How do you know which way to go?
When you’re faced with a big decision in life — or even more so, when you’re feeling stagnant and unfulfilled and not sure what to do with yourself — how do you know what’s the right thing to do?
Some people have well-defined values. Either through upbringing or personal exploration, they know what’s important to them.
If sitting here now, when I ask you “What’s most important?”, if you cannot in a snap of the fingers answer the question, then you’re missing an incredibly useful tool to navigate.
And, even if you DO have an instant answer to the question, then it’s still super important to re-examine this from time to time.
Almost 100% of us who have strong values have acquired them from somewhere. It’s very rare for someone to have self-reflected sufficiently to have defined their own values for themselves, who has done the inner work and introspection
Perhaps they came in from your family. Maybe your father and mother instilled certain values in you.
Actually, it’s more than a “maybe” — it’s pretty much guaranteed that they did! This can be anything as simple as “The early bird gets the worm” to “Life’s not fair.” Whatever cliches or sayings that were repeated often in your household growing up have become embedded in you, whether you actually believe they are true or not!
Similarly with influential teachers you had, or significant books that you read. The world has a way of making an impression, and we pick up our beliefs and the things we think are true from our experience of life.
When you’re faced with a huge existential decision — Should I stay or should I go? or Should I find a new job? or Should I go back to school? — then this is where our belief system will drive us.
Or maybe drive us crazy!!!!
If you KNOW what your values are then you can have an easier time evaluating what to do.
If your spiritual practice is hyperimportant to you and above all else you want to be Free, then that is an incredible compass by which all other decisions are made.
Most people don’t feel that level of conviction, though.
Most people are interested in things like meditation and spiritual progress, but it’s not The Most Important Thing.
And that’s OK! It doesn’t have to be.
But do you know what IS The Most Important Thing if not that?
If you don’t know, then you’ll have trouble finding true happiness. You’ll have trouble making decisions that are fully satisfying.
And, not to get too meta or anything, but this is where meditation comes in!
It’s not like you can gain value from sitting to meditate one time.
You need to be practicing meditation on the daily, on a very consistent and regular basis over the duration, in order for its real benefits to occur.
But what you can expect if you do it consistently is you will start to have clarity on what matters.
Or, as a beginning step for many people, what DOESN’T matter will start to be clear. The things that are less valuable in actual inner development will be revealed, and may start to fall away.
You’ll get tired of drinking. You’ll lose interest in the party scene. Social media pretending will grow stale. You will be bored with the routines of your life. You’ll look inwardly for more of your fulfillment.
You’ll begin to trust your own voice.
Many people are very very concerned with what others think and how they are perceived by the world, and it is incredibly risky to start standing up for what you believe when it’s different from the norms of your friends. If what you want to do is radical in the eyes of your family, it can be seriously scary to put it in words. It may be a long process before you can truly live your own truth.
But the constant immersion in quiet that you are committed to in your own daily practice of meditation will slowly give you the strength. It’ll increase the clarity you have for what matters, and over time, it’ll let you find your voice and express it.
Then these big decisions will be easier — or at least, you’ll be more centered in certainty on the inside. Whether you yet have the ability to fully follow through in the ACTIONS required will be up to the decisions you make and the conviction you allow yourself to feel.
But it’ll happen. If you believe in the process, and you allow yourself the space to believe in yourself.
You are the only one who knows what’s right for you.
Deep in your heart lies the truth.
It’s up to you to go find it.