Thursday, March 26, 2015

Showing Up

"Ever Faithful"
- The Sun Rises at the Desert Retreat House -

Yesterday someone posted a comment in response to one of my blog articles, saying: "I've always thought that the main way you find success and happiness in life is by just showing up." The comment really grabbed my attention. 

I think this comment struck me so much because it was so different from what I so often hear when people write or talk about finding happiness in life - the "10 habits of successful leaders."  the  "7 ingredients for happy living," the "12 keys for growing a lively church," the "5 ways of effective meditation." Instead, this person simply said, you find happiness if you "just show up." 

I've been thinking about that comment ever since I read it. At first blush, that one little sentence may sound sort of simple, perhaps even simplistic; however, I think it contains a profound wisdom. 

I often wonder what people mean when they talk about being successful or finding happiness in life. It seems to me as if so many of us measure our happiness against the backdrop of some great Hollywood blockbuster. 

Just like in the movies, people expect smooth sailing and perfect joy in their relationships - spouses who are always supportive, living happily ever after in the soft glow of the setting sunset, grateful children with tears in their eyes thank their adoring parents for caring so deeply for them  Others may imagine their happiness as a scene where they get the big promotion at work as their colleagues all cheer and pat them on the back. Or perhaps they might imagine achieving spiritual success by seeing some divine light appearing in rays from the clouds, hearing the thundering voice of God:"well done good and faithful servant."  - just like in the movies. 

But for the most part that stuff rarely if ever happens. 

Life is difficult.  Relationships can be dull and often demand a great deal of self sacrifice - most kids never say "thank you" to mom for making their lunch every day.  Work is usually routine and often boring, and when it comes to the spiritual life, there are some times in which we might experience thin-place moments of transcendence, but just as often Holy Presence seems far more absent than present. 

In his book, An Undefeated Mind, Dr. Alex Luckerman argues that we find true happiness and deep peace in life when we can develop the resiliency of an undefeated mind. He puts it this way:

An undefeated mind isn't one that never feels discouraged or despairing;
it's one that continues on in spite of it.
Even when we can't find a smile to save us, 
even when we're tired beyond all endurance,
possessing an undefeated mind means never forgetting that
defeat comes not from failing but from giving up.

As I see it, we have an "undefeated mind" when we are able to just "show up" for life no matter what. 

So, get up in the morning and show up for it all, hang in there, let go of all expectations and see what bubbles up. When you do this it's amazing what happiness you can find.

I got up this morning and, faithful as ever, the sun showed up.  So did I. 

Who knows what life may have to offer me today. 

Surprise me.

Listen to my podcast: "Desert Wisdom"

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