Yesterday I took the train to Ossington station and waited for the bus. I didn’t know the schedule so I stood among 20 other people without a clue how long I would have to wait.
While I was standing there, I got the feeling that the bus must be late because the people around me started getting impatient and upset. In this moment I realized that the only difference between me and the other people was that I didn’t have any thoughts in my mind about when the bus was supposed to arrive.
They were annoyed. I wasn’t, simply because I didn’t know what to expect.
We were all together in the same situation with no control over the arrival of the bus, but their thoughts prevented them from having a good time. The thought that “The bus should be here by now”, was ruining it for them. I, on the other hand, had no expectations. I was looking around staring at a beautiful mural with painted angels and watching two young people flirting with each other.
Now, usually I’m getting annoyed about things too. Anything that doesn’t fit in my agenda has the potential to make me upset. You know this feeling, when you get to work and you’ve already planned your whole day, but your boss has a completely different project for you. Or maybe you're expecting somebody for a visit and the person cancels at the last second. Situations like this happen all the time and they can annoy us or even make us furious.
A friend told me once that her husband deleted an excel sheet by accident and he was so mad at himself that he punched his fist into a wall and broke his hand.
This shows that the more you’re attached to your expectations the more frustrated you are if they don’t match up with reality.
What I realized on this ordinary day at this ordinary bus stop was that every single situation is, per se, neutral.
In this case the situation was: No bus, -10 degrees, 20 people standing on a platform with warm winter jackets. The reactions to this moment differed from being extremely annoyed to being a little impatient to not reacting at all.
I became aware of the fact that your thoughts about any given situation make the situation either positive or negative or in my case neutral because I had no thoughts. I simply enjoyed this moment as it was. You could say I really experienced it, because I wasn’t trapped in my mind thinking about it.
If every moment is neutral, then it’s up to us how we perceive our lives.
This is the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. Both experience the same thing, but they choose to have a different perspective about it.
Now, you might consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist, but there is actually a third way to look at life. You can be a “no-ist”.
To have no expectations towards any situation is the most liberating thing you can experience. It means to follow the flow of life without being attached to a particular outcome. It means that you do not perceive life through rose-coloured or black-coloured glasses, but that you take your glasses off and experience this moment.
You transform yourself from being an interpreter to being an experiencer. You look around, you smell the roses, you taste the pies, you experience the people around you, but you don’t take your thoughts too seriously that say: "This moment shouldn’t be." Or "this moment is finally going to make me happy."
Somehow, by accident, I caught a glimpse of what it feels like if you live in a state of no thought. It’s liberating. You don’t get high from a situation like an optimist, but you also don’t get down from a situation like a pessimist. You’re in the middle and you’re inner state is not dependent on the form that this moment takes.
I used to always bounce back and forth between being in a good mood and being in a bad mood depending on the situation that I was in until I realized that it’s so exhausting to live like that.
Sustaining peace in my body and mind is becoming more important to me than experiencing these highs and lows. I still get upset sometimes but that’s usually when I want things to go my way and life wants to go its own way so I’m trying to resist the flow of life. I’m realizing that this is too painful and that it makes no sense to be at war with life no matter what you’re experiencing right now.
The truth is: You’re not a slave to the situation that you’re in. Only if you’re judging this moment with your thoughts do you allow it to have power over you.
Wayne Dyer used to say:
"The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgment."
Stop judging this moment as a flower or a weed. It just is what it is. Use it as an opportunity to be present and to go deeper into it.
It is there where you will find aliveness. It is there where you will find peace.
Can I ask you something?
Do you sometimes want to speak your mind but you feel scared how people will react?
Or do you make decisions based on other people's approval just to find yourself in a situation that you regret having said yes to?
Do you feel scared to show people the real you: what you like, what you dislike and what you're dreaming of, because you don't want others to judge you or misunderstand you?
If your answer is YES, you're not fully connected to your authentic self and you don't allow others to see the real YOU.
This can lead to so many uncomfortable situations. For example, you say yes to things you want to say no to, you find yourself in situations where you think,"This is so not me!" You do things that don't bring you joy and you probably overcommit and do more than what feels good to you. I've been there and it really sucks and it can go so far that you're causing yourself not only emotional but also physical pain.
I wrote down 7 QUESTIONS THAT YOU CAN ASK YOURSELF TO RECONNECT TO YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF and I try to ask myself at least one of these questions every single day. They keep me sane and help me to not end up in situations where I think: THIS IS SO NOT ME! HOW DO I GET OUT OF THIS?
If you're curious, you can get them here.