I like to hang out at the intersection of Byron Katie (loving what is) and Marie Kondo (does it spark joy) and instead of always asking myself, “Do I have everything I want?” and I ask, “Do I want everything I have?”
Daily life is filled with subtle and not-so-subtle messages to survey our life, find the gaps, and fill those gaps with stuff—food, sex, clothes, technology, etc. We rarely pay attention to how all that stuff makes us feel. Our stuff—emotional, material, interpersonal, and cultural—is drowning many of us in affluent America.
When Byron Katie talks about loving what she’s challenging us to examine each feeling, emotional entanglement, financial decision, core belief and love it. It’s not enough to tolerate it, or make excuses for its presence in our life, or accept it because it can’t be any other way. No, actually look at it, see it for what it is and love it.
What’s the outcome of loving what is? We don’t know. Outcomes, especially those based on human interaction, are by their nature uncertain. So we don’t love what is because it promises a happy outcome but because it is the only path to a happy present.
What does loving what is look like in daily life? Maybe like Marie Kondo holding a well-folded t-shirt to her chest and asking if it sparks joy. In my own life, I’m doing this with the things I say to myself, my beliefs about myself. “Self-criticism,” I ask, “do you spark joy?” “Hell no,” it says. “That’s not my job. My job is to get you to move your ass and get something done.” Well that’s interesting because I notice (finally!) that all that self-loathing is a piss poor motivator and rarely leads to my best work.
Shopping, binge watching tv, sniping, controlling, and limiting beliefs about myself and others—this is stuff in my life that no longer sparks joy. Because I want to cultivate an attitude of loving what is and of self-acceptance I don’t toss these aspects of myself out with the holey underwear and chipped vases. I seek instead to examine this stuff closely, to understand the role it tried to serve in my life. When it tries to take over my psyche, I acknowledge it and, following Tara Brach’s sage advice, I invite it to tea and feel its grip on me loosen.
Day by day, I am coming to want everything I have.