“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop. Seek the wisdom that will untie your knot. Seek the path that demands your whole being.” ~Rumi
It seems like there is so much busyness in the world today. When was the last time you stopped to focus on your breath and to truly settle into the moment?
When we’re busy, we don’t always prioritize these precious moments of full presence with our own aliveness.
Being busy can become like an addiction, an urge that drives us compulsively. But what are we really looking for in all those things that keep us busy?
A friend recently told me she's been busy for four years renovating her house. Now that it’s almost done, she doesn’t feel what she thought she’d feel. “It's just a house, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like a home.”
I’ve found that the circumstances we think we want aren’t always what we truly want; we want the feeling we perceive it will give us. We believe changing our lives is going to give us a sense of completion or happiness.
For many years, I had a vision of what my perfect life would look like—as if that picture of happiness was a destination.
I spent my life chasing a sense of freedom. I stayed unhappily busy in a career that promised financial security so I could eventually do all the things I loved in the future.
I was busy assembling an idea of happiness, but every time I got something I thought I wanted, I felt unsatisfied.
When I established my career, I then looked for “the one” romantic relationship. When I got that, I felt happy, but I always felt I needed more to complete my perfect picture.
I once heard it said that there is nothing wrong with ego, it’s just looking for love in all the wrong places. I was looking for freedom and completion in my circumstances.
When you’re looking for love in your circumstances rather than in who you are inside, right now, in the present, you experience your life like a shell. Just like a house, it’s empty on the inside.
You might have experienced it for yourself when you worked hard toward a goal but it didn’t give you that feeling of completion or satisfaction when you achieved it—and if it did, it was temporary.
As soon as I realized I was chasing happiness in the future, I stopped. I radically started living for the now. I followed my heart into a new business, out of old relationships, and into new adventures moment to moment.
Every time I acted on my heart, I felt an immediate sense of love that was different from what I felt when I made choices for love in the future.
Searching for completion in your circumstances is, in a way, looking for your sense of self in them.
There have been times when I’ve gotten lost by misidentifying what I do with who I am.
If you derive your sense of self, or boost your idea of happiness through your life circumstances—your job, your financial security, or your relationships—it’s going to be painful when those things change form.
The key is to stop making any of your circumstances mean something about who you are.
When you find your sense of self in the wholeness of truly living for the now, you free yourself to occupy any life shell. Your contentment comes from who you are, which has nothing to do with what you do, what you have, or what you’ve accomplished.
You can accomplish great things in this life. But when you know yourself at the depth of your being first, you don’t pursue goals to complete yourself; you pursue them to express yourself in the world, because you feel a love for expression as an extension of your love of life.
There is nothing wrong with being busy, but it can distract you from the love that’s already present in who you are at a level of being.
It’s in moments of silence when I’ve laid down the chase for change that peace has found me, where I have wanted for nothing except just being alive. Happiness happens when you stop looking for it.
So what are we all really looking for? I believe we are looking for ourselves in our hearts, the one we already are and always have been. I believe we are looking for a state of being—love, that feeling of happiness for no reason.
Here is how we can find it:
1. Slow down.
Pause. Recognize why you’re busy and see if you can do less. Embrace the discomfort that comes from stopping, and notice what you are avoiding by being busy. Be willing to sit in that discomfort.
2. Stop focusing on externals.
Stop pursuing goals with the idea that you’ll be happy when you achieve them, and put that energy into connecting with your heart. This will relieve the need to fix, improve, or change things out of fear.
3. Know what matters to you.
Ask yourself what’s truly important for you in your life. If you were going to die in one year, what would you do in your remaining time?
4. Do what makes you come alive.
Find the things that move you in your soul and create those experiences that touch your heart. It’s one step at a time, moment by moment.
Be willing to turn your life upside down if you need to—get radical—and find support from those who also live by the movements of their heart.
Man looking through binoculars image via Shutterstock