Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 9:29AM
In eleventh grade we had to take a test to see what type of career personality we had—I vividly remember my results: “Underachiever.” Now, to be honest, I can’t recall if that was an actual category or what I labeled it, but it haunts me still. I look around at times, at the myriad things people are able to accomplish—writing a book, inventing a tool and marketing it, creating a successful business—and wonder if I’m not trying hard enough! Am I supposed to be doing something bigger? Something more important? I am a competent, capable, and inspired person and yet it feels like it takes a lot just to get through each day (mindfully!)…where do people find the energy to do all of this?! Much less match all of your socks?
I can’t tell sometimes if I am satisfied…or lazy. Maybe I don’t push myself out of my comfort zone and pursue all the things I am meant to. Or maybe I simply feel okay where I am. (gasp!) Teaching yoga, being a mother, having relationships, cooking, reading…is that enough?
In a workshop a few years ago, Rod Stryker said something I will never forget—that most of us are afraid of our true power, and subconsciously we sabotage ourselves so that we never really have to deal with that level of energy and honesty. To burn our brightest takes a tremendous amount of courage because we have to face all that we are (or are not). It’s a daunting thought.
But is satisfaction inextricably linked to financial success, recognition, or abundance?
Not all of our accomplishments can be measured, obviously. Probably my reasons for being here (or yours) will never be as obvious as a humanity-changing invention or Nobel peace price. For most of us, our greatest achievements will never be published or heralded. Most likely, they will never even be remembered. Does that change the magnitude of our day to day? Maybe the ideas we have about achieving are really all about winning (thank you Charlie Sheen). If I don’t "win" in the race of life, can I still get some satisfaction?
So I asked myself: The tree that falls in the forest, is that you, gretchen? Can you still BE all that you are if no one is there to quantify your existence against some form of measurement? our world is obsessed with “success”—turning every idea into a product. Most of us are looking for the blue ribbon, the slap on the back, the promotion or prize that says “job well done!”
I will take a lesson from my daughter. Recently she came home very excited because she finished a large math project at school (she’s only in kindergarten and knows cubes and square roots!)—I said “Oh your teacher Nancy must be so proud!” She replied, “I feel proud of myself, mom.” I marvel that she was totally satisfied and in no way needed me to exclaim about her accomplishment.
What if it is this simple? Yoga teaches that you know your true calling, your dharma, when you feel pleasure and inspiration when you’re doing it. The more time or energy you put into that purpose, the more fulfilled and happy you feel, and that peace has power—it affects the world. Satisfaction could be the easiest and hardest thing to find because we are each responsible for our OWN happiness.
So here is the challenge (I give myself and all of you): for the next week take yourself out of the race and listen to what makes your heart happy. Maybe you’re more satisfied than you think! Maybe not—this is where honesty comes in. Turn off facebook, resist the urge to answer every text, email, invitation, or phone call. Take as many opportunities you can to be quiet and observe how you feel doing what you do. What parts of your day make you the happiest? And when you find yourself in the glory of a moment, a second, of satisfaction or contentment—rest in it! Breathe it in, expand it and enjoy it. Maybe those little bits will add up and at the end of the week we’ll realize Mick Jagger had it all wrong.