What if you’re already complete?
Maybe happiness is hiding in plain sight.
Most people go through life feeling incomplete, so we spend our time striving for something that fills the gap. What we’re looking for varies of course. Some people are looking for God, in one of its various forms, be it a man on a cloud or spiritual nirvana, or the love we feel we never got from our parents.
We spend our lives searching for the love of our lives, or the job of our dreams, or the body of someone else’s. Whatever it is, adult life is almost entirely concerned with finding a sense of completeness, or keeping hold of it once we do.
And so we move. Literally and figuratively. We travel the world or climb the corporate ladder or play the field. We search under every rock we can think of. We make ourselves into the person that we hope will attract the right partner. We demonstrate more humility and equanimity than our spiritual peers in the hopes of beating them to whatever the goal is. We follow every diet that guarantees a new “us” in only seven days. But whether we succeed or fail, the completeness we’re searching for still evades us.
Unsurprisingly, some people just give up at this point. They decide that the goal itself is an illusion — or at least more trouble than it’s worth — so they make do with something that’s close enough. Maybe a relationship that isn’t really working, or a job that makes them miserable. For the really unlucky it’s drugs or alcohol.
Others try to convince themselves that they’ve found what they wanted even though they know deep down that they haven’t. They pretend for everyone around them that they’re happy because if they can convince someone else, maybe they can convince themselves too. But they’re not fooling anybody. And the strain of hiding the truth from themselves makes them even more unhappy than they were to begin with.
Still, others succeed in finding what they were searching for, only to learn that that type of success only brings the acquisition of a new thing to search for. They get their dream job only to find themselves wanting a promotion. They get rich only to find themselves wishing they were richer. They find God, only to find that God is too busy to fill their lives with happiness.
But the lucky ones do none of these things. The lucky ones suffer.
The lucky ones suffer emotional pain and disappointment. They suffer the realisation that material success or public adulation doesn’t even come close to filling the hole that they feel inside. They suffer so much that they realise that whatever else they do or find or achieve, the peace that they’re looking for can’t be somewhere out there. And so they look in the one place there is left to look; inside themselves.
And by doing so, the lucky ones realise the truth; that we are already everything we need. Nobody is incomplete. We only feel that way because our completeness is so immediate, so apparent, that we’re easy to overlook. We miss it, like somebody who spends hours searching their house for the glasses that are right there on their face.
But once we see ourselves, we understand that searching was never necessary. We realise that there can’t be anything missing. We’re already connected to everything, and everything is already connected to us. A tree can’t be incomplete. A river can’t be incomplete. A life can’t be incomplete. All there is is acceptance or conflict with what is; the illusion of incompleteness created by our beliefs about what should be.
Completeness isn’t about achievement, it’s about acceptance. That’s not to say that we should sit around on our asses doing nothing, resigned to whatever happens, but rather that whatever we choose to do with our time won’t make us more or less complete, it will just make us different. A river doesn’t become more complete if one day its course gets diverted. A tree doesn’t become less complete when it loses its leaves. The sky doesn’t become less complete when the sun sets. They are, in each moment, what they are. And so are we. Not a single grain of sand needs to be added.