We’re all searching for something in life.
The common element of the human expression seems to be a desire to improve our lives; we want things to be better than they are today. We want to move forward, not backward. We want something more. Even if things are great, we want that to last, or we want things to be even better.
Some will remind us that life is a gift, as if to say life itself is enough. But it’s pretty easy to forget that in the day-to-day and it doesn’t always feel like a gift. Some will tell us to live every day as if it were our last, as if to say, take a bigger perspective and you’d see things differently. But it’s easy to forget to do that as well, and there sure seems to be value in taking the long view every now and then. Some will remind us that life is short. Sure, life is short, but it’s also long. If it were really just short, many of those big life decisions wouldn’t matter quite so much because we wouldn’t have to live with the consequences for so long.
We have this one life to live, how do we make the most of it? To begin with, we start by asking the right questions.
1. In the end, what is it that I am really after?
There are so many things to seek in life. Quality relationships, good health, the perfect job, financial independence or security, children, the ideal lifestyle, the list could go on and on. Indeed it often does, as we frequently seek many of these things. And we’re right – they can all be really important. But the question is, in the end, what is it I am really after? That is to say, why do I want the relationship? Why do I want the perfect job? What will that give me?
And the answer to that is usually because it will bring me happiness, a sense of inner peace, wellbeing, or fulfillment. It’s important to remember that the things we chase are really just a means to an end. Sometimes we get what we want, sometimes we won’t. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. But it’s always possible for us to get what it is we’re really after if we don’t lose sight of that ultimate aim.
2. What inspires me?
The motivation to live life to the fullest doesn’t just come on its own and flow continuously, endlessly feeding our energy and commitment. It comes from being fed the right food. There are certain things that we just love. There are certain things that make us feel alive. It’s those things that put us in touch with the inner vitality. This gives rise to an intrinsic urge to be better than we were before, to rise to new challenges, to remain committed to things that are important to us. We have to align our lives to what go inspires us or we’ll struggle to remain connected to this inner vitality. And often that takes being bold. We have to go out on a limb, be daring, go against the grain, and live our life, not the life somebody else wants us to live.
3. Who am I?
This question has two meanings, and both are so important. We’ve all met someone who seems to be struggling to find themselves. We’ve probably been that person at a certain point in our life – unsure of what we want, what we like, what’s important to us… trying things on for size, seeing if we’re this kind of person or that kind of person, not comfortable in our own skin. But sooner or later, if we’re paying attention, we begin to know ourselves more deeply. The question is, are we true to that? Or do we let external pressures whether it’s from our family, our peers, society, or the like dictate how we act? You can be who you think others want you to be, you can be a chameleon, you can be someone you’re not at your core… we all know how that feels. There’s no ease, there’s little spontaneity, and there’s a whole lot of self-consciousness. Or we can be our natural, authentic self. The authentic you is the powerful you. The authentic you is the happy you. The authentic you is the compassionate you. That’s the first level of this question.
The other level is who you are at your essence. This is what spirituality points us to. In fact this is even what physics is beginning to point us to. What is this life at the most fundamental level? One of the most direct ways to finding the wellbeing we are after is to get in touch with this. There’s a reason why when people are faced with tragedy or they reach the end of their lives, they ask different questions than everyone else. That’s the point where many of us finally get to the existential. And the root of this is knowing what it is you are in the core of your being.
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We have this one life to live, and it really is up to us how we choose to live it. It’s easy to get off track. But if we ask ourselves the right questions, we can focus our energy on the things that will help us live the fullest life possible. If you ask yourself the right questions and listen for your truest answers, there’s no limit to what’s possible.
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