Our entire life we are conditioned to look forward to the next approaching event or milestone, and if you are like most of us, when you get there it’s not quite as magical as anticipated. Inevitably, an emotion comes up that does not fit into the box that we have created that we “should” feel once we get there. Whether it be getting our drivers license, graduating from college, getting married, having kids or buying or first house, we are left wanting and hoping that the next milestone will bring us the bliss and fabulous feeling we have been searching for. We are chasing milestones our entire life, all in the pursuit of this elusive “happiness.” As we chase these milestones we completely miss out on all of the moments that make up the “now” of each and every day.
We aren’t taught that what it boils down to is that we are chasing a feeling, a feeling that we could have right now. So, we often miss out on experiencing the journey and all of the other emotions along the way because we are looking for that special feeling. Most of us aren’t taught that part of life is supposed to be challenging and part of life is supposed to be amazing. More importantly, we aren’t taught how to handle all of the amazing and challenging feelings that come up along the way.
We continue to chase the amazing moments, thinking by doing so we can eliminate the tough moments and we end up missing out on our lives. We aren’t taught that if we can learn to allow those lower emotions like pain, disappointment or fear, that we can fully experience the higher emotions, like joy and love. We are conditioned to believe that life is supposed to be a certain way and if it doesn’t look mostly positive, we resist it all. So, instead of embracing and allowing it all, we choose to numb ourselves by overdoing shopping, food, alcohol, Netflix, dependency on others and the list goes on.
So many of us stop getting excited about our lives and wonder why. The issue is that when we try to numb the lower emotions, we inevitably numb out the positive emotions as well.
We can, however, stop this pursuit and truly experience our lives if we accept the reality that there is no better place than right now. Just like the present, the future will have both negative and positive emotions also, and to experience all of it, instead of trying to eliminate the negative, is to fully embrace the human experience in all of its depth.
What if we could teach our kids this concept? Could we change the course of our numbed out culture and create a world where we want to soak up every moment, the good and the bad that the present moment has to offer? A culture where we could create genuine connection with one another instead of wanting to reach for out next hit of dopamine from social media, wine, shopping, food or overworking.
The bottom line is that we are teaching our children, and living by this universally accepted fallacy, that our lives should be amazing most of the time. And, because they aren’t ever that way and we are never taught how to manage our minds and emotions, we try to outrun them and chase the next milestone that we are convinced will bring us the 100% amazing and happy life. The majority of us are living by this incorrect idea and miss much of our lives entirely.
How do we know our lives aren’t meant to be amazing ALL of the time? Because they aren’t. There is loss and evil that we would never choose to see as a positive thing and without the contrast of the undesirable experiences and lower emotions, we would not be able to realize the amazing ones. Life becomes a lot more tolerable when we embrace the notion that part of life is negative and part of life is positive . We actually become more positive about life when we accept this idea instead of resisting it and believing that it’s all supposed to be awesome.
I lived the first 36 years of my life chasing the desired emotions and rejecting the negative ones. I moved from one milestone to the other until I chose to adopt this 50/50 philosophy and embrace the journey and all it has to offer. I have never felt so fully in my life and this has honestly changed how I experience each and every day. I feel the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows and everything in between these days. I am uncomfortable half of the time and I make it a practice of allowing for that daily. I am not a victim of what is going on around me, I get to choose what I want to feel based on the thoughts I have about the situations in my life. Do I choose to be sad about the wars, starving children and homeless people? Absolutely. I’m just not at the effect of my emotions anymore. I don’t resist them, I choose and allow them.
If I could give you any take away from my experience, it would be stop chasing the elusive carrots of happiness and embrace the full spectrum of feelings that come up every day. Stop and appreciate what’s in front of you, allow for all of the low and high emotions that come up. I can pretty much guarantee you that your brain will keep telling you that life should be better and it will want you to numb out with your preferred escape. That my friends is exactly how this will show up and reveal to you that your mind is wanting to drift to something in the future and search for a brighter moment. Just remember, there are no brighter moments than the present one. Notice the urges that nudge you to escape your current feeling. Allow all of it. This, without a doubt, is one of the keys to the kingdom.
How will you embrace all of your moments and ALL of the emotions that your thoughts create along the way? The answer to this is your prescription for a life well-lived.