It strikes me how we tend to speak of “best ways to live”, rules, habits, rituals, tools, approaches etc as something absolute.
It’s not. To use an example, a beginning musician, an intermediate student, an advanced student of music (or mathematics, or cooking), don’t practice in the same ways.
Byron Katie says it this way: “The reason why I love rules and plans and religions is that people feel safe in them for a while. And, personally, I don’t have any rules. I don’t need them.”
Some people meditate 5 hours every day, always at the same time. Some people live moment to moment and they live in the most awakened of ways. Most of us live somewhere in between.
So the art of it is to create habits or use tools in a conscious sort of way.
When you learn about a new habit, or a new tool or approach ask yourself this question:
“Am I drawn to this approach at all? Does it resonate within me?”
If you are, then the next question could be:
“Is it because it truly supports me in my particular life, on my particular path, at this particular stage of my journey? Or is it just because it helps me cope with my fear of having a bad day and my fear of having a bad life?”
I see tremendously succesful people share and sell the ways they live, the habits and rituals that work for them. And it seems like the right thing. I see how full of energy and fire they are, and how efficiently they live.
But then, with some of them, even some of the most world famous ones, they don’t appear very happy, or very awake (in a deeper sense of the word) for that matter. How come?
What’s right for them is not necessarily right for me, or for you. It depends.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have some habits and rituals too. But I don’t do them to prevent a bad day from happening.
Even if I, like everyone else, don’t quite enjoy those less than great days, I know from experience that these days always have a gift for me, a gift of transformation, release, growth. There is absolutely no reason to avoid them.
The habits I do have is because they feel like the most fulfilling, present way of living at this particular moment in time. I love doing them, I enjoy having these spaces in my day. I don’t want to miss them.
I’m not married to my habits. I’m married to my soul.
Just to give you a more specific example:
Those masters of efficiency say that you should study and learn something new at least 1 hour every day. Science confirms it. It’s the right thing to do, they say. But is it true for you? And if so, how is it true?
Let me share with you how my studying habits have been changing throughout my life.
When I was young, I studied all the time. I read a lot of personal growth books, spiritual books. I was fascinated by it. It was all new to me. I wanted to learn.
And then the day came when it was time to throw it all away and find my own truth and my own learning.
Nowadays, I may still check out a book of that type from time to time, but, with a few significant exceptions, I almost always end up just skimming it.
Right now, there are 2 books that I read almost every day. Just a page or two from each of them. One is the book I mentioned before, A Thousand Names For Joy.
The other is a collection of Rumi’s poems titled “The Essential Rumi”
I’ve read these two (very different) works maybe 4,5,6 times before. I don’t remember anymore, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I study in a very different way now. And the transformations that happen are deeper.
It is not an intellectual learning. It is not an emotional learning. It is not a learning at all. It is an exploration. It is using a book or a text as a way to explore the depth of my being and to grow and expand from there.
That said, what I do may or may not be what you need. What I’m trying to say is that it is all very relative. It all depends on who you are and where you and what your life is all about.
Don’t let any authority, myself included 😉 , tell you how to live your life.
See what resonates with you. See what’s possible for you. And remember that no matter how it may look on the surface of it, your life is governed by a greater wisdom than we, as humans, can ever know.
From that higher perspective there is no such thing as a wasted day, and there is no such thing as a wasted life. Those who speak of waste this way speak from fear, or from with the illusion, the matrix, the human game if you will.
On the other hand, joy, my friend, true joy is real. It is the reality of who you truly are. It flows from the very source of your being. So if you need a way to find out whether a habit, a ritual, a tool serves you ask this question as well:
Does it make you more joyful?