mindfulness as an antidote for disappointment

A not insignificant benefit of mindfulness I have noticed: when we are not mindful, our habitual mind seems to be almost-constantly making “micro-plans” … “I’d like to do get time in the garden today”, “I need to put air in the tyres later”, “I really should make sure I blah blah blah”, and because this is happening a mile a minute, soon enough (sometimes within five minutes of waking) our mind has made plans on our behalf and our day is loaded with the dreaded expectation; because we could never achieve the myriad things we imagine every five seconds, this mindless planning is an automated way of setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment, our day resulting in ten thousand micro-dissatisfactions, which accumulate over a lifetime.

One way of defining “dukkah” that isn’t as frightful and extremist as suffering is dissatisfaction, or maybe disappointment: we expected that hedonic pleasure would be satisfying in away that it usually isn’t, and then we are disappointed. Samsara, being characterised by dukkah, is inherently dissatisfying if we aren’t mindful of the way our habituated and conditioned mind creates all these micro-expectations for us.

When we cultivate mindfulness on the cushion, we begin to notice ourselves creating these expectations throughout the day and it becomes easier to keep them in check.

If we have to be dualist and say that nirvana, being the “opposite” of samsara, is a state of being satisfied with what is, then it may not be hyperbole to say that by cultivating mindfulness we place ourselves in more-consistent alignment with a lived experience of nirvana which, after all, is not some other place we need to get to in time or space but more like a way of perceiving correctly where we’re already at.

By enjoying this place without loading ourselves up with expectations, we experience an abiding state of enoughness and are free to do what we can without aspiring to do what we can’t.

how to contribute to the worth economy

upon reflection during this post, it turns out there was a reason I have always eaten the cupcake first
~ photo by Chanhee Lee on Unsplash ~

I’ve been prioritising what I call “happiness habits” lately and it’s doing me well. I have a routine of rituals I do each morning, and a few other must-do’s each day, but otherwise I’m trying to refrain from having expectations other than this in my day. The situation with our co-tenant persists, which makes it hard to do much each day. Sometimes if all I can manage to maintain is my meditation practice I am happy.

I was talking to Nikki the other day about how much a regular practice of compassion meditation is helping me cope with our situation, and we talked about how such foundations must be built before anything else, and I really appreciate that.

I’m proud of having got myself to a place where I’m actually feeling pretty good among the pretty shitty situation we’re in with our co-tenant. I made the affirmation this morning that

I will keep up with observing the basics and not have majorly high expectations of myself to do a lot more

because I understand that’s where we start to go wrong in our culture: we try to achieve all this stuff because we think we need to prove ourselves, but in doing so we neglect the practices of being that would have us feeling worth without having to prove ourselves;

all motivation/intention must come from a place where we already recognise our inherent worth, otherwise that motivation will become tainted by the wish to be validated by others and we’ll be chasing this forever without satisfaction because no amount of external validation can fill the void where our self-worth should be;

anything we achieve to supplement our self-worth is going to suck worth out of the worth-economy, whereas anything we achieve from a sense of inherent self-worth is going to contribute worth.

I wrote about something similar recently, in a post called “on self-esteem as a precursor for achievement …” where I mentioned how societal expectations drive a lot of us to be always achieving, never satisfied to just exist and accept ourselves for our inherent worth.

I didn’t go into how we might cultivate that sense of inherent self-worth, but I’d like to drop a few thoughts here because a big part of the narrative shift I’m contributing to with Kokoro 心 Heart is about internal self-talk, which is where our sense of worth (or lack thereof) begins.

I believe the path to a sustainable and harmonious future on this planet is paved by creating a culture of individuals who are internally sustainable and harmonious. Because individuals create culture as much, if not more, than they are influenced by culture. We are culture, and the future is determined by the state of our present.

One way we can begin to create that culture of internally healthy individuals is by looking at our own self-talk. For me, there are some essential meditation and contemplation practices that are indispensable in healing my negative self-talk, and they are:

  • mindfulness
  • (self-)compassion
  • (self-)forgiveness
  • gratitude

I spend some time each day reflecting on and practising these, and sometimes I find it hard to justify the time because I feel like I should be achieving something else … anything else, just not wellbeing.

But that’s absurd, and there’s a logic to be understood here: no amount of external achievement can satisfactorily supplement the sense of worth that comes from laying the foundation of these practices first; so the foundational practices need to come first, and are justified on these grounds.

Anything extra I can do, after I have done these exercises, is just the cream on top. If I have a really productive day, that’s just a cherry on top of the cream. Please excuse the shonky metaphor, but without that foundational cupcake we’re left with just a handful of whipped cream and a slimy glacé cherry.

The understanding we live by is arse-about in Western culture: we live for the external, and neglect the internal. But the internal is all that exists. This is a fundamental aspect of the narratives we need to change in ourselves and thereby our culture.

Does this make sense?

What does this mean for you?

more enoughness ;)

A reader liked an old post today, “on self-esteem as a precursor for achievement …” and it showed me there is a theme running through my thoughts about enoughness, which I wrote about yesterday.

Societal expectations drive a lot of us to be always achieving, never satisfied to just exist and accept ourselves for our inherent worth. Our self-esteem is dependent upon achievement.

I think it’s essential we question the narratives telling us we need to achieve more — always more, never enough.

What is your enough? Do we need more enoughness 😉

What would your life look like if achievement was just something you did for fun? Because you didn’t need to achieve to just feel good about yourself.

affirmations for going with the flow

Photo by Ian Turnell on Pexels.com

I allow myself to go gently back into the practice of discipline, structure, ritual. My self-expectations are realistic. I enjoy coming back to the world after an extended period of avoidance. I accept that I haven’t been coping, and I step back into responsiveness and responsibility, moving again toward thrival.

I move through my tasks and actions with awareness, relishing each moment I come back to the reality of now through my senses. I come back to my senses.

The world is benevolent, and we are put through trials by a loving energy that knows we are able to learn what we need for life to be more and more like a flow.

I relinquish attachment to what I like, and I allow aversion to move through me without causing stuckness.

I remain committed to conscious evolution.

on self-esteem as a precursor for achievement …

… rather than achievement as a prerequisite for self-esteem

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

I’ve been taking stock today — taking it slow and allowing myself to get back in the groove of being a bit more organised than I have been lately. I’ve been posting a lot more here recently, but a few other things like life-admin and chores have gone by the wayside a bit.

This is okay — I’ve been riding the enthusiasm I feel for this blog and the community we can build here. It’s been making me happy. I will find the balance between running this blog and running the rest of my life, as the pendulum swings to and fro.

When I’m taking stock I like to go through my various browsers, closing tabs I’ve had open for yonks. It helps me feel a bit more organised by cutting out some of the mental noise I feel at some kind of subconscious level when I know I’ve been opening tabs like they’re going out of fashion.

Something I stopped on today was this article about how some overachievers turn to drugs for escape because no achievement is ever sufficiently satisfying. It’s published by an addiction-recovery and mental-health clinic, and covers a lot of ground (in three short sections) about how societal expectations drive a lot of us to be always achieving, never satisfied to just exist and accept ourselves for our inherent worth.

I understand this compulsion intimately, though I’m not sure I had quite made the connection between the constant need for achievement and the temptation of drugs that promise a reprieve from this pressure.

I am pleased to be able to say, though, that since I’ve been working more full-time on Kokoro 心 Heart and the business around it, I can relate more to this statement from the article:

Our attempts to achieve and succeed should have their roots in a healthy, already-existent sense of self-esteem, rather than being motivated by its absence.

I can honestly say that I wake up each morning feeling committed to doing this work that fulfils my purpose. Not because I need to supplement a low self-esteem, but because doing this work feels as natural and necessary as breathing, or making nutritious food, or walking in the bush. It’s an act of self-care, this work, and feels like something I am just meant to do — no one else expects me to do it.

I value the work I am doing here, and I do it because I believe it has worth — I wouldn’t be able to do that without others’ expectations if I didn’t have a higher sense of self-esteem than I had previously recognised.

So that’s a nice thing to have realised, and was well worth taking stock for. I am grateful, and very fortunate.

Check out the article, and let me know what you think. I think it’s essential we question the narratives telling us we need to achieve more — always more, never enough.

What is your enough?

If societal expectations drive a lot of us to be always achieving, never satisfied to just exist and accept ourselves for our inherent worth, but also no achievement is ever sufficiently satisfying, what to do?