We take a job for the money, we date a certain person because we hear they're a good prospect, and we do someone a favor because we want something in return. We live a conditional life, always trying to control what will come to us, because we are afraid that if we don't, we will not get our proper due.
So-we get the money, and the guy, and still we aren't happy.
That is because a conditional life-even if it delivers the desired goal-always leaves us wanting, wanting something more. When we tell ourselves, “If I do this, then I'll get that, " we are setting up an equation that we think will result in our happiness. After all, if we did not feel that this would be the case, why would we do it? And yet time after time, we are disappointed and once again search for new ways to feel good.
So, if happiness is not tied to the coveted outcome, what then is it tied to? When we stay focused on the present, rather than the future, we begin the process of joyful living.
Focusing on some upcoming event (and never being quite sure when that will be), we live a conditional life where everything is a trade-off. Nothing is ever accepted on its own merits but rather on the basis of what it will mean sometime in the future.
When we take a job we don't really want with the hope of it being a steppingstone to a job we covet, we will not like going to work every day. When we go out with someone unappealing because we tell ourselves this person is a good business contact, we will not enjoy the evening. Regardless of how sophisticated our rationalizations may be, our inner being will know the difference. We know if we feel good.
A present life is the opposite of a conditional one. It is pulsating with energy that screams, “This is your life now. " Its immediacy places us squarely in the moment and makes us feel vital and alive. It is devoid of excuses and, by its very nature, erases any trace of victimhood. Staying present allows us to experience things simply for what they are, without overt or hidden agendas, without manipulation of any kind. We take a job because it is exciting and creative, and, when we get up in the morning, we are glad to go to work. And when we hang out with someone we really like, we feel valued and comfortable and enjoy the company now.
This is what keeps us smack dab in the middle of the action, rather than one step away from it; only this makes us feel intimately connected to our life. When we stay present, we cease living conditionally and enjoy the moment. Unless we can do that, we will never know true happiness.
Chapter 29 from Reality Works Copyright © 2002 Chandra Alexander
Chandra Alexander, MSW, has been living and teaching authenticity for the last thirty years. Selected by The Oprah Magazine as the Life Coach to deliver twelve coaching sessions to the grand prize winner of their Toyota Moving Forward contest, she also spent five years on NBC/TV/Daytime giving a weekly “Reality Check. " Her blog, http://ChandraUnplugged.com is a real find for any true seeker on the path to authenticity. Along with a private practice in Tampa, FL, she coaches clients all over the world in the areas of relationships, work and consciousness. To learn more about her books and CDs, visit her website at http://Coachgirl.com