“Happiness is like a cat. If you try to coax it or call it, it will avoid you… But if you pay no attention to it and go about your business, you’ll find it rubbing up against your legs and jumping into your lap.”
~ Dr. William J. Bennett, American author and educator
This post isn’t specifically about happiness or cats. However, if you can imagine being in a situation where a contented cat (literally or figuratively) is purring on your lap… was that a smile?
The real reason for this blog is to pose a question and invite you into a conversation.
The question: Are you at a point in life where you’re not sure what’s next? Not in the sense of “should I do the dishes or watch the news”. But rather, a wondering about what is next for you in the bigger scope of life, pondering who you were meant to be, wondering how your next chapter will read. You’re not miserable, but just not particularly a contented cat.
According to Carl Jung this, along with some other deep questions, is our job in the second half of life.
Perhaps you’ve been in a certain career, on a particular path, or in a role for a while now. It no longer lights you up. Something is off but you can’t quite put your finger on it. You could stay the course, coast along, but that doesn’t feel good.
Is there another “gig” in my future, you ponder? If so, what is it? Or, you might wonder, Is it too late for something new? Can there be a “what’s next” for me? What could it be?
What if I told you that it’s really none of your business?
You’d probably sputter, roll your eyes, snicker.
I’ll say it again. What’s next for you in this beautiful journey of life is none of your business.
(Let’s qualify this with the assumption that your basic needs – physiological and safety – are being met. If so, we can continue this conversation.)
Paying attention is your business.
Awareness is always a good place to start.
Years ago, I worked with a great lady who used to start her daily huddles with the reminder “Radar on, Antenna Up!” I quote her frequently. This is such a great call to attention and a way to monitor and refocus that attention.
Because, when we sit and stew about what’s next, we create walls of worry.
But, when we ratchet up our awareness and curiosity, we create paths.
When we fixate on only one possible solution, we miss out on possibilities we may never have considered.
When we don’t believe there are possibilities, we shut them out. When we believe they’re there, we let them in.
When we look ahead with anticipation and trust toward what seems to be a hazy destination, the journey is a joyful one.
This is not hocus-pocus or Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz clicking her heels and chanting “I do believe.” This is about implementing awareness and curiosity and paying attention to what shows up.
Let go of the struggle
Does this sound anti-goal or plan? Its not. I love purpose and aspiration. It’s just that I have come to see the value in letting go of the struggle. That is what impedes the creative process. And, make no mistake, it is your creative process that leads to the next best stage.
So, this is our business: Awareness, curiosity, anticipation and trust. Living in an open-ended question that guides us in the direction of our highest good. Taking the small steps, listening with our ears and body, adjusting our course and taking more steps. Knowing instinctively when you’ve arrived at the next place.
And then it’s about the happy cat leaping onto your lap.
I’d love to hear how this lands for you. Please leave a comment below.