Because the outer responds to the inner, sometimes the best way to address the external is to align the internal.
Consider the person in the following story:
A young woman once walked into an Internet cafe and saw a man with gray hair and a wrinkled face sitting hunched over at a table, actively engaged wit his computer. He was typing fast and moving his mouse around with great speed.
Wow, she thought, that old man seems quite skilled at computers sitting at a table behind him, she noticed he was playing World of War craft and doing very well. A few minutes later, the man took off his headset and went to pick up a cup of coffee. On his return, the woman said, “I was watching you, and i noticed you’re quite skilled with computers. What’s your secret?”
“Ah,” said the man, as he slowly lowered himself into his chair, his bones creaking as he did, “I play twelve hours a day, almost never go outside, survive on Doritos and Twinkies, and down a cup of coffee every hour”.
“Impressive,” said the woman. “And you have managed to live to a ripe old age while being so tech savvy. If you don’t mind my asking, just how old are you?”
“I’m twenty-eight,” the man replied.
Hilarious, right, at least that’s what I am thinking. It does have a point though: our actions have consequences. In telling it, my intention is not to lay judgment on the choices people make. The man in the story may be living a very conscious life or he may be living largely unconsciously. Either way, these are his choices. However, for those of us who seek to live consciously and with less stress, it helps to align the internal and external, to see if our external actions do justice to what internally matters to us.
For example, if someone says, “My health and well-being are important to me,” and she lives like the man in the story, there is little alignment. And if she says, “Eating sweets and playing online games are all that matter to me,” and lives that life, her actions have integrity. Other people may agree or disagree with her choices, but the actions are aligned with what matters to her.
So, what matters to us? here is the another story.
A techie guy was walking down the street in a rare break from his computer and noticed a frog on the ground.
“If you kiss me,” the frog called out to him, “I will turn into a princess and stay with you forever.”
The techie picked up the frog, smiled at it , and put it in his pocket.
A few minutes later, the frog spoke again. “Didn’t you hear me? I said that if you just kiss me, I will be yours. In fact, I will be completely devoted to you and be the best sexual partner you can ever imagine. I will satisfy your every desire.”
The techie looked down at the frog again and kept walking.
Finally, in desperation the frog asked, “What’s the matter? I am offering you so much devotion, so much love, and so much sex. All you have to do is kiss me.”
The techie responded, “Listen, I am a techie. I spend all my time on the computer. I don’t have time for sex or a girlfriend, but having a talking frog… that’s cool.”
So , What really does matter to us? If we live like the man in the cafe, aging faster and surviving on Twinkies and Doritos, the central question is, is this aligned with what matters to us? If it is, fine. If not, then some adjustment is needed. We can make such changes not because one way is bad and another way is good, but because one way is more aligned with what truly matters to us.
As this adjustment takes place, as we better understand, clarify and give attention to the internal, we often experience a shift in the external. How many times, for example, have you greatly desired something and not been able to get it, but the moment you let go of it, the moment you released the desire, it came to you? Through an internal shift, the external responded. Or after months looking for work and finding nothing, the day you became very clear on exactly what kind of job would be best for you, it appeared. Of course, even with such an alignment, struggle and challenges still arise, but we can handle them better since we have deeper integrity and stability to your life.