Do you love what you are doing? Hiding deep below the surface (or in my case, right under the surface) we harbor a profound desire to do something special, unique, and meaningful. Society has shoved this desire down for many of us, and as a result leaves us with anxiety and/or depression. We suffer from this first world issue of everything being provided for but a feeling that we aren’t fully satisfied.
It is a puzzling feeling, that often makes you feel like there is something wrong with you. How could you not be happy with an iPhone7, a family that loves you, and a nice condo in the city? Still, you feel stuck, unmotivated, or distracted–
Now the following may/will terrify your friends, boss, spouse, parents, or anyone else close to you because it will threaten status quo. It probably will scare you as well.
Maybe your whole life is a lie and you were meant to be doing something far more productive for society? For yourself? For G-d? Could you really live a passionate, purpose driven life where you jump out of bed excited every morning? Or is that for someone else?
A prominent head of state in North Korea was killed for falling asleep at a military parade. He was executed by anti-aircraft guns. Based on how afraid we are to admit something in our life is boring or not what we want to be doing, it’s almost like we’re afraid that the same thing will happen to us. But maybe the reason we aren’t happy or have trouble paying attention is because the thing we are doing, the path we are on, ISN’T INTERESTING FOR US AND NOT SOMETHING WE SHOULDN’T BE DOING!
50 Cent said that people are enthralled (my word, not his) by those who they expect to fail and then succeed beyond everyone’s wild imagination. Why the cultural fascination? Because deep down we wish it was us.
Now immediately the defense mechanisms shoot up. I can’t have the body, the bank account, that spiritual connection that these other people have that ‘made it.’ I can’t have a career that fulfills me deeply, or is off the beaten path. We had behind our children and our jobs and our lives and make excuses why we can’t be more or do more.
It’s not that you can’t? It’s that you don’t want to badly enough. The most painful and empowering awareness I have is that I can do anything I want. It drives me somewhere between euphoric and depressed. Euphoric because the idea that nothing is outside of my reach is so empowering. Depressed because both it’s really hard to push myself, and it’s really hard to build and wait.
But deep down inside, we all want to be great. We want to be bigger. From a mystical side, our soul longs to expand, and to live out an enlightened life full of being able to choose who we are and what we become. In that rare moment of clarity, of honesty, you can admit you want more. You want to make changes in your life. You want to be in better shape, and have better relationships.
But you only admit it in rare moments, because you are so afraid to say it aloud out of the fear of disappointing yourself if it doesn’t happen, or that others should know we aren’t the perfect people our facebook profiles say we are. There is also a lot of fear of shaking up the status quo. What will our spouses think? Our kids?
So why listen to yourself? Well, YOU know what you want. You are aware when and how your life isn’t on the level you want it to be. A person in tune with themselves is dangerous because it’s hard to influence or control them because they’ve taken control over themselves. Suddenly, they are focused. Suddenly they don’t need you. Suddenly there is that inner fire that we all long for.
The media, society, our friends, parents, and teachers sometimes are threatened by us being us. That’s why many oppressive governments don’t want their population literate, or to have internet, or to be exposed to the outside world. Because people might think for themselves. By us being free to choose who we want to influence us, we are largely uncontrollable to outside forces. And there is no greater advocate and no greater path to becoming who you want to become than getting to know yourself, and learning how to be authentic.
How do we do that? Three simple ways to start to listen to yourself:
- Educate yourself about yourself. What resonates with you? What do you dream about, like to do, fantasize about? What work would you do if you weren’t getting paid? If you can’t figure that out, what would you do if you never had to worry about money? If that’s still too hard, if you had one last day on Earth what would you spend it doing? That powerful line of questioning gets you naturally in tuned with what you really care about.
- Whatever you find out from step one, figure out how you attract or become whatever you care about. If it’s finding a very attractive mate, figure out what that attractive mate would want and become it. If it’s a passion for a career, figure out how to do it. If it’s a desire for money, learn how to make it. If its spiritual clarity, ask people who are convinced of their beliefs why they feel so strongly. Tony Robbins says, “success leaves clues.” That means once you know what you want, take responsibility to get the training, coaching, and mentoring to become what you want. EVERYONE CAN IMPROVE IN ONE OR TWO AREAS OF THEIR LIVES, even if they don’t need a complete life make-over. Become a student of someone who does something you care about better than you.
- Be unapologetic of who you are. WE ARE DYING INSIDE when we try to conform to external systems that don’t resonate with us. Social systems will say you should behave a certain way or believe a certain thing. It’s possible some systems might be too small to incorporate who you are. Find new systems. As a Jew, it took me a very long time to appreciate Judaism being broad enough to speak to who I was, and not who I thought I was supposed to be. But that’s not every system. Part of my social system growing up didn’t believe I should be an observant Jew. Who I wanted to be was beyond that system. No problem, I found a new system. Friends don’t want you to change. You don’t need new friends UNLESS you aren’t strong enough to change despite the critics (which few of us are). You pick everything in your life. If you want comfort, a lack of judgement, a lack of people not understanding you, you also pick not being who you are, and living a lie that you picked for yourself. Be ok with who you are, grow to be who you want to be, and chances are the same people that once thought you were nuts will ask you for advice. And if they don’t, that’s cool too.