by George P.H.
Like the caterpillar above, most people think that “everything will be better” once they get/become/achieve something. Whether it’s the right job, car, home, number of lovers or something else, we really expect that one thing to finally make us happy and complete.
This is what I call “waiting to be saved”; expecting an event, time or situation to make you happy.
(My personal favorite is, “I’m not happy now but I will be once I’ve given the best years of my life to my career! Then I’ll finally be able to do and feel what I want!”)
Of course, “everything” doesn’t “get better” when you get what you want. In fact life often becomes harder and more confusing when you’re successful. Why else would so many celebrities have depression & substance issues?
If you’re waiting to be saved, know one thing: it’s killing you. The true secret to being happy and free is to lose all hope. Here’s why & how.
Good Hope vs Bad Hope
Before I get started, here are a few words on good hope vs bad hope.
Good hope is knowing that, with enough time, anything can be achieved. It’s the calm acknowledgement of human potential and your own capacity for change.
Bad hope is the idea that someone – or something – will save you.
The vast majority of people live with this kind of “hope”. They expect to find salvation in the external world. Whether it’s cars, health, money or something else, they think: “When I have it, I’ll finally be complete.”
The root of this desire lies in the inherent unpredictability of life. Life is never complete, perfect or stable – and so we yearn to make it that way.
What do you think you need to be complete? A (better) car, a nicer flat, a better girl, a cushier job? Do you delude yourself by thinking you’ll “finally be happy” once you get those things?
Many human concepts – from relationships to religious faith to the pursuit of wealth – are attempts to escape life’s impermanent nature. We want to know for sure that we’re loved; that life has meaning; that we will be fed and clothed tomorrow.
But the unfortunate truth is, nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow – let alone 5 seconds from now. I could be dead by the time you read this; in fact, we could all be dead before I can post this article!
The secret to happiness and freedom isn’t in waiting to be saved; it’s in realizing that everything you need is right here, right now.
A funny thing to realize is that almost everything you think is real only exists in your mind.
Let’s take color. It doesn’t exist in the real world. We see yellow as yellow and purple as purple because that’s how our eyes process light waves of different frequencies. This means that color only exists in our minds.
The same goes for emotions, desires and thoughts. You can think of all these things as chemical reactions in your brain. They only exist in your brain – just like color.
From this point of view, hoping for “salvation” and “happiness” is the same as wanting more feel-good chemicals and hormones. And you know who else craves those things?
That’s right: a person waiting for salvation is the same as a junky waiting for a fix. But like any drug addict worth their salt will tell you, there’s a catch to finally getting those feel-good chemicals: you can’t stay high forever.
Yes, Some life situations can make you feel good for a while. But eventually you have to come down and experience all the same “bad” emotions you usually do; that’s just how your physiology works.
That’s why there’s no lasting satisfaction in anything you can do / achieve / own. True salvation is enjoying life as it is and calmly taking action to change it when necessary.
How To Stop Waiting & Start Living
Here are some ways to find true salvation right now:
- Accept that no moment in your life will be much different from this one. The chemical mix in your bloodstream might change, but that’s about it.
- Whenever you feel a negative emotion pay attention to it and ask why you feel this way. Are you anticipating a negative event in the future or remembering one from the past? If so, stop; the past is just a collection of memories and you might be dead before the future happens.
- If you feel agitated, count your breaths down from 10 to 1 over and over again. If you lose count, acknowledge the feeling that distracted you and start over from 10.
- Another way to handle negative emotions is focusing on your bodily senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste, etc. By doing this, you will automatically come back to the present (which is almost never problematic in itself).
The other aspect of abandoning all hope is taking action without expecting it to change much. It’s pretty ironic – when you stop waiting for “everything to be better in the future”, it becomes much easier to create powerful change in the present.
- If you’re in a bad situation, either walk away from it or accept it. Worrying about things you can’t change will only make you feel bad.
- If you screwed up, you screwed up. Unless you can hop into a Delorean and turn back time, don’t dwell on the past.
- Never hope for anything to be perfect. Make mistakes and screw up as often as possible – that’s the best way to learn.
Most importantly, remember that nobody can truly help you. People can give you information but it’s up to you to control your thoughts and feel good about life.
So don’t wait to be saved; don’t suffer through a painful, meaningless life in anticipation of something that’s never gonna happen.
Just start living and kicking ass and the rest will take care of itself.