“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.” -Zen Proverb
Wanting what you have instead of having what you want is critical for enjoying a positive lifestyle. Another good corollary is wanting what you do instead of doing what you want. I am still learning to want all the things make up my days, or rather I am still working to live with not doing what I want. Perhaps it is my household of teenagers who seem to be continuously doing what they want that is getting under my skin. I can’t help but roll my eyes when they quote South Park’s mocking,”I do what I want…” to almost every request. Simultaneously, I wonder when I’ll be able to retort with their mocking defiance.
Steeped in the day-to-day responsibilities of family, home and business, there is often little time left for choosing what I want to do. When I am suddenly given the space to choose, I am often dumbfounded; it’s not infrequent that I don’t even know what I want to do. It requires the skill of internal focus to know what you want to do. For me, this skill is crucial for life long decision making.
The bigger challenge, especially on weekends, is embracing the long to-do lists as my own. Resentment does not make the tasks go by more quickly, rather resentment for tasks turns into resentment for the day in general. My belief that I should be doing what I want, rather than loving what I’m doing just serves to create low levels of anxiety and discontent. It weakens the foundation of gratitude that I am building day by day.
When I can relinquish not having my own agenda, I can merely live the moments as they pass and enjoy life as it is. When I achieve this space, I succeed in enjoying the positivity that comes from doing the little things that make up my life.