Paradise Doesn’t Exist, But Life Does

by Michael Simmons on Apr 13, 2013

Whether it’s a tropical island, dream job, celebrity, wealth, meditation, perfect marriage, or saintly kids, paradise does not exist.

At different points in my life, I thought each one of these held the answer. Slowly, after years of searching, the glamour of each was exposed through the experience of disillusionment.

This truth is obscured publicly by the shame that arises when we admit that what we thought would bring us paradise ultimately did not. People, myself included, feel shame when they admit that they:

  • Don’t love every second with their kids
  • Get in arguments with their spouse
  • Don’t love every part of a dream job or startup
  • Aren’t in bliss every moment on a tropical island
  • Are dealing with the same personal growth challenges from years ago

What exists throughout all of life’s ups and downs is who we are on the inside and how we react to reality. Who we are always seems to come along for the ride.

The way to move the needle is to change ourselves and not reality; to focus internally rather than externally. As we recontextualize our life, how we experience the world dramatically changes while new possibilities are attracted.

The reality of the life that I know is ambiguous and unpredictable. There are moments of elation and moments of anger, sometimes occurring back-to-back. There is the miracle of creating new life and the tragedy of unexpected death. Pain leads to growth. Hitting bottom is freedom.

Life is our dancing partner, and it never stops. We can either enjoy the music and follow the lead of our partner or resist every move. It doesn’t care either way. Every moment is beautiful. Every moment, even the ones we label as ‘bad’, has within it the seed of something amazing.

We search for moments of complete peace and elation, even though these fleeting moments account for .001% of our life. Ironically, a search is not necessary. Inner joy occurs by appreciating ALL of life’s moments even if we don’t understand or like them. Life isn’t about removing the bad and painful. It is about accepting and appreciating them.

It takes faith in life to trust what we don’t understand. I think life has earned our trust though. Look at the world. Look at life. It’s here. It’s here against all the odds on this third rock from the sun in an infinite universe. It’s evolving. It’s vibrant. What we call death is literally the fertilization for new life. We are all part of something much bigger than anyone of us can experience or understand.

All we need to do is enjoy the music and dance!


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I'm the co-founder of Empact, one of the leading entrepreneurship education organizations in the world. I'm obsessed with understanding how we all can lead meaningful lives that have a positive social impact. I love probing into the truth of how we experience life. I believe that challenges are what make us grow the most, and I openly share my experiences. Continue reading…