Professional Student of Life
Adventures in personal growth
May: The Secret of Life
The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. ~ James Taylor
Lately I’ve been grappling with the question of goal-setting. I’m newly part of a Mastermind group, whose purpose is to assist and hold members accountable in setting and keeping goals. Mastermind groups are based on principles of success developed by Napoleon Hill, author of the classic Think and Grow Rich. The idea is that several minds working together are more powerful than one, and I do love knowing that my partners are visualizing me accomplishing my goals, as I am theirs.
But when I sit down to write goals, I keep bumping up against the same contrarian thought. So much of my reading and studying says: Be present! Stay in the moment! While goals are all about the future. The problem with goals is that we start thinking that our happiness, or success, or worth depends on meeting them. I struggle with that a lot lately, since I’m mostly not “working” and I don’t have a wildly successful career or accomplishments to point to. In this society we put so much emphasis on these outer trappings of success. If I’m not meeting some lofty goal, is my life a failure?
Well, no. That’s where the passage of time comes in. Even when you’re working toward worthy goals, the moment of realizing them is fleeting. The vast majority of time is spent in ordinary, daily activities, repeated over and over. Sleeping, cooking, eating, cleaning, shopping, dressing, bathing, doing errands. Even the most famous, accomplished person spends most of his time in very mundane ways, and this is wonderfully reassuring. We can all learn to be happy simply enjoying the passing of time. We don’t have to put it off until we’ve met our goals or reached some standard of worldly success.
Check in with yourself throughout the day and ask if you’re enjoying the passage of time. Is all of your attention on the next hours or days or weeks, or do you have time to inhabit the moment you’re actually in right now? It’s really the only time you have to be happy. Not that goals aren’t a good thing, when held lightly, but they’ll lead you astray if they become the focus of your life, and meeting them the criterion for your happiness. The mystery is that no moment of life is any more important or meaningful than another, and no one’s life is made more meaningful by their accomplishments. Life is meaningful in the absolute, not in the relative.
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