What this blog is REALLY about
If you’re reading this blog it’s likely because you’re interested in what I like to call a Meta view of life’s inner workings. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve got a library of reading material promising that if you can just see your way to changing a few pesky little habits, the world will most certainly be revealed as your oyster. The book purchases and online searches tend to escalate when a vague sense of a very general unease threads through a period of days or weeks. Sometimes the sense of unease is so light that the fix seems easily within reach with just one more tweak in your worldview. Welcome to the spiraling world of self help.
What’s missing from the self help industry
What if the self didn’t need help at all? Does that seem like a freeing idea? If so, read on.
Self improvement tools are not designed to help with the simpler idea of living from flow, and my #30DaysofChange project, while easily mistaken for another personal improvement program, is not meant to be. It’s a way for me to more naturally fall into flow that’s already present. And that feels very different. Why? Well, it’s very subtle, and in all honesty, the result will likely look a lot like a more improved self, but the key difference is in the approach.
I’m not going into this with the assumption that I need fixing. (By the way, you don’t need fixing either. You’re perfect just as you are, and by the time this project ends, I will have made a valiant effort to explain why this as true.)
The idea of fixing ourselves to find happiness puts us in a perpetual position of lack, and assumes we need to fit a particular framework. But do we? What if equanimity comes not in internal change, but in filling our lives with people who already live in congruence with our existing ideas on wellbeing? In other words, we need to “Find Our Tribe”, to repeat an overused phrase. I don’t mean our tribe of winners or perfect people, but our own tribe of folks who support our very personal and detailed definition of wellbeing. How do we do this? By continuously putting ourselves in their path whether online, in person, or better yet, both. We’ll naturally support them in their efforts, and they will do the same in return. Doing this reciprocal pat on the back is pretty much guaranteed to help us feel better because the enthusiasm is genuine and heartfelt. We will very naturally root for their ideas and success because they’re already our own. The exchanges will be easy and frequent, and there will be no feeling of standing apart or on the sidelines. Life itself will feel like a continuous movement toward congruence.
How I’m using Change as a gateway to Flow
Rather than trying to make big life changes in these thirty days, what I’m doing is to shift routine so that life opens up naturally and organically. The specifics of this plan have so far gone like this:
1. Instead of spending all day indoors as I have each day for many years, I’m outdoors all day seeking coffee shops, bookstores, and other very public spaces.
2. As I sit and blog or read, I observe other peoples’ habits and patterns. Sometimes I just watch for a while rather than do. The idea is to note all of the wild and wonderful ways people live so that I understand what’s possible, and what feels right. Because within a life too heavy on routine, there’s no way to know what can be, only what is. Life very naturally and effortlessly leans toward possibilities.
Remember what it was like to live in a state of wonder and possibility? As a child, Santa and the tooth fairy were real to us not because we were duped into believing tall tales, but because nothing was impossible. We didn’t have a lot of knowledge to crowd out the direct effects of our sensory perception and so everything we experienced was intense and new. Fresh. There was no routine and dulling of senses until our parents and teachers taught us to be concerned with knowledge and structure rather than exploration. A lot of those lessons were to protect us from harm, but they also had unintended consequences which go completely unnoticed. We can’t remember exactly when it was that our openness to experience dulled and a general sense of unease took its place. This malaise seems diffuse because it is. It permeates every experience because our first approach is from an attitude of gaining knowledge, classifying, and putting into “boxes” of memories we can recall at will. The impact on our lives is that we don’t experience it Now. We unintentionally push the experiences into the future by first figuring them out intellectually so that we can easily slip them into our stale mental rolodex. That outdated catalogue is actually the source of our belief that we need to fix ourselves. We fail to recognize ourselves in new ways because we reflexively compare anything unfamiliar to the contents of our storehouse.
There’s No Need for Self Help
I mean what I said earlier, which is that there’s really nothing wrong with me, or with you. Unless what you’re doing is harming to the body or that of another person, wrong is not an accurate word for the mental malaise. The unease comes about because we’ve crowded ourselves into too many ill-shaped mental boxes that don’t quite fit. Our “Shape” is distorted, crunched, squished, and molded, and we believe that the only way to live is looking out from inside them even as we want to break them open. Unfortunately, we often end up buying books that drive us more deeply into paradigms we don’t really want to live from because they’re someone else’s idea of a Nicer, Better, More Powerful Box. When we talk about being free to be happy, what are we actually looking for? I’m betting that it’s the ability to feel free to change as nimbly and effortlessly as life does.
We can stop buying other people’s ideas of nice boxes.
Tomorrow: Thinking outside the box is still thinking about boxes