I try listening closely to my instincts. I love that it’s completely undefinable where your “instincts” come from — is it programmed into your DNA? Is it your subconscious learning and growing from your experiences? Are you tapping into collective thought???
However it works, my instincts are incredible at telling me what I want and when I want it. Sure, the low-hanging fruit here is being hungry, sleepy, needing to use the bathroom, you know, the basics.
But recently since I’ve been trying to tune into my instincts more and more, I realize that I’m getting additional messages about what I need. These are more along the lines of how I should be spending my time. Go for a run it says. Pick up the guitar and write a song. Sit down and write out the thoughts you’re having.
So beyond basic self-maintenance, it seems like I’m getting instructions on how to find clarity, happiness, and fulfillment as an individual. I know that I’m doing something right when my whole heart tells me that is the case. Lately there are many times I’m aware of this.
But we live in a physical reality shared with others, who have their own plans. Many times you’re getting a feeling about what you’d like, yet it contradicts what you’re “supposed” to be doing.
This feeling causes great anguish inside of me. Right now as I write this, I’m thinking about some work that I need to get done. However, my instincts are telling me something different. It says that spending the entire day laboring over this report I need to create is not what I should be doing. It wants me to walk away altogether.
But there are people depending on me.
This will always be the case. Your heart will tell you what to do, and pretty much all the time it’s going to be a clear contradiction to what society tells you to do. Case in point - does your heart tell you to put on business attire, commute downtown and push paper around all day every day?
It seems like our society is in direct contrast to human nature. And as a result, frequently you are not going to get what you want.
"That’s life" they say.
Actually, that’s your life.
I certainly aspire to be a productive cog in the human society machine. But my path to that production doesn’t take the route it’s “supposed” to.
To start, it looks a lot like me waking up every morning and spending time on myself: yoga, meditation, exercise, writing…
But the way things are right now, there definitely isn’t time for all — or frequently any — of that. I wake up with work and making money on my mind.
This weekend I aspired to do all that stuff, so I could get what I needed in preparation for a week of just giving myself over to work. Didn’t happen. Instead, my wife needed my help cleaning out our guest room to be ready for a guest we can coming in a few weeks.
I told her what I needed, but she was stressed about the situation and I agreed to help. It ate about 2-3 hours from my day, and as a result I wasn’t able to exercise or spend any time on meaningful inward-focused thought.
Not getting what you want is hard, and even worse, it produces negative emotions.
There was this one ridiculous time a year or two ago when I really desired a cheeseburger but couldn’t get it. That’s silly, right? Who would be upset that they couldn’t eat exactly what they wanted? I felt like a child having a tantrum. I tried to keep it inside because it was pretty embarrassing. I was genuinely feeling complex emotions. But I had to face the situation: I was irrationally upset because I wasn’t getting what I wanted.
Sadly, there is no solution (that I’m aware of) for getting what you want all the time. No, being rich doesn’t solve the problem. Likewise, quitting your job and just doing what you feel like all day, while it sounds attractive, is also not a solution.
We are destined to miss getting what we want constantly. It would simply be mathematically impossible for everyone to get what they want all the time… there would be no balance in it. One person getting what they want has repercussions… namely someone else not getting what they want.
It seems like half the time, you’re not going to get what you want. If you were to make a chart of this, it would probably look something like this:
This is one of the ultimate lessons in life: enjoy your bliss, come to terms with your disappointment, and understand that even when you don’t get what you want, there is an important balance at work.
Some refer to it as karma…
Know that your anguish will soon become joy, and vice versa. Understand that getting what you want will soon become lacking what you need.
Once you can see things from this perspective, it becomes incredibly easy to rationalize not getting what you want, even the things you want deep down inside.
Realize that in all situations you are getting what you want: you’re alive. For now.