"People say that what we´re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don´t think that´s what we´re really seeking. I think what we´re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That´s what it´s all finally about." - Joseph Campbell
Lifelong learning, to me, is as vital as breathing. I love learning and that is why my life metaphor is a school. The self-help and spiritual books I’ve read could stock a three-story library and the people I’ve turned to ran the gamut from Deepak Chopra to the stranger on the street. All of it was good and I continue to discover new ideas.
But where once there was desperation in my searching, today I seek with a joyful curiosity. In the past, there was some empty hole inside me. A nagging panic that compelled me to continue the chase after “the answer.” The answer? I had forgotten the question! When I sat down to recall that essential part of the puzzle, I realized that I honestly believed that there was something or someone out there who could tell me what I was supposed to do in life. As though there was a right and a wrong way to live and to think. I was trying to find a cheat sheet to the test of life, trying to copy someone else's notes.
From all the philosophies about living well, there are a few simple commonalities:
1. Be open-minded. If your belief system is so locked tight, you lack wisdom. Wisdom is not threatened by new information.
2. Life brings us experiences as opportunities to learn. The toughest lessons bring the most valuable knowledge. Study your own experiences.
3. Seek learning but use what you’ve learned. But at some point, you need to apply what you’re learning or there is no sense is chasing after more information. Information is just facts. Use the information gained and it becomes knowledge.
4. You have free will over how you will react to outward influences and what you will create with your inner wisdom. This determines the quality of your life.
5. At your very core—underneath the external personality and who you think you are—is the magnificent essence of energy that is your spirit. The real you energy vibrates at a level that is all-knowing and powerful. You can tap into your own all-knowing consciousness for the answers you seek.
Exhausted by my frantic searching, I happened across a book that from its title only promised to add to my confusion. The contents rattled my foundation and forced me to do some serious rebuilding. But when I was able to let go of some of my beliefs, a curious transformation began. Growth. Evolution. I was no longer in a little self-imposed box constructed of materials gleaned from other people’s belief systems. I began to believe in myself. I finally learned to trust the ring of truth when it reverberated through my soul. I follow that feeling now and it steers me safely through dark times.
I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. In the end, the answers were inside me. I had the power all along to be happy. You, too, have this power and can wield it right now to be happy right now. True happiness does not come from the outside. We only believe it does. Children bring happiness? Does that mean the childless can’t be happy? Having a mate brings happiness? Contented single people will laugh at that. A thin body? There are plenty of overweight people who are happy and thin people who are not. A beautiful home, flashy car, fashionable clothes, the right friends, a great career, a fat bank account. All of these are nice material things to have. But the real source of happiness is not in the outward token. It is you:
1. Examine your life up to this point objectively and without judgment, as though you were looking at someone else’s life. What gifts, strengths, talents, skills or lessons could be gained from your most painful experiences? Why are you a better person for having gone through them? Can you be at peace with what life has provided for you? (self reflection)
2. Can you say you love yourself? Do you understand that you are a magnificent human being who has been thrust into this earthly plane to evolve? Can you accept that you are a good person trying your best and making mistakes that are part of your growth? (self love and self acceptance)
3. If you were going to die tomorrow, would you understand finally that the only things of real value are the things you can take with you? Love? Relationships? Memories? Lessons well learned? (self actualization)
4. Take the time to feel alive. Breathe deeply and experience the joy of this very moment. (self actualization)
I encourage you to continue learning, but if you’re desperately seeking yourself, turn inward. The answers are there. How? It is simple: be still. Meditation is not a New Age practice but simply a quieting of the body and mind so you can tune into higher consciousness (God, the Universe). Enlightened beings like Jesus Christ and brilliant minds like Albert Einstein tapped into themselves through being still and silent. Learn how to meditate from BellaOnline.com’s Meditation site edited by Susan Kramer.
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