There’s a time for everything: the seasons of life

Every human being knows, understands and accepts that planet Earth goes through seasons every year. Depending on your location, we usually experience four and while we may prefer the beauty of Autumn to the coldness of Winter or the vibrancy of Summer to the rebirth of Spring, it’s pretty evident that these seasons are a natural part of our Earth’s cycle. So why do we often fail to embrace and live through our own personal seasons in life? Why the lack of acceptance and resistance to change? Why must we be so attached to certain expectations and cause ourselves emotional turmoil? Why do we judge ourselves for being in a less favourable season of life instead of allowing ourselves to live it and remember that “this too shall pass?”

Author and spiritual teacher, Wayne Dyer often shares his insights on the ancient wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. One teaching which struck me like a lightening bolt was that, “there’s a time for everything.” Whenever life reaches a point where things seem to slow down or we feel there’s no significant progress being made in certain areas, we feel stagnant and start to feel bad about ourselves. If we’re not busy enough, or the relationship isn’t working out, or we’re not accomplishing many goals at once…we deem ourselves boring, useless or a failure. This is when it’s imperative to remember that there’s a time for everything and everything happens at the right time.

Do you think you could take over the universe
and improve it?
I do not believe it can be done.

Everything under heaven is a sacred vessel
and cannot be controlled.
Trying to control leads to ruin.
Trying to grasp, we lose.

Allow your life to unfold naturally.
Know that it too is a vessel of perfection.

Just as you breathe in and breathe out,
there is a time for being ahead
and a time for being behind;
a time for being in motion
and a time for being at rest;
a time for being vigorous
and a time for being exhausted;
a time for being safe
and a time for being in danger.

The Master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way
and resides at the centre of the circle.

Wayne Dyer, Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

Accepting that we’re not always going to be on a high and that low tides are a normal part of life sounds easy in theory but when we’re in the midst of a less favourable season we judge it and do everything we can to change it. Instead of letting go and practising patience, we struggle and yearn for life to be different. Whenever I find myself complaining about what-is or obsessing over things ‘not working out’ I bring myself to the present moment and remind myself that, “there’s a time for everything.” By releasing my judgements on whatever the life circumstance is, I allow room for peace to enter my mind and heart. Please note that surrendering to what-is does not mean resignation or complacency. Surrendering to what-is allows one to remember that this too shall pass.

“Nothing in nature blooms all year. Be patient with yourself.” – Karen Salmansohn

We feel great when everything in life is going our way, things are magically falling into place and we’re encountering success after success. However these seasons can be so alluring that we become attached and wish for them to never end. As a result, when our world slows down, life just isn’t good enough anymore.

“There are cycles of success when things come to you and thrive and cycles of failure when they wither or disintegrate and you have to let them go in order for new things to arise or for transformation to happen. If you cling and resist at that point, it means you are refusing to go with the flow of life and you will suffer. Dissolution is needed for new growth to happen. One cycle cannot exist without the other.” – Eckhart Tolle, The Power Of Now

Each season serves a purpose and so to deny one season and only accept another is futile. It’s become the norm to place expectations on ourselves and our lives wherein a season of harvest means you’re worthy and successful and a season of solitude or peace is mistaken for being a waste of time or a sign of laziness. Do we curse the Earth for slowing down in Winter? No, we know it’s a natural part of the Earth’s climate and it’s inevitable. Instead, we prepare for it and make the most of it whilst knowing there’ll be Spring again.

“Sunshine all the time makes a desert.” – Arab Proverb

When one learns to respect the impermanence of life and receives each season with open arms, there’s room for serenity and clarity. Instead of being afraid or attacking what-is, we remember that everything is temporary and nothing lasts forever; not even the so-called ‘bad’ times. Cycles on Earth are natural and necessary; they restore balance and regulate the atmosphere. So next time we find ourselves in a season we don’t like, let’s not judge ourselves. Let’s remember that there’s a time for everything and this too shall pass.

Overthinking will not change your life

There are times in life where we feel that things aren’t how we’d like them to be or how they ‘should’ be. We then fall into the trap of overthinking in a feeble attempt to find the solutions to our problems yet as Einstein says,

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” – Albert Einsten

Overthinking will never provide the clarity we desire since that’s what got us feeling so crap in the first place! It’s a vicious circle as we start to observe our life, think about what we’re unhappy with, go down an endless pit of over-analysing the problems in the hopes to find a solution, realise we’re creating problems that we didn’t even notice before, start to overthink every aspect of life as if we need to fix it (when in fact life is never ‘broken’ or something that needs ‘fixing’), then we’ll notice we’re overthinking everything and so worry about that, and then stress ourselves out trying to stop overthinking and so on it goes.

“Too much thinking leads to paralysis by analysis.” – Robert Herjavec

In my own personal experience, overthinking tends to stem from feelings of ‘not good enough.’

“I’m not good enough.”

“My job isn’t good enough.”

“My house isn’t good enough.”

“My life isn’t good enough.”

While it’s normal and healthy to look at our external world and think about what we’d like to improve, there’s a difference between being in a state of flow and working towards that improvement and being in a state of displeasure and working hard to change everything. The former acknowledges that you have the power to improve your life but you’re not dependent on those external circumstances to feel good, therefore you’re not questioning your self worth. Whereas the latter projects feelings of resistance to what-is wherein everything is perceived as wrong, incomplete and a failure. These labels and judgements can then result in feelings of apathy, unworthiness, self blame or self doubt. Pitiful thoughts such as the following start to creep in,

“What am I doing with my life?”

“I’m such a failure because I’m not where I should be in life.”

“Maybe I’m just not good enough otherwise I’d have everything I want.”

Yes we all have goals we’re working towards, yes we each want to fulfill our potential as an individual, yes we want to live the best life possible however feeling sorry for yourself or putting so much pressure on yourself to obtain those achievements will not and does not work. Those thoughts and feeling only cause more grief and so solace seems even further away.

Our ego-mind believes that peace, self worth and fulfilment is elsewhere; it’s anywhere but here. Thoughts such as “I will feel good enough when I have that dream job” or “I will feel loved when I have the perfect relationship” are filled with insecurity and they’re fixated on outer events as if those events will give us salvation from the inner turmoil we feel. Not only do we become attached to the outer world but we start to base our identity on it as if having a lot to show for yourself makes you a better person. Yet it’s when we’re going with the flow of life and doing what makes us happy without overthinking that we have all of the energy and inspiration we want to naturally become the amazing person we’re striving way too hard to be.

Detachment is the only vehicle available to take you from striving to arriving.” – Wayne Dyer

Detach yourself from your overthinking and from looking to your outer world to find the feelings of peace and worthiness you so truly want and which are already ever-present.

“But if I just accept my life as it is when I now see there are so many things I’m unhappy with, I need to think about them in order to make a change” is the next thought that may appear. There’s a false belief that by accepting and surrendering to the present moment and life circumstances we will not elicit any change, as if appreciating what-is will make us complacent, yet life is ever-changing. It is this resistance to the present moment which creates suffering and as a result makes us feel like we’re stuck in a rut.

I can look back on my life at moments where I could say my life wasn’t ‘perfect’ and I wasn’t where I wanted to be in certain areas yet I still got to where I needed to be and it wasn’t by overthinking; it was by enjoying my life as-is which in turn allowed room for grace and for events to effortlessly fall into place. My overthinking could not have come up with or strategised the ways I entered my desired career, the relationships that grew stronger or any events which have brought me true fulfilment and wonder.

“A Course in Miracles rightly points out that, whenever you are unhappy, there is the unconscious belief that the unhappiness “buys” you what you want. If “you” — the mind — did not believe that unhappiness works, why would you create it? The fact is, of course, that negativity does not work. Instead of attracting a desirable condition, it stops it from arising. Instead of dissolving an undesirable one, it keeps it in place. Its only “useful” function is that it strengthens the ego, and that is why the ego loves it.” – Eckhart Tolle

Our minds are wired for survival and so will naturally look for problems to solve and things to change but try not let yourself go down that dark road of overthinking. Remove yourself from those worrisome thoughts and take away their power by accepting that they’ll occur. Befriend those thoughts and your mind by giving them thanks for caring about you and your life so much! Then leave it at that and remind yourself as much as possible that you are already an amazing human being who doesn’t need to strive so hard to be happy or work so hard to prove yourself.

Denying The Present Moment

Our minds love to wander, imagine the future and ponder the many different possibilities of life, which can sometimes be ‘anywhere but here.’

While there are great moments in life where we’re fully present, there are also moments where dissatisfaction can creep in without us realising. However instead of facing the uncomfortable feeling, we do everything to avoid it.

We fill our schedules up ‘to be busy’, plan a holiday ‘to get away.’ Being busy and going on holiday are fantastic activities however there’s a difference between doing them from a place of genuine excitement and using them as a way of escaping life.

“Every place you don’t want to be at feels like a prison. And we have so many desires, expectations and go back to the past and think about the future so often, that I can safely say that we live in such a prison all the time.

“So each time you wish you were somewhere else right now is another solid wall you build and thus make this imaginary building even stronger.” – Lidiya K.; This Moment

Thinking about the future needn’t bring up feelings of anxiety and impatience – this usually happens when one compares their current situation with their future by highlighting what’s ‘missing’ from the Now. Such thoughts are filled with doubt and fear,

“How am I going to get there?”

“What if I don’t make it?”

“I’m too far away from that vision.”

The thing to remember is that we’re always at the right place, at the right time. We are where we’re supposed to be and everything unfolds perfectly. As hard as that can be to accept at times, it’s really not that bad.

Look back on your life to moments where you’ve felt dissatisfied or distant from your dreams and think about where you are now. What have you accomplished since then? How much have you grown as a person? What has worked out which you couldn’t see working out at the time?  In those difficult moments, you probably thought, “Oh my, how am I going to get from here to there?” Life is a journey and the path isn’t always clear-cut. Most of the time the route unfolds along the way and in ways we couldn’t have imagined ourselves.

“Realise deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” — Eckhart Tolle

Instead of trying to deny the present moment, feel it and observe the thoughts and feelings which come. Remember that’s all they are; thoughts. Life is calling to teach you something and the choice of embracing it with Love or running away with Fear is up to you.

“It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.” – Eckhart Tolle