by Mike Takieddine
If you’re like most people, when asked what you want most in life, your answer would be “to be happy”. But what does it take to be happy? It is far harder to answer that question, because it requires a certain amount of self-knowledge. To dig into “who am I” requires a level of self-examination so tough that we often take a pass and move on. This article aims at simplifying your path to self-discovery by examining the five distinct pillars of everyday life, while providing you with actionable guidelines for personal growth and ultimately happiness.
1- Stress as an obstacle to discovery
Complicated relationships that at times go sour; unexplained feelings of guilt; and mounting bills--those and other factors can stress you out to the point of weariness and indifference. And while there is no magic wand to rid you of stress, here are some down-to-earth ideas for a lifestyle that subdues the beast:
Healthy living: You’ve surely experienced feeling on top of the world after a good run or workout. Add a nutritious diet and seven hours of sound sleep, and come out all the more energetic and enthused with life.
Embracing “the high road”: You can be free of guilt and other ill feelings when you hug the high moral ground and always run with the truth. Let people know you as a rock-solid person with impeccable grounding.
- Humor and laughter: Laughter boosts your heart rate, stimulates blood circulation and brings about an increased relaxation response by generating a boost of endorphin and dopamine into your brain. Nothing like boisterous laughter to mitigate the insidious effects of stress!
2- Positive thinking as a path to discovery
Take note of this old adage: “Change your thoughts, change your life.” Research has shown that when you function with a positive mindset, your performance is enhanced at every level, and you become better engaged more creative, and more focused, productive, and fulfilled.
Although the general feeling is that you are happy when you attain certain targets, the flip side of that paradigm bears more truth: if you maintain a hopeful frame of mind, you are more likely to attain your objectives and be happy.
3- “Purpose” as one of the cornerstones of self-discovery
A life-purpose is the lightning rod that fills the void in your days and becomes your prime source of vitality, motivation and inspiration. Purpose however doesn’t simply land on your doorstep. Here are some ideas to help you find your true calling:
To get started, focus on the one thing in life that you have the most interest in, and then build it up from inside out. Nurture it and work hard at refining your skills and becoming the best that you can be in that domain.
Take responsibility for everything that comes your way in life. Stop blaming others or your bad luck and instead acquire a sense that everything is rooted in your actions and/or inactions.
- When you are uncertain about specific goals, imagine how they might unfold, one milestone at a time. Then imagine what the impact of each step would be on you, not only from the perspective of triumph or failure, but more so on its bearing on your values. It is a worthwhile pursuit if at each stage it leaves you with an overall feeling of being on the right track.
4- When love abounds
When you are filled with love, you acquire an overarching glow under which all your passions come alive. Self-discovery is also rendered all the more feasible when you are filled with love. To attain that most inspiring state of mind:
Ditch your judgmental side and open your heart to those closest to you
Relish every single person’s love for you, regardless of their standing in life
Change the way you think of love, for example by thinking back to your first high school infatuation
- Recognize the love you are not giving, by focusing on the goodness that resides within you, for we all have it in us to be benevolent and compassionate, able to soak in the extraordinary capacity to love and be loved.
5- From “goal” to “achievement”
We all have goals, except that we often lose confidence and then simply discard them. Here are a few guidelines that might be helpful:
- When you are striving for a particular goal, take a few steps backwards and visualize the process of getting there, one milestone at a time.
Keep every milestone readily attainable within a specified period of time. This will anticipate hurdles on the way and keep you moving forward.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and assistance, and if you don’t have a mentor, try to cultivate one from the ranks of college professors, pastors, or wherever else you feel your natural talent would best be accommodated.
Someone once said that there are no foolish questions, and no person becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions. In that vein, I encourage you to every now and again pose the question to yourself: Who am I? You’d be surprised at the enlightenment this might lead to.