I recently read a book by Wayne Muller,"A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough." His premise is simple and powerful: our striving for a life of constant motion, commitment, and responsibility guarantees we miss what is most important: living fully now and understanding what we have is entirely sufficient for a full, joyful life.
If you envision your most perfect, beautiful day, does it include a meeting at work or rushing to meet volunteer commitments along with family and spousal responsibilities? Does it include emotions like feeling drained, angry, or rushed? Does it include your falling into bed at the end of the day so frazzled that sleep is almost impossible? Is it the day you bought the new big screen TV or stainless steel refrigerator?
For most of us a beautiful, perfect day might include time by the ocean, or being deep in a mossy forest. It may look like a family picnic where everyone is laughing, playing games, and loving each other's company. It could be the day your child or grandchild is born. It might be a few hours spent on the back porch, with a cup of coffee, watching the clouds scud across the sky, leaving your mind blank and calm.
Mr. Muller makes a powerful case against the wasteful habits of worry and constantly striving for more, and then more. He states that we often feel defeated and discouraged no matter how much "progress" we might have made that day, or week, or month. He believes that we have the innate ability to be happy when we slow down, take stock of what is right and good in our life, and accept that as enough.
Chinese author Lao Tsu spelled out the same message thousands of years ago in the Tao Te Ching: "Those who know that enough is enough will always have enough."
Mr. Muller is not saying we should withdraw from the world, or be content without any movement forward. He is making the case for understanding what is worth striving for; it usually is already right in front of us. I love his assertion that our life is always a glass that is both half full and half empty. How we react to that reality is what matters.
Over the course of a life, most of us experience a combination of joy and sadness, contentment and disappointment, love and grief. It is never all of one and none of the other forever. The glass always contains the seeds or probability of both. If we look for a constant flow of external successes, possessions, or accomplishments we will eventually realize we are chasing the wrong goal.
Mr. Muller says, "there is a geological term , isostasy, which is the tendency of something to rise once whatever has been pushing it down is removed." Are we our own worst enemy in this regard? Do we simply have to remove what it is that has been pushing us down to rise? Abraham Lincoln said, "most folks are as happy as they make their minds up to be." Mr. Muller says, "Happiness is an inside job."
My Satisfying Journey is a wandering passage of discovery and acceptance. The signposts in this book has been quite helpful to keep me on track and working on my insides.