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“You must choose between your attachments and happiness.”
I used to live in a world of “if only.” If only the right partner would show up or I wouldn’t get caught in traffic or my family life would improve. It was such an arrogant life—and so frustrating!
If only things would be the way I wanted them to be. It was all about me.
Here was life, effortlessly presenting itself, and I was too busy wanting it to be different to receive its gifts.
Yes, I was able to enjoy myself at times, but I was attached to all kinds of outcomes, large and small, and I suffered for it. Every time I wanted something to happen in a certain way, I set myself up for frustration, stress, and disappointment.
I was really tired of the pain, but I just couldn’t figure out a way through it.
Joyfully Opening to What Is
Fast forward to now, and I can’t help but smile. Because the unfolding of life is so beautiful in whatever form it takes, and the joy of opening to what is, as it is, is unspeakable.
Amazingly, peace was always available. I could have stopped glorifying these personal desires at any time if I knew better. But their power was overwhelming, and I never thought to question them.
Do you react to life with a big “No?” Do you want it your way, not the way it actually is? Is Now not good enough? Then you are suffering. I know because I’ve been there.
Why wait one moment longer to find your way out of this mess?
How to do it? With understanding. Understand how your personal desires bring suffering, and wisdom will erode them. Bring clarity to your life experience so you see that opening to things as they are—not as you want them to be—is the only sane and peaceful way to be.
From Closing to Opening
Every want contains within it a seed of resistance to what is. You think the present moment is missing something or not as good as it could be. “If only things were different,” your mind is saying.
But each want also holds the possibility of being free. Let’s consider two ways we close to what is: hoping for a better future and expecting things to be a certain way.
Hope is about wanting a better moment at some other time in the future.
It’s a story created by the mind, filled with thoughts about how your current situation is lacking.
Hope leaves you waiting, not living.
And your experience right now? Unhappy and dissatisfied.
Expand beyond the confining view of hope for a better future, and new possibilities come to light right in this moment.
- Can you give your mind a rest from chewing on these stressful thoughts for a moment and breathe with just being present?
- Can you say “Yes” to things as they are, even if your mind tells you it doesn’t like them?
- Can you become aware of simply being okay?
An expectation desires a specific outcome, not necessarily the one you get.
It breeds anxiety and frustration as your mind zooms in on the one outcome you want. You miss out on an infinite number of other possibilities, and you end up resisting what actually does happen.
Expand beyond wanting one specific thing. Stay present and open to the possibility of all things.
- Can you let go of trying to control life?
- Can you open in your heart and body rather than being constricted by your thoughts and ideas?
- Can you lovingly receive what occurs?
A Real World Example
Letting go of personal desires and opening fully to what is—here’s how it works for me in the real world.
I’m almost always accepting of how life flows, and it’s so lovely to hardly ever react to situations that arise.
But here’s what happened yesterday. I was scheduled for an hour-long interview on a live radio show. I arranged two days of plans so I could be available during this specific hour, which included asking my husband to delay his plans, which he graciously did.
Then two minutes before on-air time, I got the call that the host was canceling the interview because he was ill.
My first reaction? Not compassion for his illness. Instead, I felt anger, fear, and guilt all rolled into one. Then I worked through it.
- I made space for the energies showing up in my body.
- I calmly talked it over with my husband.
- And I saw so clearly the pain of holding expectations.
Refocusing away from my agitated mind, I found peace and presence once again.
And the lessons?
Don’t expect to not get caught. There’s nothing wrong with having an emotional reaction now and then.
And know that you can find your way to peace. With understanding and clear seeing, let the boundaries of your personal self—with its wants and desires—dissolve.
And here you are…pristine…open to life…deeply at ease.
What About You?
What is your experience of hope and expectations? How do you find your way to peace? I’d love to hear…And if you’re reading by email, please click here to visit GailBrenner.com and to comment.
Always in love,