Reclaiming Your Life Through Present Living
As an avid follower of Buddhist philosophy, the one area of Buddhist teaching that constantly resonates with me is the philosophy of present living. In Buddhism, change is emphasized as a natural process of life and teaches us that we must not fear it but come to terms with it and grow stronger because of it. Any obstacle in life is a lesson to be learned, but it can only serve us well if we utilize its lessons in order to make wiser decisions in the future. What being present in the moment really offers us is a productive life- where we take the chances reinforced by our intuitions, deal with the fact that we did our best if those chances didn’t turn out the way we expected them to, and to pick ourselves up and take more chances despite failure. This approach to life is also upheld by statistics.
Statistically speaking, every decision has a 50/50 consequence of failing or succeeding. However, in our defeatist human mind, the more failures we encounter, the more we are posed to believe that most of our future endeavors are bound to fail as well. But every chance that we take has no better or worse outcome than the sum of outcomes that we experienced before. That being said, failure is just another opportunity to try for success and a great occasion for growth. Thomas Edison supposedly attempted to make the light-bulb 1000 times before succeeding. By believing that success is just around the corner, Edison took the 50% successful outcome to heart with every single attempt. In order to prove himself as an inventor and challenge his rivalries, he knew success was inevitable and did not give up until he achieved it. This is a great advice for all of us: don’t give up until you succeed no matter how many failures you encounter and how long it takes to achieve your goal. You’ll be much happier going after what you want to achieve and even happier once you succeed.
Buddhists believe that acting wholeheartedly by being present in the moment without the expectation of positive or negative consequences is a recipe for a bountiful and successful life. Without trying, we are simply not participating in our lives, but rather, we are passive observers of the events taking place around us. One day we may wake up from this passivity when something in us awakens, and we decide to do our best with the time we have to take control of our lives. Some wake up earlier than others, and sadly, some never at all. By embracing change and facing our fears, not only will we feel less imprisoned by our “limitations,” but we will open ourselves up to new possibilities, attracting new events and people into our lives. The chain of events that occurs once we become open participants in our lives will not only make us happier, but also more confident, more open, more wise and more likely to experience “magical” circumstances we only imagined. Hence, naturally, risk-taking leads to the essence of what makes our lives meaningful: the transformation of our characters and personal growth.
Many of us fear reaching out of our comfort zones and reinventing ourselves simply because we don’t know how to go about it. We expect big outcomes, and if we don’t get them, we feel disappointed. But, truly, the best things in life come when we take small steps. Likewise, it is natural that there is initial anxiety and fear when we are about to make an important decision or action that we never made before; oftentimes, it leads to overthinking, which deters us from acting. The best thing to do is to stop yourself from over-analyzing immediately, follow your intuition and act swiftly! To relieve any nerves, close your eyes, and give yourself a pep talk: tell yourself you are amazing, wonderful, and powerful and that what counts is that you do your best (and that it is always, always enough).
My challenge for all the readers: write down 5 things you want to do this week that will make you feel happier, better and more fulfilled. Start out small and then bigger, bigger and finally, grand! Make this year the best year of your life. And top every year after that.