No matter how perfect your life looks on the outside, do you feel like something is missing? Does it seem like you’re waiting for something outside of you to make you feel whole and happy?
Our society has trained us to idolize perfection, prove our worth with our achievements, constantly judge ourselves and others, and to look for things in our external world to fulfill us, but I’ve learned through personal experience that nothing outside of us will ever truly make us happy.
Looking For Happiness Outside Of Myself
For years, I’ve wondered what it is that truly makes me happy. I attempted collecting material items, creating my dream job, having the best life partner — all of it — but those things just led to me wanting more. I would reach one goal and I was right back to searching for the next high.
For about 10 years, I had tried everything to quit numbing with pharmaceuticals, alcohol and recreational drugs. I began to lose hope that I would ever have the self control to stop. I was in such a deep hole that I tried to commit suicide. At the time, I was so desperate that it felt like the only way out.
I’m so grateful for a man named Kyle Cease, who, at the time, was running weekend events in Los Angeles called Evolving Out Loud. He merges comedy with transformation, so his approach to spirituality and meditation really resonated with me. At the end of this event, he challenged everyone to commit to 30-minutes of meditation every day for 90 days — and if they didn’t stick with the commitment, they would have to do something they really didn’t want to do. I committed to shaving my head and it was enough to keep me from quitting my daily meditation practice. Apparently, my vanity saved my life.
Meditation Saved My Life
It wasn’t until I started getting curious about my internal state that I really began to understand why I still wasn’t happy after achieving so many of my biggest dreams. When I first started meditating, it gave me an opportunity to stop running from the emotions and thoughts that I had been numbing with drugs and alcohol.
When I started this daily meditation practice, I began actually looking forward to those moments of silence. I started feeling such a natural high from it that I didn’t want any substance to dilute the feeling I was getting from meditation.
Over those 90 days, I weaned myself off of pharmaceuticals and moved to only drinking alcohol occasionally. My life was not perfect and I still had moments where I didn’t feel happy, but those moments of connection with myself were enough to make me want to stop ignoring my feelings — the joyful ones and the not so joyful ones.
Four years later, I still meditate (almost) every single day. It’s not always 30-minutes. Sometimes it’s 1 hour, sometimes it’s 2 hours and sometimes it’s 10 minutes. I say almost daily because there was a 2-week period where I stopped meditating because I thought I was too busy. In those 2 weeks, I became so absent minded and overly emotional that it was enough for me to realize how much my daily meditation practice had been helping me.
Over these past four years, I’ve become much more aware of my thoughts and beliefs. I learned what subconscious beliefs had been shaping my reality since childhood. With the help of a life coach, I was able to shift some of those beliefs to something more empowering.
What I came to understand throughout this journey is that nothing outside of me will ever bring true happiness. It will bring pleasure in the moment, but that pleasure is fleeting. If I truly want to find the answer to happiness, I can’t keep looking outside of myself. The answer is within me.
It’s been an interesting journey and I don’t pretend to have all of the answers. There are still days I ask myself, “Why can’t I just be happy?” but those days have become less frequent and I’m grateful for the awareness that I have the power to change whatever internal dialogue is causing me pain in that moment.
Sometimes in those dark moments though, no matter how hard I try to change the internal dialogue and focus on gratitude, nothing seems to help. And in those moments, maybe it’s okay to just say, “I’m not happy right now and that’s okay. This too shall pass.”
I wanted to share one of my favorite videos from Kyle. Which was created from one of the Evolving Out Loud events I attended. Here it is! Enjoy!