“If you continue this simple practice every day, you will attain some wonderful power. Before you attain it, it is something wonderful, but after you attain it, it is nothing special” – Shunryu Suzuki
I first read this saying in the excellent book pictured below entitled Nothing Special. It stuck with me because I felt it captured something that applies to everyone, virtually every day. We are all constantly striving for something whether we know it or not. It might be a promotion at work, or it might be a new big screen television. Maybe a new car or for those of us in Herbalife, the next level in our marketing plan, a.k.a. our “next pin”. It could be, and has been, anything. The problem or issue arises when we achieve what we are striving for. When we are saving up for that new big screen television we have some idea that our lives will be so much improved watching our favorite shows or football game on the 70 inch flat screen. But guess what? After the thrill of the first few shows and games it’s…nothing special, and we are left with the knowledge that we have parted with many dollars in order to buy it.
What about the new car? Same thing. Before we have it we just know it will be fun, sexy, cool, etc… We will feel so much better about ourselves and people will see us in our new car. Again, after the first few hundred miles and the first rain/snow storm it isn’t as magical as we thought it would be and all we are left with is the car payment and the insurance payment…nothing special about that! Additionally, we now have quite an attachment to keeping it nice, right? Checking it for door dents and making sure “your baby” is well taken care of and a new looking as possible. Attachment. Ugh.
What about the promotion or next pin? Is that different? We strive and set goals for ourselves to reach these next levels with some idea that all our problems will be magically solved, or that the additional status or money will alleviate all our suffering and bring us the happiness that has eluded us for so long. But when we reach that level, after the initial celebration and novelty has worn off, what’s so different? Maybe we get to go to different meetings, or are now eligible for some new things, but we are still who we are and life, and the Universe, still brings to us what we put into it.
The message or lesson here is NOT AT ALL to avoid goal setting or working toward something important to us, but to have the perspective and wisdom necessary to understand the nature of this process and to understand that we continue to be who we are before, during, and after achieving our goals. Does that make sense? Said another way, there is nothing “external” that has the power or capacity to bring “internal” happiness. Only the changes we bring about in ourselves and our own sense of gratitude and perspective will result in true peace and happiness.
We’ve all known people who have all the “stuff” and maybe even the “pin” that most of us in Herbalife aspire to who are miserable. We’ve also know people who are truly happy without those things. The “wonderful power” Suzuki refers to in his quote speaks directly to this point.
A short parable to further illustrate this point. Seated at a monastery was a teacher and a student. During their conversation the student asks the teacher about another student who had come to learn from the teacher some time ago, then he left to go to another monastery, then came back again, then left again. The student asked the teacher, “why do you think he does that?” To this the teacher replies, “I’m not sure. It is as if he placed his travel bag in dog shit and now wherever he goes it smells bad”. Wherever we go, and whatever our external circumstances are, good or bad…there we are!
Create your vision for yourself. Set your goals and make a clear and measurable plan to achieve them. Have the courage and humility to make the changes necessary in yourself to reach your goals. The objective is to know that when you reach them you enjoyed the process of reaching your goals; that you made the changes in yourself necessary to get it done, you were fully present (for yourself and the people in your life you care about) through the process, and that once you reach your goals your happiness still only depends on you!! Nothing can take that away, and no amount of the gain or loss of “stuff” can affect it!
My hope for you all is that you have peace in happiness in your lives, that you know the personal satisfaction of achieving your goals through your own personal transformation, and that you have the perspective to understand and appreciate the beauty and wonderment of every day. 🙂