Change out of contentment
I read a great article (German) about how important it is to let go of the „in order to“. Meaning, letting go of doing things that we think are necessary to achieve something. It’s a chase for the right job / partner / city that will finally allow us to be happy / be different / focus on what we really want to do.
We „have to“ switch city/job/partner so that the life we really want can finally begin. It’s so easy to fall into this line of thinking that we mustn’t be content what actually is just because it doesn’t really match our idea of how things should be.
I caught myself a while ago thinking that if I allowed myself to accept my situation then that would mean it couldn’t change. This place I chose was only supposed to be a temporary thing from the start! What if I allow myself to find anything good here, and get so content that I won’t want to leave anymore?! That would be terrible because I wanted something else, right!?
Somehow I was still attached to that notion that change can only be born out of dissatisfaction. That is not true. In reality, we receive what we send out into the world. From my experience we’re usually just not very conscious of what it is that we’re actually sending out. It’s not so much the words or actions but the energy/intentions behind them. Loving change is great, life is change! However, if we initiate change out of a sense of discontentment, then the result will be more discontentment.
And vice versa: when we allow ourselves to find the gold in what we have in front of us, allow ourselves to see how this is exactly what we need, while also allowing ourselves to dream and wish for things, then change will come on its own accord. In the meantime we get to enjoy a rich and fulfilling life.
When my trip around the world turned out to be something different from what I had imagined, it took me a while to understand that what was going on was simply that my underlying quest (finding out what I really wanted to do with my life, finding the home within and out there) had been answered a lot faster than I had anticipated. Continuing the trip would only have meant holding on to the form I had started out with.
And still things turned out differently. All of the three places that feel like home to me suddenly seemed impossible. When I came to my grandpa’s house – to get the rest of my stuff, as I thought – this place seemed like a very doable quick fix. An empty house where I could focus on my business. Doesn’t get any faster and easier, right!? I was really sick of living out of a suitcase by that time, so I went for it.
As you know, things went differently. I was suddenly facing a reality that had nothing to do with my preconception. Nothing was easy. I was devastated, thinking „The only reason I came here was because I wanted to make things easy for myself! If I had known, that things would be hard anywhere I turn because it’s my inner barriers, I never would have chosen this place!“
I had somehow managed to make choices out of my wishes while at the same time still chasing ideas of how things were supposed to be in order for me to allow myself to be content. Ever since I understood that everything hasn’t been easy but I’ve been able to meet my own resistance with more compassion.
And that makes all the difference. It’s really all it takes to make a new flow possible. It’s because I don’t feel attached to anything around here, I am suddenly able to make decisions without the pressure of expectations regarding the outcome. For instance, when I saw that my favorite café in town was hiring, I just went and introduced myself. Just like that. Now I work there.
Not too long ago I would have let myself be stopped by the thought that it’s pointless to apply for a job in a place where I have no intention of staying. Let alone something I am overqualified for! And wasn’t I done with employment anyway? Wasn’t I supposed to just focus on my business? That, my friends, is discontentment at its finest. It makes life here and now miserable and almost impossible.
What I would have missed out on, if I had let myself be stopped by this line of thinking: balancing my own work with something where I don’t spend any time in front of the computer screen is a blessing! The time I am spending at the café is not time that I don’t have for my business. Honestly, when I have an entire day to myself, I don’t spend 100% of it being productive or creative. Most of the time goes towards worrying and procrastinating (amazing how in reality the time for being productive is always way less than I want yet always perfectly sufficient). I get to meet people, nice ones, too! I get to make use of my ability to make others feel seen and taken care of. I get to learn new things. That is contentment. Here and now. Not one fine day in tomorrowland.
And since there is my wish for other places, I can’t even fall for the illusion that this is The Job I need to „make sacrifices“ for. So I tried something I haven’t before: negotiating. I expressed that a different form of employment would be a better combo with my own work. I also decided to be honest about my concern: That I enjoyed the work but that I was still thinking about moving because I felt that home was somewhere else. I never would have done that in the past but it was so worth it. And guess what: no problems.
While I don’t need to convince myself or anyone else that I am intending to stay for very long, I still get to unpack my inner boxes so to say, and accept the fact that I am here now. And it’s ok to nest a little on the outside, too. I went to IKEA a few days ago and got some office supplies, throow pillows and picture frames. Up until now I’ve been telling myself „No, don’t start piling up stuff that you need to move, you’re not staying!“. But the fact is that that only made me feel more out of place than I already did. If I already don’t feel at home, it’s all the more important to have a little oasis that is me, and that is home!
And when it comes to what to fill our lives with: the things we really want to do with our life are very rarely tied to a specific place. Or any other prerequisites. No „in order to“, either. Photography, writing, drawing, being creative, healing – those are the things I want to fill my life and this world with. Just because. Of course, I am focusing on making my heart’s desires my business. The trick is just not to fall for the illusion that joy is only worth living when we’re being paid for it. That’s bs, it’s the „in order to“ illusion.
Just like making it dependent on one’s mood, fears or other emotions. I can’t, I don’t want to, It’s impossible – those three will always be there. They are truly the beginning of everything we desire from the depths of our heart.
The right life is not the perfect life (= the one where circumstances are ideal). The right life is the one where we opt for our heart’s desires – and the circumstances that come with it (or, as Elisabeth Gilbert puts is in Big Magic the „shit sandwich“ that comes with it). Simply the one, that makes us face all the can’ts, don’twanttos, impossibles. Again and again.