A wonderful teacher of mine, the late Angeles Arrien, had the most insightful way of encapsulating pearls of wisdom. One that has stayed with me and serves as a constant reminder is: ” be focused on outcome but not attached to outcome”.
In essence we cannot control the outcome, as many unknown variables may occur, but we still try. Having the agility and flexibility to adjust, without losing sight of the outcome is key. This I feel is at the cause of much anxiety, unhappiness and disappointment. We have forgotten to go with the flow. Many people have written on this very issue, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in particular, in Finding the Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life. In Flow, Mihaly describes those exhilarting moments when we feel in control, full of purpose and in the zone. And it reveals how people have turned even the most unpleasant tasks into enjoyable, rewarding challenges.
It is fascinating how society has created this perception that everything should be easy, and that we can achieve anything we want. That is part of this creating of attachments for many people, which can lead to disappointment when it does not work out. Contrary to what we usually believe….the best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times – although such experiences can be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to the limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. I would also add when we are not attached to the outcome!
I immediately know I am attached to a specific outcome whenever I notice the sensations of anxiety and other uncomfortable emotions in my body. Mindfulness gives me the ability to be with these sensations and to not judge them, it helps me notice, and question the underlying thoughts and beliefs that trick me into thinking there is anything I really need other than wide open awareness in this moment.
This is why, increasingly, I find that the goal that tops my list is mindfulness itself. Because, through mindfulness, everything is accomplished, and there is nothing to do but be here and creatively and spontaneously serve and share the love. Now there is another word that we seem to have forgotten to embrace in corporate life, sometimes even within our community – love. What is it we are afraid of in including that in our daily interactions, and in setting our bigger goals or desires I wonder.
- Do you find that you are trying to ge somewhere in life?
- What are you trying to be, have or do?
- What are your heartfelt dreams, visions and goals?
Notice I said heartfelt dreams. We need that balance of heart and mind, as it is the dance between that make the dreams real, fully integrated with who we are.
What if we took the most effective step towards out goals by being right where we are, right now?
Focus on the outcome, from a different perspective – non attachment! And see what might eventuate without grasping.