Have you ever wondered why it feels so different when you are doing something you want to do versus something you have to do? How about something you love to do versus something you can’t stand to do? How about something you believe in versus something you do not believe in?
Wait, people actually put their energy into something they don’t believe in?
The unfortunate truth, is that often human beings get involved in activities that drain their energy, in an effort to ensure a sense of self (Yes, Its really all about you 😉) . This is ultimately the intended goal. A very long term, ongoing, lasting desired series of outcomes that is blindly thought to be self serving, that drives many of our everyday activities. Creatures of habit, we are.
Yet engaging and putting energy into these activities, with the idea its outcome may lead to putting some sort of credit towards that ultimate goal, is really counter-intuitive and in the long run has quite the opposite effect. Certainly, the financial reward one might get from “selling your soul for a buck”, may offer the resources to engage those “being pleased” feelings, that feel oh so good. Yet ultimately the memory linked those feelings of being pleased, lure us to repeat the process. Is this really offering that sense of security one is looking for? Sounds more like the prison of an addiction to me.
Okay, so I digress. Now, why is putting your energy into an activity bigger than yourself so important? Why is it beneficial?
A phrase that is often thrown around today and has become quite popular is, “being in the moment”. What exactly does that mean, and why has it become so popular? Well, its not really very hard to cognitively understand, it is being fully present in what it going on RIGHT NOW or in the particular moment. Yet, it is surprisingly difficult to practice. In fact, the alternative is the primary source for agitation in the mind.
Okay, fair enough, being in the moment is important. So why is it so difficult to actually do this?
We are a funny little animal. We engage with the world with our senses. We have an experience ( a sunset at the beach), our senses process this experience ( the comforting smell of the salt air, the feeling of the cool beach sand between the toes, a view of the magnificent array of changing colors and scene, coupled with the sound of the wind blowing as the waves crash onto the shore), our brain sends electrical signals to the body ( a wonderful flow of very calm, warm, euphorically desirable sensations from the sunset), we react to these sensations, (Mmmmm, I LIKE THIS FEELING A LOT), a defined wiring is created in the brain ( Experiencing this sunset thing is going to make me feel like that again? YES PLEASE!).
So, now we have gone on with our life, back to other activities beyond that wonderful sunset experience. Maybe one of those activities we really don’t believe in, maybe something mundane, maybe something you just really don’t care to be doing, likely something you cognitively feel is “below” you. Now, all of a sudden, instead of being fully engaged with the activity, that “moment”, you place part of your energy on the memory of that sunset. That wonderfully euphoric moment of sensation you experienced in the past. You may even start to get those feelings again…..ah how wonderful (you know, daydreaming).
(Queue the tape rewind sound bit) Then, in a snap something that is actually happening “Right Now” interrupts this wonderful moment, and oh that feeling of euphoria is traded for dread.
You see, there is a reason that we are continually wandering off out of true reality and into the land of past experiences (no longer here, they’re in the past silly) or jumping into the future land of non-existence (because it hasn’t happened yet). It is because what is real, the activity, that “moment” we keep talking about (you know the only tangibly real thing going on), is being clouded by the expectations of that previous wiring of YOURS.
You know (or maybe you don’t), I want these feelings, I don’t want those feelings, and this “moment” is not listening, so I gotta go somewhere else to experience those expectations. Well, wait, there really isn’t anywhere “real” to go, beyond what is “NOW”, is there?
Alright, now that we have established the true reason “being in the moment” is important, let’s go back to the discussion of, why engaging in something bigger than yourself is important. (Hopefully you are starting to see where I am going with this). If you truly believe what you are doing is bigger than yourself, (I mean truly, without having to come up with an excuse to convince yourself or make yourself feel better), you will become utterly and completely engaged in the moment. You will be doing something, beyond those pre-conditioned expectations. You will be letting go of the agitation brought upon by the attachment to those expectations and finding a sense of detachment from that agitation by being fully engaged with something not bound by selfish expectations.
Greater than myself? C’mon myself is the most important thing to me, right?
Well, that is for sure, and due to this, it is yourself that is your greatest adversary to peace of mind and ultimately your greatest source of agitation.
Why? “Myself” asks?
Well, it is the me, it is the my, it is the I, that is so deeply wired with those expectations for what it does and does not like, what it does and does not want, you know, those habits that drive one to dwell in a place that doesn’t exist. That throws an anchor, a hook, being pulled in every direction other than what is going on “NOW”. (Picture your body being pulled in multiple different directions, now that is what I call agitation, I mean medieval style!)
Every moment I work on the Brain Mechanics Mission, is truly a time when I am completely engaged in “the moment”. Why, because I truly believe in this mission! I truly believe we can make a significant change in the world. I believe in something that is much greater than myself. By doing so, I am existing beyond myself and my preconditioned expectations for how this moment should be, and I am working within this moment as it is, just doing my best to make something good happen. No need to wander into that land of past experience and no need to jump into the future land of desired outcomes, just fully engaged in the moment, working on this wonderful project and (this is the me, my, I side) hopefully making a difference in the world.
Try everyday to engage in an activity that is bigger than yourself. Maybe help an elderly person crossing the street (without expecting a thank you), teaching a friend or even just a random person a skill you have perfected (without expecting a dime), engaging in a mission to help other people (i mean really engaging, not to accomplish a selfish agenda or for name recognition) or as simple as telling a random someone checking you out at the grocery store they have a pretty name (Trust me, its special, I did it today), anything that is truly bigger than yourself.
One thing I forgot to mention is that, if you want to have a litmus test for whether you are accomplishing this, ask yourself, are you expecting anything in return? (remember those expectation things?) If you are, then your litmus paper is going to catch on fire and you will start jumping out of that moment thing. If you are doing this activity, without any sort of expectation for return, you are then engaging in something the is truly bigger than yourself. It is a little thing called selflessness and it is one of the most enlightening feelings one can experience. (Way better than that sunset!!)
If you want to give it a try……I happen to know a guy !!
Come check us out at Brain Mechanics, www.brainmechanics.org to see how we are using interesting approaches like machine learning embedded bio-metrics, functional medicine, tDCS, tACS, PEMF, neurofeedback, the RECode Protocol and AI to eradicate Alzheimer’s from the face of the Earth and build an open source model for healthcare! You too can join in our mission and try hanging in the moment with us as a Volunteer or as an Alzheimer’s Angel.