Several weeks ago I had the honor of being a guest on The Simplifiers Podcast where I spoke with host, Mary Baird-Wilcock, about my life as a digital nomad. The best part was halfway through when I realized how I have lightened my load to expose my bliss.
The Story of the Interview
As many of you know, a few months ago I was staying in the East Mountains of New Mexico. While there, my dear friend sent me a link to the podcast suggesting I apply to be a guest. I doubted having any expertise on simplifying, but after following the universe for the past few years, I trusted that her suggestion was not a coincidence.
When I was accepted as a guest, I was terrified. What if I’m not up to the caliber of the other guests?, I thought. I decided it wasn’t for me to judge; if the people who created the show thought I was good enough, then I was good enough.
The time came for the interview, and I was elated to be back on the mic. What I didn’t know was just how much I would learn about myself.
The Big Realization: Lightening the Load
The a-ha moment came when Mary shared her story of her family’s move from their large home in Austin, Texas to their more cozy home in the United Kingdom. She described the process of decreasing the amount of material stuff they had so that they could move across the ocean and comfortably live in a much smaller space.
At this point, we connected on how intimate and HARD the process of lightening our material load is. As I reflected on this later, I noted how I think this feeling has a lot to do with our western culture. From my experience, many of us have come to define ourselves based on our material possessions. For example, I’ve definitely thought things like, “If I have a nice, big house with the perfect blender, vacuum cleaner, refrigerator, etc, well then I’m a successful adult and a great person.”, and I don’t think I’m alone.
Our line of conversation led me to later reflect even further on how every time when I’ve let go of/donated/sold my material belongings, I reconnected with a feeling of pure bliss.
Of course, before the bliss appears I also grapple with a deep sense of fear and shame that makes me reconsider my material shedding. However, each time I push through and let go of the material, I just feel SO GOOD.
I see now that it is this feeling that keeps me going.
Examining the Load
The only conclusion I can form in regards to why this feeling of bliss appears is that there is a weight that having excess puts on me. Whether that excess is material stuff, mental clutter, or emotional baggage, as I left go of it, I clear the clouds that cast shadows on my happiness with simply being myself.
This process of releasing the excess, and the weight that comes with it, is critical to simplifying most anything. And simplifying everything is critical to owning our lives, hearts, and minds.
Why Lightening the Load is So Critical
What I find is that if I carry stuff that I either don’t need or that doesn’t bring me inherent, deep-seated joy, carrying the weight itself becomes my focus as opposed to living my best life from my core.
Roll with me on this. Those of you born before, say, 1985; do you remember the song “The Distance” by a band named Cake? (If you don’t you’re probably better off). For years that song has been in my head (NOTE: this involves a long story that you should ask me about one day over a beer).
While I was thinking about this simplifying topic, I FINALLY understood the song’s meaning. The man in the song is constantly striving or “going the distance” instead of focusing on what he already has in life. He gets weighed down in trying to “go home with the cup”, and misses out on just being. Going the distance becomes his goal, not living his best life.
Another Example of Excess Weight
Here’s another example of excess mental weight clouding our bliss.
I recently finished reading the novel, Siddhartha (thanks for the suggestion, Aaron!).
Towards the end of the book the title character, now an old man, meets his childhood friend, Govinda, in the woods. The two started their journey towards self-joy together, but their paths diverged as young men with Siddhartha going his own way, and Govinda becoming a follower of the Buddha.
Now much older, Govinda says to Siddhartha “Certainly I am old, but I have not stopped seeking. Never will I stop seeking, this seems to be my calling. You, too, it seems to me, have been a seeker.”
Siddhartha corrects him, denying he too is a seeker, then says:
“When someone seeks, then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.” ~ Herman Hesse, Siddhartha
Siddhartha has spent a lifetime understanding, then releasing unnecessary weight, like seeking. By letting go of the striving he set himself free. He is content and happy in being and can take on whatever the world brings at him.
How Going the Distance Gets Me Nowhere
Acquiring physical, mental, and emotional weight through excess material belongings, thoughts, or feelings, is a form of striving… of “going the distance”.
But here’s the thing about striving: “If you strive, you never arrive”, nor do you thrive.
Consider these definitions of Striving versus Thriving.
“Striving is the battle to achieve some external marker of success. Thriving is the internal capabilities and conditions we create for ourselves to grow, prosper and flourish.”
I liken the concept “striving” to that of carrying excess weight because to me striving is about acquiring something outside of myself in order to be happy. An example would be me thinking, “If only I had a Vitamix my life would be different.” or “If only I had X client I would be all set.”
It short I’m looking outside of myself for the answers to my life’s purpose. When I do this, finding an external answer becomes my goal, and I fall further and further out of alignment with the core of my being.
On the other end, “Thriving is to know our unique gifts and talents and to use them to do well and multiply in a way that attracts the attention of others. Thriving is to have impact, to use our gifts to serve another. When we set out to thrive, we carry our ability to do well with us, we can take it from one career to another, we can continue to thrive in retirement. Thriving is internal, who we are, not what we’ve recently achieved.”
Removing the excess weight and reconnecting to my bliss… I believe this is the spark of thriving.
Does This Mean I Shouldn’t Try?
All this thinking had me thinking. I asked myself, “Does this mean I can’t find bliss or be happy if I’m striving or if i have excess stuff?”
Since this is a quote filled post I ask you to, again, consider this:
“So many people live their life in pursuit of happiness. They are Striving but never arriving. For a moment just close your eyes and think about the opening sentence, ‘so many people live their life in pursuit of happiness’. If you live your life like this in pursuit of happiness you will never find it. It will always be ahead of you. You are always chasing happiness. You are always pursuing happiness. Happiness is always ahead of you.“
Releasing whatever additional weight you have, mental, emotional, physical, whatever it is… that’s when you tune into the present moment, to the bliss of your life. It’s how happiness is within you and not ahead of you.
Scratch that, it’s how you see the happiness what exists within.