“The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.”
Have you experienced these kinds of moments? Moments when you say to yourself: Finally! This is it! This is who I am! I get it now!
Usually, those moments happen when you’ve achieved something great, or experienced something amazing like going to Machu Pichu or the Swiss Alps or whatever. Maybe when you get a new job or when you begin to see some success in your business. You feel good about who you are, and you can let yourself ‘live’ at the moment, proud of yourself, without the constant expectancy of ‘something else’ happening in the future, such as another ´peak moment’.
The feelings you get from the peak moments wear off after some time passes and you find yourself again in expectancy of something else to happen. You lose that state of mind that made you feel free and proud of yourself.
I went to sleep the other night after a really tough day of work. I had tons of things to do, fast. By the end of the day, my mind hadn’t had the chance to relax throughout the entire day. I laid on my bed and unconsciously took a deep and long breath.
‘Jesus’, I said to myself. It’s the first time in the day I feel myself breathing! That wasn’t good, I hadn’t really lived that day, I just worked and worked and ate and had a nap, without really being aware of having done anything at all.
I write so much about Stoicism and yet, I found myself there, in my bed, without having a single moment of appreciation for life in the entire day until the moment I was going to sleep.
That’s not living, that’s just tossing about, that is wasting your time.
Some things you need to realize
A topic I discuss often with my friends is the rat race. The rat race is so very real. You work and work and work and you don’t really feel that you have any time left to do the things that you want to do, so, you feel that you are wasting your time and your life, always waiting for the moment where you actually get to enjoy yourself, like say, the weekend or vacations.
That’s not good, for you are living in expectancy. Literally waiting for something to happen so that you can begin to live your life and enjoy it.
But when is that going to happen? When you get that new job that will give you more free time? What are you going to do with all that free time anyway? I’m almost sure that you’d just find another ‘something’ you definitely need so that you can begin to live. We are always preparing to live, not actually living.
What is it that we are looking for? Honestly? Think about it for a bit.
OK, now that you’ve done some thinking on your own, let me tell you my perspective.
So, what you’re looking for is what I said at the beginning of the article. You are looking for a state of mind. A ‘state’ is something that stays with you throughout time, you can also think about is as an attitude. In essence, that’s what you’re searching for, you’re searching for the feeling of you ‘actually living’ your life, to feel that you’re not wasting your time.
Now, if you live in a constant expectancy of ‘highs’ that need to happen in order for you to be able to feel that way, I’ve got news for you, that game is rigged. No matter what you do, the feeling of ecstasy will wear off and you’ll find yourself feeling the same again and after that wanting more and more and more, forever living in expectancy of the great life.
But why? I mean, it’s just a state of mind, it’s just an attitude the thing that you’re looking for, isn’t it? Can’t you kind of control that? Right now?
Begin To Live, Right Now
When Seneca says, ‘live immediately’, this is what he is referring to. Stop waiting for the things that lie in fortune’s hands to happen, because maybe they won’t. Life needs to be lived immediately, and that state of mind, that attitude that you want, should be something that you can control. Learn how to control it and you’ll begin to actually live.
How do you do this? 2 Steps
How do you feel? Tired? Grumpy? Happy?
How often are you aware of this?
This is the first step, realizing the state you find yourself in most of the time. Your mind and your body are super complex and super intelligent, so they will tell you when something’s wrong. That’s what your feelings are for, they are information.
Go and eat 5 Big Macs, I dare you. See how you feel. Do you feel good? No, I didn’t think so, but now you know that they are not as good as you thought so, so maybe something needs to change. But first, you need to be aware.
Diet, will influence a lot on how you feel, so you can start there. Clear your diet so you can clean your mind, establish some space so that you can think correctly.
That’s the first step, become aware of yourself and your state.
The second step, your lifestyle.
Stop worrying about those peak moments and experiences that you think are going to finally ‘give you permission to begin to live’ and start working on your lifestyle instead.
If you want to be a writer, write — Epcitetus
It’s really that simple. That state of mind, that attitude you’re looking for, will only come when you take the reins of your life. You do this by controlling your lifestyle.
Ask yourself: how would a perfect day look if (supposing) I already were the person I want to be? How would his or her day be structured?
Sure, you may have a lot of things to do, and you still need to work, of course. Nevertheless, the attitude and the beginning of that new person can begin and it must begin with the life you have right now, THERE IS NO WHEN IT’S NOW OR NEVER.
Picture your lifestyle, pick your actions, and get to live.
So there you go. First, become aware of yourself and learn about how you truly feel about the people, the things in your life, maybe even your city. And then begin to work on your attitude and your lifestyle. Do this enough and you’ll stop living in the zombie-like experience of expectancy, only then, you’ll begin to live.
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