Happiness Is No Further Than Where You Are

Sometimes the things in life that we are looking for are right in our own backyard.  I recently discovered this to be true for myself as I made my preparations to travel to China.  Often, we look for escape in some fashion and convince ourselves that once we get to that point then we will achieve happiness, success or some other form of contentment that we feel we are lacking.  We focus so hard on what we feel like we are missing that we forget to see the success we already enjoy and the joy all around us.  After a lot of self-reflection on what I want for myself and in my life, I realized that you cannot really find happiness anywhere outside yourself.

There were many reasons that I wanted to take this journey. Reasons such as increasing my knowledge of kung fu, achieving a greater degree of skill, better physical fitness and having the opportunity to train under one of the greatest kung fu masters of the modern era were very appealing and would aid me in furthering my goals with my training. Over the last few months I spent a lot of time reflecting and looking at all the reasons with brutal honesty. I discovered that there were some reasons that were not genuine or desirable for accomplishing my goals. Wanting people to view me in a certain light, craving attention and looking for recognition and validation for my efforts as a martial artist seemed positive at first, but really only serve to reinforce my identity as a serious kung fu practitioner and strengthen the hold my ego has.  These reasons actually take me further from my goal of being more awake and aware and instead cause me to get lost in some of the trappings of something I enjoy.

Kung fu is a passion of mine that I enjoy participating in, studying, growing and sharing with people.  It is something that has helped me a lot in my life in numerous ways, but ultimately I must remember that it is a tool that I use to help myself become more aware.  Though it is a large part of my life and garners much of my attention, it is neither the only thing in my life nor my defining characteristic.  As I looked inward I discovered many aspects of myself, growing and casting aside many things as I realized they were hindering my development as a person and ultimately making it more difficult to achieve my goals.

Part of planning the trip was a chance to prove to myself that I would do what was necessary to make this happen. This trip was something that in my mind was very large and a little frightening.  I wanted to overcome that fear and prove to myself that, as I have always thought, I can accomplish anything that I set my mind to.  In that regard this trip was a complete success.  I overcame a lot of fears and apprehension for the things that come with living in a foreign country far from friends, family and the comforts of home.  I also completed every necessary step for making this trip a reality.  I acquired the tickets, visa, vaccinations and other items so that the only step left was getting on the plane. I took something that seemed a little larger than life to me and brought it into the realm of possibility.

Life has an interesting way of bringing things into your life and altering it’s direction.  Often we look for something that we want to include in our life and search for it seemingly everywhere.  It is when our sights are firmly set on something else that life will introduce what we have always sought to us and it is up to us to recognize it and seize the opportunity before it passes us by. The planning and preparation leading up to this trip have been the impetus for a lot of growth and self-realization and I am glad that I had the courage to see it.  Looking ahead, the possibilities are endless and I am excited to move forward.


Comments  3 Comments »

  1. Matt Talbert - August 17, 2010 9:00 am

    Da Shi Xiong Matt Talbert

    I thought this was a pertinent quote:

    If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?

    – Dogen Zenji

  2. crystal thomas - August 19, 2010 11:13 am

    china seems like a long way to travel just to find yourself. i am glad you have postponed your trip.

  3. Theresa Spinali - September 23, 2010 8:47 am

    Yes Matt, I actually moved to Montana thinking that my life would unfold before me. Unlike you, even after finding out that things did not dramatically change in my life and with some disappointment I came back home and began to realize the answers had been right in front of me the entire time. I guess I didn’t want to believe in my own strength and abilities. That quote says it all for me. I don’t resent my decision to move, I learned a great deal and I grew up. Sometimes the lesson is not the destination but the trip.

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