Not for the first time, there’s a moment in which Dan Harris almost loses control of his life. In his book, 10% Happier, the TV news anchor describes how after a long journey with PTSD, drugs, therapy, and now meditation, he almost loses control of this life for the second time. Before, his drug abuse almost cost him everything. This time, it’s his zen.
In the story, Dan describes how he watches his grasp on his career slip. Over the course of several months, he sees all this colleagues getting the best assignments. He keeps practicing his new mediation habits, but nothing changes at work. Finally, he has a heart to heart with his boss. The big man tells Dan the he still thinks Dan is a top player. Only, Dan needs to stop being too zen.
In other words, Dan lost his ambition, his drive, and he must find it again.
This is something I struggle with as well. How do I practice contentment/gratitude/etc in the present, while still practicing ambition and goal achievement for the future?
In my observation, people usually operate in three ways.
First, many people lose themselves in their past. This is how I used to be. We analyze everything and anything that happened. We relive every experience. We don’t have some specific goal to reflect and learn. Rather, we are obsessed with not being wrong. We tend to also daydream a lot.
Second, many people just enjoy the present moment yet make no effort to secure a more enjoyable future. After dealing with the above, I been acting this way for the last few years. It’s a nice place to be, even if you aren’t a complete hedonist.
Third, many people push and drive themselves into the future. They endure all sort of hardship and unpleasantness now, to achieve their goals/dreams later. I’ve always admired these people because I’m not naturally like this. I’m just starting to learn to act this way.
How do I combine the last two? I want to enjoy right now, be present, but I also want to work hard for a better future. I struggle to do both of these in my one life.
Perhaps the answer is only to allow myself to switch between the two modes when required. To let go of expectations for certain emotional states and do what is required to grow and thrive as a human.