Inner freedom. It's nothing I've mastered, but rather a lesson that lately I can't ignore. Embracing this lesson will create space for peace and happiness and this is available to you. With inner freedom you will find joy from within not despair due to without's. Think about how rewarding life could be if you weren't living for materialistic pursuits, acknowledgement, and acceptance.
Loving and laughing with a group of friends or having your Facebook friends double.
Seeing breathtaking beauty in a landscape or getting noticed or applauded for something.
Working on something you enjoy, or promotion from your boss.
Two very different feelings. The first is intrinsic, the second extrinsic. The first produces satisfaction the second never will.
We are programmed early on to want outward praise; driven by self-promotion with our performance and behaviour. We pass this onto our children:
We often fail to encourage acceptance from within. We need to ask:
Meanwhile, we also struggle and take the new position in a less enjoyable but prestigious job, or drive this, wear that, maintain a current weight... you get the picture. It seems impossible to interrupt the unhealthy drive.
As a therapist I see countless people miserable because they married who they thought they should, went after the “good” jobs and took the courses expected. And now they feel stuck: difficult marriages, golden handcuffs, degrees they don't use.
How do you move away from this in a world where seeking external and not internal satisfaction is becoming more and more prominent with the information age?
Be present in your choices and stop chasing highs that will never be satisfied. There is always a better everything in the rat race.
Three big areas we could start to change:
1. Relationships: This challenge starts early. Kids go from happy in relationships to learning that relationships have currency: who likes us, who we like, and how it reflects on us. As we date we are at risk of seeing acceptance from a partner as a way for validation.
Examine your relationships and cultivate the ones where people add to your life. Be whole in yourself and stop relying on others to fulfill you.
2. Outward Appearance: Consider the many sad cases in Hollywood where stars have made countless physical changes under the knife in an attempt to find happiness or acceptance in a cut-throat industry. Or think of one's own desire to have a new outfit, new size, stating that “this will make me happy.” You will never be satisfied chasing any of this. The styles change and the size can always be smaller, breasts bigger, or this or that area tighter.
*Ask yourself what drives you to purchase, prune or exercise? Maybe you will choose a physical activity that you enjoy not pray for its end. Be mindful when purchasing, a desire to feel good can lead to impulse purchases that never deliver and the void again needs filling.
3. Jobs: I once heard a study which found that no matter the income bracket an individual was in, those interviewed thought they would be happier if they earned double what they are making now. $20,000/year joy at 40,000, 100,000 would feel they arrived at 200,000, 1,000,000 the sweet spot would be 2,000,000. See the lie?
*As you can see never choose money. Work in something that brings you happiness. Big discussions might have to happen about changing direction and what that means. Or maybe not, maybe you need to be present in the job you're in now, finding joy in the inner satisfaction of a job well done not letting your self worth be dictated by another.
You have everything you need to be happy right now here in this moment. Sometimes you will meet people who accept and live this. They are inspiring, full of personal power and choices, you have the power for this too. Chase this instead.