There is a story about a man who—for twenty years and counting—prayed daily to win the lottery. He asked God on his hands and knees before every meal and at bedtime. He attended daily mass, tithed to his church and gave large sums of money to the poor, all hoping to win the lottery.
Despite his efforts, he never heard his name in the weekly announcement of lottery winners.
One day, having reached the boiling point of frustration, the man stopped praying. Angrily, he shook his middle finger at the heavens and cursed God,
“I have been devoutly faithful to you for years and have been kind and generous to all in all that time. I have never backed away from serving as my brother’s keeper who was in need, but I haven’t won anything. Enough. I can no longer pray to a God who so blatantly ignores me.”
That night, God appeared to him in a dream and, in a soothing voice, said,
“You have to buy a ticket!”
Without action, your dreams will never materialize
The point of the story is that there is a stark difference between wishful thinking and taking action. Like the man in this story, with anything in life, you must set out toward your dreams.
Let’s take for an example an area that continues to be challenging for me at this time; finding a romantic partner. I didn’t date much when I was younger, in fact, I married the only two women I dated. Having become single at age sixty-three, the prospect of putting myself out there again petrified me, but I was sure my future soul mate would not just show up at my doorstep. I had to buy the dating version of a lottery ticket.
The first thing to do was to engage in the activities I enjoyed, such as playing tennis and going to the gym. But I also had to force myself to get out and take part in social activities and neighborhood gatherings that didn’t appeal to me as much so I could increase my chances of meeting new people. This was difficult, for I don’t like small talk and I struggle to break the ice with new people, but if I was to be successful, I would need to get out of my shell and reach out to any interesting person (hopefully some women) I would meet. Things had changed drastically since I last dated, so I had to join the modern world and try to meet possible partners in online dating sites, an idea I loathed at first. But I did it.
I have gotten comfortable meeting new people and, although I don’t have a romantic partner today, I have met many interesting women. I remain hopeful that, if I keep getting out there, I will get other chances and find the love of my life.
Be forewarned, just like it is with buying a lottery ticket, there is no guarantee you will win. In dating, success doesn’t automatically happen because you show up; your efforts become complicated because of the unavoidable risks of rejection. But, if you don’t try, the Universe will not conspire with you.
No matter how much you want something, you can’t force it to happen
Believing the Universe provides in its own perfect timing does not mean we can sit at home and just wait for things to happen. It still calls on us to take action, but only to do those things within our control. From that point on, we relax and let things unfold.
Here are suggestions on what not to do.
1) Trying to force things will wreak havoc and distress. Endeavoring to force things will hold them back.
2) Put your desire out there and then be patient. Wanting something too much puts you in the energy of not having it.
3) Being overly attached to an outcome makes you so obsessed you end up sabotaging what really matters; the end result. This is so because you will disrupt the proper timing and perfection of the process. Think about a caterpillar transforming in a cocoon. If you try to speed the time it takes for the caterpillar to become a butterfly by peeling the cocoon, you kill it.
4) Success is something we offer the world; it does not owe us it. If we get it, we joyfully reap the benefits. If we don’t, then our efforts were lessons to be learned. Either way, we win.
I picked this following quote from a great article Brianna Wiest wrote on Medium which summarizes this topic well. She writes;
Success starts with us. Our interests, skills, and passions; our traumas and our grievances; the chips on our shoulders and the dreams in our hearts are not random. The place where they intersect is our calling, and it is wholly and completely unique to us. We don’t have to force it. We don’t have to compete for it. We simply have to respond to it, start showing up to it and then, like the sand in our palms, learn to loosen our grip and allow it to be.
Like Brianna says, we still have to show up, we still have to do our part, we have to buy a ticket.
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.
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