Today I’m covering a really big topic that is all-too-often at the core of our unhappiness-- not knowing what we truly want. Being in the healing profession now for the past 20 years and having studied lots of different alternative healing methods, as well as traditional psychotherapy, I personally know and value the power of these healing methods, but at the same time, I also feel we've gotten to a place of information overload. Everywhere you turn, there’s a new treatment, coaching program, E-book or healing method that promises to change your life. We jump from one healing method to another hoping that each one will give us the answers we're looking for. While I’m not saying these things aren’t powerful and extremely valid, I think we need to go back to the basics first.
So what do I mean?
Western society has come a long way in the past 40 years in it's awareness of self-development, psychology and acknowledgment of other healing modalities. But before we follow another new self-help fad, cleansing diet, or attend another motivational workshop, we first have to start at the beginning—what is it we really want and need in our life to be happy?
When asked this question, most people will most commonly respond, “money.” Now while I’m not going to argue that money isn’t helpful in helping us to pay for our basic needs and to have some of the comforts of life, I also know it’s tends to be a distraction and often an excuse. Money is an easy thing to blame our unhappiness on and it doesn’t in fact really tell us what will make us happy. Money is only a piece of paper that has a symbolic value. And even if we had all the money we wanted, after buying the new house, the new car, boat, clothes, electronics and traveling everywhere we wanted to go, the initial excitement and joy would eventually fade and we’d be right back where we started, unhappy.
I understand this may seem a little harsh or hard to swallow, but the fastest path to happiness and well-being always starts with first understanding what we want and need in life. And I don't mean the generalities of food, shelter, clothing, etc. I’m talking about our deepest needs, passions and purpose. For example, here are a few questions to get you thinking:
What was it that you always dreamed of doing as a little kid?
What were your passions and favorite hobbies when you were young?
What are your passions in life now (besides making money)?
What are the things that give you a sense of excitement and energy when you think about them?
What are the types of people that energize and inspire you?
Do you have a vision of what your life will look like when you are truly happy with yourself and passionate about all aspects of your life?
What are your personal goals in life? The things that you know you were put on this earth to do?
Without being able to answer these kinds of questions, the path to happiness will be much more complicated and confusing. Sure, you could get lucky and stumble upon something that changes your life completely, but even with a big awakening, we still have to be grounded and come back to the logistics of realizing our dreams and passions, otherwise we can get overwhelmed and confused all over again.
So what to do now?
If you’re feeling lost or unhappy in any areas of your life this is what I recommend to start:
1. Take 5-10 minutes each day by yourself.
The most important tool I can offer you is simply to carve out at least 10-30 minutes each day to be by yourself in a quiet space. This could be in the morning before your day gets started, before you go to bed, or anytime throughout the day. It really doesn’t matter. It will give you the space and time you need to start thinking about what you really want. Without regular time to yourself, your mind will constantly be distracted by other things. And no matter how busy we are, we can always find 10 minutes or so in a day for something as important as this.
2. Start asking yourself what you really want.
Use the questions above to get you started and have a journal or something to write on at hand. Each time you come back to these questions, first take some deep breaths and get yourself in a more relaxed frame of mind. This will make it a lot easier for the answers to come forth. Close your eyes if this is helpful to tune out any distractions and then go through the questions one at a time giving each one enough time to really think it through. Write down whatever comes to you without judging it.
Don’t expect to go through all the questions in one day. In fact, I don't recommend it. Ideally, take one question per day or over a few days if you need. The more importance you give to the questions, the more benefit you will get.
3. Listen to your instinct for answers.
Our minds are often over-preoccupied with daily life and are sometimes on automatic pilot. We move from one activity to another just trying to survive and manage our lives. The problem with this is that over time, we lose contact with our intuition and the wisdom of our bodies which are constantly trying to guide us. So, when you first start to ask these questions, it's possible you might feel a bit overwhelmed or feel like you don't really know what you want. If this happens, take some deep breaths, close your eyes and ask yourself only one of the questions. Allow whatever first pops into your head to guide you. Often, when we remove our analytical minds from the equation, our unconscious mind, as well as our intuition, can start communicating. The point being, try not to overthink these questions, but use them as guide to connect back to your wisdom and your true self. For some more help connecting to your intuition and developing it further, check out my article, "Connecting With Your Intuition."
4. Go to places where you feel inspired and peaceful.
If you’ve never really asked yourself what you truly want in life to be happy, and it feels overwhelming, I also recommend going to a place(s) where you feel happy, peaceful or inspired to answer these questions. Think about the places you like to go normally to relax and feel at peace. It could be somewhere in nature, a church, a meditation hall, the beach or a park, for example. It doesn’t really matter, just as long as it’s a place where you feel peaceful. By putting yourself in a place that is grounding and calming, it will help you to access the answers to these questions easier and more honestly. You may even be surprised by the answers that come up for you when you’re in a more relaxed frame of mind.
5. Get support.
If the questions just feel too overwhelming, or you just don’t have any idea of what you really want in your life, get help from someone you trust that can guide you and help you better understand what’s blocking you from connecting to your needs and wants.
Often, life has a sort of frenetic momentum of it’s own that sort of sweeps us up with it like a big tornado. It can be hard to get perspective when we’re swirling around inside of the tornado and don’t know how to get out of it. It’s at these times that it’s really critical to talk to someone you trust who, rather than telling you what you should be doing in your life, is there as a sounding-board and support-system to help you decide for yourself what you truly need. This kind of support, at the right moment can make huge changes for us as I’ve seen it happen many, many times.
Once you get more clear on what it is you truly need and want in your life and what your personal goals are, then it will be easier to figure out what steps you need to take to get there. Of course, there will be barriers and fears that come up when we start moving in the direction of our needs and dreams, but again, without knowing in your heart what you are moving towards, the chance of it ever happening will be close to zero.
Feel free to let me know what you discover when you go through these questions and how you are progressing towards your own happiness.
Tania Manczarek is a holistic swiss army knife. A trained therapist, intuitive energy worker, certified yoga instructor, massage practitioner and hypnotist, she focuses on healing through the mind/body/spirit connection and is passionate about helping people live an authentic and balanced life. Originally, from Los Angeles, she left to travel the world over 5 years ago to find her own path of healing and to follow her dreams. Now living in France, she offers individual wellness services by phone/Skype, events and retreats in France and abroad.