By David Romanelli
Being a lover of great quotes, I recently stumbled upon a classic: “There are three ways in which we may relate ourselves to the world – we may exploit it, we may enjoy it, we may accept it in awe.”
It got me thinking about how much time and focus I spend on making money and building my career -- essentially exploiting the world. Such consumption-driven efforts are not only destructive to the environment, but also to the spirit. Maybe this “exploitation” is why I tend to feel a lack, a struggle, a nervousness.
According to the world’s wisest cultures – those with the most ancient traditions -- the solution to so many of our problems is quite simple: Dare to live less at the maddening pace of the modern world, and to live more in the moment. The yogi Satprem said, “One can act and do much for the world in the silence and stillness of one’s own body. A clinging illusion makes us confuse agitation with action.”
Following are three tips on how to “accept the world in awe.” Follow them and see if they bring you greater success, health and happiness:
1. Consider the Costa Rican
Costa Rica was recently rated the #1 Happiest Country in the World by the Happy Planet Index. It didn’t get this rating because its people are the most financially sound. The Happy Planet Index is based on the “relative efficiency with which nations convert the planet’s natural resources into long and happy lives for their citizens.” What Costa Ricans lack in modern infrastructure, they more than make up for in beautiful beaches and lush forests that are protected by the Costa Rican government. The evidence shows that a connection to nature leads to a happier, more fulfilled human being.
Whether you live in the Great Plains, high in the Rockies or deep in the city, spend more time honoring the value of the outdoors. Watch the sunset. Enjoy the full moon. Breathe in the morning air. If you don’t have time, consider your priorities. A wise man once said, “Being rich is a measurement of how much money you have. Being wealthy is a measurement of how much time you have.”
2. Stop Taking, Start Giving
“Takers” are people who make you feel tired, depleted, tweaked. They are always exploiting the world, figuring out how to enhance their lives at the expense of everyone and everything. They tend to talk about subjects that are anything but inspiring. Not only do we all know “takers,” sometimes we all are takers.
But we all have the ability to enjoy and appreciate life as “givers.” A giver makes people feel better, happier, lighter. Givers are concerned with what they can contribute to the world, what they can say, do, offer or add to the present moment. So think twice the next time you’re in a casual conversation. Are you taking from…or giving to the moment? Someone once said, “Intelligent people talk about ideas. Average people talk about things. Small people talk about other people.”
3. Trust in the moment
For the past five years, I’ve been traveling the country teaching the Yoga + Chocolate experience, a two-hour workshop that shares exotic chocolate as an accessible gateway to the present moment. I created it with Katrina Markoff, founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, whom I met while searching for a snack in the Munchi Mart during our sophomore year of college. That was in 1993, before anyone had a cell phone, let alone an email address. In 1993, there was actually time to stop and talk to a stranger while standing in line or shopping for food. If that encounter with Katrina had taken place in 2009, we never would have connected. Nowadays, standing in line or shopping for groceries doubles as time to catch up on emails on the Blackberry. One can’t help but ask: What, who, and how much are we missing while stuck staring at the gadgets?
In other words, by missing the moments, are we missing valuable opportunities, encounters, and experiences? Think of it this way: By slowing down and moving more in line with the natural rhythms witnessed in the forest or mountains, we honor the fact that lightning does strike. When we move at a hurried, frenzied pace, it’s as if we no longer acknowledge a power beyond our own. As Natalie Goldberg said, “Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.”
David Romanelli is the author of Yeah Dave's Guide to Livin' the Moment and the creator of the Yoga + Chocolate and Yoga + Wine experiences. A Yahoo! Wellness Expert, David is the co-founder of At One Yoga in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona.