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Surviving and Thriving without Striving

When I reflect back on my early consulting career, it was filled with striving — striving to reach a project goal, striving to be recognized for my expertise, striving to grow my practice and revenue.  As a result of this past experience, striving immediately triggers an image for me of pushing a rock uphill or Atlas holding the weight of the world on his shoulders.  No wonder such metaphors arise given that striving implies a great effort is being made to achieve or obtain something.  Of course, that something is what keeps our attention focused on the future.

Unfortunately, future-striving, practiced over a long period of time, leads to disappointment and dissatisfaction regardless of how successfully we achieved the desirable ends.  In fact, running for the future results in what I witness in my coaching sessions with clients — burnout, boredom, a lack of joy, a loss of passion and purpose — all of which indicate an imbalance in one’s life.

So how do we achieve balance, instead of burnout and boredom, without seeking and striving for personal goals?  How do we survive and thrive without striving?  Below are two tactics I employ in my daily life.

1.  Attract what you need in the present moment.

Intuitive guidance means having the self-esteem to recognize the discomfort
or confusion [struggle and suffering] a person feels is actually directing
him [her] to take charge of his life and make choices that will break him
out of stagnation or misery.  And, while we measure our own success in
terms of our personal comfort and security, the universe measures our
success by how much we have learned.
     Caroline Myss

Physical or emotional discomfort or suffering, as Myss suggests, is a signal we are out of balance with life.  Striving — a euphemism for struggling and suffering — is a solo, lonely journey.  When we strive, our future focus eliminates the opportunity to work in partnership with life, which unfolds its abundance in a moment-to-moment, here-and-now capacity.

Our attention and energy cannot be in two places at the same time (present moment and future).  We have to choose between the two.  If we choose the future, we choose to operate without the support and abundance life naturally supplies on our behalf, thereby increasing our struggle and workload.  On the other hand, shifting out of a striving, struggling mindset releases our awareness and energy for what is emerging in the present moment.  Surrendering our will in order to learn and grow necessitates a temporary state of insecurity.

An additional attracting agent is expressing positive emotions.  By energizing such positive emotions as gratitude (i.e., for the existing and emerging love and abundance in our life), we attract more of the same.

2.  Welcome what life presents without judgment.

For humans, judgment has become a habit, an unconscious response.  Unfortunately we limit our learning and growth when we use our habituated response of bad and good to avoid the former and seek only the latter.

From your limited point of view the comings and goings of Life can seem
chaotic, confusing and unfair.  But if the ant could see the street from the
bird’s eye view she would see the order of things.  Think of your Heart
and your Intuition as guidance from above and you’ll begin to see how
everything is in perfect order. 
    Jackson Kiddard

Instead of judging what has emerged, accept it is here for a reason, that is, to serve your intentions.  Welcome whatever emerges as the true adventure it is; one in which you do not know the destination.  Nonetheless, each step along its path brings the knowledge and understanding necessary for realizing your intentions.

Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts
and actions can never produce good results.  This is but saying that
nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but nettles.
Men understand this law in the natural world, and work with it, but
few understand it in the mental and moral world, and they, therefore;
do not cooperate with it.  Suffering is always the effect of wrong thought
in some direction.  It is an indication that the individual is out of harmony
with himself, with the Law of his being.  The sole and supreme use of
suffering is to purify, to burn out all that is useless and impure. 
    James Allen
(1864-1912), As A Man Thinketh.

What has shown up in your life that you are judging rather than embracing?  What one small step can you take today to explore this awaiting adventure?

Author: Helen Maupin

Author: Helen Maupin

Helen is passionate about transforming fear into love — from her, for her, for all. She expresses her commitment to transformation through writing poetry, self-awareness and yoga books, co-designing organizations into adaptive enterprises and deepening her daily meditation and yoga practices.

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