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Playful Self-Discipline: Following Bliss Through Uncertainty

hike markerWhen I tried to sit down and write my Uncertainty Paradox post last week, the germ of the idea was there but the words would not come.  Forcing myself to wrench the words out when they were unwilling felt harsh, and anyway, I was bone-tired.  I knew that whatever I did manage to write was not going to be my best work, and the idea deserved more energy and perseverance than that.

So I followed my heart, posted a placeholder, and closed the laptop.  I blissfully climbed into bed with my knitting, enjoyed the warmth and security of my cosy blankets, and got a (relatively, considering I’m co-sleeping with a no-longer-night-weaned toddler) solid night of sleep.

I realized later that what I did is a pretty good demonstration of the idea I wanted to write about.

Uncertainty is Certain

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I can’t know anything for sure.  It’s a paradox, but the truth.  My human brain cannot perceive the world in any way other than my human perspective.  I can’t be sure that the way I’ve interpreted events is correct.  I cannot know for sure what the world is like for anyone else.  I cannot know for sure what my life will look like tomorrow, or in ten years from now, or even what I’ll be doing ten minutes from now.  Sure, I can make some pretty accurate predictions based on where I am at the moment, but the forces of random chance throw any absolute certainty out the window.

Given that I will never be able to know for sure what will happen in the future, or even that I’m perceiving the world in an accurate way right now, how do I make choices about my life?  What should I be spending my time on?  How do I choose goals in an uncertain world?  And where are we going anyway?

mudboots

The Path of Bliss

When I start to feel overloaded by the uncertainty in my life, I try to go back a step (or a few steps) until I come to something I know increases the health, connection and bliss in my life.  A good night’s sleep after a few rough nights.  Really connecting with my child and listening to her with love and attention.  Going for a run.  Sitting in meditation.  Working in the garden.  Being outdoors.  Visiting a good friend.  Even when I’m anxious and uncertain about what might be in my future, mindfully enjoying these things helps bring me back to what I know is good and true in life.

Bliss doesn’t mean the immediate gratification of purely feel-good hedonism, although a little of that has been known to help me get off the poor-me track and back into positivity.  Too much junk food for the soul will take me away from my goals of being playfully self-disciplined.  But it’s helpful to have a reminder that the present moment has joy and bliss there to be enjoyed if we can let that happen.

michelle at lighthouse park in march

Blissfully Disciplined

Like attracts like.  If I’m frustrated and angry, I tend to have more experiences that are frustrating and infuriating.  If I’m happy and confident, I tend to have experiences that go well.  Maybe it’s simply a “you see what you’re looking for” kind of effect, but when all we have to go on is our own perception of the world, what we’re looking for will make a huge impact on our experience.  I don’t know how much I believe about the buzz around manifesting reality through intention, but I do know that if I put lots of energy into thinking about how insecure I feel or how maddening my children are, well, that’s the kind of experience I’m going to have, whether or not those thoughts are true.

I am still very much working towards my goals, and still very much falling short in some areas.  But focusing on the bliss of working on something that matters to me helps me stay positive when I mess up.  At least I know what I’m working towards, and I know that when I get it right it feels great.  I can be certain about my bliss, and that’s a powerful motivator.

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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Rachael May 4, 2011, 5:48 am

    “Uncertainty is certain.”

    Ha, say I, having in just a moment of carelessness entirely changed both my plans and my husband’s plans for the day. What did I do? I put all my weight on a foot that I hadn’t realized had fallen asleep, thus spraining it and earning myself a day in bed.

    Bliss — there’s a word I haven’t thought of in a long time. It’s a good one. Thanks.
    Rachael´s last blog post ..Almost Wordless Wednesday- Taking Pictures of the Sun

    • michelle May 5, 2011, 11:03 pm

      Oh no! I hope you’re feeling better and back on your feet soon. And I also hope the day in bed was a restful break…

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