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How To Discover What You Really Want In Life

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You can discover what you really want in life by asking yourself some straightforward questions. If you are willing to respond plainly and honestly you will find the answers to be crucial to your self-discovery and happiness. Many people set out on the path of self-discovery by searching for what they want in life. It might be a relationship, an experience, a better job or something else. Using various methods that are available in abundance they learn how to attract relationships, get jobs, and generally move things around in their lives. At some point, however, they will inevitably confront the realization that they remain unsatisfied and have not discovered what they really truly want in life.

What Makes A Person Happy?

At some point in your search you will encounter that same realization and you will find that we are taught to look in the strangest of places for our happiness. The emphasis seems universally to be on the outside. By that I mean things like a good job, a solid relationship, adequate shelter and food are held up as the reference point for happiness in life. Naturally, all of these things are very good, indeed vital to have and we can learn how to get them by using our minds clearly, and we can help each other to have them through generous and ongoing sharing of resources. Yet, we can't help but notice that life is filled up with stories of people who have all of these things and remain unhappy while many people who have practically nothing are nevertheless able to find contentment. At this point we have to ask ourselves, what makes a person happy? And with that question we will have started to really examine what we want in life.

Taking Care Of Business First

Before I introduce the questions that will help you inquire into what you really want in life, I want to emphasize that it is very difficult to set aside time to reflect on these questions when a person doesn't know where their children's next meal is coming from or how they will pay their rent. For that reason I support using whatever spiritual or self-help methods will do the trick to take care of the structures in life. Having a home, a job and the means to support yourself or your children will free up the mental and emotional energy it takes to think of the larger questions that lead you to understanding what you really want.

Inquire Within

To begin you will need a notepad and a pen. Take some time to write down on paper your answer to the question what do I want? Try not to edit your response and allow whatever wants to be expressed to arise. It could be a relationship, a job or health. Whatever it is, write it down. The next part of your task is to use your imagination and try to visualize that you already have it. Take a moment to think about that. Imagine how you would feel, act, dress and talk if it were an already accomplished fact in your life. And then write down on the paper the answer to this question: what has having [whatever it is] added to my experience of life? Or you may prefer this form of the question: who would I be with [whatever it is] in my life?

Typical answers to this question are, I would be more peaceful; I would by happy; I would be free. Whatever you come up with, now you know the answer to what you really want in life. If you are a person who prays, now you know exactly how to focus your prayer work because you will have identified what it is you yearn for. If you are not the praying kind, you have still identified the key to your happiness and can now focus on it.

What Does It Represent?

There is a humorous story about a man who prayed for a relationship and after a while a neighbor gives him a puppy. Although delighted with the puppy he finds himself complaining to a friend that his prayer remains unanswered, to which the friend replies "but don't you have everything you said you wanted: connection, devotion, a feeling of value?" This is exactly what you are trying to get at in your own inquiry. What does it, the thing or experience you say you want, represent to you? If you say 'freedom' or 'peace,' would you be willing to have that freedom or peace come to you in whatever form it arrives?

One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Gangaji, says that the truth is that having freedom or peace, or whatever it is you discover you want, is possible to have now in this moment. I take that to mean that any quality of being I can come up with, such as joy, peace, freedom, etc., is available everywhere all of the time because they do not depend on conditions. In other words, I may have once thought that out of relationship, joy arises. Now with this inquiry I am realizing that out of joy, relationship arises.

Just Imagine

Imagine this: the experience or feeling you seek is actually present and available now. To get a sense of that, try to drop your outward reference for what you believe will result in that feeling you have identified. In other words, use your imagination to ask yourself if there is any barrier between you and the feeling right now. Ask yourself, do I have access to peace right now regardless of whether or not the car, relationship, or puppy is present?

Over the years of working with people I have seen several people respond to this realization in a number of different ways. Some are shocked at the simplicity and when they first get it, they experience a rush of personal self-esteem when they realize what they are capable of. Some find the realization humorous and relieving and have the sense of shaking of a life time of burden. Others experience an initial wave of sadness for having been deluded for so long, but move on from that sadness rather quickly when they realize that they have access to as much peace now as they ever did. Still others feel a rejection of the idea that they could be happy and peaceful now and return with insistence to the idea that their peace of mind depends solidly on a certain event, person or outcome.

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