“The person who lives life fully, glowing with life's energy, is the person who lives a successful life.” ~Daisaku Ikeda
More often than not when we want to create something new or different in our lives, our true yearning is not about what we want to do on the outside that will make us feel fulfilled and content, but a certain way we want to feel in ourselves.
That fancy car might give us a feeling of power, or esteem, or pride. That successful business might make us feel like we “arrived” or we are recognized. That trip to Nepal might make us feel like a world-class adventurer. Losing 10 pounds might make us feel more desired.
But ultimately what we are really searching for is a certain experience we want to have on the inside.
When I was younger, I wanted to be an actress. I wanted nothing more than to express my emotions on stage.
Looking back, I realize I was trying to gain self-esteem through receiving applause. But inside, I really felt I didn’t matter. My true inner calling was to be able to freely express my feelings. Acting gave me a safe container to do just that.
When I became a psychologist, I had a desire to help others through their emotional strife.
The truth is I got a Counseling Psychology Masters degree to know myself more and understand the makings of my own psychology. I was able to help others and learn more about myself.
The point is there is always an underlying reason why we want something. And the key to feeling fulfilled is to become aware of why we want that something in the first place.
What are you really looking for? Meaning, what is the way you want to experience your being within?
Here are 4 key questions to explore what you really want to feel fully fulfilled and content:
1. How do I want to feel on the inside?
What is the feeling you desire? For example, are you yearning to feel freer? Ask yourself, “How might I create the experience of feeling freedom inside myself first—before striving for that external goal?”
Perhaps you struggle with accepting yourself as you are in the moment. If so, then, the intention could be to give yourself more permission to be who you are.
Once you experience this state of freedom on the inside, you will have the freedom to create what you want out in the world.
This goes with any inner state: joy, happiness, peace, creativity, aliveness, etc.
2. Is my drive to do something out in the world really a wish to escape my interior experience?
Many times we want something “out there” in order to mask or avoid something we are feeling within.
We might want a fancy car to make us feel special, only to realize once we have it that we want the next upgraded model.
We might go into a business just to make money, only to realize we feel as unfulfilled with money as we felt without it.
We might want to go to India, only to discover we are the same lonely person in India as we were in Indiana.
Or we lost 10 pounds because we wanted to feel sexier, yet we still don’t have the reinforcement from a man or woman we desire.
The key is to become aware if you are searching for something outside of yourself in order to feel better about yourself within.
For example, how might you reinforce your own specialness? How might you make loneliness your companion? How might you create a sensation of “sexiness” within?
3. What is my gut telling me?
Sometimes we are in touch with our feelings, but we have so many that we feel overwhelmed and don’t know which to follow.
A friend of mine is never in one town more than a few months at a time. Constantly on the move, he is an eternal wanderer.
While having coffee one day, I asked him what was next on his agenda, and he gave me a list of various choices. He could go to Italy, New York, Woodstock, or Thailand, and he backed each up with an interesting creative or business opportunity.
I asked him, “Which is the brightest star in that constellation? Which one out of all the places you mentioned is your Venus?”
He corrected me to say that Venus is not the brightest star because it is a planet. Cirrus is the brightest star and sometimes Mars is brighter than Venus. Even though his correction was right, it seemed he was avoiding answering my question. So I stopped waxing poetic and asked him instead, “What is your gut telling you?”
Obviously, our feelings shouldn’t always skipper the boat. But our gut can be our guide. It sends us messages.
Each town, job, and opportunity held interest for him. When he tuned into his inner being, he realized his current location had the most energy. After taking a moment he admitted he was looking for the next thing in order to avoid the deeper experience of remaining still in one place.
To discover what you really want, listen to your gut. Not the rational, explained, or reasonable mind but the part of you that is in touch with your inner needs.
For example, are you longing for happiness? What can you do right now in this moment to invoke that feeling? Maybe a ride on your bike in the park on a bright summer day with a friend gives you joy. Invoke this energy within, and then bring it with you to all that you do.
What you produce from this internal feeling on the outside is secondary. What primarily matters is that you find ways to experience what you really want within.
4. How can I accept all that I feel?
Sometimes, we believe that in order to be successful we must always feel good, but pleasure is only a part of the equation.
The trick is to accept the fact that pleasure comes and goes—and so do the things we dislike, as well as the things we feel neutral about.
When I acted in theater, I received a high from the applause. But when the curtain closed and the set broke down, I went home by myself and often woke up in the morning feeling lonely and depressed.
When we do things for the sole desire to receive pleasure, we set ourselves up to feel dissatisfied and disappointed when we don’t have it.
Understanding that with life there are good sensations and bad sensations and even at times neutral sensations, we are able to go about our day-to-day more faithfully assured, balanced, and relaxed.
When we go after our dreams less attached to what the result gives us and more interested in the unfolding process, we have more choice in how we experience each moment along the way.
Look for ways to invoke the feelings you want from life on an inward level first. Then you won’t need to grasp at externals to feel fulfilled and content because you’ll already have what you truly want within.