Why Your Life Sucks

by Alan Cohen

One afternoon an official-looking fellow showed up at my door and flashed an I.D. from the water department. "You have an unusually high usage of water this month."

High usage?

"That’s right. Here are the numbers."

I looked at the numbers. He wasn’t kidding.

"It’s our policy to let you know about this in case you have any leaks in your water system."

Hmmm. No leaks I knew of. Maybe my tenant has been taking a lot of showers. But 80,000 gallons of showers? Nope, he doesn’t even wash his dishes.

A few days later I was sitting on my back porch when I noticed a puddle in the corner of the yard. That puddle had been there for a while, but I figured it was due to some heavy rain we’d had. But the rest of the lawn had dried up. The puddle was still there.

I poked my hand into the puddle. There was a pipe beneath it, and it was leaking. I can tell you exactly how much it was leaking: 80,000 gallons a month.

If you are losing your personal energy, you have a leak in your system. There is no malevolent parasite that has invaded your world and is undermining you. Your leak is on your property, and as such you have access to repair it.

The entire game of life is about making the best use of your energy. The question is not, "Is there life after death?" The question is, "Is there life before death?" To answer this for yourself––and live it––you must quit doing things that deplete your energy and start doing things that expand it. Moses delivered Ten Commandments that point to how to accomplish this, but (a) Nobody wants to be commanded; (b) Charlton Heston’s bad makeup job undermined Moses’ credibility; and (c) Nobody has enough patience on the Internet to wait for ten commandments to download. So here is everything you need to know to relocate from Suckville:

Do what brings you life.
Do not do what deadens you.

The reason you are not where you want to be is that you are doing things you do not want to do. If that sounds simple, it is. (One of the most popular tricks of power and control freaks is to hide in complexity. But the best answer to a problem is usually the simplest.) Sure, there are some things you have to do that you don’t want to do, but not as many as you are doing. Give yourself a break.

If you took the energy you are wasting on things that suck and used it for things you love, what would you be doing differently?

When you invest your time and energy in stuff that drags you down, you die a little bit every day. Then your life force reduces to a dribble and you croak. Yet the Bible documents people who lived for hundreds of years, and there are people in remote regions today who live far past 100. Their lives are simpler and they do not fritter away their life force watching people hit each other over the head with chairs on Jerry Springer. They just live close to nature, eat yogurt, and develop meaningful relationships with llamas. So open your heart to a critter who won’t dump you on national television and you will live long enough to get a birthday card from the President.

While you may be very careful about what you pay for with your money, you are probably less careful about what you pay for with your attention. In the long run, how you spend your attention affects your life far more profoundly than how you spend your money. Your attention is the strongest currency at your disposal. If you squander it, your life will result in one big overdraft. If you invest it in things you value, you will collect interest big time––and be interested along the way.

Everything you do is an investment in more of the same. The illusion is that if you do something you don’t like long enough, it will go away. But the truth is that the more you get involved in something, the more involvement it leads to. (Ever own a boat?) If you truly enjoy something, dive in. If not, have the guts to walk away from what doesn’t serve you. There is no redeeming value in misery (unless you do timeshare presentations). The hell you worry about going to is not nearly as bad as the fear of it that drives you to do things alien to your spirit. If you live from fear, you already are in hell. If you live from love, you create the meeting point of heaven and earth.

Copyright © 2002
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