leadership programs, her passion is the same: to help leaders reach their next level.
Susanne can be reached at 604.864.5408 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our world has changed, rapidly and in unexpected ways. As the crisis hit, I offered and held pro bono sessions with leaders from around the world. And I want to continue to do what I can to help. As a result, I now offer hourly sessions to ensure leaders everywhere can quickly get the perspective, clarity and focus they need to lead themselves, and therefore others, well during these challenging and uncertain times.