Being Awesome without the hype
I grew to believe that life was not fair. I’d had more than my fair share of downs from a very early age. So much so that I have very few memories from childhood. These memories centre around regular nightmares and an event where I ran a knife across my wrist at age 16. They now call that self-harming. So for me life was not fair. Or so I thought.
I believed for a while my salvation was that movement where you’re told how awesome you really are. There’s still plenty of that kind of stuff in the world. It’s understandable. If you’re down on yourself and someone can sell you awesomeness it’s easy to snatch it up. A quick Google search comes up with plenty of web sites promoting awesomeness. There’s even a Facebook page. And you can do courses that teach you how to be awesome.
If only it was that easy. The 'quick fix' side to being human can take this stuff on board and make it work. We can go out and do a workshop and feel invigorated.
For a while.
Until the next struggle, and there will be the next struggle. It’s part of life. The death of a loved one. A relationship breakdown. Natural disaster. The list is quite endless.
Why? Because it’s how the world operates. It’s about being human. It’s about being a living organism.
This sort of philosophy doesn’t fit so nicely into the world of consumerism in which a lot of us live. In this world you get awesome by buying things. If you have things, then you just buy bigger and more expensive things to get more awesome. A 70 inch TV screen is more awesome than a 50 inch. A Mercedes is still more awesome than a Hyundai (I think?). An up and coming holiday can fix the blues.
Again though, the fix generally only works for a while. Then you need that new fix. On it goes, often until we die. Some people, in fact most, will never find true awesomeness. They might find the 'quick fix' variety. The interesting thing is that true awesomeness is often staring us right in the face.
True awesomeness is about understanding that suffering and struggle are a part of the human condition. Suffering and joy, struggle and joy, go hand in hand. In fact talking about hands it’s like saying you don’t want fingers on your hand when you talk about not wanting joy without struggle. So it is that a hand is not a hand without fingers (sorry to all the really bad butchers reading this!), so it is that being human, life, is not life without struggle and suffering. Fingers go with hands, suffering goes with life.
How do we learn to live with suffering? The Stoics probably had the right idea. The Book Of Life tells us “It had one overwhelming and highly practical ambition: to teach people how to be calm and brave in the face of overwhelming anxiety and pain”. You kind of work out what could go wrong and plan for it in a way so that if it does go wrong you’ve got a plan B.
Some would find that very pessimistic. But when you think about it there could be a very good chance that if you go travelling overseas your luggage might get lost; you might get sick; there might be a natural disaster; you might even get caught up in a terrorist attack.
It’s not about being paranoid, it’s about saying these things do happen rather than convince yourself that your holiday is just going to be perfect and the answer to all your un-awesomeness. People that think this way sometimes have stressful holidays. They want things a certain way and when it doesn’t turn out that way they look like scrunched up prunes.
My advice would be don’t go chasing awesomeness. Seek clarity and calmness in the present moment, right now. Take time out every day to just be. To calm your mind. To take in all around you. Especially nature. We are so very connected with nature. Even wave to a star. It won’t solve your supposed problems. But it will put you in a much better place to manage them.
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An important part of maximising our day to ensure we are of service, is to be aware that we we are maximising our time in the present moment, which means not focusing on the future or the past. To help us achieve this we use the techniques of Mindfulness and Contemplation. Many of the posts and information on this web site relate to being more present in the "now" through Mindfulness and other Meditative techniques. To further this we offer training in Mindfulness and also the recognised therapeutical tool of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
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