Standing Still

When I was a kid, I needed everything to go my way. If I wanted something, I became tunnel-visioned with only the end goal. It didn’t matter if it made no sense or that along the way a pivot in navigation was necessary. I knew if I got what I wanted, I would be happy. I was kind of nuts. It was simply my way or the bloody highway. And I wouldn’t quietly wish this, no, I would make it known. I would stomp my feet on the ground, I would be dragged out kicking and screaming, and I would fight to the death. So what if I was 10-years-old on a school night at 9PM and it was bedtime, it didn’t matter the age, the day, or the time. I had a stubborn streak stronger than steel and it almost took a healthy dose of horse tranquillizer to neutralize me each time.

At that age I knew the only thing that mattered was the destination; the ‘destination’ could have been a specific wish, goal or it could have been a physical place. My little philosophy was reinforced by society’s popular childhood mantras: go big or go home, dream big, never stop chasing your dreams. Do you think we are inadvertently taught that we need more and more and more to be happy and happier and happiest? For me, with age and awareness came a sense of understanding that not all things desired turn out to be as they seem. I think the idea of “dreaming big” gives us all a false sense of security. For instance, if you’re always dreaming big then that means you’re always in motion, always chasing, doing something with purpose. That was me. But somewhere along my journey, I realized I was someone who was always pursuing the next best thing (the very definition of destination addiction). And I was always using this as an excuse for my unhappiness. If only I had this, acquired that, finished this, achieved that… I would be happy.

Do I have ambition and goals? Sure! Do I only hope for good things for myself? Of course! The only difference now is that I no longer associate these goals with my personal happiness. I think there was a time when I needed the activeness of that pursuit. But is there really anything wrong with continually being on the chase? Well, maybe, because realistically if you’re always on the chase then you probably don’t have time to stand still. And standing still is where I’ve been able to find my greatest joy. It wasn’t always like that, though. For a long time, I found it difficult to sit with contentment. I wonder if it was because the word itself somehow alluded to the idea of settling. I worried that people may perceive my contentment as being okay with average, fine with ‘just enough.’ Why take one star when the whole universe is up for grabs? But that’s not how I define contentment. I see it as having appreciation for where you’re at and what you currently have.

I read a great quote recently: “Don’t forget how badly you once wanted what you have now.” That hit me hard in the gut because it made me realize how much time some of us spend running on the spot or spinning our wheels.  Right now, wherever you are in your life, you once very likely wished for what you have. Listen, you may not be at your life’s ultimate destination, you may not be the happiest you hoped to be, but at some point, maybe when you were 8 or 17 or 31, you hoped to be where you are now. And here you finally are. How will you celebrate it? How will you enjoy it? In realizing this, I knew that if I didn’t appreciate what I currently have, I would never appreciate what I would eventually acquire. And so, what then would be the point?

Dream those dreams but learn how to stand still too. Be content with what you have instead of waiting to be happy with what you hope to eventually have.

 

This post was inspired by fellow bloggers, Bill from A Silly Place and Michelle from Boomer Eco Crusader. Bill coordinated a collaborative post with many writers from the blogosphere asking everyone to write about things they believe in. Michelle contributed to that collaboration by writing about what she believes in, simultaneously introducing me to the idea of destination addiction. Please take a moment to check out their blogs for more insightful posts.

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50 thoughts on “Standing Still

  1. I so get this!!! All my life my parents kept pushing me – next goal, next goal – the rat race. I spent the first 25 years of my life just running from one goal to another. And then I met someone who taught me to just stop running, to appreciate the now, to appreciate the destination even if it is a little off from the original plan. Now I am proud to say I am out of the rat race – just enjoying doing things that I love without worrying and stressing about reaching a goal! 😀

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    • I loved hearing your journey, Moksha! I used to be a huge planner too, and in some ways I still am (helps me function) but the downside of planning (at least for me) is when things don’t turn out the way you planned. I had to learn how to go with the flow, as often as possible. It’s been a huge learning curve!

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  2. Wow, that’s deep!! Great blog post!! You’re quite a philosopher!!

    I guess it’s different for everyone! With me, the one thing I’ve been chasing is romantic/soulmate love. I want to know what that’s like already!! Well, I’ve always wanted to know. I think it would be great. I have more grounded perspective of everything else I’m chasing: literary success, winning writing contests, fitness goals that I usually bail on, fun travel plans; but the one thing I’ve always wanted more than anything is love. Huh. It would be sad, though, for me to not appreciate that I have everything else that could ever matter. And I’m going to think about that today while I go to the dentist. Wise words!! Of course, if the dentist says I need a root canal, then all gratitude is off the table.

    I’ve never heard of destination addiction, and I love new psychological concepts!! Thanks!! By the way, you seem to have a lot in common with little Charlotte!!

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    • Haha yes, Charlotte and I are more alike than I’d like to admit! 😉 She gets her spunk from me haha

      I hope you do get to experience romantic love, Meg! I know you have lots to offer and would make an amazing companion! Keep being you!

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  3. This is so good!!! I absolutely love that quote, “Don’t forget how badly you once wanted what you have now.” So powerful and so true! I am literally living my childhood dream right now. Thank you for the reminder!

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  4. Great philosophy, BB! Chasing something all of the time gets tiring, especially when we set the bar so damn high. The act of setting realistic and achievable goals is super, but it’s essential to take a breath and appreciate where we came from.

    How about being public with our goals? I’ve heard that some “experts” advise that when we state our goals publicly, it adds an extra layer of responsibility that we are then obligated to follow through on. I believe that is setting one’s self up to fail. For example, I’ll see friends who get into fitness goals and begin to post their workouts each day. After a time, they hit a wall, and suddenly there is nothing after three straight weeks of posting. Sometimes I think it’s better to keep our goals completely private or only shared with one’s closest family and friends.

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  5. My husband chases happiness and I think that’s one of the reasons why I was drawn towards him. He is never satisfied with “what is.” These days, he’s chasing after financial freedom, a large house,and a dog. In the past, I would have wanted these things too (his current obsession to become financially independent) but now I’m content with having a smaller house and being less materialistic. My desires have changed but his stayed there same.

    I’ve gotten a bit better over the years by living in the present rather than the past or future. Living in the moment really helps us be mindful of what actually is vs. what we want the world to be.

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  6. Wow this gives me so many things to think about. On the one hand, I remember being the same way when I was young and absolutely no one could manage my intensity when I dug my heels in, and they just gave me what I wanted to calm me down. Looking back, for me I know this was more about control than anything else. And I needed to feel in control bc my world felt so unsafe and chaotic. So I work on forgiving myself for being that way, because I was just surviving. And now, yes I love that quote and it definitely makes me feel grateful for my partner every day. Because I had sooooo many years of terrible dating single times. So now I’m like living my dream in a relationship and I never forget to feel grateful for it. But as far as other goals, yes I’ve had to step off that hamster wheel bc I was getting cray for a minute there. And yes there’s a diff between dreams and desires, and chasing for the sake of chasing. I also learned I have tons of energy so I enter chase manic mode honestly when I’m bored, ha! Not sure if u relate to any of that but those are my thoughts for now! 🤣🌺💖😘

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    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Libby! Always appreciate hearing your thoughts and perspective!! Yes, I can relate to the manic chase mode too, I tend to overplan just to make myself feel like I’m “doing something” but in reality I’m just avoiding what I really need to focus on or face head on.

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  7. I’m glad my post inspired you. I think the world we live in conditions us to never be satisfied with what we have. We constantly hear that we should always strive for more and if we’re not accumulating more, doing more or achieving more, we’re not successful. At some point, you just have to step off the treadmill and learn to appreciate what’s right in front of you. It’s very freeing.

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  8. wonderful post, BB. it certainly made me pause and reflect, because I have certainly been guilty of always purusing the next goal, and not taking a step back and being grateful for what I have. I love the quote that you shared about not forgetting how badly you wanted what you have now. Your overall idea of continuing to dream, but also taking in the moment, is a great way to summarize things.

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  9. Pingback: The week gone by — Sept. 26 – A Silly Place

  10. The first time I got a book signed by an author, she wrote, “Never stop wanting more.” At the time, I thought that was profound. Recently, I’ve come to the same conclusion you have. Always wanting more made me forget what I’m already blessed with and what I’ve already achieved. It’s so good to be still and enjoy where I’m at!

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    • That’s such a lovely perspective. I see it both ways of course- I never want to seem to anyone that I’ve stopped trying but I feel like we’re never told to be still as much as we’re told to keep pushing.. And so yes, when I’m not surging forward, I want to be still and enjoy! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

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  11. Wow yeah that’s so true!! Chasing happiness is what we were brought up to do. Appreciate the here and now. Today. This moment. And keep trying to remember to do it 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️😂😂🤣

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  12. It’s been said that youth, or perhaps just youthful energy and drive, is wasted on the young. I think you’ve come to appreciate at perhaps a younger age than most, one of what I like to call the benefits of aging. In this case, that means taking the time, especially if you have a lot of free time which one often doesn’t have until nearer the end of life than the beginning, to take a step back, get off the hamster wheel,, etc., of just living life and doing all the many things one has to do to thrive or at least survive. This is especially difficult when raising a young family and building a good life for all of you.

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    • Thank you for saying so. One of the things I always try to do is appreciate what I have when I have it (life’s greatest possessions can be so elusive). Although I have few regrets in life, some of my biggest has been not appreciating the blessings I had until it was too late. Always appreciate you sharing! 😊

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