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Stop Making Painful Mistakes Before They Get Started

Key Lesson: Be wise; be attentive in all things for the second error follows the first.

Refuse All Unhappy Beginnings

Think about all the finish lines you've managed to cross in your lifetime where you thought you were an uncontested winner. Then comes that untimely, unkind, or unexpected event where you hear, in one way or another, from yourself or from someone else: "Sorry, you just ran the wrong race!" Maybe you find out that the one who you thought loved you really loves only the idea of being in love, which has to be renewed repeatedly with new loves. Or, maybe that crisis you thought you'd solved once and for all shows new signs of life. In such unwanted instances, victory is snatched from right out of your hands. All you're left holding is a sinking feeling.

Until now, all we've known to do in these key moments of defeat is to try and pull ourselves together, jump into another race, and hope things turn out better. But we don't have to settle for just the hope of a happier finish. We can do better, much better. Certainty of succeeding in any of life's races is more than assured in the following understanding about the nature of making a true beginning.

There can be no starting place in our lives any truer than what our own awareness of the present moment permits.

This friendly fact tells us that our life direction, our actual destiny, is determined by the level of our awareness that attends the full range of each step we take.

No one consciously takes a step in haste -- knowing it will lead to waste. Neither would any man or woman consciously take a step in anger -- if he or she knew the route just chosen would only lead to regrets.

These truths being self-evident, we have to ask ourselves, "What's the force at the source of our false starting places? How is it our consciousness can be so compromised we're unable to see that a step taken in worry leads us not to the worry-free life, but only to the base of an active volcano called Mount Anxiety?"

It's crucial for us to understand that the thrust of our habitual thinking lives with its attention fixed, not on beginnings, but on the end of things. Don't we, in our mind's eye, perpetually walk towards a brighter moment to come, thinking about how good we'll feel once we're able to resolve some nagging situation?

We are betrayed every time we set out on any journey -- mentally, emotionally, or bodily -- with our eyes fixed on where we think we're going, rather than in the profitable awareness of where we are. It's within this full awareness of where we are -- which includes the alert observation of all our attending mental and emotional states -- that is the true beginning we've been searching for all of our lives. Do you see why?

We don't ever have to worry about happy endings to any of our life stories if we're awake enough to refuse all unhappy beginnings. If we attend to the true beginning of whatever tasks or life travels lie ahead of us, their endings have to take care of themselves.

This article is excerpted from Freedom From the Ties That Bind (pages 154-156).

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