By Ian Tucker, author of Your Simple Path: Find happiness in every step.
I’ll be happy when, If only I hadn’t, I feel desperate, I feel insecure, I’m sick with worry, I’m anxious, I’m out of control, I need to manipulate this, I’ll complain, you owe me, I’ll show you, I need more, I need less, you need more, you need less, What about me? I know best, how could you possibly know, now you listen to me, I’ll never be able to, you’ll never be able to, I can’t face it, I don’t want it, I’m desperate for it, you can’t have it, I haven’t got enough, I’ve got too much, I need you, you need me, I don’t want you, why don’t you want me, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, please don’t rain, I haven’t achieved, it’s too late, it’s too early, I need it now, I need to change, you need to change, we need to change, the world needs to change, it’s not fair, that’s not how I planned it, you never smile, you don’t love me, what if I lose, I have to win, what will they think, what if I fail, I have to have it, I don’t want you to have it, what if you die, what if they die, What if I die?
The pace and turmoil associated with modern life sweeps us along and lays down markers to how we are measuring up against everyone else. A constant review of perceived achievement or under-achievement. All day, every day. It exhausts us. How can we ever be at peace if our whole life is a competitive race against time and everyone else?
The pressure to conform, to be right, to be happy, to please everyone, to pay the mortgage, to look good, to be popular, for our kids to do better than we ever have, so they can be “happy.”
All the above comes at a cost. It’s called attachment. We have got ourselves into a cycle that suggests that our happiness and inner peace are dependent upon things outside of our control.
We become our job title, the car we drive, how we look, even the illness that killed our father or grandmother.
Every generation comes along and seems ever more reliant on outside influence, looking for other things to make them happy. Material wealth, electronic wizardry, faster, smaller, better, going further. But the irony is that these things take you away from what will truly deliver happiness.
Could you possibly detach yourself from things that others get anxious and worried about? Release yourself from limiting beliefs that the only outcome can be the one that you want right now?
Can you begin to develop a gentle understanding that the less you attempt to control or manipulate a situation the more you allow a natural order to ease into your life?
Compare your approach to a flowing stream. As the water rolls down it creates a path. If there is a natural obstacle then it gently works its way around it and continues its journey. The energy within the water is always the same. But just like the tree that sheds its leaves, it knows that everything is perfect. Sometimes it’s slow, other times it quickens, but perfect all the same. There is always a way through, and so it arrives clean and pure.
Now imagine a different stream, this time the water is desperate to reach the same desired destination. It stops, attempts to go back, becomes stagnant, smashes against anything in its way, breaks its banks and dissipates. The destination for both streams is exactly the same, which route do you take?
Whilst there is a passive element to this approach this in no way means that we relinquish our desire to reach a goal, or an end result.
A musician can write or learn a piece but understands that the performance becomes magical when they are able to let go and lose themselves within the music. I’ve heard it said that it’s the space between the notes that makes the difference.
In writing this book, I approach each chapter with an outline, an intent, but have truly come to understand that when I relax, the right words appear on the page at just the right time.
The Tao Te Ching is a Chinese masterpiece that offers us a timeless guide to life. The author Lao Tzu tells us: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
Ian Tucker is an inspirational author and speaker who lives in Devon, England. After spending over twenty years in the corporate world he began to look at what really mattered to him in life. He now spends much of his time writing, giving talks and running workshops that encourage us all to develop a simple, caring outlook.
Your Simple Path is published by O Books June 27th 2014