many questions from people who want to know how to experience more fulfillment,
happiness, and meaning in life. They often express frustration that bubbles
over from a variety of sources, including not knowing what they really want,
confusion about which direction to go in, and worry about the obstacles that
rise up as they pursue their dreams.
At the root of all these frustrations is a misunderstanding about
who we really are and the nature of true fulfillment.
Who Am I?
Let’s begin with the question of who is the “I” that is seeking to
create your life. Take a moment right now and ask yourself Who am I?
Jot down your answers on a piece of paper. Many people will begin this
exercise by identifying their external roles in life, I’m a mother, a
doctor, a daughter, a Harvard graduate, a CEO, a triathlete, an artist, and
so on. However, as they continue to ask themselves this question, the responses
will begin to go beyond the ego level to the deeper realm of the soul. I
am love. I am joy. I am spirit . . .
In order to create a life of genuine happiness, we need to realize
that we are all much more than skin-encapsulated egos. We are more than our
titles, positions, accomplishments, and relationships. Our true self is
multidimensional, unbounded, pure potentiality.
When you ask yourself What do I want?, it’s
important to know if you are listening to the voice of your ego or the voice of
your soul, because they have two very different visions of fulfillment:
While we have
all been conditioned to believe that the ego’s vision is practical and more
realistic, what the ego promises is an illusion – a will-o-the wisp that you
can chase all your life without ever coming close. The ego’s vision of
fulfillment is unattainable because it is dependent on external conditions that
it ultimately can’t control.
The ego can’t compete with the soul’s vision of fulfillment, which
is based on your inner awareness. The soul holds out a kind of happiness and
fulfillment that doesn’t depend on whether outside conditions are favorable or
bad. This vision of fulfillment may seem more difficult, yet it unfolds
automatically when you live from the level of the soul. Your inner
intelligence comes into alignment with the creative intelligence of the
universe, guiding you unerringly in exactly the way you need.
Of course, you can manifest your ego desires using sheer
willpower, but it takes lots of effort and you may not feel as
fulfilled when you attain it as you imagined you would. It’s like rowing
a sailboat against high winds and a strong current: you can do it with enough
effort, but if you harness the forces of the wind and current, then the
journey is more comfortable and enjoyable.
Ego or Soul Desires?
Most desires are straight forward ego wishes. The natural impulse
toward action that flows from our true self will also express itself as desire,
but it will be an easy, gentle preference that does not come from a
sense of lack or neediness.
The easiest way to evaluate whether your desire to create something
is coming from your real self or your ego is to tune in to your body and
ask yourself Does this desire feel relaxed and loving? Is it coming
from a place that already feels good about itself? Do I want this for
others as well as for myself?
Keep in mind that creative drive isn’t facilitated by feeling like
you “should” create something, or that you ought to start a project or you’ll
regret it. When your inner dialogue is dominated by feelings of frustration,
self-judgment, or fear, your ego is trying to take charge. When your desire to
create something comes from a feeling of enthusiasm, inspiration, joy, and
fullness within, then you are in touch with your true nature and the guidance
that will help you create and experience fulfillment.
Tuning into Your Soul’s Desires and Purpose
As we have seen, it is important to learn how to think and desire
from your authentic self beyond your ego. From there, desire without
expectation is easy and automatic. And as your experience of the soul
deepens, you will spontaneously find that you will desire from that level of
innocence and fulfillment.
There are a variety of practices that can help you connect to your
soul’s desires and purpose. Here are a few of the most powerful techniques you
When you meditate, you go beyond the mind’s restless, confused
state into a higher state that is clear and steady. This expanded awareness is
the birthplace of all your inspiration, creativity, and insights.
When you meditate on a regular basis, you cultivate inner calm and
peace – not just during your meditation sessions but as you go about your
daily activities. From this place of centered awareness, you will
be in the best position to access the intuition and creativity to manifest your
Here is a simple meditation practice you can try right now:
Meditation on the Heart
Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Now gently place
your attention on the area of your heart. As you breathe in and out naturally,
keep your attention there. Allow any feelings and sensations to arise and pass.
If your attention drifts away, gently bring it back to your heart. Try this
meditation for a few minutes and notice how you feel before and after the
Clarity means being awake to yourself and your true desires.
Instead of being overshadowed by external situations or events, in clarity your
awareness is always open to itself. You’re able to tell the true from the false
so that you can identify what you want to nurture and what you want to release
in your life.
One effective way to cultivate clarity is to ask yourself the soul questions, Who
am I? What do I want? Why am I here? Here is an exercise that
you might find useful in working with these questions:
1. Think back
on those situations and projects where you excelled and had fun at the same
time. What were you doing and why did it make you feel good? What gifts do you
have that can serve others?
2. Keep a
daily journal for ten days, asking yourself the questions above after
meditation and then writing down everything that comes to you.
Your passion is the force of evolution that drives your life energy, so don’t
suppress it by telling yourself that you can’t do it or that it is impractical.
3. After ten
days you will have some good ideas to work with. Now list one or two action
steps that you can immediately take for each idea. Start with the smallest
manageable step, such as making a phone call, signing up for a course, or
getting the name of a mentor or someone who may be able to help you. The
important thing is to identify that current of energy in you and then give it
an outlet. Once it starts to flow, it builds its own momentum and creates its
own path forward.
The more clarity you achieve, the more you will find that the
universe is on your side, supporting your thoughts and intentions. Therefore,
focus on clarity, not on getting results. The results will come according to
their own rhythm and timing.
Practice One-Pointed Awareness
This is a mindfulness practice that will help you create more
clarity and present moment awareness. Choose one simple activity that you do
every day, such as brushing your teeth, making the bed, or washing the dishes.
Instead of rushing, put your complete attention on this task. If your mind is
impatient or prods you to move on to more “important” business, ignore it. This
simple daily practice of focusing your awareness on one small activity can
create a powerful ripple effect that will expand your experience of one-pointed
awareness throughout the day.
As you become more aware, you will begin to notice many
opportunities that in the past you would have overlooked in your hurry.
This is the phenomenon I describe as synchrodestiny– the ability to
use your attention, intention, and awareness to awaken to all the possibilities
that always surround you.
Connect to Nature
Your body, mind, spirit, and the environment all arise from the
infinite field of pure potentiality. By spending some time in nature each day,
you can awaken to the inspiration, creativity, and intelligence that flow
- Walk barefoot on the earth for a
few minutes. Feel the nourishing energy of the earth flowing into your
body through the soles of your feet.
- Take a walk along the ocean or
another natural body of water. Let the cooling influence of the water
- Stand in the sunshine, allowing
the light and warmth to infuse your being. Acknowledge the life-giving
energy of the sun.
- Walk in a beautiful park, forest
or other area with lush vegetation and breathe in the life force of the
plants. The best times to do this are right before dawn and right after
- Go to a park, a forest or even
your backyard and listen to the healing sounds of the natural world―the
buzzing of bees, the wind blowing through the leaves and the calls of wild
birds. If you live in a city where you can’t regularly hear natural
sounds, try listening to recordings of rain forests, ocean waves or
- Gaze up at the moon and stars at
night, allowing your awareness to expand into the heavens and beyond.
SOURCE: CHOPRA CENTER