“What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.” ~Herman Hesse
I have a confession: I hate slowing down. When I finally let myself stop—being alone with my thoughts, vulnerable and open to the world—I become afraid.
I have another confession: There was a specific time in my life when went through a painful and scary situation. It broke me. And the only way I knew how to cope with my shattered self was to avoid my problems.
Simply put: If times were hard, I ran.
I changed schools, moved to different cities, traveled to different countries, and found solace in running, a sport that calls for constant movement. I began seeking specifically for happiness: for the people, the place, and the situation that would help me find the “perfect life.”
I was a seeker who kept looking for happiness and different ways to “become a better person.” I was searching for a new life that would be “perfect” like the lives I saw on college campuses, TV shows, and Facebook feeds.
I believed my old life and my old self weren’t good enough, so I had to create a new life that would allow me to start over.
I pondered getting a Masters in global health, joining a rock band, writing a bestseller, running marathons, making music in West Africa, climbing mountains, and learning how to build lean-to’s.
I was convinced accomplishing any of these things would make me happy, make me feel deserving, and make me whole again.
A couple years passed by, and I slowly began to realize that no matter where I went, what I sought out, and the situations I was in, I was still the same exact person inside.
That’s when I realized if I wanted to find happiness, I had to first understand that the perfect life did not exist, and the acceptance of my past and my imperfections is what creates the near-perfect life.
Most importantly, I had to find myself again, which meant I had to stop feverishly seeking.
We should all go after the things we want; we should be driven to chase after our dreams, embrace new challenges, and go on new adventures. But seeking often means deliberately searching for something that isn’t always meant to be there, or to simply run away from something that can truthfully never escape you.
By being too tunnel-visioned and too set on a goal—landing the “perfect” job, finding the “perfect partner,” or making the “perfect” group of friends—you may miss out on the less-obvious scenarios that are intended to fill your near-perfect life.
When on your journey to stop seeking, start finding, and create a life where you are whole-hearted, fulfilled, and accepting, take note of these tips:
Accept who you are.
Know that your core self, and your emotions, outlook, and attitude, will follow you everywhere, no matter what situation you are in. Recognizing the beautiful and imperfect person you are is the first step towards accepting new challenges and allowing new experiences into your life.
Give yourself options.
You may really want one thing—a specific job, a house in a certain part of the country, or certain fame or fortune. But if one of your dreams doesn’t come into fruition, maybe this means that another bigger and better dream is waiting for you. Don’t get discouraged, and allow yourself to be open.
Invite fear, uncertainty, and imperfection into your life. Once you fully open yourself up to the universe, it will allow you to see the incredible number of options for you, and let you try new things to help create the near-perfect life.
Use meditation as a way to be with nothing but your present self. This helps you to slow down and stop seeking, to really get to know your true self and what you feel, want, and need.
Things don’t fall into place right away. There will be ten hardships before one celebration. Don’t give up. Be patient.
Don’t be stagnant.
None of these tips mean you should stop moving completely and wait for life to work itself out on its own. Rather, it’s about finding a balance between learning what you want and inviting new opportunities, while recognizing that how you react to life’s situations is in your hands.
After nearly ten years of seeking, I found my near-perfect life in New York City, the one place I had once swore I’d never move to. I found an apartment with an old friend, and we rekindled a friendship from nearly five years prior. I discovered a support system of friends and family who were always there for me, and one company of hundreds I applied to hired me.
My time in New York has helped me uncover the happy spirit that was always within me—the spirit that once was simply too tired from my constant seeking to spread its light.
I’m still not very good at slowing down. I’m happiest when moving, when constantly trying to reach that next tier. But I’m also trying to slow down and breathe—to stop seeking for “better” and start finding myself, allowing my near-perfect life to meet me halfway.
Photo by 3Drake9