Do you ever feel like you don’t know how to live the life you want?
Maybe you feel like there are too many odds stacked against you, too many logistics that you need to figure out, or too many roadblocks in your way.
Not only is it plausible to live the life you want, but it’s very possible and well within your grasp.
It may not sound believable, especially if you’re feeling like the life you want is totally different than the path that you’re on. But the truth is that we all have the choice to adjust on our life journey to reroute and get us where we need to be. Moreover, the ability to live the life you want often comes from making internal changes over external ones. Here’s how to live the life you want today.
We all get one life to live. None of us know how long it will be or what will factor into our experience, but our ability to get what we want is within our grasp.
If we’re wondering how to change our life path and get what we want out of life, we first need to pinpoint WHAT it is that we truly want. Now, on the surface, the answer to this might be a laundry list of wishes—a beautiful house, a great job, an attractive spouse, dear friends, to fit into our “skinny jeans,” to excel at our hobbies.
While these external factors seem like markers of success, the reality is that success comes from within. Many people have huge homes, great jobs, and loving spouses, yet they still feel unfulfilled. There are plenty of other people who live in a small apartment, work a blue-collar job, and are single, yet they love their life. We’ve met with CEOs who describe how they could be happy if only they had a new boat, a bigger mansion, a newer car…and the list goes on. They’re at the pinnacle of success in their careers, and by all measures, they have all of the “things” they need. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t feel like enough.
So how can we figure out what we really want? How do we know if we get it, we’ll finally feel happy and satisfied?
Most of the time, when we get something new, it gives us a boost for a very short time. We get that little rush. It’s fun or exciting, but ultimately, it doesn’t leave us feeling whole or complete. It’s a shallow victory and a temporary fix. We’re miswanting. What we think we want really isn’t the thing that will bring us the most happiness and satisfaction.
If our wants won’t bring us happiness and fulfillment, then what will? How can we get the life we’re seeking—one that’s fulfilling, satisfying, and joyful?
These yearnings are universal to all humans. Everyone yearns for something (or several things). It may be to be loved, to be respected, to be heard and seen, to be known. We may yearn to be secure. We may yearn to connect with others, to connect with a higher power. We may yearn to contribute or to achieve mastery of a skill.
So, how do we figure out these yearnings? How do we know what our hearts really want?
We often share a simple exercise with our students to help them pinpoint their yearnings; we call it the “so that” test. For example, maybe we think we want to lose a few pounds. But what is the real yearning underneath that desire? It goes further than wanting to fit into our pants or wanting to look attractive.
I want to lose weight so that I can fit into my favorite jeans.
I want to fit into my favorite jeans so that I can look good to that cute guy I like at work.
I want to be attractive so that I can connect with a potential date.
I want to connect with a potential date so that I can feel loved. I yearn to be loved.
We can apply this exercise to all sorts of wants or goals. Maybe we want a position at work because we yearn to be respected. Or perhaps we want a new car because we yearn for a sense of safety and security. Our yearnings are deep and strong drivers of almost everything we seek.
The great aspect of yearnings is that, unlike wants, they can be fulfilled in many different ways. For example, if we discover that we’re yearning to feel connected to others, there are lots of ways we can get that yearning met. We can connect to our friends. We can reach out to family. We can connect and feel loved by holding a pet, spending time with our nieces or nephews, or having a great interaction with a stranger at a coffee shop. We don’t need to lose weight, fit into our skinny jeans, or even have a relationship.
The more aware we are of our yearnings, the more we’ll discover that the universe sends us many ways to get these longings of the heart met. There’s not one path (that we could miss and end up unhappy for good). There are many different roads to living the life we want. Ultimately, we want a life where we feel a sense of purpose, where we find fulfillment. There are many ways we can get there.
Once we pinpoint our yearnings and start working on getting them met, we can also begin finding ways to move toward more happiness. Our happiness comes from within. In many ways, it’s a choice that we make.
We may look at our relationships or our career to “make” us happy. We believe if we only found the one person we could connect with, or if we had the corner office at work, we’d finally be happy. Or we might feel upset at our partner for not making us happy or fixing us when we’re sad.
To do this, we can seek out more opportunities to unlock satisfaction, engage with others, and seek more aliveness and fun.
How do we do that? We can shift our intention to bring more purpose into our lives. Intention is aliveness with purpose—with a direction. It’s an expression of our will. It’s a purpose in the moment. If we think back to our childhoods, we intended to get different things. We might have realized that if we cried, a parent would hold us. If we dropped a toy, it made a loud noise. We discover cause and effect, and we start to consciously create effects as we become the creator of our own world.
The same idea still applies. When we tap into deliberate, conscious, purposeful intentional choices, we focus on what we really want. In our brains, this takes place in our frontal lobe. When we’re acting unconsciously or reacting to situations, we’re operating from our limbic system. When we shift to focusing our intention, our frontal lobe helps “turn the volume down” on the external world to keep us from being distracted. Through that frontal lobe, we focus on what we want and achieve our dreams and goals, despite obstacles or failures. Rather than reflectively reacting or mindlessly operating, you are the intentional planner of your destiny.
Just like when we were kids, we’re the creator of our world through our reactions. Our life reflects our intention. What we see in our lives—what we have, how we live—results from our intention. While we might not be able to control the circumstances in our life, we can control our responses. We can take responsibility for moving away from the things we don’t like and set an intention for more positive actions and situations.
When we narrow our focus to the things we really need—our yearnings, we will realize that it’s within our power to seek them out and get them. It’s important to understand that they may not always look the way we idealized them—for example, maybe the relationship with our crush isn’t possible, or maybe our dream job isn’t available. But what if we found ways to love ourselves and bring more love into our lives by acknowledging the beautiful love in the universe all around us? Or what if we dedicated ourselves to doing the best job possible in our current position at work, winning the respect of our boss and colleagues, and bringing in the acknowledgment and security we yearn for?
By shifting our mindset from a place where happiness seems scarce to realizing that happiness and satisfaction are abundant and all around us, we will bring more of it into our lives. We’ll start to notice the gifts of the universe everywhere.
Does it mean nothing bad will ever happen? Does it mean we’ll suddenly feel our life is exactly as we want it? Probably not. We will still face obstacles and challenges. But if we view them as a chance to flex our muscles, stretch, and grow, they become lessons and opportunities rather than roadblocks. Even in the toughest situations, it’s possible to learn profound lessons and extract great purpose. We can even find reasons for happiness, joy, and satisfaction.
If you’re hoping to live the life you want, it’s before you for the taking. Decide to go forth and get what you want out of your life. You will find that the universe is ready to give you exactly what you need.
For more ways to find satisfaction and happiness, don’t miss our courses on Wright Now. We have an array of classes and webinars available online. Discover more about your relationships, your career, and yourself as you work towards living the life you want—a life of MORE.
The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.