During the past few weeks, I have found it increasingly difficult to watch, listen to or read the news. While the budget battles continue, unemployment, health care and education are debated, and crisis in the Middle East continued, I took a moment to reflect on my reluctance to consume the litany of current events. The thought that popped into my mind was Einstein’s quote, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
Was I going crazy or were these the same issues that I witnessed playing out during the past several decades? Has anything changed in recent memory other than the names and faces of the players? Are we living the American Dream or was I finally waking up to the nightmare our world has become?
Regurgitating a list of statistics that tells us that despite our vast accumulation of wealth our nation is sicker, lonelier, more violent and distressed than ever, would again be invoking Einstein’s insanity theory. Each of knows as we listen to the news, trudge off to log-jammed commutes, bury ourselves in the stress of holding onto our jobs and lifestyle that something isn’t working—and yet, we keep telling ourselves that voice is wrong and if we can just hold on, somehow, some way it will get better . . . so we keep doing the same thing over and over.
What keeps us trapped is fear. How can things possibly be different? This is what life is about, having the right job, earning a good living, acquiring a great house and the corresponding stuff all the while teaching our children to succeed on the same treadmill through endless cycles of homework, lessons, tutors and increasingly medication to make it through the day. Is it any wonder that our elected officials continue having the same discussions when each one of us keeps making the same choices as well?
If fear is the prison guard than the walls are of our own making. Each one of us chooses to perpetuate the nightmare every time we choose fear over freedom. We have securely built our prison by becoming complicit in the lie that all our stuff will protect us from what we fear the most—sadness, loneliness, isolation, in sum a world without true love and joy. In reality, that is the world we have created.
Certainly there are times when we feel happy, when we are able to connect with others in our life and yet, are these the fleeting moments that keep us going or are they the daily occurrences that are the fabric of our lives? If you could live each day filled with meaningful work that you love, share your life with people in loving conscious relationships and have the time to connect with what matters most to you, would you do it? What would you be willing to “give up” to create such a life? And what would you gain by doing so?
Waking up from a nightmare isn’t easy; the cobwebs from the deep sleep linger, as do the murky images and sick feeling in your stomach. As with the nighttime terror, you have to force yourself back to your senses and to connect to what’s real for you. It is only through this remembering that clarity and calm can return.
I encourage each person who reads this article to take a few minutes to reflect on what truly matters to them. What brings you joy, happiness and peace of mind? What are you doing in your life to cultivate those feelings each day? What are you willing to let go of to allow space in your life for happiness to enter?
Connecting to those feelings is the first step; the second is to take action. If you want your world or the world to be different, the answer is no farther away than your next step. The prison guard of fear may be lurking outside the door—and with your focus on what matters most to you, the walls of you cell will tumble down. By dropping your focus on getting past the prison guard, you can simply walk away from your cell into a bright new world of your creation. Let the insanity go and create a world that you—and everyone else longs to live in.
Kathleen, this post rocks in more ways than one. I felt like you pulled the words right out of my mouth. I feel that a huge problem that we all face if the fear to take the steps to start doing what we truly love. So many of us are just in sustain mode that we don’t want to take a big risk in life. At the tender age of 34, I’ve realized that life is too short to just keep plugging away at life to make sure the bills are paid. I encourage everyone to take a good hard look at their life and ask those tough “why” questions. It’s time more people started making bold life decisions and taking the plunge into the unknown. I can’t wait to act on mine. If I fail, at least I know took the chance, and that I can live with rather than waking up one day when I’m 70 and saying “what did I do with my life?” To me that is the biggest fear and nightmare. Let’s start living right now!
Thanks Kristopher–it is good to know when I have struck a cord. The nature of this blog is at the root of most of my coaching work with my DC clients . . . I finally decided to walk my talk and openly discuss what so many people are afraid to admit to themselves and others (and that I have certainly struggled with as well!). Good luck on your journey to doing what you truly love in life–you deserve it!
Agreed Kathleen. Thank you for posting your thoughts. My wife and I turned off the news a year ago because of the negativity in every broadcast. I joke all the time that we’re the last to know because we don’t watch the news. It’s no wonder that people live in fear when all they’re surrounded by and see on the news is doom and gloom.
Please remind your readers that FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. Many times in life the very thing we feared that prevented us from taking action never comes to past. So day after day and year after year opportunity slips by and we remain stuck because of fear. I think it was Tony Robbins that said let fear be an adviser not a jailer, and to take action in spite of our fear.
Understand that we can reach our goals in life by focusing on the destination and not the journey. The journey can be bumpy at times but if we never lose site of the goal, and not let fear stand in our way, we will get there. Fear is as much a choice as peace, love and happiness. We all have a clean slate every day and 24 hours to do something with it. Stedman Graham has a great video on what to do with our 24 hours.
Another great post, Kathleen! Truth is indeed subjective. Nothing can be more futile than taking all the world’s problems on my shoulders. I can’t even solve all of those that don’t appear in the news and might even be my business! I take great comfort in knowing that the truth that matters for me is how I behave – today.