It can be really easy to get caught up in an outcome-oriented mindset. I see it happening to me all the time, even when I'm looking out for it. It shows up in several ways:
- Living up to other peoples' expectations of you
- Living up to your expectations of yourself
- Wanting something you don't have
The list goes on…. and on… and on….
Unfortunately, being outcome-oriented is one of the fastest ways to take you away from the Present moment. It's also a very quick way to watch negative "what if" thoughts spiral and bring you into negative thinking. Living in an outcome-oriented way creates stress, health problems, relationship problems, and diminishes our happiness.
The reason is that we really can't control the outcome of situations. We like to think we can. But we can't. There's too many possibilities that can get in the way. The best we can do is prepare for some of those more likely possibilities. Even then, we'll still fall way short of the infinite possibilities that can unfold. And many times we allow planning for the future to take us away from the Present moment.
Now I'm not saying that planning for the future is useless or shouldn't be done. Being aware of the future is absolutely essential if we are to live in today's world run by the clock. I'm just saying that when we LIVE in the future, when we allow our thoughts to dwell there, when we decide on how the future needs to be, we're giving fear an opportunity to live rent-free in our heads.
There is no positive way to live in the future.
We like to think if we have hopes and dreams, that's a good thing. It sure feels nice. But the mere suggestion of a better future shows us how much we aren't enjoying and appreciating the moment that is right here in front of us. It says "What I have now is not good enough. I live in a mindset of lack and unfulfillment." The other thing is, no matter how great our hopes and dreams might be, reality can never live up to the fantasy. That's because we have an idea of how the future "should" be.
Of course, if we are thinking negatively about the future, that's just a double-whammy. First because we're thinking about fearful outcomes, and that's never going to feel good. Secondly because on top of that we're also not enjoying and appreciating the moment that is right here in front of us.
Still, none of us like pain, failure, and being uncomfortable. But if we can't live in the future (and trust me the past is no better!), then how do we actually utilize the Present moment in a way that maximizes and optimizes our future to be one of happiness?
The key is to look at our experiences in a different way. Rather than having an expectation or focusing on a specific outcome of an experience, we can ask ourselves two simple questions about our experience:
(1) What does this experience have to teach me?
Every moment is an opportunity to learn. This is one reason why dwelling on "what if" scenarios, most of the time, is an endless downward spiral that won't bring you happiness. "What ifs" take you away from learning, and instead suggest that there's a specific way that reality "should" be.
If instead you focus on allowing each experience, each moment, to be your teacher, then the worst-case scenario is that you learn something. And that learning which happens in the Present moment will create a better, more optimal, happier future for yourself.
And the best-case scenario is this: Because there are infinite possibilities, your process of enjoying the moment and learning from it open you up to experiencing wonderful things BEYOND what you could possibly imagine.
The learning maximizes your opportunity while the Presence maximizes your enjoyment and peace of mind. The more you can ask "What does this have to teach me?" the richer your inner and outer lives will become.
Your second question to explore is this:
(2) How might my experience be of benefit to others?
When we're stuck in an expectation / outcome-oriented mindset, we often think primarily about ourselves. We ask, "What will *I* get from this experience?" Or conversely, "What do I stand to lose from this experience?" We forget about our humanity and our interconnectedness.
By forgetting about our interconnectedness, two adverse things happen. First, we reinforce separation and isolation. We're quietly sending a message out to the world that says, "I don't need any help. Nobody does. So just you stick to your business and I'll stick to mine."
I'm sure you can see how negatively that mindset can affect our world. It goes by other names though, like war, rape, violence, financial greed, infidelity… the list goes on.
We don't see it in that way. That's because the ego wants what it wants and will avoid alerting you to those harsh realities. Still, when we forget how our experiences can benefit others, we really are "voting" (consciously or subconsciously) to live in a world of separation, stagnation, and pain. We also lose sight of the fact that just as the moment can teach us, our moments can help teach others.
The second reason that forgetting about our interconnectedness is detrimental is because it closes us off to the infinite potential and possibilities available to us. When we rely ONLY on ourselves, our options are limited. We as individuals can only do so much. It is our interconnectedness that provides the opportunity for massive growth in our world.
As I wrote recently to you in "What goes around comes around," your experiences have the potential to impact others in a meaningful way. And your experiences have the potential to teach you invaluable wisdom.
In both cases, you step away from an expectation and outcome-oriented mindset. Instead, you bring yourself back to the Present moment and help co-create a more optimized future for yourself and others.
Don't take my word for this though. Never take my word for any of what I share or teach. Always find out what is true for you.
Next time you find yourself fantasizing about the future or fearing it, try this. Instead of thinking about the future in your normal habitual ways, "think twice" by asking yourself these two questions:
- What does this experience have to teach me?
- How might my experience be of benefit to others?
When you truly land in that place, what you discover will be nothing short of a miracle. 🙂
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