THINGS are IMPROVING We need a wider perspective then day to day evaluation BY: Troy Murphy | October 2015
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“Things are getting better,” we tell ourselves, stringing a few good days together. It doesn’t matter who or what disrupts our peace, occasionally agitations settle—at least temporarily, and we feel peace. Change usually occurs in imperceptible increments, a few happy days indicates nothing. The normal ebb and flow of good and bad days doesn’t point the direction of our lives. Usually a few good or bad days are not a new pattern, indicating change; just the regular flow of life.
By expecting each pleasant experience to be the inauguration of paradise or, conversely, each deviating setback the sign of impending disaster, we overlook the normal ups and downs of living, giving each experience more importance than it deserves. By investing too much in single experience, the temporary enjoyments eventually disappoint and setbacks cause undue stress. This approach to experience destroys the present moment, the only piece of time where enjoyment is experienced.
Our side commentary judging improvement from limited enjoyment simultaneously expresses discontent with the overall condition of our lives. The momentary respite quickly dissolves when the normal humdrum of living resumes, reminding that things aren’t improving, or not improving enough. Like the stock market, a few days of losses doesn’t indicate a long-term direction. Life is complex full of good and bad days. We must broaden our view, accepting the momentary frustrations, and enjoying the passing pleasures.
By panicking over disappointments, sadness, or frustrations, we disconnect from the moment, swallowed in an avalanche of thought trying to explain why life sucks; and why we continue to fail.
We must broaden our view, accepting the momentary frustrations, and enjoying the passing pleasures."
Measuring progress is difficult. Growth happens over months, years and decades. The minute changes subtly transform our lives. Often change is obscured in smallness. Small movements in the right direction, while not magically transforming, play out over time. We move forward continually adapting as new circumstances emerge. We may not see improvement until we step back and view our lives against the backdrop of years and decades, seeing our progress from a wider perspective that we clearly see the growth. When watching a flower bloom without the aid of time lapsed photography we never see movement—but over the course of a few days the bud opens into a beautiful flower.
Constant evaluation discourages efforts. Do the right things today. Constructive behaviors create change. Things improve; in their own time and in their own way. While momentary setbacks disrupt and hurt, they don’t have to destroy progress. A few happy days shouldn’t signal success, encouraging slowing of the work to change; enjoy pleasure while it lasts. We must maintain faith in our proven good works, whether momentary circumstances immediately reflect improvement or not. Keep going. Keep gathering wisdom from reputable sources. Surround yourselves with helpful others. We then can confidently proclaim, “things are improving.”