There are tons of advice books out there telling us how to better ourselves, how to systematically and psychologically change and progress. I’ve written posts about this, but they’re about dealing with crap BEFORE we change. I think that’s a lot more practical. I think most people are locked into what they are by twenty. Most people do not make a radical shift at any one point, even if they want to. Most people aiming for improvements take years to achieve the perfection they want. Growing, evolving, maturing, whatever you call it, takes lots of time, which gives us something to do between birth and death. (I think that’s the meaning of life.)
But of course the world changes all the time, and fast. Anything can suddenly happen and does. Dealing with those instant shifts, and how we learn to adapt to them, can boost us to a new and improved you and me. If we don’t learn from past miss-takes, if we don’t rectify the issues that created those mistakes, we keep the pattern in place. Most people do not want to keep bad patterns in place. Most people want to be happy, stress-free and in control. If they’re not, they want to change…something! Either they change how they FEEL about the shit raining down so they’re happy anyway, or they find a way to sneak past the shit or get rid of it entirely. For a ticket to Happyland something has to change, inside or outside.
If you’re anything like me, you’d love to be better in every way and orchestrate a soothing symphony of life. You don’t want to be bothered by disappointments, obstructions or mean people. You want peace-of-mind, intuitively knowing it will all work out.
But…if you’re anything like me, you don’t think that way at all. You KNOW bad stuff is waiting to pounce and you think about it a lot. Your sought-after life changes are really about AVOIDING the hits, and many times you do. So you still worry but you worry less because there’s finally less to worry about. Instead of buying self-realization books you read success tomes about growing richer and more influential. And then you find, after reading ten of those things, that the reason you are NOT really rich, is because deep down inside you really don’t CARE about being rich.
Sure, you’d like more dollars, Euros or pounds and everything they buy. But you’re not particularly enthralled with making money just to make money. You’re not fascinated with watching profits grow. You don’t score yourself that way. So you let the natural-born contenders who thrive on building wealth, the ones who don’t need to be changed to get rich, you let those power brokers play the game. And then you wish you were more like them, but not so much that you’d have to change.
Are rich folk happier than you? Some are, some aren’t. “Studies” report that happiness has little do with great wealth. Knowing that rich people are just as unhappy as we are does not make us feel any better when we’re broke. We already know that happiness, or the lack of it, has everything to do with being poor. So if you’re like me, you want to make forward moving changes in the money department. You don’t want to have to worry about it. You don’t want to deal with Not-Enough.
Again, if you’re anything like me you’re dealing with Not-Enough. If it’s not enough money, it’s something else like not enough love or respect or recognition or validation or free time to do something fun just for you.
Yep, like 99% of the world’s population, you live with Not-Enough and you certainly can’t afford that famous Life Coach and his transformational but expensive, fast-track ways to get more. So you’re back to reading philosophical paperbacks about being content with what IS enough – that “free stuff in abundance” like love and caring and internet porn. And as you re-read those chapters about living in-the-moment and out-of-your-brain, you glance down at your carefree cat licking loose fur off her back and you realize you are not your pet and you cannot simply cough up a giant fur ball of irritations and leave them on the rug. You cannot pretend Not-Enough is enough and be happy with that. You cannot pretend anymore that love heals all, even God’s love. You are not a guru leisurely reflecting deep thoughts in the Himalayas. You have bills to pay, doctors visits and maybe kids to put though college. Your boss is an asshole and you don’t trust your dentist. Life is hard and what’s worse, you are who you are, with worries that will not go away. And if you’re lucky enough to be born confident and secure, and consequently build a fabulous life, you cannot teach inner strength, even to your kids. You can give them a secure life with examples of success, but if they’re not intrinsically happy in their own skin without having to be winners every second, they too will keep competing just to feel good about themselves. They will not have peace-of-mind without constant validations.
Yep, rich or poor, struggling or coasting, we’re all pursuing the same Secrets of Life – how to grow and still be happy when we misstep, how to be contented with what we have now, and how to forgive ourselves so we can be nice to others. We all need improvement with those things.
So here’s my Life Coach advice since you’re still reading.
Peace-of-mind, the real thing, is worth the struggle to keep alive, with total commitment. So don’t be disappointed when it doesn’t come quickly, or not at all…at least yet. Just trying, really trying to be a better, happier person is super admirable and eventually pays off. I’ve been working at it all my life and there are days I can honestly say I’ve achieved inner bliss…for a minute and a half. I’ve been the best husband a husband can be, for three hours. I’ve been worry-free for two days. I’ve felt good about myself for an entire month. Miracles do happen!
So forget about changing yourself. There is no way to become something you’re not. Still, there’s plenty of room to become a better, kinder version of who you are. Don’t give up, be flexible, listen to others and you’ll acquire the tools to make gentle changes around you.
(I know that last sentenced sounded like a five dollar fortune cookie, but I hope these words are encouraging. As usual, I’m writing a post as a reminder for myself.)