When stumped by a life choice, choose “enlargement” over happiness.
I’m indebted to the Jungian therapist James Hollis for the insight that major personal decisions should be made not by asking, “Will this make me happy?”, but “Will this choice enlarge me or diminish me?
Oliver Burkeman from his Guardian column
Whatever wishes to grow within you —a curiosity, a talent, an interest —
is life seeking its expression through you. Our old desire for comfort, even happiness,
may prove an impediment. We are here a very short time.
Let us make it as luminous and as meaningful as we can.
Time to stop being afraid, and time to show up as yourself.
James Hollis, Living an Examined Life: Wisdom for the Second Half of the Journey
Our psyches, like nature, need periods of rest and regeneration. Some overly positive psychological models have no place for the dips in mood or energy that are a normal part of life and which can be seen in the cycles of nature. We have to learn to not fear those moments when we do not feel completely in control, or when lose our sense of direction for a while.
There are moments in human life when a new page is turned. New interests and tendencies appear which have hitherto received no attention, or there is a sudden change of personality. During the incubation period of such a change we can often observe a loss of conscious energy: the new development has drawn off the energy it needs from consciousness. This lowering of energy can be seen most clearly …in the empty stillness which precedes creative work.
Jung, The Psychology of the Transference, CW 16.
It’s only when caterpillarness is done that one becomes a butterfly.
That again is part of this paradox.
You cannot rip away caterpillarness.
The whole trip occurs in an unfolding process of which we have no control.
“Seasons” is a wise metaphor for the movement of life, I think.
It suggests that life is neither a battlefield nor a game of chance but something infinitely richer, more promising, more real. The notion that our lives are like the eternal cycle of the seasons does not deny the struggle or the joy, the loss or the gain, the darkness or the light, but encourages us to embrace it all — and to find in all of it opportunities for growth.
Parker Palmer, From Language to Life
So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things.
One at a time.
Just let your pile of good things grow.
Rainbow Rowell, American author, Attachments