Friday, October 11, 2013

At Ease In Your Life

We live in a world that pushes us to fill every second and want things we don't need, a world that insists on the urgency of its demands on our time. We are saturated with messages about what we should worry over and fear and desire.  It can be hard to step back and find balance.  To be, as the Tao puts it, "at ease in your life."

I recently read an article about some research linking "grit" to success.  There's a short survey you can take that's apparently an effective predictor of later success.  Several of the questions seemed oriented to the kind of over-ambitious, over-driven, achievement-oriented personality that is, to be honest, the antithesis of the Tao. I found myself wondering, "Is it possible to have grit without being consumed by ambition and desire?"

Perhaps the greater question is "How does this research define success?"  Material possessions?  Career accomplishments?  Notoriety? Sufficient laughter and love and a sense of inner fulfillment?  A roof over your head and food to eat?  Making the world a better place?  After all, "success" and "happiness" aren't necessarily synonymous.

When I was a kid, I used to love the board game Careers.  It was the 1970's answer to Monopoly, a game in which each player defined success on his or her own terms.  You collected happiness points, fame points and money.  To win, you had to reach a certain total (I think it was 60), but you could make the total out of any combination of fame, money or happiness.  Different career paths would lead to different kinds of points.  Success was formulaic and achievable, which of course is not always the case in real life, but there was something so wonderful about a game that acknowledged this life truth:  There are many paths to success and many ways to define success.  In the end, it's a question of whether you are "at ease in your life," in the choices you've made, in your definition of success and your progress towards your goals.

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