It’s strange but sometime when we are searching for something answers come to us in the most unexpected forms. Recently I had a conversation with someone I have known for a long time, he used to be a quite well off lawyer who loved crazy sports, adrenaline filled adventures and pushing himself to the limit. Later, he had a spiritual experience when he was walking down the street, which made him become more spiritual and he became a Buddhist. We were just chatting about our views on life and I found a few things he said to ring true. There was something liberating about his view that all you need is a simple life and enough to get by on in order to be content. Below are some of things we talked about:
- Being surrounded by nature is the best place to be content, because the energy of the natural world is comforting rather than the noise and pollution of the city.
- You don’t have to chase after crazy new experiences or adventures to be happy. You can be content living just a simple life in the same place.
- Buddhists believe that desire is suffering. If we stop desiring things we stop suffering. If we don’t want to achieve this that and the other then we can’t fail and so can’t suffer. Does that mean we shouldn’t have any goals? No we can have goals but our happiness need not depend on achieving them.
- Good karma – do good in any way we can and helping others should be the purpose of our lives.
- To be fit you don’t have to do high impact sports. Walking, yogic breathing and simple yoga is enough for your body to be flexible and fit.
- Eat healthy and preferably vegetarian.
- Don’t think too much and enjoy the present moment.
Some of these things I knew, but it was good to be reminded of them and some of them were new to me. For example I always thought having crazy experiences and new adventures is something I couldn’t be happy without. After all what would you look forward to in your everyday life otherwise? But it’s true that focusing too much on what I am going to do can make me lose touch with feeling grateful for everything I do have right now. It’s a problem that I often have, always thinking about the future, worrying or planning or thinking about the past, reminiscing or regretting, rather than being grateful for the present moment, in which there are usually no worries or problems.
Also exercise – I have been guilty of being a bit of an exercise freak in the past, pushing myself to the limit, because it felt good, but mainly I realised that I love pushing myself during exercise so much, because it makes me stop thinking. The physical pain and concentration on the routine takes over my mind and I can only focus on the present moment as the exercise requires all my attention. Not to mention the endorphins. Now I’ve cancelled my gym membership and started walking in my local park which is amazing and I actually feel like I’m in a village and not in London. The nature recharges me and I don’t feel drained like after my usual high powered workout.
I guess what I took from this conversation is that although I don’t want to give up on experiences and goals, I’ve realised that sometimes less can be more and you don’t have to be having a crazy life full of adventures or mega achievements to be happy, but it’s all in how you enjoy the journey and were you are right now, instead of constantly thinking of the next step and where you want to be in the future.