There is no way to know where we are headed if we are constantly looking sideways.
With the ubiquitous nature of social media in our lives, it is easier than ever to compare ourselves and our lives to others, to look at them, or at least what they project and to feel like we are in a competition for fulfillment, for experiences, and for wealth, material or otherwise. This is a problem as old as time, but it has amplified in recent years in both degree and frequency. What we forget when we look around is that success is relative, not to who others are and what they have, but to who we are and who we want to be.
Contentment, whether with regards to success, wealth, or trajectory, is the result of alignment, not comparison. When what we have and how we are living is in alignment with our values, only then can we be content with who we are and where we are headed. We must, therefore, look inward in order to look forward.
If we do not know ourselves, our preferences, and our values, we cannot possibly know our true bearing and we will be perpetually lost, distracted, and pulled in every direction but forward by what we see others doing and accumulating. Knowing who we are, what we like, and what we value allows us to know who we are not, what we do not like, and what has no real meaning to us in terms of our own happiness or fulfillment. Of course, we must remain open to new experiences and new opportunities, but we should look inward to know if they are right for us, if they have value in our lives, and if they will help or hinder us in becoming who we want or are meant to be.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.
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