I was surfing channels recently and caught the scene in the Jack Nicholson movie As Good As It Gets. Nicholson plays the part of Melvin who has extreme OCD. In this scene Melvin is leaving the psychiatrist’s office after another frustrating session. He walks into the waiting room full of glum looking people, looks around at them and says, “What if this is as good as it gets?”
You can see their shoulders slump a little further down. It wasn’t exactly what they wanted to hear. When life is challenging, the last thing you want to hear is that this is as good as it gets. You want to believe that things are going to improve, burdens lifted and injustice beaten.The problem is, as soon as you set the future up in competition with the present, you put the source of peace out of reach.
The future CAN be better. You can even plan for it. But in the words of Tennis legend Arthur Ashe, “Start where you are. Use what you’ve got. And do what you can.” This IS as good as it gets……for now. This is where you are. So be here.
Isn’t it ironic? Only when you accept reality, can you change it. Learn to love what is–even the dark and troubled times. Learn to see the precious jewels of growth and resilience that exist in the midst of hard times. Remind yourself that nothing lasts forever, including hard times. Learn to see reality as your friend rather than fighting it as an enemy.
Spiritual teacher, Byron Katie says, “If you want reality to be different than what it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark.” It isn’t going to happen.
The part of you that wants to escape reality is preventing you from resting in an inner peace which is itself the way out of despair. Outer circumstances may improve or get worse. They certainly won’t stay the same. But either way remain calm and grounded in inner peace.
The first step back to an experience of inner peace that you have slowly forgotten after a lifetime of deft avoidance of reality is to love what is. When you learn to skate on the perfect imperfection of the present moment, then the desire to escape will slide into the ice cool grooves of what is. Bend your desires until nothing but reality matches them. Adjust your expectations until nothing but reality will meet them.
Don’t confuse inner peace with pacifism. You don’t have to like what’s happening. You don’t have to resign yourself to a life of misery. On the contrary! Inner peace means experiencing everything life has to offer without rushing to judge it. Inner peace is transformative. When you love what is, your action is fearless, compassionate and wise. You see clearly what can be changed, when it can be done and why it’s worth the effort, because you clearly see what is.
Give up the struggle. Accept that what is, is what is, at least for now. There are incredible lessons waiting to be learned, amazing peace waiting to be felt, phenomenal transformation ready to happen.
Challenges and troubles are passing guests in your life. Give them some attention. Sit them down with a nice cup of chamomile tea to share some kitchen-table wisdom. Trust me–they will be gone as suddenly as they arrived. Let them come. Let them go. In all things, be at peace. Let peace change you.