Unsatisfied with your life? Feel like you should be wealthier, more successful, hotter and all round jaw-droppingly spectacular?
I’m not surprised. Most people do.
We live in a culture in which we’re constantly bombarded by images of what life should be like, and what we should be like.
The are two main problems with being exposed to these lofty and often unattainable ideals of perfection. The first is that, as life goes on and our ideals seem ever more elusive, we become frustrated and resentful. Perhaps even more dangerous is that from an early age, we adopt an unconscious assumption that life somehow owes us something.
Life should be GOOD, damn it! I should be invited to the best parties, have six pack abs, perfect health, a nice house and car, and a meaningful, exciting job with a six figure salary!
Life owes me that much, surely?
Sadly, none of the above is guaranteed.
At some point, we come to realise that, no matter how much we might want to be the best and have the best of everything, life rarely, if ever, matches up to how we think it should be.
And all those amazing things I think I’m entitled to because I’m so darn awesome? Well, life really doesn’t care. Why should it?
The fact is, life doesn’t owe us a thing.
That maybe sounds utterly cruel, but it’s not.
You see, life has already given us everything we ever need.
It’s given us a body, mind, and intellect. It’s provided for our every need — air, food, water, shelter, and everything else we need to survive. Even when it comes to eating, most the work is already done for us. All we have to do is shovel the food in and allow our body to do all the work of digesting it, extracting energy, fuelling the many cells and organs, while growing, healing and developing. It can do all this while we’re slouched on the sofa watching television.
And yet we still think that life somehow owes us something; that it’s withholding from us, simply because our circumstances don’t automatically match up to our desires.
The belief that life should somehow match up to our idea of how it should be is a total fallacy.
Our wants, and likes and dislikes mean very little objectively. Life doesn’t care what we want. Why should it? It’s got bigger fish to fry. It’s busy keeping the planets in orbit, stars shining and galaxies spinning. In the grand scheme of things, we’re really not that special, and we are not, contrary to what our ego tells us, the centre of the universe.
What we are is part of the totality, and the totality takes care of the totality. No concession is made for fickle little human egos. Sometimes we get what we want, but often we don’t because what we want simply isn’t that important.
Assuming there are no obstructions, life generally gives us what we need. We actually need very little, too — certainly far less than the advertising companies would have us believe. As long as we have food, clothing and a roof over our head, we’re pretty much set.
I’ve found this realisation shifts my attitude from one of entitlement and frustration to one of complete humility and gratitude.
There’s a tribe in the Columbian Amazon called the Ufaina. The Ufaina believe that when a person is born a small amount of vital force is ‘borrowed’ to that person, and that when they die, this energy is released back to the universe, where it gets recycled again and again.
I think this is a wonderful way to look at life. Everything we have, and everything we think we are, is just on loan to us for a short while. Eventually, we have to give it all back.
Becoming fully aware of this realisation — that we owe life everything, rather than the other way around — changes everything.
It transforms the way we look at life, the way we live and the attitude with which we greet each day.
It’s surprisingly liberating when we cease holding life up to ransom and instead recognise that the very fact we exist is neither a ‘right’ or an entitlement.
It is, in fact, an amazing gift, and one that could be taken back at any time!