How can we be totally present and accepting and still strive to be better - to work towards self-improvement? How can we have a "goal" of reaching higher consciousness while accepting that we're not "there" yet. If we are content to just be, why strive for more? The un-easy answer is full acceptance is itself an "end point" of sorts...but such solipsism doesn't usually move a discussion forward.
The more difficult answer, and the way that I try to live my life (with varying degrees of success), has to do with what I refer to as placement. Who we think we are and how we define our experience is often relative to culturally prescribed data points - like our weight, our bank balance, our job title, and our status in general. We use this data stream to compare and contrast our current position with where we have been. Life is "good" as long as we see a positive trend, while "negative" markers tend to make us anxious.
The placement part of this is related to identifying our position, placing our ego, relative to stuff that is in flux, like our bank account, our waist line or our partner, rather than something infinite like universal compassion, creativity or non-violence. When we stop tying our sense of self so strongly to culturally predictable normative standards and begin instead to shape our identity around unbounded ideas like curiosity, our position shifts from the fluctuation of outcome to one anchored in possibility.
I find the most difficult part of living without a fixed external anchor to be the internal work required to sustain my own growth. With no one to compare my life success to, it can become tough to understand when to step down from the exhilaration of the next challenge or equally arduous to know if I have explored an area fully. My biggest life project has always been orienting myself towards creative self-expression without being attached to the outcome. The enlightenment which emerges from not using failure or success to predetermine exploration, is both a howl and a cheer...unbounded creativity leaves the soul free to dance and weave through the hegemony of modern life.
A mind set like this can take a period of getting used to and requires consistent practice in letting go of the linear methodology employed by our whoonky culture. Its like arguing gravity is relative. Of course, on earth, gravity isn’t relative but how we frame our relationship to its force in our life is relative. Without gravity we wouldn’t have a down or an up and our placement in space would depend on “choice” rather than assumption...it is hard to know this when one is always being pulled in one direction and harder still to live ones life with the agency of choice in action. For me, regular meditation in various forms, creative ventures and plenty of exercise helps wash away some of life’s inherent habituation. These activities keep me clear and focused on the big picture of ever expanding awareness.