zen habits : breathe

How to Wait Less

‘How much of human life is lost in waiting?’ ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Post written by Leo Babauta.

So much of our lives are spent waiting.

We wait in lines, we wait for the perfect person, we can’t wait for our dreams to come true, we look forward to the day when we have a better body and a better life, we look for ways to make our goals become reality someday soon.

We wait. That good life is coming, and we’ll be there soon.

What if we stopped waiting, stopped trying to make dreams and goals come true, stopped wishing and anticipating? What if that good life is already here, and the only way to live it is to stop looking forward and notice what we already have?

If you are waiting for good things to happen — or are actively trying to make something good come true — take a pause. Look at where you are right now, in life and physically in this moment. Where are you? Is it already great? If so, why are you looking towards the future, when you’re already there?

And if we don’t think where we are is already great, perhaps we’re not paying close enough attention.

Waiting in Lines & Traffic

Recently I had to drive a moving truck for six hours, and caught myself thinking, “I can’t wait until I’m there!” Of course, when I noticed that thought, I reminded myself: “You’re already there.”

Where I was — alone, in a truck, on a highway, in the middle of beautiful country — was already great. Perhaps my legs were tired, but that was an opportunity to feel my legs, when so many of us forget they’re there as we sit all day. It was a chance to remember that I’m alive, which we take for granted. We daily participate in the miracle of life, and to us it’s not only routine and dull, we often think it sucks.

My legs were tired, so I pulled over at a rest stop, stretched my legs, laid in the grass, stared up at the sky. My tired legs gave me this possibility, and so tired legs don’t suck, they are great.

The next time you find yourself waiting in traffic or in a line, and you’re thinking, “Can’t wait until I get there!” … remember that you are already in a place that’s great. Perhaps that’s in a car, alone, but what’s wrong with being alone? Can’t you listen to music, sing a tune you love, dance? Can’t you look outside at the sky and realize what greatness surrounds you? Can’t you talk to yourself and find out what great company you are?

If you’re in a line, aren’t you surrounded by fascinating human beings? What a great time to watch and listen and learn.

The Tragedy of Goals

We set goals, these little dreams of what the future will be like, and focus on them. Every day, we work on these goals, take a step closer to getting to that great future. When the goal is completed, yay! Now what? Next goal. And then the next. This kind of forward-looking thinking doesn’t end when you get to the goal, and never ends until you no longer have any life left, no future to look to.

But actually, it can end — right now. Stop looking to that goal, and look at where you are.

The goal might sound great: run a marathon, complete a project, get out of debt, get nice abs, make a million dollars. But it’s a fantasy, and when (if) that fantasy comes true, it won’t be what you imagined. It will feel like regular life, not some amazing new life that is different than the life you had. Life won’t be better, and never will be, until you stop wishing for this better life and realize that life is already incredible.

This life, right now, is already perfect! Enjoy it, and forget about those goals. Getting to them won’t be any better than the amazing life that’s right here, at this moment.

I get asked, “What do I do if I don’t have anything I want?” Well, stop wishing for those things. They aren’t better than what you already have, which is a ridiculously unlikely event called life.

Waiting for My Baby

So many people are waiting for their dream lover, that perfect person who is going to love them, make their life perfect.

That person may or may not show up, but the tragedy is not that you don’t have Mr. or Mrs. Dreamy … it’s that you’re waiting for happiness.

You don’t need another person to love you, to complete you, to make you happy. That person is already there, with you right now. (Spoiler alert: it’s you.)

You are the best company, the person who will always be around, the unconditional love you’re looking for. You just need to stop waiting for Dreamy McDreamerson, and look at yourself. Really notice yourself. Accept yourself. Love yourself, as you are, without wishing you were different.

This might take few tries, but try it right now. You might find that you’re the dreamy love of your life you’ve been waiting for.

Three Things to Do Today

How do you stop waiting for good things to come? Three things you can do right now, today:

  1. Slow down. Rushing means you miss what’s right here.
  2. Pay attention. Look at what’s around you right now. Look at yourself, and how great you are. If it doesn’t seem great, look closer.
  3. Applaud.

‘We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.’ ~Voltaire



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