You Already Have Everything You Need
When people are asked what they really want in this life, for themselves or for those they love, the answer is almost always the same; just to be happy. The mystery for most of us is what does ‘happy’ really mean? We talk a lot today about looking inside ourselves rather than focusing on external things to bring us that sense of happiness and contentment. Easier said than done.
Take two minutes and jot down what you think you would need to be happy. How many of the things on your list have to do with people or situations outside your control? How many times have we thought ‘if only, then…’? If only I wasn’t so busy. If only we could afford that vacation. If only my husband, wife, kids, parents, neighbours, friends, employer would do (on stop doing) __________, if only there was more money, time, energy or if only there was less sickness, work, stress – THEN I would be happy.
I realized some time ago that I was equating happiness with ease and comfort; no stress and nothing challenging me. All my emotional needs would be met by those around me. My family would love and appreciate everything I did. My employer would value my work with frequent acknowledgement and recognition. I wouldn’t have to worry or be fearful of anything. Then I would feel good about myself and my life. Pretty unrealistic. Occasionally there are moments when all those things may exist at the same time. My husband refers to it as having ‘all our ducks in a row’. I certainly enjoy those moments and today I know they are moments; the exception and not the rule. They come and then they go.
"Life is difficult."
The first line in Scott Peck's book ‘The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Values and Spirituality’ says “Life is difficult.” The first time I read it many years ago, it took me back. He goes on to say that once you accept the fact that life is difficult, it is no longer difficult because the fact it is difficult no longer matters. Dr. Peck characterizes life as a series of problems to be solved and that the acceptance of that frees us to embrace the challenges and see them as the gateway to growth and yes, I would add, to a truer sense of happiness.
This was a big shift for me and I am guessing for most of us. If what I thought would bring me happiness all those years was in fact wrong, then where did I start? Was what they said really true? Did the source of my happiness, contentment, purpose really reside within me?
Who Am I?"
The next question that followed closely after that was 'Who am I anyway?'. When you spend all your time and energy focusing on people, places and things outside of yourself, you quickly lose touch with who you are, what you think and what really brings you joy. I was always a 'by the rules' kind of girl. I somehow felt that if I did everything right, I would achieve the things that make you happy including the validation of those around me. 'Tell me what to do and I will do it!' I had a counsellor and friend many years ago tell me that I should stop focusing on doing and look more at being. I had no idea what he was talking about. Today I have come to realize that 'being' myself and living in alignment with my core values is the ultimate secret of true peace of mind and yes, happiness. It's not the same as feeling happy all the time. Life is difficult. There are problems to be solved. Sometimes there is fear or worry or sadness yet knowing who I am at my core and making decisions that line up with those values provides a growing sense of clarity and a sense of self-satisfaction that helps me feel grounded and comfortable in my own skin. It's not fleeting like 'feeling happy'. It's more solid. I started to trust life and trust myself. When your sense of self-worth and purpose depends on your circumstances or people outside yourself, it can be taken from you. When it comes from within, it's yours and you only have to allow it to exist.
ok... sounds good, right? But how do I get there? How do I change everything I've been doing my whole life?... even if it isn't working that well for me?
“We already have everything we need."
In Pema Chodron's book 'Start Where you Are' she says “We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.”
It's a process... a journey of discovery or as Winnie the Pooh might say 'an Expotition'. (more about Pooh Bear wisdom in future blogs :-) It's shifting our gaze from outside ourselves to inside. It's developing a curiosity and a sense of wonder about the dreams and gifts within you that you may not even have discovered yet. It's finding our own unique inner strengths instead of trying to live up to others expectations.
Check out upcoming DFL offerings on the Events Page. Visit other sites for programs in your area that focus on topics like Mindfulness or Self Discovery.
To start looking inside yourself, there are many techniques but here's an easy one to try.
Daily Check-In - At the end of each day, make a bullet list of the things you have done that day. Check off which ones energized you and then notice which ones required energy from you. Do this for several weeks and then look back over your notes. Make a list of all the things you have done that energized you and write down what they had in common. Why did those things engage you? What parts of yourself came alive? When we are doing what we are meant for, we have the energy to do it. Paying attention to what adds energy to our lives can be the beginning of a practice to start looking inside for that inner wisdom.
Next time we'll talk about more Stuff that Works - What We Focus On Grows