Consistent and Purposeful Effort The in-between existence BY: Troy Murphy |December 2016
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If we were to step back and objectively view humanity, we would discover complex structures of enjoyment and pain. We may see a small group who have mastered life and transcend the world of thorns, existing in a rare state of tranquility. On the other extreme, a larger band of people would be constantly struggling in chaos, drifting into deceptive crevices to escape the painful realities of existence. But somewhere between these extremes, the rest of us reside—not miserable enough to go mad but not tranquil enough to be satisfied. We bounce between emotions of pleasure and sorrow; purpose and pointlessness, trying to land in a comfortable resting spot before the grave. Life for most challenges their resolve but offers enjoyments, acceptance of these realities—the unwritten terms of life—enhance the experience of living.
Many fail to appreciate this in-between existence—neither paradise nor hell. They blindly scramble for escape, waiting on an unseen utopia to pull them free. Completely invested in the immediate benefits of pleasure, they ignore the more strenuous task of building character, developing ethics and morals that bring future stability and purposeful direction. Lives lived in the moment are motivated by selfish ends, ignoring principles of community and long-term fulfillment. Flourishing lives don’t settle for the simple momentary amusements, or selfish strivings, but consider the improvement of humanity.
Peddlers sell happiness, at least promise too. Companies titillate expectations of happiness by touting miraculous cures from the ordinariness of living. I’m extremely skeptical of miracle cures. Capitalism creates products for profit, ideological hogwash that appeals to emotional wants—not actual realities of realistic strivings (boring). We chase promises of great harvests that require little sewing.
Our actions define our character. When we nurture seeds of healthy character, we progress towards a bountiful harvest. Repeatedly performing healthy behaviors develops a healthy coherent self. Initiating change to current states requires us to fumble through awkward new responses. Change requires attention, effort and will—extracting large amounts of energy. Growth forces us to act against natural impulses of ease; the habitual bowing to the laziness of mind, replacing the rewards of hard earned gains with a barrage of justifications.
"But somewhere between these extremes, the rest of us reside—not miserable enough to go mad but not tranquil enough to be satisfied. We bounce between emotions of pleasure and sorrow; purpose and pointlessness, trying to land in a comfortable resting spot before the grave."
If we persevere—overtime—new behaviors become habit, relieving the cognitive load. New responses eventually seamlessly happen, as a new act of habit, without forced attention. Now the once attentive directed behaviors are part of our character, freeing mental space to initiate more changes. There is no magic pill or trick to achieve these life-changing benefits. Instead of chasing untested promises, dig down deep and extract new motivations, and begin the journey of purposeful change.