EnoughNov 29, 2021
Do you ever catch yourself wanting more and better? Not just wanting to have more and better but wanting to be and do more and better?
I know I sure do. Isn’t this the promise of the pursuit of happiness?
But how often does the pursuit of happiness result in a sustained feeling of being happier? In my experience, almost never.
Psychologists call this dynamic the hedonic paradox. Happiness doesn’t come from achievement. Instead, happiness is a side effect of decisions made with intention and integrity regardless of results.
The onset of the pandemic crystallized this for me. Like many, I was saddened by the suffering and loss experienced by millions across the globe.
It was painful to not exchange hugs and high-fives with family and friends. It was challenging to figure out how to make a living when I couldn’t do my work in person.
But these challenges also revealed how much privilege and goodness I’d been taking for granted. That I wasn’t entitled to all the bounty and opportunity I unconsciously enjoyed (and, if I’m honest, expected) every day was a revelation.
And then something amazing happened. I began to start appreciating all that I had taken for granted and all that I already possessed.
Of course, there was still the challenge of remaining connected with loved ones and making a living doing meaningful work with and for people I cared about.
Turns out, the pandemic wasn’t done teaching me the lessons of gratitude.
Powerful online tools enabled me to keep my guitar students and coaching clients. The beautiful constraints of social distancing helped me lean into new edges with these tools to make these online connections more human and empathetic.
I began to appreciate the challenges of life and making a living in the age of plague. I was grateful for the wicked problems I needed to solve and that the situation required I see and do things differently.
Leaning into the struggle of navigating a very different world also encouraged me to double down on the lessons learned from Stoicism, a philosophy born of and dedicated to thriving through hard times.
I repeated a favorite quote from the diary of the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, daily.
“Objective judgment, now, at this very moment.
Unselfish action, now, at this very moment.
Willing acceptance—now, at this very moment—of all external events.
That’s all you need.”
This quote reminded me that I already possess everything I need. I can choose the story I tell myself about myself and my situation. I can define my choices and decide which one to act upon. And I can remain unattached to my desires and accept with gratitude whatever destiny determines.
I repurposed Marcus’ quote into a simple 3-step process that was easy for me to weave into the life I was already living and easy to teach others. An approach that cultivates equanimity and joy in any circumstance and encourages feelings of fulfillment and joy in any situation.
Sufficiency is different than settling. Any life worth living will present moments of pain. But I wonder if suffering isn't actually a choice?
What happens if you start with sufficiency and acknowledge that you already possess everything you need? That you are enough? What if you are sufficient, even as you strive?
Scott Perry, Chief Difference-Maker at Creative on Purpose.
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