I started this blog one year ago because I was fed up with the mindset of my generation.
Everywhere I looked, I would see my contemporaries reaching for the quick fix, or as I call it - the style - with complete neglect for substance. It was clear that this was the source of everyone's unhappiness, including those near and dear to my heart.
What wasn't clear, however, was that I was being propelled by something far more powerful than frustration. What emerged from my writing was a deeper purpose - to explore, live, and share my journey towards unconditional well-being.
You see, we're all ultimately searching for the same thing - inner peace, love, joy, enthusiasm, creativity, playfulness, spontaneity, and kindness. It's just that the vast majority of us go about this the wrong way by trying to get the people, places, and things around us to unfold exactly as we want, so that those positive feelings are triggered within us. The result is nearly 8 billion people with competing wants, desires, and preferences, all showing up trying to get something from life.
My whole exploration is to uncover the source of those feelings within so I can learn to experience them regardless of what's going on around me.
To me, this is the most important quest of all time.
All that we deem as worldly problems - inequality, poverty, racism, corruption, war, climate change, and our own unhappiness - are really just consequences of not being okay as individuals.
When we're okay, we feel complete, so we're no longer looking to get something from life. And when we're not looking to get anything, all we can do is give. All we can do is serve our fellow brothers and sisters.
This blog is my journey of learning how to be okay.
Below are eight of the most impactful lessons I've learned so far. Perhaps you'll find them valuable in your own life.
1. Trust the power of momentum
When starting a new endeavor, aim for consistency, not perfection. I can't tell you how many times I didn't take the first step out of fear of things not being perfect. I specifically had that fear one year ago before starting this blog, only this time I was aware of the pattern. I was tired of giving into fear, only for time to pass and regret to set in.
If you're on the fence about starting something new, putting yourself out there, or taking a risk, my suggestion is to first focus on momentum, and intentionally block out the rest. Do not even think about what things could, or should look like in a year. Your only focus should be to do something small every day until not doing it becomes uncomfortable.
The only reason you're reading this now is because I focused on writing and publishing a new blog post every single day for three months until I built up the habit. Had I been crippled by perfection, I would've never started, and I'd probably be regretting it today.
2. You are not your mind
Perhaps the biggest realization on this journey is that I am not my mind, or my thoughts. What's more, I don't have to believe my thoughts. For someone with anxious tendencies, this has been tremendously liberating for me over the past year. The voice in my head that never shuts up - you know what I'm talking about - that's not me. I'm the one who hears it. The same goes for your voice.
The truth is, your mind is going to run rampant thoughts, all the time, and not a single one of those thoughts is better or worse, more truthful or untruthful, than the other. They're all just thoughts bubbling up based on your past experiences. Your mind thinks it knows best, but it only knows what it knows - which is a tiny sliver of a fraction of reality. How could it know more than all of creation?
No one ever told me this. I had no idea that the human mind was supposed to be a neurotic, negative thought-producing machine if we didn't use it properly.
The more you can learn to master your mind, versus it mastering you, the better quality of life you'll have.
3. Letting go does not mean forgetting
Until now, the words "let go" meant absolutely nothing to me. Well, they meant something, but I interpreted them as instructions to forget. Just forget it! Just don't think about it anymore! Just move on! It's that easy! And that was the problem. It isn't that easy. It isn't just about forgetting.
I learned that letting go is really about noticing first what's happening inside you - the thoughts and sensations swirling around - and then doing your best to relax, breathe deeply, and let those disturbances happen without trying to change them. It's about letting them be as they are, and giving them space to pass through. It's not easy, but hey, that's what it means to work on yourself.
4. When you find the right teacher, everything clicks
You might be exposed to an idea for decades, but until the right person communicates it in the right way at the right time, it will mean nothing. I'm lucky I found a guide, Michael Singer, who brought the spiritual world down to extremely practical, often scientific and evidence-based terms, all in the name of learning to be okay navigating the turbulent waters of life.
In your life, if something doesn't sink in now, don't get discouraged. I promise you there is another message, another person, another way of saying something, that will resonate better with you in the future. If this blog isn't it, then it will find you another time, in another form. Keep the faith.
5. Hate and anger are never the answer
Reacting to negativity with negativity is always a losing formula. You might think anger propels you to do good, but really, it propels you to and to act out of your own selfish need to feel better. Actions that stem from your individual need to feel better are rarely, if ever, the right actions needed to solve a larger problem.
If you commit your life to unconditional well-being - that is, learning how to be okay no matter what's happening around you - then you won't feel the need to lash out at others. Instead, you'll approach situations with a compassionate heart, and do what's needed to be done for the greater good, not for your individual ego.
6. It's not about what you have, but rather how you live
Your state of being is far more important than any possessions you might have. What good is anything if you can't fully experience or appreciate it?
This is perhaps the most important lesson of all. If you take anything away from this piece, let it be this.
What you have is irrelevant if you can’t fully experience it. Thats why money does not equal meaning. That's why fame does not equal fulfillment. That's why possessions do not equal purpose.
At the end of the day, you're still you, no matter where you are, who you're with, or what you have. You best learn to be okay within yourself.
7. Our most important relationship is with the present moment
Most of us are always trying to take something from the moments unfolding in front of us. We have a constant agenda going on in the back of our minds, because we've created a blueprint of how the world should be in order for us to be okay. When anything or anyone gets out of line and threatens that blueprint, we freak out.
We then attempt to control people around us and get them to behave in such a way that won't disturb us. This is a constant, never-ending battle, and it completely ruins our relationship with the present moment.
The truth is, you only live in the present. Whatever you're hoping for in the future can and will only be experienced in the eternal now. If you can't find joy in the present, I'm afraid you'll never find joy. Make it a commitment to learn what's getting in the way of your joy. This blog is a great place to start, but there are plenty of teachings out there, one of which is bound to resonate.
8. The world depends on your well-being
Your individual well-being is critical to the future of our nation, species, and planet. If we can't learn to be okay as individuals, our societies and planet will suffer the consequences, as we're witnessing today.
Let's start focusing a little more on the substance in our lives - the things that truly matter - and little less on the style.
Live with substance!
Below are some of my, and your, favorite pieces from the year.
A Plea to My Generation (My very first post)