Do you endlessly separate life into good and bad?
If you’re like me, you make lists, goals and constantly notice things you like, want and aspire to versus other groups that you don’t like, don’t want and maybe even go out of your way to avoid? I do this with both external circumstances and internal thoughts and emotions.
The news, media and social media seem to be the mass embodiment of this very practice. We are encouraged to like and share what we want, while studiously avoiding, criticizing and attacking anyone or anything that dares to have a different view point. Politics has become an extension of this practice with so much name calling, labeling, attacking and blaming that nothing gets done.
As more of us choose love and yes (unity with life), we learn to respect and communicate with open minds and hearts, while integrating the various viewpoints or maybe finding new enlightened solutions based on compassion, respect and inclusion. Letting go of attack and separation, we are one. Let’s please act like it.
For several years, I’ve been questioning the very idea of self improvement and whether it is an endless trap.
Gurus and teachers keep offering more and more books, programs and ideas for improving ourselves. Yet, I feel as though I’ve been on a tread mill for the last 26 years as I’ve “worked on myself”, continually striving to improve, grow, find enlightenment, etc. This quote by Alan Watts struck me as the perfect answer. I found numerous jewels in this article in brainpickings.com about the book by Alan Watts called The Wisdom of Insecurity.
I can only think seriously of trying to live up to an ideal, to improve myself, if I am split in two pieces. There must be a good “I” who is going to improve the bad “me.” “I,” who has the best intentions, will go to work on wayward “me,” and the tussle between the two will very much stress the difference between them. Consequently “I” will feel more separate than ever, and so merely increase the lonely and cut-off feelings which make “me” behave so badly. ~ Alan Watts
Alan goes on to explain that we must quit trying to separate ourselves from life and experiences that we don’t want. We must learn to embrace uncertainty, change and a lack of a fixed self’..
When you see clearly that memory is a form of present experience, it will be obvious that trying to separate yourself from this experience is impossible… Sanity, wholeness, and integration lie in the realization that we are not divided, that man and his present experience are one, and that no separate “I” or mind can be found.
What are your thoughts on self-improvement? It seems to be a paradox. I believe we’re hard wired to want to grow and improve. but I believe the vast majority of the programs and our efforts to improve, actually don’t help us make real progress. In the end, maybe only love matters.
To me, saying yes to life, means accepting and being present with everything (aka loving it all).
Embracing what is happening right here and now in my physical, mental and emotional realms. Too many of us live much of our lives in a mental realm of future dreams and past regrets. I believe this is played out in the external world with the growing problems of economic inequity, environmental degradation, and mental and physical health challenges.
I’m embarking on a year of saying yes to life. I’m learning to relax, accept and bless everything in this wild and mysterious adventure called life. In addition, as I witness the flow of thoughts, feelings and events, I bless them with the simple message “I love you”.
21 thoughts on “Saying Yes to Life”
I could go for pages or I can simply share with you that each of us experiences what we call life differently. When we start listening to all of the (positive and less so) voices out there, we often sense or feel that we need to heed them. In the end (yet every day), I choose to over-simply because the flip side of that is unattractive to me, how I process and how I exist. Everything happens for a reason and serves a purpose. Just ‘being’ as you comfortably choose, Brad, ought to be ample fuel, consideration, and grounding for all you consider and do. Try, if you choose, to not over-analyze, over-act, over-anything. As you say, accept ‘things’ along with allowing and appreciating. Somewhere in that simplicity you may find solace along with more opportunities to love and say “yes.” 🙂
Great suggestions Eric. I think we’re saying about the same thing. For years, I’ve been looking for the answers, the missing puzzle piece, my life purpose, etc. Now, I’m choosing to make things simpler. My goal is peace/ acceptance and my process is to choose love, over and over, as much as possible staying in witness mode (being) and allowing life to flow. Easy to say, and we’ll see how I do, but already I feel a relief. My choices are simpler and easier. Thanks again for all your support and encouragement. Hugs and blessings, Brad
I agree with you to say ‘yes’ but too much of yes also makes you a ‘yesman’, who can be enslaved by anybody, who can be exploited even by emotions, who can be manipulated by this wicked world! The ‘red’ quote above seems symbolic to me: it speaks through its color- caution!!
If you are willing to say yes to everything, all the realms…then why are you so perplexed about self-improvement? your own thoughts are so paradoxical! How can you grow and not improve? Some aspects of life bring about improvement, even if you are not aiming at it. Some people in your life usher in such changes which bring clarity to your mind about doing good, about helping others without expecting for any return. What about those improvements?
I guess life itself leads you towards self- improvement, even if you are unwilling. Those who refuse to accept it, are living in an illusionary world. Please give a thought to what I say and you might get into those unknown realms of our life.
Thanks for such a provocative post…really thought provoking!
Wonderful reflections Balroop. And I’ll be careful of the red!
We’re probably meaning similar things with different words. Yes life wants us to grow and keeps bringing opportunities to align more with our highest self. Saying yes and blessing each moment, experience, thought, and feeling is helping me move into more grace and flow. I guess that’s what I mean by saying yes, that we flow with life rather than resisting it. I’m also referencing the idea of surrendering and merging with something more than our personal self. I associate self improvement with over identification with personal self or even split self as Alan Watts wrote about. Thanks for your thoughtful ideas. I appreciate you reading and commenting so often.
Hi Brad, I’m so happy to have come across your blog and your perceptive on life! I recognize a fellow traveller and will stop by again. The more we travel this road the more simple it seems to be. How awesome is that 🙂 Val x
Hi Val. Welcome to my blog. I’m delighted to have you here. I’ve just been exploring yours too. I appreciate fellow travelers along the road, especially when we share and support each other. I haven’t gotten to the simple part yet, but good to know it’s there! 🙂 Brad
As far as self improvement and ego goes …. I believe that when we look at ourselves and do inner exploration – as self improvement books recommend as well as therapy – then it strengthens our knowledge and acceptance of ourselves as imperfect human beings. This self reflection has a two fold impact:
– It strengthens our ego so that it can then observe itself. Only a healthy ego can see unhealthy aspects of its own self.
– It opens our heart to love and be compassionate towards ourselves and others.
Self improvement books won’t take you on the direct path to awaken or transformation … but they can be an important part of the path.
Wow – never said any of this before. Thank you for opening up something in me today. Hugs. Val x
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Hi Val, Thanks for your thoughtful response. I think I understand your perspective. I’ve been reading and working on myself for a long time. It seems to help to be self aware and strive to improve and yet I still have a sense of something not being right with self improvement. Maybe I just don’t know how to surrender to life and still take wise action. Or how to reconcile Alan Watt’s perspective of being split and divided which I definitely feel frequently. I’m so involved in trying to be aware and improve that I’m not really connected to living life. Does that make any sense?
What we are telling the world is what we are also learning for ourselves. (So I’m learning and pondering too!)
Does surrendering to life and accepting all parts of ourselves really require us to try or improve? Trying and improving feel more like old conditioning to me…. and is also what our culture expects of us. When we try hard we bring pressure and tension. What if the answer was to let go of the trying and allow yourself to simply be where you are. Find a place for you to connect with your inner self. Your own middle ground for unplugging and connecting to life as it is happening….. that’s where I have found some answers. Val x
Thanks again Val. I like your idea to relax, allow, and be. I’m wondering when the wise action comes in! At least I can laugh in the middle of my current financial storm. Blessings, Brad,
The Dow Jones is far more reactive than life itself!
A wise man told me recently that being graceful in the lows of life is about going with the flow. Sound like you are riding the waves and could listen more to him 🙂
Hello! If you enjoy Alan Watts, you might be interested in these words from his book “Does It Matter?”:
Thanks for joining my blog Eduardo. I love his perspective of humans as being part of the continuous life stream. He was a wise soul. Thanks, Brad
Hi, Brad! I completely agree with this “life stream” worldview, it seems to me very similar to Chief Seattle’s “Web of Life”:
This is a great post. I’m so glad I found your blog. Blessings, Lisa 🙂
Thanks Lisa, I appreciate how enthusiastically and thoroughly you’ve explored my blog. I am delighted to have you here! Blessings back at you baby buddha!
Wow. I’ve spent the last few years on trying to better myself. Trying to improve on all things me.
After reading this post, I just realized that I am putting myself under a crazy amount of pressure!!! No wonder I feel like I am going no where fast.
Oh, I have definitely shifted in my way of thinking. I’ve made a lot of improvements in how I look at life. But I still push myself to do better and better. Now I am wondering if it will ever be enough?
Perhaps it is time to just be.
Very interesting post. Thank you!
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You’re welcome C-A! I wrestle with this too. I think there’s a balance between being and doing. And the hardest and most important thing for me is to be OK now, offering myself love and compassion. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Brad