Do you constantly strive to make your life better?
And are you focussed on one day, some day doing all the things you want to do?
But what would your life be like if you could somehow accept that what you currently have is good enough?
Last Sunday, with a friend I watched the film “As Good as It Gets” starring Jack Nicholson, one of my all time favourite actors. Just looking at his face with its wicked grin usually creased me up. Maybe that also says a lot about me?
This film is also one of my favourite films and if you haven’t yet watched it, I highly recommend it. It’s very funny but with a serious message too.
The film is about a best selling romance novelist who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and his developing interest in a waitress. He suffers from various ailments and prejudices, and the film chronicles his development into a better and almost likeable human being.
Half way through the fim, this main character visits his shrink and on his way out he looks at all the people in the waiting room and says – “What if this is as good as it gets?”
Indeed, what if your life was already as good as it gets?
In a way, you life today is already as good as it gets, since your present life today is the only one you have. Granted, things may have been better for you in the past say materially or you were in a happy relationship, but those things are no longer and they now only reside in your memories.
As for the future, it’s still not here and no one knows what’s in store for you, not even the best psychic or medium in the world.
The moment you accept that your life is already the best ever, a number of amazing things happen:-
1. You begin to appreciate what you already have
So from today onwards, stop looking elsewhere as the grass is not really greener anywhere else.
2. You begin to make the most of your time.
This is key – spend your life on activities you value and with people you love. Enjoy what you have now whilst you have the time and you have your loved ones
3. You stop taking for granted all the special people in your life
Begin to truly appreciate those people already in your life.
4. You stop constantly striving to become better at everything.
This is not to say you stop trying to improve things but you now come from a place of creativity rather than struggle.
5. You start enjoying your things rather than waiting for that “special” day
Yes, start using that brand new china set and yes, wear your best outfit for dinner tonight at home.
6. You actually get very aware and present to the world around you
Ironically, you develop urgency to make the most of what you have.
7. You begin creating your legacy today rather than someday one day.
If you are not going to share your gifts with the world today, then when?
Have we ever had it better?
If you are really honest with yourself, most areas of your life are already great, aren’t they? Maybe you just need some fine-tuning in one or two areas.
On the material and convenience front, most people in the West have never had it better. So maybe you just need to appreciate that yes, life is indeed already good. That will then free up your creativity, your joy and also your innate desire to make a difference in the world.
Remember, your life is already as good as it gets.
Now go and enjoy it – and make it even better if that’s even possible, considering it’s already as good as it gets:-)
Photo courtesy of Greencolander
I have mixed feelings about this post. On one hand, I see the point you’re trying to make about appreciating what we already have. But on the other hand, I’m against anything that even feels like “settling” and acting as if this is as good as it gets. If we convince ourselves that this is as good as life will ever be, then aren’t all the positive effects just a way of coping – like Stockholm syndrome, where people fall in love with their captors as a way to cope with being in captivity?
I think there’s a very, very fine line between being grateful for what you have and being complacent. For me, one of the great challenges in life is learning to walk that line.
Jeffrey, you have made some excellent points.
By accepting and appreciating what we already have, we release all the stress associated with not wanting to be here and instead wanting to be somewhere else e.g. the future.
You are then freed up to use your creativity and freedom to actually create what you wish for but from a place of abundance and fulfilment, rather than scarcity.
And yes, no “settling”.
As someone said to me one, don’t settle down, settle up:-)
It’s funny Arvind that people strive so hard for happiness by always chasing after it in their lives, when happiness can be found by accepting life as great in the present moment. If we start to appreciate the small things in life, life will feel more meaningful. As result, it will feel like abundance is coming to us, instead of us chasing after it.
Hulbert, I would go even further and say that our abundance is already here and we just have to get present to it.
Abundance encompasses all the goodness around us e.g. nature, animals, our home, our family and friends and all the other things that are in our life.
I love this post. I have come to believe that all personal development involves finding the balance between striving and breath, between effort and acceptance. The only times when we get it really right, in my opinion, are those rare moments when we do both at the same time.
Thanks LPC – I agree with you about finding the right balance in personal development. But so often we become PD course junkies when we refuse to accept what we already have.
I remember reading somewhere about being really chilled out and at the same time being very present. That’s what Zen masters and so many other spirutual teachers aspire us to do.
The moment we accept the present moment as the only moment we have and hence the “best” moment we have, everything transforms.
I might also suggest that change and press forward should be the mantra of the young, accept and find joy be the mantra of the, well, less young.
I’ve never watched the movie before but I’ll be sure to order it on Netflix today. It sounds like a great movie to watch.
I was thinking about my life lately and I have decided that right now it is as good as it gets. Of course there are some things that I do not have now (I really wish my family was closer than at a 16-hours-flight distance) but other than that I am completely happy with what I have. I can say that I have a 90/10% balance of happiness and unhappiness in my life. I think that it is pretty good!
Thank you, Arvind, for writing this post. It is important to remember that the life is already full and enjoy what you have.
Anastasiya, you are in for quite a treat, when you watch this film. Though I have watched it many times before, I was still in hysterics when I watched it on Sunday.
And thanks for sharing about your 90% / 10% balance of happiness and unhappiness in your life – what an achievement. You are the perfect, balanced person to teach the world how to lead a balanced life – and you are doing such a fabulous job with your blog:-)
This post is worth many Personal Development books!
I don’t see this as “settling”. In fact, it is when you begin living like this that your life generally begins to improve. The bonus to this is that you enjoy this improvements as it is going on without having to project happiness in the future.
Thank you very much
Christopher, thanks for your kind words. Maybe I should now give away my collection of Personal Development books!
it is indeed not about “settling” but coming from a point of acceptance and then creating something even better.
And as you say, life generally begins to improve anyway when you begin to live like this.
I had a problem in professional area, I always expected to make some kind of masterpiece, less then that couldn’t satisfied me! I was saying to my self- THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH! So I did nothing! :))) I change that, and now I’m more productive and creative then ever!
Maja, great insight and thanks for sharing.
Perfectionism stops us from starting so many projects – and I should know, I am a master perfectionist!
Time to be more productive and creative than ever:-)
Arvind, thanks for making us think – once again! I agree with everyone’s viewpoint who’s left a comment. On the one hand gratitude for what IS your life and all the abundance we already have and take for granted is HUGE. If we refuse to recognize the good that already exists – we will never get off that merry-go-round of chasing after the next brass ring. But, as Jeffrey mentions early on, if we become complacent about accepting what is – we will never stretch and grow either. I agree that it’s a fine balance that must be struck between the two.
Wake up and give thanks for your life and all the wonderful people in it – then go out and seize the day!
Thanks Angela – having been inspired by your latest blog post, I have just been a “joy magnet”.
Yes, be grateful for all the abundance around us but don’t let that stop you from growing and creating even more.
Indeed, let’s all now seize the day.
I have to agree with Jefferey here. I would say that life is absolutely sacred as it is and we must learn how to appreciate the daily miracles we are surrounded with, including ourselves; however admitting that something is wrong is the first step to finding a solution.
“If it had not been for the discontent of a few who had not been satisfied with their condition we would still be living in caves. Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.”~Eugene V. Debs
Justin, in a way I agree with what both you and Jeffrey are saying.
However, I am coming from a place of seeing that there is nothing “wrong” – it is what it is, no more and no less. it just is.
I feel that accepting that all is well then opens up more creativity and possibilities for making the world even better:-)
Maybe I was not very clear in my initial post about where I am coming from.
I love Jack Nicholson as well – and this film is great! I’ve seen it a couple times.
Once again, excellent topic. Appreciation is so powerful (my post today happens to be about it!). We just don’t realize sometimes how the simplest things can be so beneficial. I stumbled upon Abraham-Hicks Rampage of Appreciation a few years ago. The simple act of beginning my day writing down what I was appreciative of CHANGED MY LIFE. After a short time, I was on a real high. It shifts our perspective to what IS working and what we do have now.
I think those are points you make in your post too. We have so much right now and now is where it’s at – it’s where we are at. We miss our now in pursuit of what might be. A happy life is comprised of a series of happy moments. Yet, silly us, we chase some rainbow of a happy life and miss out on what in reality gives us the opportunity to have a happy life – creating a happy moment NOW.
We get to do that – create a happy moment now. I think I’ll turn on some music right now and dance!
Thanks, Arvin, once again, for reminding us HOW GOOD LIFE IS NOW!
Lauren, do turn on some music and dance!
Very powerful way of living life – create a happy moment now rather than chasing some rainbow of a happy life.
Now is where we are at and that is all we have.
While I am all for making best out of situation and be happy in current situation, I am somewhat optimist who likes to think best is yet to come. Maybe as I grow old, I may change thinking but for now I sure like to think that way, is it wrong? Some movies do make us think hard!
Thanks for stopping by my blog for comment as I like feedback from people whose writing I admire.
Zengirl, please please always remain an optimist as you grow older. Please be assured that there is nothing wrong with thinking that way.
What would ever make you change your thinking?
Continue to be happy and makeing the best of any situation.
By the way you will like my new post, please tell me your thoughts on it.
Blogging philosophy: Pro blogger Vs. Newbie: Real heroes are readers
Arvind, hello again – thank you for this interesting post and discussion. My sense of what you are trying to say about “your life is already as good as it gets” is that all the goodness and gratitude of your life is right here in this very moment that you are alive and breathing. It is not in your memories of yesterday, or in your hopes and motivation for tomorrow. It is all here, at this very second – in the now of your life. And since the now is all that you have, you really do have it all, at this very moment. That is as good as it gets.
We live so much in our minds that we have forgotten the sensory experience that connects us the greater web of life. That sensory experience takes place in the present. Each breath we breathe is a physical connection in the now of our daily life. We no longer breathe the past, and we cannot breathe the future. All we can do is take one breath at a time, in this time we have at this present. That is all we can do, and yet it is everything we can do, in terms of being truly alive. And that is as good as it gets.
In the breathing now of this moment in the mountains, warm wishes to you from Japan – Catrien Ross.
Exactly, Catrien, we already have all the goodness in our life all around us – if only we can see that.
In your first paragraph, you have actually articulated much better than me every thing I was trying to say.
This is such a lovely post. Very zen in nature – live in the present as it is all we have. I agree completely that we’ve never had it so good. How could life be better at any given moment? Another comment talks about the balance between mastery and mystery – if we strive too hard to master everything and control our future, we miss out on now, if we live in complete mystery we can lose direction. I believe in the middle way – live each moment to the full and try to let our light flow to the world. Thanks for a great post.
Phil, I hadn’t seen my article in a Zen light, so thanks for that interpretation.
I love your suggestion for choosing the middle way between mastery and mystery.
Lets all live for the moment to the full and at the same time let our light flow to the world.
PS By the way Phil, did you get my reply to your email about meeting up for tea? I will be honoured indeed to meet you.
I’ve just discovered your wonderful blog and found this great post.
I agree in that the ‘eternal now’ is all there is. If we embrace the now, then we are not resisting whatever is happening in this moment. I fully believe that what we resist, persists. I believe that by accepting whatever is in our face in this moment, we are then releasing it by our very acceptance and making room for what we truly desire to manifest.
I do not believe it is being complacent to accept what is manifesting in the now. It is about acknowledging it and then setting it free. Then we can turn our attention and energy to creating all that our heart desires.
Thank you for sharing your profound words with us all.