“What do I want in life? What is the real meaning of life?”
Every night before sleeping, I cogitate over these questions.
I have a doting family, a great social life, a successful career—everything an average person yearns for. I attained almost everything I had desired. But for whatever reason, I still felt like something was missing. I never used to feel content at the end of the day, despite the fact that I completed my “targets” set for the day.
Had my life just become setting personal targets and completing them? This question haunted me every night. I started working at the tender age of 17 with an entrepreneurial educational venture, and later entered into civil services. I felt like I had accomplished many things in my lifetime—a good education, a career, financial independence, and a comfy lifestyle.
However, my soul still sought something more. Something profound which I would fail to put in words. I used to desperately look for the ways to ease my angst—but all in vain.
I was always in a jovial mood—partying, traveling, and hanging out in the most exquisite places—but I felt a void in my life when I realized everything was temporary. Finally one day, I had an “aha” experience.
I realized that many of us who claim to live an enriching and carefree life on our social media posts are actually living superficially. In today’s age, we have many personalities. When I say this, I mean that we’re wearing masks—false faces—and this has become so much a part of us that we have become oblivious to our deeper selves.
This realization was not unusual. I found that many of us struggle to stay in high spirits all the time, deriving joy in showing our superiority over the others. We compare our lives with those we see online and think, feel, and act in socially desirable and exclusive ways.
This way we magnify our “social self” and minimize our real self. We live on the periphery, when what is needed is turning within to stimulate the immense power of our authentic selves, considering that maybe our authentic selves could also be socially desirable.
I would like to share few things that aided me in the process of finding my true, inner self.
1. Be childlike—naïve, fresh, and innocent.
One day, while observing my little nephew, I felt desire to be just like him. No mask, just curious, simple, and innocent. Not bothered by what others might think or what the consequences might be. I wanted to say, “oh well!” to every little mess he was making, and to life’s troubles, and to just smile and move on.
“Was it so difficult?” I asked myself, immediately plunging into the same wavelength. I said to myself, “Can’t I do this every day? In my life as a whole, in my everyday experiences of life? Why must we be civilized, cultured, rational beings with such unnecessary, conflicting thoughts and beliefs? Is all this leading me to a blissful state? No! Then why am I always trying to out-do the other? Let me try this new way instead.”
So I started practicing living with childlike joy and went back to that stage. Jesus said, “Only those who are like children will enter the kingdom of God.” I did just that, and things started to fall in place. With childlike enthusiasm in whatever I was doing, I broke the monotony and headed toward my pure self.
2. Find unconditional positive regard.
Carl Rogers, the humanist psychologist, devised the term “unconditional positive regard,” in the most beautiful sense. It means accepting and respecting others the way they are without any kind of judgment or evaluation. Trust me, the day I started being more accepting , celebrating diversity and the uniqueness of every individual, I felt no more baggage of worry to carry around.
3. Be patient and witness.
Life is a roller coaster ride. Nothing remains forever—neither good times nor bad. So what was making me so critical and dejected? The great spiritual leader Osho said, “Life is a flux, nothing remains. Just allow it to happen, it will go by itself.” Eventually, I learned to appreciate all the times—good and bad. When we recognize this truth and become a witness, we enter a deep part of ourselves and understand the meaning behind it.
So when you’re happy, just be in high spirits. Be cheerful, ecstatic, and delight in it. Don’t try to change it. Similarly, when sad, simply allow yourself to be unhappy.
5. Practice yoga and meditation.
This is my personal favorite! Because this has been some sort of technological reveal for me that helped magnify my inner senses. Fascinating how a few postures and breathing can help one to go deeper inside.
The pranayamas (breathwork) and asanas (physical poses) facilitate the process of transcending beyond our physical selves. We all get negative thoughts. We try to control them and divert them, but ultimately they are still there. Swami Sivananda has beautifully said:
“The energy in the body is prana. By controlling the motion of the lungs or respiratory organs, we can control the prana that is vibrating inside. By control of prana, the mind can be easily controlled, because the mind is fastened to the prana like the bird to a string. Just as the bird that is tied to a post by a string, after flying here and there, finds its resting place in the post, so also this mind-bird, after running hither and thither, in various sensual objects, finds its resting place during deep sleep in the prana.”
6. Come close to nature.
A passionate nature lover, I found that Mother Nature has so much to teach us—patience, harmony, cooperation, tranquility, and above all, chaos. Have we ever freed ourselves from the worldly bonds that seem to entangle us more and more by spending time observing nature? Have we imbibed within ourselves all the virtues I spoke to above?
Not yet? Then what is holding you back? Liberate yourself from the daily chores of life and come close to nature. No sooner there will be a realization that being with the natural world helps us realize the beauty that lies within us.
6. Be mindful.
In the hustle and bustle of my life, the truth is I wasn’t enjoying the “here and now.” I was indulging all my enjoyable activities, but still I was not benefitting from them. When I paused my incessant mind to observe and appreciate things around me, to my amazement the world looked beautiful. I felt a synchronization between my inner self and the outer world. If we aren’t mindful, it’s impossible for us to reach our innermost self.
7. Be humble and practice gratitude.
These two wonderful ingredients do wonders in savoring and touching our inner selves. Let’s be modest and thankful for everything—pleasant or unpleasant. Everything brings to us a lesson of life. Realize it, appreciate it, and move on. With this, we plant within ourselves a flower that blooms and brightens us from the inside.
Honest confession time: I am not anyone to preach on the lessons of life. I am evolving, just like this universe is. We all have infinite energy—like we can’t even imagine.
By combining these pure, simple ideals in my daily life, I emerged as a better human being. And there’s still a lot more to do.
When we’re happier from inside, it reflects out into our world. We don’t need a mask for it. We do not have to show it to others because it is within us and no one can ever take that from us.
We will realize our existence and will be able to better relate with our outer world because we have found the biggest mystery of life—our inner self!
Author: Kimmi Vaneet Kaur Sethi
Image: Alexander Milov/Unsplash
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren