I remember my first car well. It was a light metallic blue 1989 Ford Taurus. It was 5 years old at the time but it was in excellent condition. And yes, my parents bought it for me when I was a junior in College. I had wanted my own car since I first rode in my dad’s 1969 split top, fastback, Corvette Stingray when I was 6. Now owning my own car, I thought my life was complete. I was a year away from graduating college and joining the real world and I had a car to take me wherever I wanted to go. Then this funny thing happened. When I drove back to Boston from Northwestern Pennsylvania I began to see every other car on the road that was better than mine. This feeling that I wasn’t enough began to creep in and I knew how to handle that. I immediately began to think about the next car I would own. How it would be newer and sportier than the car I had just received. Life’s funny that way isn’t it? We are never really satisfied, even following an epic ‘win’ in life. Stop putting your hope in ‘one day’, because ‘that’ day will never arrive for you. In fact, you’re never going to ‘arrive’. Stop saying to your self, “when I make X amount of money, then I will be content.” Or “when she loves me I will be complete.” Or “when I finally finish my thesis I will focus on other things.” Or “when my book is purchased by a publisher, I will have made it.” Deep down you know this isn’t true. Deep down you know that no accomplishment will complete you. We are never complete. We are never finished.
Yes there will be a certain amount of satisfaction and reason to celebrate. This is healthy and an important part of our journey. But you know as well as I that no satisfaction over an accomplishment will carry us forever. We will always have the fact that we accomplished ‘X’ thing, but it won’t be enough… ever. Our mind will immediately begin to tell us that we need the next ‘thing’ to be happy again. As soon as you reach the carrot you will realize that you are still hungry.
This is one of the subtlest tricks of humanity. How many people do you know that seem to have everything that YOU want, but they aren’t happy? They continue to strive and press forward to the next thing. That’s because life is the same for them as it is for you. ‘Enough’ is never attainable when it is measured by accomplishment.
But what if you’re enough right now? What if you could relax and rest in the fact that you are enough, just as you are, right in this moment. “But Brad, you don’t understand, I want to reach a higher level of spirituality.” Or “If I’m enough right now, I will not have the motivation to grow or to increase my income.” Stop. Just stop. You already know that you won’t be totally satisfied with your attainments. But you could be satisfied with yourself, in this moment.
There is great joy to be found in this realization. Here are 3 things that this realization enables you to do immediately to raise your quality of life.
Begin Loving Yourself Now
Life is always a journey. We are always in the process of healing. There is no end until death. This is why it’s imperative to begin loving yourself now. To begin accepting yourself for who you are right now. Not someday. Once you realize that no accomplishment will bring you total satisfaction you are free to surrender to the process. There’s no reason not to start today.
Be Grateful Now
The posture of gratitude is one of the most transformative heart-sets to choose. Be grateful for everything that is in your life. Be grateful for your living situation. Be grateful for your mode of transportation. Be grateful for the people in your life that are closest to you. Be grateful for the people in your life that piss you off. Be grateful for the sun shining on your face or the rain falling all around you. You know that if things were different or how you ‘wished’ them to be that you wouldn’t be satisfied anyway. So begin enjoying your life in this moment.
Stop Putting Off the Important Things
You can stop putting off those things that you love to do. How many times have you put off taking time for your family until you reach that particular goal? How often have you shelved your passions because you were too afraid that you might fail? Stop using excuses attached to ‘real’ goals to keep you from having to put your heart on the line and pursue your dreams. Start taking piano lessons. Begin writing that book. Take the dance class this week. Whatever that thing is that you’ve been putting off because you were waiting for the ‘right’ time, pursue that now. Because now is the right time. Things will never be settled. Things will never line up the way you want them to. And you will always find excuses not to follow your passions. Put your money where your mouth is and take action now. Action cannot be denied.
Realizing that we never arrive can be one of the most freeing paradigm shifts. You are free in this moment to be present with the life you have. Amazingly enough, this will bring clarity in regards to the way you truly want to live and those things you truly want to attain. Not just so you can say that you accomplished this or that. But so you can make the world around you a better place for yourself and everyone else.
"Infuse your life with action. Don't wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen... yourself, right now, right down here on Earth." - Bradley Whitford
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." - Melody Beattie
"Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." - Lao Tzu