I was always searching. That was the verb that absorbed my actions. The action that absorbed my time. The time that kept running out without any progress. The euphoric highs were only followed by the mundane ordinary, which felt below average because my searching created the idea that everything needed to blow my damn mind.
In our society, we want our highlight reel to be every second of the day. Whether we compare ourselves to others on social media or believe some fictional external pressure is upon us to always have the time of our lives, the idea of ‘more’ doesn’t leave any aspect of life untouched. An experience that is too small can’t be precious – or at least that’s what the searching-mindset tells you. Because you will always be absorbed with wanting a moment to be more – more exciting, more interesting, more beautiful, more glamorous, more thrilling, more SOMETHING
I wanted more. Every day. I forgot the beauty of waking up to the feeling of snuggling my cheek against the pillow in a blurry-eyed daze only a great night’s sleep can provide. I forgot the simplicity of watching the sun’s fluid shadows dance on the wall. I forgot the importance of asking how people are. I forgot to remember that every moment is lessened when I’m searching for the elusive things in life.
I stuck myself in an in-between place where the intangible feels suffocating, and the tangible feels like not enough.
My fingertips want to feel the freeness of the air as I stretch my arms each morning, my eyes want to pay attention to the birds, the flowers, the familiar dents in my kitchen table. My smile wants to feel touched by the surrounding love of the magnificent people in my life. And this is simple.
I’ve noticed we complicate life into this unsolvable Rubik’s Cube when we prioritize perfection over true reality. We want to do our best every day and we oddly want people to know we’re doing our best. But for some reason, our best yesterday isn’t enough today. The comparison-cycle continues to make mental notes in our brain that pop up as red-flags throughout the day, tricking us into thinking we have more problems than we actually have. What a warped way of thinking that is the clear origin of unhappiness.
When we take a moment to sit with ourselves and actually listen to the moment, we’re able to realize a few things. Here’s what I realized:
I don’t need to search for ‘more’. I like this rickety chair I sit in. I like this succulent that has almost died on me twice (although people swear anyone can take care of a succulent). I like the people who I call my best friends. I like spending the night in reading just much as I like going out in the city. And most taboo of all, I like myself. The good and the seemingly bad, I like it all.
I need to understand where I am in this moment in life right now is ok. I need to be comfortable with my reality. To not compare. To not judge. To not surrender to the searching that leads to endless migraines of self-deprecation.
But as people often say, old habits die hard.
And this searching habit isn’t going to suddenly evaporate.
I’m slowly realizing I need to replace searching with appreciating.
A Buddhist monk once told me that when you are appreciating something it is impossible to simultaneously judge it. With direct eye contact followed by a gaze outside the window to stare at a tree that had just blossomed, I knew he was practicing his words at that exact moment. Giving himself the space to let appreciation and gratitude overwhelm him with the moment’s beauty, his words went from my mind to my heart and traversed deep into my toes. Standing in a once-crowded room, with the most compassionate mind beside me, I felt awakened to true wisdom. To not just believing what we are told, but to understanding the truth of reality.
I had never questioned my desire for more. It became second-nature because our society reinforces the normalcy of always needing something else, whatever that something is. With the new knowledge that it’s impossible to judge in the act of appreciation, I recognized that judgments are what lights the fire in our losing battle with contentment.
When you are completely absorbed in the act of appreciation, you give permission for the moment of gratitude and acknowledgment to swallow you with open arms. Judgement, which walks arm-in-arm with searching for more, has no room to breathe. Consider the difference of perspective this exchange of habits brings. Consider the opportunity to see with fresh eyes. Consider the chances for living in the moment. Consider the freedom.
People are often afraid of admitting their unhealthy habits that are carried from sunrise to sunset. People are often non-confrontational with what’s ‘normal’ despite how harmful the ‘normal’ is.
The searching mindset teaches us what we have – and who we are – isn’t good enough. Appreciation teaches us to recognize the moment we are currently in and consciously value it.
I’m slowly realizing these things:
Don’t fall in love with comfort.
Fall in love with healthy personal confrontation.
Fall in love with growth.
Fall in love with appreciation.
Fall out of love with the idea of ‘more’.