“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”
– James Baraz
There is a well known song in the Disney classic Cinderella about wishing. There’s another in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In fact wishing is a theme in an awful lot of fairy tales and fables. We all have them, we all make them, some might be trivial, others are quite large and important in our lives and become the focus of our every day.
And there is nothing wrong with that. It is healthy to have dreams and goals and to aim for them.
Where wishing becomes potentially problematic is when it becomes the norm. Dreaming things were different can become our daily routine. Every morning you wake up, open your eyes and immediately wish you didn’t have to go to work today, didn’t have to get the kids ready for school, didn’t have to do whatever it is that you are committed to that morning. You get up late thanks to your wishing causing lethargy, and as a result wish you didn’t have to rush every morning to get to where you need to be. Your wishing continues on your commute – you wish there was less traffic, you had a better coat, that you had time for breakfast before you left the house so you didn’t get to work hungry. Throughout the day you continue to wish you were somewhere else, wish the work was more challenging – or easier, wish your boss was less ‘mean’, wish you had time for a proper lunch break so you could eat something healthy and then exercise like the awesome people you see while you rush to the shop for a sandwich, wish you got paid more, wish you were on holiday or had more holiday days or more money to spend so you could actually go on holiday, wish it was home time. Then at home time you again wish for better traffic, a shorter drive, that your house was clean so you didn’t have to do chores, that you had a chef to cook your dinner, that you had more energy so you could go to the gym ‘like everyone else’, that you could stay awake beyond 9pm, that you will actually get a good night sleep tonight.
When wishing is so constant that it takes over our thinking from dawn until dusk we end up extremely unhappy. We are unhappy not because life is horrible, but because we are not living in the real world – we are living in some strange world of non-acceptance. We end up dissatisfied with life and suffer greatly as a result of our unending wishing.
Sound familiar? Are you somewhere in this cycle of constant and unproductive wishing? I have to admit I know I get like this sometimes.
From now on, notice when you are wishing. Rather than wishing being a consistent unwavering yet unconscious act, it must be a conscious thought process based in reality. Living in the present – being mindful – isn’t necessarily about liking or agreeing with how things are for you at the moment, it is about the acceptance that this is the way things things are right now. Once you are being mindful and acknowledging your wishing, you are then much better placed to do something about the things you want – either by making changes to your life, or by realising that what you have already is pretty good and making the most of it.
Life is all about the journey. Feel free to wish. But live in the present.
Inspired by the BEDM topic for today – wish lists.