Jump into your sandbox
How focusing on the here and now will bring you more joy than searching for an endgame.
Hello fellow Protagonists,
How many of us have fallen into a way of thinking where we focus so heavily on reaching our larger goals that we lose focus of what is going on in the present? We tell ourselves that our purpose in life will show itself at the end of our journey and all will then make sense.
The number of times I remember hearing the age old phrase "Don't wish your life away" yet it just seems to be something people with less drive and ambition say... Right?
Recently I listened to a speech by Alan Watts, who focused on adapting Eastern philosophies to a western audience. He was advising us to treat life like when we listen to a song rather than like a car journey.
After all, what is the point of a song? A song doesn't have a reason to get anywhere or to finish at a certain speed. We simply listen to music to enjoy it.
There is a reason kids repeat "Are we there yet?" When all we are focusing on is the destination, the journey becomes nothing more than an interruption.
Quick question for you: What do you enjoy doing?
If we think about it, most of the things we enjoy share the similarity with what Alan Watt believes about music. What about going to the cinema, watching a football match, having a BBQ in the sun and reading a book?
When people list things they enjoy they rarely have a purpose in their completion. They are there to enjoy. We may get some additional benefits or lessons but these can often come accidentally, such as watching a cooking show for fun and now having a new "go-to" dinner for guests.
My nerdy brain likes to link this to the difference between a linear game and a sandbox game. A sandbox game either takes 100's of hours to complete, or cannot be completed. This shifts the focus to just enjoying the game for what it is rather than rushing to see what the final cutscene provides.
If I list some of my top games of all time, the vast majority are sandboxes.
When we focus on an end goal we are replacing true enjoyment with an external substitute to something we feel would bring that anyway. Like enjoyment has to be something we need to 'achieve' rather than just experience.
In this state of mind even the desire to be free is also an external substitute for focusing on the journey, the here and now. Think about that for a moment. We trap ourselves throughout our lives to experience freedom near the end of it. For the vast majority of us in the UK we are already free. unfortunately this is something that cannot be said for all parts of the world and their people.
Though we all can free ourselves from the burden of our own unhelpful ways of thinking. This includes spending too much time focusing either on the past or the future.
Focusing on the future can bring us positive thoughts of what it would be like to achieve certain goals, like becoming a millionaire. Our minds have this special trick they can play and quickly turn these future goals into uncomfortable and negative thoughts, such as thoughts of our limitations and inabilities, misfortune and how we have already fallen behind on our goal.
Like any good sandbox game there are still quests that are set for us to complete. The important thing is that the quests are there to add spice to the game, not to reach a final completion point. For me, these are the kinds of games you can sink the most hours into and you can always pick them back up a year later as each experience will differ. With some linear games, once you have completed them you rarely want to pick them back up.
I mean some games are just trash!
What if you spent your whole life focusing on completing a game and the outcome was not what you expected it to be... A bit late to change that now. If you search for an endgame and one day it arrives, then you will have a very short amount of time left to enjoy it. It is called the endgame after all.
Get your sandbox started and enjoy the journey!
What are some of your goals that are in place but not the be all and end all?