Almost every other day, I come across some article or person urging others to go out there and live life or follow your heart. Common people seem to be stuck in the rat race, miserable and incapable of having a life between paying off loans and raising children.
This reminds me of my mother’s Reiki teacher, who was a school teacher by profession. One year when they had exchange students come from the UK, they decided to do something different. The students were picked up from the airport and dropped off in the middle of the desert to live with locals in a below-poverty village. There were no toilets, they used broken pots for cooking, vessels were cleaned with sand and meals consisted of dry rotis (flat bread) with red chili chutney. Two weeks later when the school came to pick the children up, the children started crying, saying they didn’t want to go home. Never before in their plush, abundant lives had they experienced love, affection and bonding like this.
What did the village have that these rich British kids did not? What did they have that you do not? How could they be happy with so much less than you have?
While breaking free and pursuing one’s dreams just might be the answer for a select few that have lived oppressed lives in the fear of rejection from society, the fundamental problem in that approach is that it assumes that happiness lies outside. In a relationship, in a career, in material pleasures, in a new place. And that belief puts you on a fast track to misery. The more choices you have, the more miserable you are going to be, because you don’t know ‘which choice will make you happy’. If only you knew that the answer was ‘none’.
When not to Settle
While on the one hand people don’t want to ‘settle’ for mediocre lives, on the other they want to ‘take a chance’ on mediocre choices. Our generation was raised by over-involved parents, and most of us have refused to grow up and own up for our lives. If we invest our energies in growing up, we will start to see that each action has a consequence, and that will change the way we approach a fork in the road.
What choice we make isn’t about whether it will make us happy in the future – happiness is a choice we make this instant – but about what the consequences will be, and whether we can live with that. I’ve seen so many people settle for a lousy partner because they’re too afraid to be alone. Or settle for having a baby because of parental or societal pressure. Or move to an unpleasant place because they’re desperate to ‘get away’ from family or something else. These are exactly times when we shouldn’t be ‘settling’.
Don’t settle when life brings you to crossroads. If you are desperate and frustrated, seek healing and understand that getting into a different situation will offer only temporary respite, if at all.
When “Settling” is Important
We’re not just talking about relationships here, of course. But this quote is just so, so relevant. Once you’ve made a choice, stick with the consequences and make peace with where the choice has taken you. When you truly make peace with it, it is possible that looking at those beautiful couple or travel pictures on facebook or elsewhere might leave you a tad uneasy, but never will it empty out your heart of happiness.
So many people want to change their lives so desperately that they just cannot give the present moment their best. This is the same as being so unsure whether you’re on the right track, that you are unable to walk. But unless you move, you’re not going anywhere. If you are meant to have a different life, it will happen, and life will bring opportunities and openings your way. If you’re feeling stuck and frustrated in a completely unfulfilling life, it is time to understand that it is not life that is unfulfilling, but you who have stopped investing. Embrace your life for what it is in this moment and give it everything you’ve got. And that’s how you live.