How often do you lament the fact that you’re still not where you want to be?
- There’s still something missing from your life that if you could get, you’d be happy.
- Life doesn’t seem fair, and it never works out just the way you want it.
If you identify with any of these statements, then you’re most likely making mental mistakes that may hold you back for the rest of your life. The good news is that since they are mental mistakes, they can be changed, and when changed, your whole life can be changed.
- Living in the Future Do you dream of a better future where you have more money to travel, more time to do what you want, or even a better job? Then you’re falling into the first mental trap, which is giving your attention to a future projection that does not exist.
The future cannot save you. The more you complain, the worse you will feel.
The solution? Notice whenever you feel pulled to daydream and bring your attention back to your body. Be present with whatever is here and now, even if it feels negative. In the beginning, it may be uncomfortable, because you are used to running away, and your mind is active, but if you truly want to live a joyful life, then this is one of the fastest paths there.
This doesn’t mean you stop planning. It means you stop excessive future projection that leads to chronic dissatisfaction.
- Living in the Past Do you wish you could go back to the past and change something? Or maybe you’re marveling in a memory that is sweet as cotton candy. It fills you with joy and excitement, but at the same time, it carries with it a sour aftertaste, because it’s only a memory.
Remembering good times is all fine and good. The problem arises when it is done excessively. Whenever you notice your attention drifting away either to the past or future, gently bring it back, and notice how you’re feeling right now.
- Saying No to the Here and Now Staying right here and now can be painful. Stay vigilant of what is happening within you even as you read these words. Guard the temple that is your inner space.
How deep or shallow is your breathing? What thoughts are arising? Do you want to be somewhere else, do something else, have something better? Is there a problem in this present moment unless you think about it?
- Going Nowhere Fast Are you constantly in a hurry? You have a goal that you want to get to, because you think it will make your life better. The best measuring stick for a good goal is to ask yourself if it is making your life better right now.
If not, then drop the goal.
Most people are constantly going somewhere else. They are never here. And when they reach that somewhere else, they set a new goal, and off they go, back on the hamster wheel.
It is a never-ending journey that is full of suffering.
- External Solutions to Internal “Problems” Things do not give you peace, freedom, and fulfillment. It is your reaction to them that gives you all the good feelings. The good feelings come from inside, not from outside.
Beyond food, shelter, and a few basic needs, things do not dramatically increase your happiness, which is why you see so many miserable people swimming in material abundance. They are trying to fix something internal with something external. It just doesn’t work.
The only way to experience freedom and peace is to go inside.
- Avoidance Whenever you feel inner turmoil, negativity, suffering, or pain, sit with it, and be with it, without analyzing. It is the running away and wanting it to go away that feeds the fire. Stop avoiding what you are experiencing, and simply be.
Notice the chaos of your mind, and notice that you are not that. You are the presence behind your thoughts. And if you want to take it further, notice what is aware of both your thoughts and the presence behind them.
- Feeding the Fire That Burns You We take so much so seriously, but everything that exists in our head are merely ideas. It may not seem like that, but that is how it is. If you believe that you shouldn’t do something, that’s an idea. If you believe you are better than others, that’s an idea. If you believe you are no good, that’s an idea. If you think this article is full of baloney. That’s another idea that is constructed from other ideas you’ve learned in the past.
Those are all ideas, and they hold power over you as long as you choose to identify with them.
How do you not identify with them? By allowing them to pass. Look at them, taste them, but do not put them in your pocket and call them yours. You have ideas that you do not pay attention to, such as the color of flowers. You don’t get angry about them or try to change them. They just are the way they are.
What if all your thoughts and ideas were like this? What if it was okay to feel whatever you feel? Just let it be. It is your constant wanting to change what is that stands between you and a life full of freedom and peace.