happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens

Posted on May 3rd, 2012

I’m facing a big challenge at the moment. It’s something that’s been building up for a while: finding out what life is like – and what I’m like – when there is no “something next”. When nothing is about to happen.

photo by Aquabumps

Boy. What would that feel like? I’m always onto something next. Surely I’d be a shell of a human if I had no more happenings to forward onto?

I find life almost inconceivable without this relentless scheduling voice in my head, steering me on to the next thing, slotting in activities all day, timing how long it will get from here to there and what phone calls I can return while I’m transit. I rang my brother the other day. I was riding up a hill carrying groceries on the handlebars. “Geez Sarah, do you ever uni-task?” he asked. He’s 21 and he shakes his head at me.

When I was a little girl living in the country I would jump with excitement when the phone rang and physically ached to hear the sound of a car rumbling up our long driveway. I would climb a tree and wait and listen. For something to happen.  Someone’s coming! Something’s about to happen! I don’t think this anxious, incomplete anticipation has ever left my bones.

My biggest impediment to reaching something  resembling a meditative state each day when I sit in lotus is the constant diarising and scheduling more things to happen. I revert to this as soon as there’s an empty moment.

I thrive in disasters, because something is happening.  I always know what’s around the next corner…because I’ve anticipated it, planned it, scheduled it’s very possibility. Arghhh….it never stops.

I schedule, therefore I am. It’s my default cognitive position.

It’s got me places, this over-eager embracing of possibility and activity. Lots of things have happened in my life. Great jobs. Awesome opportunities. Excitement.

But it’s now starting to drive me mental. This, I know, is because it no longer serves me.

Whenever something no longer serves me, it all starts to become a noise that gets louder and brighter in my head, more irritating, until I just have to do something about it. I have a bunch of pink elephants in a room sitting opposite me. Staring at me. And demanding I act.

It’s time to act.

It’s beginning with curiosity. I am so so so curious to see what life can look/feel/be like when I have no expectation of what will happen next. When my being isn’t constantly on to the next thing, metaphorically looking over someone’s shoulder at the party onto the next conversation.

I’m not sure if this resonates. It it does…

You can read here about how to bring life in closer to the core, instead of flinging out into the ever-expanding universe.

You might also like writer Pico Iyer‘s take on the subject that he shared in the New York Times recently. He was picking up on the way technology drags us away from ourselves. And how we’re all increasingly seeking some stillness because we know that’s where happiness lies. The monk David Steindl-Rast describes it as “that kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.”

Yes! A happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens!!

Back to Iver. He makes the point that we have to get to this point not just to be happy, but to function best with technology and busy-ness:

“The central paradox of the machines that have made our lives so much brighter, quicker, longer and healthier is that they cannot teach us how to make the best use of them; the information revolution came without an instruction manual. All the data in the world cannot teach us how to sift through data; images don’t show us how to process images.

The only way to do justice to our onscreen lives is by summoning exactly the emotional and moral clarity that can’t be found on any screen.

In my own case, I turn to eccentric and often extreme measures. I try not to go online till my day’s writing is finished, and I moved from Manhattan to rural Japan in part so I could more easily survive for long stretches entirely on foot, and every trip to the movies would be an event.

Nothing makes me feel better — calmer, clearer and happier — than being in one place….

…absorbed in a book, a conversation, a piece of music. It’s actually something deeper than mere happiness: it’s joy.

For more than 20 years, therefore, I’ve been going several times a year — often for no longer than three days — to a Benedictine hermitage. I don’t attend services when I’m there, and I’ve never meditated, there or anywhere; I just take walks and read and lose myself in the stillness, recalling that it’s only by stepping briefly away from my wife and bosses and friends that I’ll have anything useful to bring to them.

Said Blaise Pascal:

“Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.”

He also remarked that all of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone. And to let nothing happen.

To this end, I think I’m going to go for a wander soon. No plans. No sense of what will happen next. This is not the same as searching for nothingness. And I don’t think it will be found alone in a room (only in the ability to sit in a room alone).

It’s about letting nothing happen. Something might happen. But it’s about it not mattering, one way or the other. Instead of being the kid in the tree with the ear cocked, it’s about being the kid mucking about in the dam doing their own thing and then being genuinely happy when a car appears over the ridge.

Are you addicted to stuff happening? Do you get what I mean by the constantly scheduling voice in the head?

 

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  • E.Verdouw

    Wow Sarah! This is great – just what I needed to read this morning! Perhaps now I can enjoy my morning cuppa without forcing myself to plan the rest of my day/week/year/life… Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    you have permission!

    [Reply]

  • http://thissydneylife.wordpress.com/ Jo

    Hi Sarah – long time blog-stalker, first time commenter!

    Thought it was high time I popped in to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. Because of you, I am about to start my own fermenting.

    As a reformed corporate chick, I am familiar with scheduling too much. Stick with it – it gets easier!

    Cheers!

    [Reply]

    kylie Reply:

    What worked for you Jo, in your journey out of ‘corporateness’ headspace and lifestyle?

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    Jo Reply:

    THAT is the $64 million question, isn’t it? Not sure I have the answer – I think it’s about trusting your instincts, staying true to yourself and doing what makes you happy. That all sounds so very esoteric. Perhaps it is just about not trying and just ‘being’?

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  • http://www.greenchic.com.au carrie

    The beauty of serendipty.

    Totally get what you mean by constantly scheduling voice in my head. I seem to do it when I don’t want to miss out on any opportunity, as oppose to going with the flow. I identify it with planning for a trip. The best/memory trips I’ve found have been ones I haven’t planned for. I follow/listen to the people I meet along the way, as oppose to rushing from one place to another.

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  • http://www.butteryaffair.com Amanda A

    I totally understand where you are coming from!! You sound like me, a type 7 on the Enneagram scale. Check out this site : http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/TypeSeven.asp.

    It’s creepy to discover how we all seem to fit into one mold or another, but it’s super useful. We aren’t alone and when awareness sets in – we can act for change. I find myself rushing through things just so I can get to the next thing and then all of a sudden, when I have a free moment I fret – “well what are we doing next?” or I think “wow, why didn’t I eat slower and appreciate the company I had at brunch while I was there.” I’m slowly learning to chill out, breathe a little deeper, and be more mindful of everything throughout my day – from the way the sun hits buildings to the way a raisin tastes – it helps that anxiousness go away. Having said that, you obviously don’t want to loose your drive (or at least I don’t) because it’s who I am and it’s why I get things done!

    -Hope I helped in anyway!
    Amanda

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    It’s about finding that sweet spot in between, isn’t it!

    [Reply]

  • http://www.ekougi.com ekougi

    I found it odd to read that you plan to let nothing happen by going for a wander.

    If you are aware of all that is happening in every moment you don’t have time to think if what’s next.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    I know what you mean…I’ll write on this soon. As I say, I”m not a sit in lotus on a mountain type. I move. I can find stillness in movement.

    [Reply]

    ekougi Reply:

    I interpreted you article as “Here’s my plan to stop planning”. I look forward to reading more.

    I always find physical movement helps me to gain a clear focus on MY wants and needs. But to actually connect with everything around me I have to be very still, inside and out. Example: For one week I forced myself to have conversations with people where I had to listen to every single word they said before I formulated a response. Every. Single. Word. No fidgetting, no day-dreaming, no working off the gist of the topic, no planning what to say next. I don’t think I’ve ever respected or connected with my fellow human beings more than I did in that week.

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    Paul Reply:

    Thich Nhat Hanh talks often about ‘walking meditation’ which really struck a chord with me. You can meditate in motion so to speak and for some people it works better for them than stillness meditation.

    Sarah, you should really read The Happiness Trap by Dr Russell Harris (an Aussie). It covers exactly what you’re talking about. How happiness that is event-based is a trap and doesn’t work. It’s a flawed concept that leads to unhappiness. It also introduces a new twist on behavioral therapy called ACT which I highly recommend for handling this kind of headspace management problem.

    It’s a great read.

    [Reply]

  • http://siggysparkle.wordpress.com Sig

    I have a voice that tells me what SHOULD be happening and trying to cram in all the things I SHOULD be doing to reaching my goals and desire of happiness – misguided and true both.

    Being in a corporate environment I have that flow of go-go-go all the time – people are constantly on the move, time is precious and everyone is aiming to get that one rung higher on the ladder. And in the moments where I actually do try to stop and stand still – I’m swept away by this buzzing in my head of all the things I SHOULD be doing instead of not moving.

    I love the concept of stillness – it’s why I love yoga. I just don’t go enough.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.livehealthysimply.com Jessica Nazarali (@JessicaNazarali)

    I love the title of this post. I get far to caught up in whats happening or what SHOULD be happening.. I know when I push too hard I don’t get the results I want, it’s much more fruitful for me to be less manic and trust that the right experiences and opportunities will come to me…It’s hard to do though!

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  • Mia Bluegirl

    I had similar thoughts while travelling recently. (Oh, I love how being somewhere foreign helps you find yourself!) Some of the funnest days where were we got lost and wandered aimlessly, and ended up joking and laughing so hard we nearly fell over.

    I had big plans for my birthday, but the defining moment I will remember when I am old is being awoken excitedly by my best friend who wanted to share an impromptu snowfall with me.

    I think it’s about creating a big empty space, which the universe can fill with whatever it damn well pleases. Somehow you always end up somewhere interesting.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    You are a wise woman Mia! I hope you’re well at the moment…how’s the AI?

    [Reply]

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Kicking along nicely, thank you. :) Think I’ve finally found the right combo of meds for my multiple ailments that don’t aggrevate each other too much, after the Great AI Crash of January. I’m keeping very tentative fingers crossed. Happy as a clam so far.

    Although flying for several 20+ hour stretches did flare up my AI in dramatic and predictable fashion. Not enough to stop me travelling again though!

    [Reply]

  • Patricia

    My observation is everyone seem to be searching for happiness, only interested in pursuing those things that give a reward of elation and if this doesn’t happen they feel let down, unfulfilled, empty, miserable, so the restless mind begins its search again.

    To me happiness is a momentary thing. Try and just “BE” Not everything we do has to give us a particular feeling or reward.

    I think this constant search externally for a ‘feel good happiness’ will only result in a sense of failure when not it is not achieved. It is best to feel a sense of contentment in your life, this will last for the long term. When this is found, only then will one be able to sit quietly in the room alone and just ‘Be’

    I say search for contentment, not happiness.

    [Reply]

  • Patricia

    To follow up on my abnove comment.

    I used the wrong word saying ‘search’ for contentment. It can’t be searched, it has to be ‘felt’. I believe when one is content, they stop seeking.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.adamcordner.com Adam Cordner

    Hi Sarah

    I think we had opposite upbringings, I was that kid completely ok with doing things on my own, granted I’m an only child to a single mother so I didn’t really have people to distract me, but I’m more than ok with spending time alone doing nothing, not much or just practicing stunts. I never really sought out other people or things, sure they rocked up but it was usually a disruption and I would get my mother to tell them I was in trouble and couldn’t play so I could finish my daydream.

    I liken this situation to tasting wine while eating, the flavours of the food often distract from the flavours in the wine and you end up drinking a bottle to enjoy it, but if you spend time with one glass of wine with no food and just focus it can be one of the most joyous experiences known to man, or you could interpret this as I drink alone with no food.

    Are you saying that you’re trying to reduce the noise and compulsion rather than becoming a hermit?
    If there are a group of hermit crabs I think they should name them differently.

    My concern is that I enjoy being alone and when I’m around people I crave that alone time and often just take off. I’m not a lummox, I do play sports and frequent whisky bars, but if I get the chance I’ll do nothing. But its not easy, people plan things on my nothing days, Mothers call wanting updates, and it gets noisy quickly. I switch the phone off, much to the annoyance of my friends and family, but I don’t get distractions and the world keeps turning. But unlike you I don’t seem to hear the scheduling voice and if I do I don’t really pay attention to it, unless it’s a brilliant idea, like the post-it-note, that was my idea, but alien mind readers stole it in my sleep.

    I find my mind is like my house, its nice when people are over and the telly is on but geez its good when they all piss off home and the telly is turned off so you can hear yourself think again, and take your pants off.

    I find it curious that we search and look forward, I wonder if that instinct is meant to be pointed internally not externally and maybe that’s where you are now.

    But I have to agree, I’m addicted to stuff happening because when nothing happens I have to deal with my own shit and spend time with me.

    My Grandfather says “where ever you go there you are” I’m sure he stole that but I have had to remind my self of that, no amount of planning and distraction can avoid that statement.

    Did that make sense? I’m confused now

    [Reply]

    Peckingbird Reply:

    Hmmmm. I love that when people leave your house, you take your pants off.
    I do too!!

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    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    I do the same thing with wine. I dont think it makes me an alco cos I only have the one glass, I just enjoy it while watching the news. I dont know why but news on it’s own = shite, glass of wine while watching favourite show also semi-shite, cos I dont know which to concentrate on. But glass of wine with news, perfect. Same with coffee on a weekday morning, I get up really early to just do nothing but recline with a rug & a mug. I’m soooo 90 years old inside and I dont even care!

    Did you know that the people who claim they invented the Post-It note (the alien mind stealers, surely) actually did it via a series of cock-ups? They were trying to make a super-strong adhesive and failed, and also they weren’t originally intended to be yellow. They just had some yellow scrap paper lying around that day, and used it, and that’s what took off.

    See what you can accomplish without a plan!!

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    seeker Reply:

    mia, sounds like you’ve been to ireland on your travels?!! Haha, lovin’ the ‘shite’!

    i don’t like watching the news, and only do so very rarely to be polite to my beautiful man rather than leave the room, which is what i’d rather do and admittedly most times do if its on!! it depresses me, it’ mostly all bad, and only someone’s ‘interpretation of what’s going on’ … fair feck’s to those who can watch it and function normally …

    i used to think it was important to know whats going on in the world, but lately i feel a bit disillusioned with what is presented to us … i think its more important to know what is going on inside ourselves, and with those around us, our neighbours and our community, i kinda think thats all we really need to be involved in to a certain extent, cus we’re kinda forgetting how to communicate with each other and how to love and respect each other, if that doesn’t sound too hippy … its challenging, its really hard, thats why i think we need to get back to it … anyway, blah blah blah .. i go off topic alot!

    that’s interesting and inspiring about the post-it notes, thank you for sharing!

    ps. i’ve been 90 years old since i was about 16, and i love it! it suits me!! :) xo

    [Reply]

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Never been to Ireland, although I do like the way they swear. :)

    I go through phases with the news. I’m overly sensitive and get upset by it sometimes but then I get curious about the world and what weirdness it is presenting today. Dont you find the world awfully weird? Also I like to argue with David Koch through the tv. Although to be fair I’m drinking coffee ‘tween the hours of 6-9am, NOT wine. :D

    Besides, I hate to miss the good news stories about baby pandas and such.

  • Meg

    This is me, and always has been. Chronic illhealth (+/- adrenal fatigue) means I’m under doctors orders to go somewhere warm in my July holidays. About a week ago I decided to travel to Byron (ok, not hot, but not cold like it is here in Melbourne), stay in an air b n b place, not hire a car and just do…whatever I want (sleep, yoga, read…have the holiday I’ve never had). Though I’m excited about the prospect and I’m finally ready to go on a holiday by myself and let stuff happen, today I still found myself looking at backpacker tours in Cairns, becuase I’ve never been to Cairns and I shouldn’t waste time going somewhere I’ve been, not seeing something new….the list is endless.
    Yep, maybe I will get bored over 2 weeks, but I doubt it. Maybe it won’t be hot enough, but it will get the chill out of my bones, and I love it there. It’s my gut instinct, and it’s my holiday, so why do I still feel like I wouldn’t be scheduling things to get the most out of life?
    Thanks to you, I’m gonna go and book my trip to Byron. And just see what happens!
    Thank you Sarah!

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  • Fred

    Sarah,you are gorgeous,something I always wanted to tell you.How often do people say how they feel ? It’s like never telling your mother you love her because you think she knows it and then one day she’s gone.

    Enjoy your blogs

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  • Deb

    Hi Sarah, I’m reading Be Happy By Robert Holden at the moment and I cannot put it down (although clearly I have to write this!)! After reading your entry today and some of the replies I think this book would help to clarify just what being happy is for so many people. I’m looking forward to finally stop searching for happiness…as soon as I finish the book!

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  • http://www.upfrontclub.org Paul

    I wonder whether all our busyness/social technology/even – dare I say it – rushing to yoga/pilates classes is more about our denial? In the west we generally have little spiritual belief. What belief we have, seems satisfied with an hour and a half on Sundays, our lives outside our faith often seem not to live up to our intentions – we are ‘unchristian’. I have observed first-hand, and it is observed by others, that often people with few material possessions, seem to be happier and offer more to others, particularly in less industrialised countries such as India, Thailand, etc. Is it because they have a stronger spiritual faith that keeps their minds satisfied in a way which advertising tells us material possessions will do? So am I rushing around going to yoga, work, rendezvous in cafes because to stop doing this would be to face the unhappy truth that this life is not serving my best intentions? How about instead of rushing to yoga, I walk up the street, and smile at my neighbours, maybe even spend some time getting to know them? Today I had a hour between jobs, so I sat on a bench outside the local Food Co-op listening to a local muso rehearsing on the street for a gig tomorrow. What a pleasure to sit and listen, and to just stop! We had a great yarn Thanks Sarah, a great reinforcement

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  • Sue

    I wonder if this is akin to not having a “reason to get up in the mornings”?

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  • ms jane

    I was really good at NOT scheduling and just letting things unfold and then I got onto Facebook. Then I got an iphone. Now I’m all scheduled up, distracted and looking for what’s next. Maybe if we all ‘turned off’ for a while and went for a wander instead of online! I’m brilliant! Gonna do it! Sayonara xxx

    [Reply]

  • Debbie

    Hi Sarah.
    Yes as Paul above commented a great reinforcement.
    Love this about just doing nothing and seeing where it takes you.
    Having had to say goodbye to my awesome Mum after a diagnosis of Ovarian CA, and than all her heartbeat where used up only 8 mths later, it certainly has reinforced the most important things in my life more. Yes all the STUFF that we seem to accumulate in our life, is it really important. NO
    I practise Bikram Yoga about 3-4 times a week, and the stillness is great, as they say to settle your monkey mind. Reducing my risk of getting any CANCER has certainly been the icebreaker to my struggle with weight loss, giving up sugar and at day 18 is not as bad as what i thought it would be, as what i read it can contribute to the big CA
    Nursing for 32yrs and seeing so much in regard to how vulnerable life is.
    The finality of life only really sunk in when I had to give my Mum her last physical hug and her last I love you.
    Turn off your mobile and embrace who you are with at the time.
    As you never know when you are making a memory.

    [Reply]

  • Julie

    I used to be a control freak, constantly planning my life down to every minute.

    Then I had a baby… it was a major shock and I’ve had to learn to let go of the control just to stay sane. No day can ever go as I plan it to so it’s best that I abandon all expectations and let the day unravel, it’s a lot more fun for both of us :)

    [Reply]

  • http://www.mydarlinglemonthyme.com Emma Galloway

    I totally get you Sarah. I also have this little voice in my head that says ‘do better, be better’, I think you probably do too. You know the one that never lets you just be. Instead you always have to be the best you possibly can be. It drives me nuts.

    Have you ever done a 10 day Vipassana meditation course? I highly recommend it. It’s crazy hard, right up there with childbirth in my experience. But I’ve never come across anything else quite like it. There’s nothing like 10 days of silence to get you back to reality. Xxx

    [Reply]

  • http://www.kristinglas.com Kristin

    WOW! Yes, I get it. I’m addicted to stuff and action and distraction too, though I’ve never thought of it in those terms. And what’s more, it’s no longer serving me either. It seems that instead of changing I am scheduling more. Pretty sure that’s not helping.

    [Reply]

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  • Jo

    I love this post. I am usually very much in the constant corporate moment with appointments scheduled, to do lists driving my day and meeting after meeting after meeting. I am currently on holidays in San Sebastian in Spain – pintxos and three wines in today – on my first holiday in 7 years and am really enjoying the no-idea-what’s-coming-tomorrow moment. It can be so very hard to allow yourself to wind down and/or switch off and I have been terrible at don’t this in the past, but wow it feels amazing right now to take each experience as it comes!

    Thanks for the wonderful post Sarah! The addiction of needing to know what is next on the agenda can be hard to break but we can do it if we try ( I promise – I am livng proof!)

    [Reply]

  • http://www.thinkbeautiful.com.au Karly

    I’m totally picking up what you are putting down. I’m not only a recovering perfectionist but also one helluva anticipator. So much so my dog is constantly trying to anticipate when we are heading out for a run – and aren’t dogs supposed to be completely in the moment. Good luck! Would love some updates on how you are traveling with this.

    Pushing the upper limit. No better way to make space… for space.

    [Reply]

  • Amelie

    Yep, this is soo me too!! i’m usually on this rollercoaster of life trying to find my next career move ( leaving the corporate world) but have yet to discover exactly what it is i’m meant to be doing…so I try one thing after the next which then doesn’t exactly “fit” with me so then onto the next and next…When I’ve exhausted all possible ideas (and myself) for a bit, I collapse and feel a little numb and like “is this all there is again..” do I have to go back to the normal 9- 5 gig??? but I can’t, not now!! so I keep fumbling my way through.. However having said this, two days ago when I exhausted my new career/new me list, I felt okay, I felt that it was/is okay to be in this place and that I didn’t need to keep searching for more. I realise that my to do lists or new projects are just distractions in me leading a life lived in the present moment. Though, ironically it is because I have been searching for ways to allow myself to be “more present” by discovering a new career that I enjoy or that feels authentic to me, that leads me to these ups and downs and always searching!! Lets hope my current level of stabilization remains for some time….xx

    [Reply]

  • http://pimpmybricks.wordpress.com PP@pimpmybricks

    You do seem to have the knack of drawing together the cumulus inside other people’s minds and cohering it. Big bells, cymbals and overall crashing of recognition for the subject matter of this post. I so completely agree. Especially about joy coming from moments of stillness – mine, most notably, from watching the goldfish in my garden pond swimming in their other element – those snatches of pure, distilled presence. But of course I no longer have the fish or the fish pond, my avarice for the next thing having propelled me to buy a wreck, and to sell the house to pay for the renovations, and into a transitional rental deep in suburbia. Where those moments are strangely elusive.

    And while I’m here waffling on, I thought I’d mention, on the off-chance there are others out there reading this who live on the north side of Sydney and who have the devil’s own time of it finding good, humanely reared meat, that I have found a butcher near Warringah Mall which does sugar-free, minimal nitrate bacon. All of their meat is free range, chemical and antibiotic free. Said butcher is Shiralee, Factory 1, 25 Cross St, Brookvale. 9939 0116. And no, I don’t work for them!

    [Reply]

  • Moi

    Thank you so much for the reminder. Pertinent to me at the moment. This is a core teaching of yoga and linked to detachment from the fruits of our actions. I also love that it involves gratitude and responsibility for our own feelings and state of mind.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.inscriptionsmedia.com.au Karen Morris

    Thanks for these fantastic thoughts Sarah. This is a situation that definitely resonates with me. I sometimes find that all of this constant scheduling means that you don’t actually achieve what you’d really like to achieve either. I also wonder whether the constant scheduling, the feeling of ‘ok, I’ve done that, what’s next?’ is really an indication that our present and our situation is not fulfilling. Or, perhaps we just need to reach a point where we are comfortable with who we are so that we can balance the need to achieve with the acceptance of the fact that things can just happen – or not!

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  • http://www.180nutrition.com.au/blog GUy

    Great post Sarah!

    One I’m sure most of us can relate to. Have you ever done a 10 day vipassana? Maybe it’s something you can blog about in the future… I’m keen to do a 10 day vipassana myself, but as always, finding time amongst my daily distractions is becoming a problem!

    [Reply]

  • Terry

    Great piece.

    Maybe all this scheduling is some form of habit, & in order to go the other way, we must practise the alternative & give it enough time “for the cement to set”, so to speak….

    Maybe a few months tucked away in a place devoid of technology might do the trick?

    There’s much to be said abt “Living in the Moment/Present”, & it sounds like all this planning, scheduling & anticipation means that you could be living in the future & possibly missing a big chunk of the Present?

    Hard to Fully appreciate what’s going on around us in the Present moment when the mind is focussed on the Future?

    [Reply]

  • Leonie

    Hmmmmm… Right now I am on day one of a long week end out on the boat. Just sitting at anchor, not another boat in sight. What do I do? Sit on the couch with my iPad, I’ve done the emails, ok, now I’ll read blogs.
    I think I need to take your advice!
    I’ll just go make lunch first and then make a couple of calls and then….

    [Reply]

  • http://beej.com.au meg

    Hey Sarah i love your blog and enjoy reading it. I unlike you have never been a planner and have just allowed life to come to me. I love the ebb and flow and try to always stay in a state of constant trust that i am always where i am supposed to be. I’m not saying it is easy because It isn’t always, sometimes you just want things to hurry up and happen, but i always have to remind myself that even when its not what i want it is what is right.
    i try to live my life in trust with grace, good luck on your journey, i look forward to reading how it all goes

    [Reply]

  • Di

    Pooh I just posted in the wrong spot! Technology!! great blog, yes i’m always rushing around yet this is who I am. Type a personality! But life has a way of paving the way with a yellow brick road right before my eyes and things seem to alway happen for me! So I feel in perfect balance, I allow time to do my art and yoga and exercise as ways of keeping balance. Namaste

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  • trevor otto

    Hi Sarah, Congrats on another brave post about something we all face sooner or later. All I know is that when one is really soild in their ‘ Being’ then all else follows and one is really able to then enjoy life. Most don’t seem to go deep enough to discover their true identity – which is actually the answer to nearly all problems, cheers

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  • kt

    Hi Sarah,
    What a brilliant blog entry, I hear you loud and clear (through the noise of twitter posts, linkedIn updates, buzzing email notifications…). The tap-tapping of keyboards in the white washed office sometimes drives me insane, staring endlessly at spreadsheets, the coffee hit just never hit and here’s me wanting to hit my head against the glaring screen of my corporate world so it finally DOES something! Breaks the cycle!
    I too was the kid in the tree ear cocked to the world, adrenlin pumping through young veins at the sound of the car rumble half a k away. Who is it?! What will they bring?! Somebody new!!
    Now on my prescious lunch breaks, I need to high tail my patent heels down to a second hand book shop and just stand there, breathing in the smell of dusty paperbacks. I yearn for street art plastered alley ways, letting the awesome creativity energise me like a short black never could. THe contrast of these things against the pale, cold, info loaded office revives me. Thoughts come in about a drastic escape to the wilderness, a job volunteering in far away countries, throwing off the suit for a kaftan of some kind. Then your post…. gratitude xxx

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  • Ava

    Oh, Sarah. I just wish so much that I didn’t feel so damn OK with my stillness…

    I feel like I live in two opposing worlds. There is an annoying, neck tightening world where I must plan, prepare and think in such a forced way to survive. And there is my inner world which is full of serenity, where I adore my time alone. I do not meditate. (even that’s probably too forced and prepared for the real me haha) But I do sit alone… Without my thoughts, without anyone. And it’s somehow the least lonely feeling I experience.

    I wish I cared more about planning, or that it was my default mode. Would definitely help me get through my studies!!!! You can pass me on some of yours if you like :)

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  • Ava

    Funnily enough I just read an email I sent to a friend a few days ago… I was saying how over my studies I am and said “I find I am always happier when I am actually living my life, rather than preparing to live my life” anyway thought I’d add that in!

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  • http://www.thirdontheright.blogspot.com le@third

    I know exactly what you mean … I have always be a go getter, not a sit back and wait. In January this year I made a change – I quit a serious job, had a month off in NZ and now am just kinda hanging out … I am doing all those put off long awaited chores and enjoying that enough. I am mothering my kids more, I am having more sex with my husband and for the first time in YEARS my head is free of work worry. Strangely or not strangely other little voices now erupt … esp around money as I was the bread winner … but I am pushing them aside for now. I have not even bothered to buy my own mobile phone since handing back the work one – now I do LOVE that :). The best for you and your way forward le xox

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  • http://lizashlee.com LizAshlee

    What a great post…I am right there with…I’ve developed a habit and when I actually have time to do nothing..it eats at me…thank you for bringing my awareness more into focus!

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  • selena

    thanks Sarah, yes – this certainly resonates with me. I have actually just returned from a ‘planning session’ with our leadership team and i actually raised a comment about an issue which I saw as ‘the elephant in the room’! Your posts have an uncanny way of mimicing my thoughts and always seem to resonate with me! :) I am BIG on planning and never seem to be able to relax into the present. I am all about multi-tasking and keeping myself busy – and yes busyness is certainly a good distraction from misery…but it also fills us up with all this meaningless shite that actually prevents one from actually living one’s life. This is a strategy I often employ; thanks for the reminder, awareness is a key catalyst to change.

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  • BernAdette

    I just woke up and looked to my partner and said, we have nothing to do today! I was excited to say it and it made me happy to feel it. i’ve had a full calendar of events for the last 4 months, working full time monday to friday, kids activities, school holidays, freelance makeup work some evenings and all weekends, gardening, cleaning, shopping (admittingly this is what I always suggest to do to fill up an hour or two on the weekends), exercise, stress…OMG what are we going to eat tonight :) it’s so on and so on and go go go.

    This blog came at the right time and place and reading it stopped the constant spiral of events or future happenings and thoughts in my head and it stopped the constant discovery of using strategies or ways to stop the spiralling…so thank you so much Sarah, for sharing and reminding me that I can have just as meaningful a life by harnessing the present and becoming more aware of it with everything i do. Thank you so much and enjoy!

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  • http://realconstipationremedies.com/ Kat Cleary

    Sarah,

    This blog post is a timely one.

    I’ve found more and more piece of mind myself when I let go of the outcome. It doesn’t mean I just float around doing whatever… I still have an strong INTENTION, but i’m not attached to ‘making’ it happen like a mad-woman. I feel this frees my energy up and I ALLOW myself to do whatever I need to without forcing it.

    This also allows what needs to show up to show up without my interference.

    Great blog missy!

    [Reply]

    Terry Reply:

    Kat,
    I found it very Liberating once I realised that the Outcome of something we are doing/attempting is Not entirely within our Control (takes away the stress, guilt, frustration etc etc)

    Like you said, of course it doesn’t mean we try less hard, just that we realise that we are not in complete control of life always & can stop beating ourselves up over something that did not turn out quite the way we intended…..

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  • Kez

    Oh gosh Sarah I feel that I am in a very similar place. Have ticked all my goals..I have absolutely no plan for what’s next..am learning to embrace the nothingness..not knowing what will naturally evolve from this.. Thanks for an awesome post..so nice to know other people experience this…x

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  • michael

    Perhaps you could wander down to Sydney and cook me a meal.
    I could explain to you why your views on public education are a little extreme and we could explore why girlie magazines and TV ads find it necessary to make males look like idiots a lot of the time.
    And just for the record .. standing on pushies when you are riding uphill is cheating.
    Better to sit with a 5 speed.
    All the best for your travels

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  • Bambi

    Interesting article Sarah but it also sounds like you suffer from being incredibly self involved. I have had similar thoughts myself during my 20s but I have found that having a family and being responsible for the life of my children has really changed my perspective on life. Its not all about me and it actually feels great to know that. Love your articles btw.

    [Reply]

    Terry Reply:

    Bambi, I don’t agree that Sarah is self-involved (after all she does lots of community work inc helping out young kids, if not mistaken)

    It’s just that she self-analyses & uses her personal experiences as a subject of discussion which many people (with or without kids) can relate to as evidenced by the comments…

    Looking after yrself & well-being is not only abt self-absorption bcos what kind of mother wld you be if you were stressed & burnt out being a martyr to the family?

    Many women have lost themselves & even committed suicide when locked away in isolated suburban homes in decades past…..

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    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    You write a comment on a blog post that has nothing to do with the post itself, instead telling the writer they need to change and be more like you in order to be a good person… Then call SOMEONE ELSE self-involved? Hehehe :)

    Perhaps judge a writer on the quality of their work, and not the status of their womb?

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  • Caroline Fagan

    It’s like you read my mind, Sarah, with these posts you write. Not only am I a similar, Type A-prone personality but I also have Hashimoto’s (recently diagnosed) and am using you as my inspiration to try to heal myself through food (whole foods, no gluten or sugar). I also seem to suffer from the affliction of a similarly-programmed brain that is prone to constantly buzzing, scheduling, planning, pre-empting… If ONLY I could learn to live in the moment! I am a work in progress and amongst other things, a weekly meditation course is helping me ‘tame the monkey mind’…. I wanted to let you know that your blog and emails help bring an extra little dose of sunshine into my weeks. I’ve recommended you to countless others, and plenty of people are re-pinning my posts on you on Pinterest. I wish there were more inspirational people out there like you. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. xxx

    [Reply]

  • PT

    Sarah, why do you write articles pretending to be this whimsical person when you’re clearly not?

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    Terry Reply:

    Don’t even have the courtesy/balls to disclose yr full name while spitting out the bile.
    You are a REAL piece of work, PT

    [Reply]

    PT Reply:

    Piss off Terry. You obviously have no idea what I’m talking about.

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    Terry Reply:

    PT, you are not very different from the dog which barks ferociously behind a locked gate but runs off with its tail behind its legs when gate is opened.
    That’s why you don’t have a name to yr post.

    Pathetic

    PT Reply:

    If it means that much to you Tezza, my name is Pat! Now is that short for Patrick or Patricia?! And I don’t know what your issue is. Most people would be more interested in what I’m referring to than what name I go by.

    Terry Reply:

    Pat, the issue is you don’t go around being critical of someone while hiding behind a coupla initials. Wld’ve thought that’s pretty obvious.

    This is obviously not yr first visit to Sarah’s blog.
    What i don’t get is if you think so poorly of her as to question her integrity, why are you still reading her blog?

    If you think posting comments like yours makes you look smart, then I’ve got news for you because all it does is make you out as a mean & unhappy person.

    Just because yr life is shit plse don’t bring it here.
    It is NOT appreciated.

    Here’s an idea. Maybe you can start a blog yourself that would do a better job, or maybe your talent is only in tearing down & criticising others, & not contributing to the lives of others which Sarah obviously does going by the majority of comments to her blog.

  • http://mrmathew1963@blogspot.com Mathew

    WOW some very fiery reactions, not all together a bad thing as we all tend to read bad into everything that’s uncomfortable but if you came to live on the Earth just for the comfort of it you picked the wrong place as this is a place of & for learning & learning within itself can be quite uncomforting at times.

    You’re not the only one Sarah, it’s taken me some time to slow down & smell the flowers without thinking of the chaotic systematically wound up physical world; life itself doesn’t revolve around me or need me if I wasn’t here,” as I am only individually a grain of sand on the beach as we are all holistically in the universe but collectively my grain of sand makes up a beach as all of us holistically do in the universe, it’s the harmonious reverberation between us that makes one whole”…Love Mathew

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  • http://www.betouchedbylife.com Paul Smetana

    A happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens!!.. is exactly the truth. We certainly have learned to live the exact opposite. But not so children. They are happy first, and later learn to everyone’s detriment to place some event as the cause of feeling good.
    I’ve even written a little Ebook, http://betouchedbylife.com/feelin-good/ because I got lucky and happiness happened to me first and then stayed, and I have decided that what happened to me can happen to everyone. Either way I’m very glad to have come across this article. There is great truth in it. Paul

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  • Terry

    …..& dogs too
    We can learn so much from dogs to be just happy in the moment without having to justify it

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  • Vasiliki

    Hi Sarah, I have recently subscribed and love your blog … you are very inspiring and I can totally relate to the things you write about. In another blog, you do comment that you are not “great” at happiness since you tend to get “sad” and would much prefer those moments in life that inspire you into deeper thinking and special moments of connecting with life.

    This might be outside your normal reading range but I highly recommend a book called, “Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives”, the life and teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica (Serbia) … he is a contemporary elder of the Orthodox Christian church. Whilest I am not referring it to “convert” you but he really does tackle “deep” in a very simple way … there may be some concepts that are “foreign” since they are “Eastern” minded … but overall it is just a different and refreshing perspective on how our thinking determines our life.

    Please let me know what your thoughts are on this book should you read it.

    [Reply]

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  • Brooke Webb

    Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for raising some really interesting questions in your blog post. I’ve been discussing this very same idea of ‘happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens’ with friends and this topic provokes some really interesting observations and ideas. For the past 8 months, I’ve been working towards finding a level of comfort with stillness and I believe that I’ve just arrived. The obstacle for me, personally, was to overcome or re-program my brain to wholeheartedly believe that by being in peaceful stillness I was “living my life at my optimum”. Whilst living in the East Village of New York, the thought of closing the curtains on life happening outside, just made me anxious. I’ve always been a fairly impatient, focused personality; I always wanted to move forward and experience as much as I could in the process. “juice the most out of life”. However, what I lost in the process of operating in this 5th gear, was a disconnection of my real self. The stillness that I now experience on a daily basis, has allowed me to hear myself, and, I find my thoughts and actions are authentically aligned. The fact is that I’ve opened up to experiencing so many more opportunities, more depth, more inspiration, and well, life is richer, as a result.
    Life offers us so many stimulations and there is so much ‘white noise’. However, I’ve become a big fan of stillness and not turning my high-beams on to plan a life beyond right now. I focus on experiencing the present moment, which is a tool that has been instrumental in slowing life down. The present moment is my guide and I follow my own simple rule, if it makes me smile; YES! if it doesn’t, NO. I still have dreams and goals that I want to achieve. I plant the seed in the universe and then I return to experiencing right now. When I listen to what my body and my heart tell me, I trust that it will take me to where I need to go. Writing it down, tends to simplify the process but it’s a daily pursuit. But one that has restored a more consistent level of joy and peace to my life. It’s a quest, but one that I 100% recommend to anybody and everybody!!

    [Reply]

  • http://www.adventuresofmona.com Megan

    Sarah this is one of the most amazing things I have read in a long time. I can’t begin to tell you enough how I am resonating with your words. Trust your journey!

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