“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”
Lisa was dazed and confused. Totally lost in life, she was feeling like she was in a life she hadn’t chosen, feeling listless and trying to figure out why she didn’t feel like herself.
She told me about how messed up her current life was, and how nothing felt right.
“My marriage feels like I just fell into it. It just… kind of happened. I don’t know how. I was just told that I should be married before 30, so once I hit 30 I kind of panicked and married the guy I was with. In retrospect that probably wasn’t the best choice.”
“My work is a chore. My parents were immigrants that raised me to work hard and pay the bills. That’s what work was for, right? So I’m stuck in a job I absolutely cannot stand, except I don’t really see a way out. I picked a job for the money, and now with three kids I can’t exactly ditch it just to go “find my passion.” I did what I was supposed to do, so how come it’s backfiring?”
And finally, she told me about her overall personal life:
“Honestly? It feels like I’ve created someone else’s perfect life… but not mine. In fact, I feel like it’s all a dream. It doesn’t feel like me. It feels like I just ‘woke up’ and this life was here, husband, kids, job and all. And I feel out of place… it feels weird. This isn’t the life I wanted for myself, but how can I change?
Lisa’s ‘problem’ is an incredibly common one today: It’s what happens when we spend our entire lives doing what we intellectually “should” be doing, rather than doing what we intuitively want to be doing.
So many of us feel dazed, lost and confused because we spend our entire lives trying to create this image of who we should be… without ever considering who we really want to be.
Think about it: many things we do in life are often the result of shoulds rather than wants – we make our decisions based on what others are doing, or what others are expecting of us.
It’s often an unconscious assumption.
Just look at work.
What happens when we’re confused about what work path to follow? We usually look to the people around us. We get the “safe, secure job.” We do what our parents told us we should do. Or we just do what everyone else is doing.
What happens when we’re confused about relationships? Lisa told me how she reached 30 and didn’t know what to do next in her relationship… so she just did what everyone else told her she should do – get married and have kids. She looked around at her friends – they were all married and had kids, so she just assumed that’s what people do.
When I spoke with Lisa, I asked her one question that was the real bombshell:
“Well, what do you want?”
That question was so unusual to her that she didn’t even know how to respond, and she wasn’t quite sure what to say.
So much of her life was formed around ignoring her intuition and just doing what she thought she should be doing. No wonder it was such a tough question to answer.
If you’re struggling to find meaning in life and you’re feeling that you woke up in a life that’s not yours, let me suggest something simple that changed my life:
You don’t have to live your life the way everyone else does.
What do you actually want?
Sometimes it’s not an easy question to ask.
But just think back for a moment:
Is your work something you consciously chose, or did you fall into it based on your college major, something a friend or parent suggested, or just based on the income it would provide?
Is your leisure time filled with things you have consciously chosen that interest you?
And your overall life: Does it feel like a piece of art that you have careful and deliberately crafted, or does it feel like something that just kind of fell together – like paint splattered on a canvas?
What do you actually want?
When you start to consciously assemble your life, it feels like it’s yours, and not just some accident.
What About You?
Whether you’re in a transitional period, feeling lost in life or stuck struggling to find your purpose; rather than trying to do what you think you should be doing, intuitively what do you know you must do?
Deep down, what is it that you really want to do?
Alexander runs Modern Health Monk, a site that shows you how to reverse health problems caused by 21st century life. Check out his free weight loss crash course, or his free courses on fixing lower back pain and chronic health issues.