Finding your path in life can mean a lot of things. It can mean discovering your personality, learning more about what you like to do, figuring out what you’re good at or even choosing a religion to follow. But no matter who you are, finding your path isn’t straightforward, and it’s not so easy as checking items off a list. You can’t just say to yourself, “I like doing this but I don’t like doing that,” and expect a path to magically appear before you.
All the talk over the years about following your bliss is positive and motivating to some extent, but finding your bliss and finding your path are two very different things. “Happiness” comes in many forms, and often, especially in American culture, the very thing people call happiness is really more of a fleeting form of elation that comes and goes too quickly to be appreciated on any real level.
This is not to say that fleeting moments of pleasure cannot create a general feeling of overall satisfaction. I would argue that most people who report they are happy derive that feeling from counting up these isolated slices of elation in time. Over weeks, months and years, the person identifies based on these “happy moments,” giving themselves the impression that they are truly satisfied with their lives in the long run.
Most of us have been taught our entire lives to ‘look on the bright side’ and ‘focus on the positive.’ That’s not bad advice, per se, there’s just a lot more to it than that.
Letting the Path Find You
Do you ever get the feeling that what you are doing just isn’t right? That something feels off with the task at hand or the schedule for the day seems ridiculous? You can’t put your finger on it specifically, but you have an overall feeling of being a round peg in a square hole, and it’s awkward and uncomfortable for you every day. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to ‘get it right.’
Everyone experiences these types of feelings. If you’re double booked for a meeting and you get hungry – you need to eat. But being late to one or both of your meetings seems like a terrible option, even though, logically speaking, your basic human needs should come first. You think: I’ve done the best I possibly can, so why aren’t things working out the way I want them to? Why can’t things just naturally flow in a way that works best for me?
Here’s the secret: they can. When you find your path, or you let your path find you, you’re tapping into the natural flow of the way you fit into the universe. In fact, when you feel upset because things aren’t working out the way you want them to, in his Book of Secrets, Deepak Chopra would say you’re limiting your awareness and operating within a system where the ego is convinced it is in control.
Thanks to Freud, we all know what the ego is. It’s the part of us that identifies with past experiences, desires control and attempts to design a mental safety net for us derived from the appearance of solid truths, like: I have a job, or I am a woman. But the truths the ego holds are fragile. Take the example mentioned – I have a job. If something happens and I no longer have a job for whatever reason, am I to lose a sense of who I am? The ego says yes. The person on a path leading toward awareness and unity says no.
Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard? You can actually choose not to be upset about something as disheartening and difficult as losing a job. Much easier said than done, yes. But it is possible. The way you feel is a choice.
The key to regaining power over this kind of choice is turning off the ego’s stronghold on your brain, or transcending the ego. This includes embracing the notion that you are never in control of anything, which science would argue, is actually true.
Though all reality is based on perception which can be controlled, the universe in its entirety, which is an extremely complex, evolving entity, has a path of its own which we are merely a part of. It’s a paradox: we control what we see and how we feel about it, but we have no control over existence at all. Even if we feel like we don’t want to exist any more, and take action against existence, we cannot blot ourselves out of the minds of individuals any more than we can force them to remember us. Is existence within the consciousness of someone else’s mind still not some form of existence, however skewed the perception may be?
Expanding Your Reality
When things just don’t feel right, this is often your underlying awareness (something every human being has) begging you to see things another way, to get out of the ego’s stronghold and consider other options. If we go back to our first example, losing a job, of course it is easy to see this as a very negative experience with a slew of issues that come with it, like money problems, the questioning of a career path, feelings of failure and even the threat of failing to support loved ones who depend on you.
Those are real problems, there’s no denying that. And there’s nothing that will make those feelings go away either. The only way to face these feelings is to open your awareness and consider other possibilities. Is it possible that you were unhappy with the job to begin with? Did you only take it for the money? Are you having second thoughts about your career choice? Did you feel like the only reason you stayed was because there was no other way?
Consider the possibility that the universe knows what’s best for you (after all, it has billions of years of experience at the job), and it’s trying to show you options that you may not consciously believe exist. If you hated your job and you lost it, yes you might have money problems, which are not fun, but you also have the opportunity to figure out what you want to do and to find more long-lasting happiness in your work. Seize that opportunity; don’t let it simmer down and die out. That is the universe pleading with you to follow a new path that will make you happier in life.
Is it scary? Absolutely. It is downright terrifying to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. But what is the alternative? Staying in a place where you are unhappy, simply because you cannot envision your way out? Trying new things helps you envision your way out of other situations. If you don’t conquer the fear of trying new things and adapting to change, the potential your life has for positivity, beauty, and real, long-lasting fulfillment flickers and ultimately burns out.
I invite you to open your eyes, friends. Let the path find you by becoming aware of the possibilities you never knew existed, and see the events in your life as the universe’s way of guiding you toward better alternatives.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Michael Reilly.