Are you rethinking your life as the New Year (or any other transition) approaches? This is the first of two short extracts from my new book How to Be Alive: A Guide to the Kind of Happiness that Helps the World about following your calling (find out more and order it here). I hope it helps.
We get scared that being ourselves won’t get us where we want to be, but if being ourselves gets us there, then that is where we want to be.
When people attached to standard life approaches tell would-be lifequesters to “be realistic,” they often use life’s limitations to bolster their argument. Everybody has to pay rent. Everyone has commitments. You can’t just be yourself. You have to keep your promises, fulfill your responsibilities. You can’t just follow whatever path you want to follow!
Of course, this is true. You can’t just follow whatever path you want to follow. But the lifequester knows that this is true for a different reason than most people think.
A lifequester follows Truth. That means finding a path that is authentic to the lifequester while responding to conditions in the world. A lifequester tries not to betray either herself or the world by, say, choosing a career path that is not True. A lifequester knows better than to go into the supposedly more lucrative sciences to be “realistic,” say, if she has the temperament of a poet. Or vice versa.
Because even if you do not embrace the lifequest, if you choose a path that is not True, the forces of those parts of your Self that you have tried to bury in your shadow may eventually force you off the false path. Then, think of how many broken promises there will be. Think what happens when you finally leave a career or marriage that you didn’t really want and you are forced to decommission a life you have already built.
This is why the lifequester chooses her commitments and responsibilities carefully. She does not choose the ones that are in line with “getting her what she wants.” She chooses the ones that are in line with “being who she is.” In this way, she keeps her promises and honors her commitments not because she said she would, but because they are in line with her nature.
This is what we mean by “going where you are called.”
For the second extract on rethinking your life in transition from How to Be Alive: A Guide to the Kind of Happiness that Helps the World, go here. By the way, you can find out more about the book and order it here.