Jumping through hoops
Have you ever felt that so much of life is spent jumping through the hoops that society has placed for us? There are hoops absolutely everywhere. There are hoops to jump through in our romantic lives – find “the one”, get married, buy a house, have children. Hoops. And there are timelines to these hoops too. You can be too early or too late. And you will be judged for both.
And there are career hoops. And as a medical student who is on the long and winding road to becoming a doctor, I can attest to this.
(And not to forget paperwork. Ugh, who ever know being a grown up involved so much paperwork? Life administration.)
And we jump through these hoops believing that it will make our life look normal to the outside world. But if on the inside, we feel unsettled, uncomfortable and unsure, what is the use? If jumping through these hoops stop us from being present and doing things that are important to our heart, then what is the point?
If we always follow the path that has been laid our for us, or jump through the burning hoops that people are pushing us to jump through, life will become just a series of meaningless events and checklists that we have to do. Where is the joy in that?
And yet we jump through them like some kind of circus act. And life gets exhausting and we feel like we are taking center stage of our grand performance. But who are we entertaining? Are you entertained?
An important lesson I learned this year is that life does not have to be about jumping through the hoops that someone else has placed for you. We have to make our own decisions about the kind of life we are going to live. We have to make our own decisions about the kind of person we want to be in this world. We can live by our own intrinsic timeline.
But these hoops are not all bad. They do give us direction, the tried and tested. They can be helpful as guidelines. But they also put tremendous pressure on us. If I don’t jump, what does that say about me? I falter. I fail.
In order to make your life wonderful, develop an intimate relationship with yourself first. Know where you need to go in this life. And if you don’t know just yet, that’s okay. Just try to take a step in the direction of joy and peace. Know how you need to do things. Your soul is on it’s own unique journey. Don’t rob yourself of that. Let your life unfold the way it is supposed to unfold. It takes courage to be the person you were born to be. There are certain steps that you will need to take in this life time that will not be the same as everyone around you.
There will be certain steps that you will have to take alone.
But you must take them.
Taking the test before you are ready
There are a number of occasions in life where we will have to “take the test” before we are even ready to take the test. Decisions to be made before clarity. Swimming into murky waters, stepping into shadows.
At 18 you need to know what you want to study which will eventually become your career. You life’s work. This is a huge decision. At 18, we have barely experienced enough to make such a big decision. And yet we do. Sometimes it turns out well, sometimes we need to start again. Marriage is another one of those tests. We decide on the person we will commit to love for the duration of our life, without truly knowing who they are, nor are we truly equipped to deal with the magnificent changes they will make as they grow. Nor do we realize the changes we will make too. It is difficult to predict how life will turn out.
Life is not always black and white. Nor is it grey. There are so many beautiful colours in the spectrum, each one shining in its own special way.
But sometimes that is just the way life has been designed. Sometimes it is a beautiful thing to take the test before you are ready. You can use it to encourage faith, optimism and hope in yourself. It allows us to develop the most important kind of will-power in ourselves – which is believing that “No matter what happens in this life, this is the kind of person I will be. No matter what happens in this life, I will wake up, face the day, and I will be happy.”
We are not here to judge
One of the and most important steps to take in making your life wonderful is relinquishing your role as a Judge, moving towards love and friendship. It isn’t our job to judge anything. We just don’t have to do it. We don’t have to try to figure out what is good and bad in a person and label them as such. All we need to do is be involved enough with every interaction we have to know the right distance and intimacy we need to keep in order to not lose ourselves.
To accept and love a person for who they are is a powerful thing. And it does not come easily. To endure negative qualities in another person while simultaneously having the strength to not let it dismantle your character and sense of self can only be done by a spiritually strong person.
When we stop judging people, people become wonderful. Friendships become wonderful. Love becomes wonderful. Life becomes wonderful.
At the center of “wonderful” is peaceful
If you want to make your life wonderful today, do everything you need to do in peace. Fold laundry in peace. Work in peace. Cook dinner in peace. Shower in peace. It is more difficult to do than you think. So many times we are rushing, rushing, rushing. Rushing through the small things in life to try to get to the big things. Or we do the “Right things” in life but we have no inner peace. Once again, what is the point in that? Life will never feel wonderful that way.
For life to feel wonderful means that you must experience the WONDER in your life. We can only experience wonder when we are peaceful.
So practice. Try to accomplish all your daily chores in peace. Make every act you do, peaceful, and watch your life transform!
Intimacy is important. Intimacy in relationships, both with other people and intimacy yourself. Intimacy with the world around you. Intimacy means a close relationship, it means a deep understanding and awareness of all elements that exist between you and something/someone else. It means a relationship with the essence of that thing.
Intimacy is developed through involvement
Involvement = Focus + attention + care + inspired action
Intimacy is developed through involvement. You have to try to be involved in all areas of your life. Don’t be shy. Don’t hide away. Be there. Be involved. Understand the mechanics of all the moving parts of your life. If you are truly involved in every aspect of your life, you will naturally know what to do next. You will be able to appreciate the wonder of it all. You will always be in the best position for the next step.
You will not need to read self-help books on how the best way to act in any situation is. With true involvement, you will already know. It is all already within you anyway.
Discover your gift. It will change everything
Nothing feels as wonderful as discovering your innate gift, your dharma, and sharing it with the world. I wrote about this here.
So find your joy. Your talent. Name your joy. And live and work from the center of your dharma. Achieve mastery. Come alive with it. Turn your life into a work of art. Turn your life into an act of devotion.
Stop ignoring your life away
These days we are capable of ignoring just about anything. We can ignore our alarm clock in the morning. We can ignore sunrises and sunsets, a loved one, a full moon, suffering, a friend’s achievement, our inner yearning, our plans, their plans, our time, our dreams, our conscience.
We have become experts at ignoring. At selectively disengaging. We are so good at it now that we barely notice when we do it anymore.
For life to be wonderful, we have to stop ignoring the wonderful. We have to be present. We have to interact and be involved with our life. We have to pay attention to things that count. We have to love people, and be there for them. We have to notice everything. We have to start reacting to things, instead of being numbed by routine and apathy. We have to feel the emotion swelling up inside of us, and we have to act.
If you have a yearning, a desire to do something, you must act on it. It’s no good just sitting there. If you want to make it in this life time, you have to start now. You have to start living life right now. Fully and deeply. It’s all in or nothing. You can’t do this thing on autopilot. Your life will not be wonderful that way.
Small is wonderful
As I mentioned already, so often we rush through the small things to get to the big things. But small is wonderful. Small makes up most of our days, most of our life. If we are miserable for the small things, then we are agreeing to spend most of our life miserable. If we don’t find small wonderful, then we will not find our life wonderful.
Small is your daily rituals. Small is a letter to a friend. Small is a quiet lunch in the sunshine. Small is laughing in bed with your baby. Small is reading a book in the afternoon. Small is studying. Small is packing lunch. Small is a phone conversation. Small is holding hands. Small is a good morning kiss, every morning. Small is hand picked flowers. Small is a long walk. Small is cleaning your windows to let more light pour in. Small is feeding the birds. Small is petting your dog. Small is making your bed every morning. Small is wonderful.
The story of your life
I am a writer, and maybe that is why I like this. But I find tremendous power in the telling of the story of your life. And every story is worth telling. I will share with you a passage from my diary:
“I have been waiting for the perfect time to begin writing my story. But then I realized that my story began a long time ago, and the perfect time to begin is now.
My life is ordinary in many ways, and extraordinary in some others. But I believe that life may be lived in many ways, and each life is important. Every story is worth telling, and every life, no matter how big or small it may be, deserves to be lived with conviction and purpose.”
Make your story wonderful.
Make your life beautiful.