“You could enjoy this very moment all the things [that] you are praying to reach by taking the long way around — if you’d stop depriving yourself of them.”MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 12.1
Sometimes what you want is right there in front of you. You don’t always have to take the long way to get it; sometimes you just have to reach out and grab it.
In today’s entry in The Daily Stoic, author Ryan Holiday reminds us that although you want to reach your goals of course, what you really want is what they represent, what they “unlock”. Freedom to do what what you want (often implied as financial freedom). The admiration of others, and respect of your peers. Real happiness and fulfillment. More time to spend with people you love.
What if those things are actually present along the way? We spend so long focused on the end result, that we forget to look around during the journey. Like Marcus Aurelius hints above in his quote: “stop depriving yourself” and just seize the things that you’re seeking. They’re right there!
Foregoing Happiness to Gain Financial Freedom… to Gain Happiness?
I’ve spent a lot of time researching, reading, and working hard to gain some measure of financial freedom. I’d like to be self-sufficient, and never have to work at a normal job again, and run my own business, and answer to no one. Maybe even be rich! Perhaps this sounds familiar? Maybe you’re pursuing the same.
Sometimes I remind myself why I’m doing all that. I want to be happy of course, thus I only want to do things that I’m passionate about and inspire me. I would like to do things that help people (hence this site). Perhaps most importantly, I want to have more time to spend with my young children, to be physically but also mentally present when they need me. I want to connect with my kids while it’s still possible, and while they’re still young.
And then it hits me — I’m not being present with my kids, not spending time with them… so that I can hustle and eventually become wealthy enough that I can spend all the time I like with them. See how upside down that is?
I don’t want to wake up and realize that I’ve forgotten to seize the happiness when it was right in front of me, along my journey. So I often stop hustling, and just spend time with my kids, right in that moment. And that’s ok. The hustle can wait. The happiness is now.
Confirmed by The Universe
Last weekend, in one of my many psychonautic expeditions, I asked my altered brain: “How do I live in the present and be content? How can I be truly happy?”
The answer came back, without equivocation, crystal clear: “Accept the gifts that you have already given to yourself. Accept what’s in front of you.”
Done and done.