3 Liberating Life Reminders
We’re all seekers—looking for something that will make us feel more alive and complete, happy and fulfilled. The search ceases momentarily when we think we found what we’re looking for. But, sooner or later, we decide it’s not enough, and the search continues.
In our quest for purpose and meaning, happiness and peace, we can easily get lost in learning and exploring. At the same time, we have to deal with reality every single moment and make the best of it.
Add it all up (seeking, too much to explore, and reality) and we end up feeling frazzled and stressed, instead of joyful and contented.
When stress and anxiety take over, we shift into survival mode. We want to avoid danger and pain, and seek safety and relief—meaning we’re running away from the reality of our lives, and desperately looking for something out there that will solve our problems, and make us feel better. And we struggle more.
One of the best things we can do when we feel anxious is to stop and remind ourselves of the bigger picture reality. I’ve found the following three reminders to be quite helpful when faced with reactive and myopic anxiety.
3 life reminders
The following reminders can work in tandem to shift our focus from problems and stress to possibilities and peace.
1- Freedom is always within you
“We clearly realize that freedom’s inner kingdom cannot be touched by exterior attacks.” ~Vernon Howard
I define freedom as being free of negativity, and at peace with life—as it is.
This is one of the hardest concepts to grasp. How can I be free, and at peace, when I’m chained by commitments, demands, and obligations?
There is a job to go to, a meal to prepare, bills to pay, a house to clean, and more things to do. Where is the freedom in that?
The freedom may not lie in what you’re doing, or what you feel you have to do, but in mentally making peace with it.
Even if ingrained painful programs like complaining and resistance are constantly running in the background, we can still choose to accept them, and be okay.
The moment I notice that I’m in resistance mode, I can pay attention to the feeling and breathe into it. And then see if I can just let the resistance be and do my thing, without trying to push it away, or argue with it (i.e. don’t resist resistance).
Learning to accept habitual negativity will set us free from the tyranny of reactivity that creates more negativity.
Instead of waking up dreading the day and thinking about all the things you have to do, imagine lying in bed and smiling, even for a second. Then choose to be grateful for having a job, a family, and a home.
You can imagine anything. So why not consciously imagine something helpful?
Some people find freedom in the most restrictive environments (like prison). We can choose to set our minds free by simply starting where we are right now.
When we look at the deeply rooted mental processes and beliefs, we realize that we’re mostly either seeking (wanting) or avoiding (rejecting). If we just notice the feelings without judgment or reaction, we will instantly feel better. And that’s a liberating first step.
2- Life is unpredictable, but nothing lasts forever
The sooner we come to terms with life’s unpredictability, the better we cope. Things can go wrong any minute, challenges and difficulties are part of life.
When we completely make peace with the fact that stuff happens, we can welcome the fearful thoughts and feelings, and then let them go as the intensity subsides.
“Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don’t let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.” ~R. I. Fitzhenry
And no matter what life brings, it comes wrapped in impermanence. Anything can happen, but no matter how great or dreadful it is, it won’t last.
Accepting that everything ends sooner or later, will help us cope in difficult situations, and will ease our pain when the good things come to an end.
“It gives you life, but you can’t hold on to it. You can’t breathe indefinitely. We need to surrender to the fact that all efforts at permanence are hopeless. No structure we can build will protect us from the contingencies of life. But in the midst of that impermanence is the incredible gift of life.” ~Ecclesiastes
3- Every life choice is balanced—right or wrong
With every choice we make there is a balancing consequence. We don’t need to force balance.
When you make a choice and forgo other options, you’re not missing out. You’ll reap the benefits, and take on the risks of the chosen option, and you’ll learn and grow. You’ll also avoid the negative consequences and potential benefits of the options you didn’t choose.
Staying at a job might feel like we’re stuck. But it provides financial stability (to a certain degree), and also absolves us of the responsibility for other people’s livelihood.
Running a business can provide more wealth and growth, but it comes with a huge responsibility towards employees, compliance with laws, and many demands and challenges.
When you choose to travel to an exotic destination, you’ll experience a new culture, maybe get to relax on a warm sandy beach, and rejuvenate by changing things up a bit. But also you’ll have to put up with possible airline delays, airport security and regulations, unfavorable weather conditions, and getting sick.
When you choose to spend your vacation at home, you may not feel that you’re doing anything adventurous, or exciting. But you avoid all the hassles and demands of travel. Maybe you get to work on a project you’ve wanted to do for so long but never got around to it. You also reduce your carbon footprint, and spend less money.
There isn’t a better or worse choice, just different options. Each choice has its own potential upside and downside. So no matter what the choice is, look for both sides and you won’t be overly optimistic or sorely disappointed.
Let’s end with a few words to sum up.
Freedom is within us, whatever we choose to do (or not do) is complete and balanced, and when bad things happen we know they will pass.
The above three reminders can be liberating in every aspect of life. They help reduce emotional reactivity and keep us in harmony with reality.