I noticed something that happens when I’m fully immersed in the present, doing something I love, in the flow . I don’t get the usual cravings for anything saccharine to stall the anxiety. I’m focused. My soul feels full. I’m happy. But when I’m not, when I’m distant and fleeing some current problem, I become bleak and distracted. I become obsessed with organizing stuff and trivial details. I crave anything that I can mindlessly munch on. I can’t be still nor can I do something of substance. I become like a zombie, an automaton ; I can’t read, write, do tasks, answer emails, watch movies. I never knew why that was so all I could ever do is wait it out.
I’m currently in that zoned-out state but this time I tried to flip the tables by retracing the past couple of days in my mind and ask myself what set this off? And sure enough, I remembered that I had an unpleasant experience this past Sunday and that’s when I went on my escapism voyage. I started daydreaming about stuff to come and at the time I thought I was doing myself a favour, you know, with the whole positive imagination. I started craving stuff which I hadn’t in a while. I became tougher on myself to do the things that are necessary for that daydream to happen, and as a result I came to loathe myself.
I escaped my present because of pain but my mind can’t be idle. It went firing off in every direction, returning with nothing but anxiety and compelling emptiness.
When one is goal-oriented, that is, focused on a certain outcome in the future, then life becomes void of meaning and substance and it turns into a means towards something. What will one do on the way there? And once that outcome is achieved, what then? Goal-orientation relies on extrinsic motivation to make up for the hollow process, so what pushes one towards that distant future is the carrot of praise and accolades dangling in front of one. Life becomes like a hamster wheel; running towards running.
But when one is process-oriented and focused on development and improvement as opposed to achieving an outcome, then this is what true living is about. One is at peace and mindful. No competition or agitation or fear. No pressure, disappointment or perfectionism. At the same time, you are developing an inner strength fuelled by intrinsic values and inspiration. You become like the rain, giving life to yourself and others.
Life is a process, or else we might as well die right when we are born. Life is faith. It takes growing into. Nothing will come in the future that isn’t already within you today. No happiness hinges on an outcome and no sadness will leave at the crack of dawn. It’s a simple mindset change; focus on intrinsic causes that transcend time and make it simple. Goals are eventual mile markers.