Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Cushy Life

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I want to be as comfortable as possible. Give me air-conditioning and memory-foam mattress toppers and fast internet. I want my surroundings to be as cushy as I can make them. After I've worked so hard to make my life comfortable, at the very end of the day, if I have any energy left over, then I might think about other people. This is not good.

There's nothing wrong with taking care of myself, with putting myself first, because if I don't no one else will, but striving for a cushy life means I don't tolerate discomfort at my expense. And it takes more and more for me to feel comfortable. Like the princess and the pea who slept on a hundred mattresses and could feel the pea stuck between the bottom two. This focus on me has made me a little self-centered. My mindset of late has been, “What can you do for me? What can I get from you?”

A cushy life is great and all, but I'd much rather have a blissful one.
A cushy life is great and all, but I'd much rather have a blissful one.

Friends, this is no way to live and does not lead to any sort of fulfillment. My spiritual teacher says the formula for bliss is service minus information. I have been decidedly low on service and high on information, so of course I'm not feeling bliss. Some people have a disdain for information, calling it useless, but that's not true. Information is only useless if it's not applied. Information is like fruit in a bowl. The fruit is only good if I eat it. Right now, instead of using all the fruit in my bowl, it's going to waste.

Service is the key to keeping my fruit from rotting. There's a different mindset around true service. I serve others because it's fun and it's free, not because I get any benefit, although that's a nice perk. When I serve others out of a sense of obligation or because I “should,” it's no longer service and instead a recipe for resentment. Service starts with a shift in mentality from “me, me, me,” to “we, we, we.” And when I shift my perspective, opportunities to serve present themselves, from giving someone a ride to the airport, to holding the door open for someone, to starting an orphanage.

Service often gets relegated to that one weekend of the month volunteering for so-and-so, but I'm finding it's important to make service a part of my daily life. I'm such an extreme person that I think service has to be a grand affair. It doesn't. Service starts in the mind, and that means thinking of others. My challenge right now is to serve myself and to serve others. I have a tendency to be “all or nothing,” so I need to not overextend myself too much. A little bit of stress leads to growth; a lot of stress leads to illness and injury. A cushy life is great and all, but what is it costing me? Maybe my life needs to be a little less cushy and a lot more service-oriented. After all, bliss feels a lot better than comfort.

I dream of a world where we serve each other. A world where life is a little less “me, me, me” and more “we, we, we.” A world where instead of striving for a cushy life, we strive for a blissful one.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

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