It’s amazing how quickly things we once loved to do can become things we “have to” do. A listening ear wouldn’t have to go far these days to hear people complaining about all the things they “have to” do. And there are definitely some things that might belong on that list but I know I’ve got some on mine that were once on the “want to do” list and that ought to still be there.
Whether it’s the sweet little gestures that bring us so much pleasure to offer at the outset of a new romance or the excitement we get when we first engage with a new craft, the novelty seems to easily wear off and we often end up with a source of joy turned into a dreaded obligation.
Why is this?
The more I experience this delicate dance between “want to” and “have to,” I’ve discovered that, most of the time, when something that was once enjoyable turns into a chore, it’s because I’ve misused it or approached it with an intention that is not sustainable.
When I first started playing music, I was like a child who’d just been given the most amazing new toy. I couldn’t stay away and every experience was full of discovery, exploration and elation. As my passion for music grew and my desire to make it into a career followed, my initial freeing experience gave way to one that was much more of a struggle at times.
What changed? Was music no longer the magical mysterious art form I had believed it to be? Did my sensory preferences suddenly change?
Fortunately, it wasn’t either of those things. What happened was that I made a very common yet fundamental human error. I experienced joy through the experience of playing music and I falsely concluded that music was the SOURCE of that joy. I became so identified with music as THE source of my joy that I gave all my power to it and attached myself to the idea that I needed to fill my life with as much music as possible in order to continue to be joyful. I became so fixated on this vision of how I wanted my life to look and how I was supposed to find fulfillment that I left no room for new possibilities and for the path I was on to lead me anywhere other than the one destination I had in mind.
For many of us, this also happens in relationships, both of the intimate and friendly variety. What tends to happen is that we experience such a beautiful connection with someone and they offer a truly loving reflection of who we are and then we make the mistake of attributing that feeling we get to them. We believe that they are the source, the one and only source of that good feeling whether it be love, confidence, security, belonging, acceptance or connection and we naturally become attached.
What both of these experiences have in common is the misperception that the source of the good feeling we want to be filled with is outside of us. When we make this error, we often become attached to something external and we misuse it to access a certain feeling until that person or thing is no longer able to provide it, until it is completely dry of the juiciness which initially drew us to it.
The tricky thing is that the other person, or the pleasurable thing (music in my case) are PART of the experience of feeling good. They are the vehicle through which we get to know and experience our own joy, greatness, capacity for love, creativity, etc.
The challenge arises when we miss our part in the equation, and assume that it’s all about the other part. When we do this, we overlook our own power, our own ability to create our states and source our good feelings, essentially affirming that we are lacking. From this state, it’s no wonder that we use and abuse our counterparts until they have nothing left to give us. When we don’t acknowledge, own and experience OUR OWN inherent value, nothing outside of us will ever be able to fill us up.
We’ve all heard this truism before and although this is not some groundbreaking revelation, it’s one that is worthy of repetition because it’s easy to forget. When the very thing that once brought you so much joy and fulfillment seems to be weighing you down and sucking the life out of you, chances are you’ve forgotten and have lost sight of the core truth.
The truth is that each of us holds the key to our own happiness.
No person, place or thing outside of us can be the source of our joy or our feeling good-ness, although they can provide us temporary access. Once that access is granted, it’s up to us to take ownership of those sensations and states by realizing that they exist within us. Then, our next challenge and opportunity is to grow in our ability to cultivate our own feeling good-ness, to bring it to whatever we do and to share it with others by inviting them into that experience.
If you’ve been having this sense of obligation and feeling like you “have to” do something that you once loved to do or that you wish you really wanted to do, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and see if you’ve been doing your part in bringing the joy, the love, and the magic to the experience.
If you haven’t, the solution is simple. Remember that YOU are the ultimate source of your feelings and your experience. Connect with the source within so you can come to your craft, your relationships, your passions with a full tank of goodness, and see how much further you will be carried and how much higher you will be lifted. Perhaps it’s your turn to provide a loving reflection or access to someone else to that good feeling you’ve tasted of and have been missing.
It’s right there and it has been all along. It’s yours to claim and share whenever you’re ready.
Published by The Daily Love (Jan. 17, 2014)