The great zen philosopher Alan Watts taught us that life is like a song, and the sole purpose of the song is to dance. He taught us that when we dance while listening to a song, we don’t dance with the goal of getting to the end of the music; we dance to enjoy it.
Yet many of us often don’t live this way. We rush through life, thinking that after we’ve attained a certain level of success, that then we will finally relax and be able to enjoy life. We compare our current lives to the ones we’d rather be living, and we set goals for more and more things that we need to achieve. The reality is, happiness can only exist right now, in this present moment, because whether it’s now or in the future, it will really only ever be this present moment when you choose to start enjoying your own happiness.
“If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living; that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid,” Alan Watts famously said in one of his live lectures.
“Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way,” Watts explains. And better yet, why not have a long life full of what you enjoy doing.
When we reach a certain age and are reflecting back on life, we may realize that we wasted too many of life’s precious moments striving to attain extra wealth and materialistic things, and that we worried about too much about things that never even ended up happening. While having symbols of success can serve our ego, when we come to know our own hearts a bit better, we realize that there are certain things in life that, on a deeper level, are much more important to us; the well-being of our loved ones, our health, and how much love we were able to share with others during our lifetimes.
We can’t take anything material with us after we leave this world. We can only take with us the life experiences that we’ve packed inside of our hearts. Knowing this deep truth, it’s important that we start recognizing it now and building our lives in ways that will truly please the love in our hearts, and to let go of the distracting ideas of acquiring more and more unneeded wealth and material goods.
“Existence is meant to be fun. It doesn’t go anywhere… it just is,” Alan Watts said.
Life serves as a way for us to enjoy ourselves and to live from our hearts, in the full abundance of love and happiness. Take time to enjoy yourself, spend time enjoying and appreciating the small things in life. They often truly are the big things.
“The whole point of dancing is the dance… This is the real secret of life; to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now, and instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
The purpose of life is not to work hard in order to enjoy it later. The purpose is to enjoy it now. Often our minds get so caught up trying to achieve something that we are unable to enjoy the happiness that life is offering us today. Take a second to stop, to breath, to look around you and to appreciate something beautiful. Your happiness exists now, not later.
“You live life by analogy, a journey with a pilgrimage to get to the end success, heaven, whatever. You missed the point, you were supposed to dance.”“I must survive means you are not playing.”
We all usually work to survive, but life is about much more than just surviving. We usually think we have to do many things as we’ve been culturally educated to do, but in reality, we need to find the best way to make ourselves happy and to help other people along the way. It can be easy to use the ‘sticking to the status quo’ as an excuse to live a boring life that does not fill your heart with passion. But when you look back later in life, you want to make sure that you actually lived YOUR life, not the prescribed life of working every day a job you dislike to only enjoy a few years of retirement when you’re very old. Dance with enjoyment every step of the way, as much as you can, as far as you can.
“So many people of wealth understand much more about making and saving money than about using and enjoying it. They fail to live because they are always preparing to live.” Watts explains. “Your purpose was to dance until the end, but you were so focused on the end that you forgot to dance.”
What’s the point of preparing a delicious meal to eat for yourself if you never get the chance to eat it? Or what if the food spoils before you’ve taken the time to sit down and to taste your lovely meal? The only certainty in life is that life is impermanent; everything changes, and we cannot predict the future. Take the time now to do the things that are truly important; give your kind love to others, smile and live the life you’ve always dreamed. If you’re not happy where you’re at now, consider moving to a new town or a new country even where you feel loved, accepted, and excited about life. There’s too much available to enjoy to spend another second not enjoying your life.
“Enjoy the little things in life… one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”
Enjoy letting life be easy and fun. You can do it, follow your heart, it knows the way.