What is the meaning of life? We’re all trying to find meaning in our life. Some people search for it in their career, others in voluntary work, while others try to leave tangible evidence of their presence on this earth through science or art.
As Gabriel Gonsalves states on his blog, there is another way of finding meaning in your existence: take the road that leads to your heart.
Gonsalves describes this road as the journey we set out on from the moment we choose to follow our dreams and try to turn our deepest desires into reality. It’s a courageous journey of personal growth that forces us to leave the beaten track we have constrained our lives to follow and do something different, something bigger – go to meet our destiny.
As explained in the book Master the Art of Life (download a free extract here), this journey is a pathway of continuous growth. On this pathway, we are all students, and we all keep learning, day in day out. It’s a road that never really ends because we should never stop improving ourselves and put ourselves to the test.
You too, as of right now, can begin a journey of empowerment and personal growth that will lead you not only to feel better about yourself, but also to seize every opportunity that life sets in front of you. Let’s see how.
IS IT SELFISH TO SEEK YOUR LIFE’S MEANING?
First of all, let’s be clear that a journey of this kind is undoubtedly selfish – a word that in our society has taken on a more and more negative meaning. We are effectively talking about a voyage in search of yourself, which therefore can’t help but be centred on you. It’s a journey born from caring about yourself, one that will lead to growth and self-improvement.
In this sense, the fact that it’s a selfish path can only be seen as a positive thing: if you do something to improve yourself, your relationships with other people can only benefit.
So what remains is for you to work out whether you’re on the right path. Are you being good enough to yourself? Are you believing in yourself enough? Are you following your dreams?
It’s not easy to say which route is the right one, as it varies from person to person, but you can certainly say which direction is wrong. In fact, there are some errors you need to avoid if you want to go down the route of following your heart.
RECOGNISING THE WRONG PATH
Don’t make the mistake of wanting to follow a predefined path set out for you by someone else: your life’s journey is unique, and nobody else can undertake it in your place. If everything already seems settled, decided and thought through, you’re probably on the wrong track. The route is carved out day by day and depends on your every action and decision. This can certainly be scary, but at the same time, it’s what makes it truly unique and fulfilling.
BE OPEN TO CONFRONTING YOUR FEARS
Another error you can make consists of being afraid of confrontation, whether with other people or with your fears. Avoiding dealing with your fears means never coming out of your shell, staying in safe, familiar surroundings where everything is a known quantity.
However, this also means never testing yourself, perhaps for fear of not being good enough. For example, this could involve not speaking a foreign language abroad because you’re afraid of doing it badly, turning down an opportunity to speak in public, or not asking for a raise even when you’re certain you deserve one.
Releasing yourself from your fears means running risks, of course, but you need to put these risks into perspective and understand that most of the time the worst-case scenario is still acceptable. On top of this, things that at first glance seem to be limitations can turn out to be strong points.
LEARN TO SAY NO
Another kind of confrontation that is often avoided is the confrontation with people. So as not to offend anyone, you can end up never saying no and, as a result, find yourself in situations you never wanted to be in.
Following your heart also means learning to say no, to not always do what others expect of you, and therefore to reclaim your autonomy. As counterintuitive as it may seem, acting in this way not only helps you to stay on track and be more productive, it also helps you regain other people’s respect so that they see you as a capable and decisive person.
ASK OTHERS FOR SUPPORT
Make sure, though that you don’t fall prey to the opposite mistake and think that it’s possible to follow your path all by yourself, without relying on other people at all. In history or literature, anyone who has undertaken a transformational journey has had a teacher or mentor by their side, guiding them, accompanying them and allowing them to spread their wings. Frodo had Gandalf, Luke Skywalker had Obi-Wan Kenobi, and so on. Nobody is expecting you to make it alone, and recognising when you need help is already a considerable achievement. It can, therefore, be useful to seek help from a professional coach, or find a ‘mastermind’ group – an alliance of minds – to share your journey with others and find mutual support.
IDENTIFY REALISTIC OBJECTIVES AND GIVE THEM YOUR ALL
In the same way, you need to have realistic expectations and to take into consideration the possibility that you might fail, yet without letting fear of failure slow you down. No journey is clear of obstacles, and it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll never make a mistake or deviate from your chosen path.
The important thing is to get straight back on the wagon. Don’t let a single mistake define your identity and affect you forever.
WHAT IF THERE WERE AN EASIER WAY?
If the journey seems too easy, if you’re not making any mistakes or experiencing any failures, you’re probably on the wrong path.
According to Gonsalves, the right path is never the easy one. He predicts long and difficult periods during which your efforts won’t seem to be paying off – and yet these will be your most formative moments, the times you’ll learn the most.
Similarly, all the trouble you go to will make success even sweeter. Because of this, when success does come your way, never forget to celebrate it and to commemorate it. Indeed, your journey shouldn’t consist only of pain and hardship but also of joy and victory, which should be recognised accordingly.
FOLLOWING YOUR HEART
Following your heart can be scary and can require you to step outside your comfort zone, yet it is also capable of bestowing a sense of fulfilment you’ve never felt before and giving you the meaning you were looking for in your life.
When you decide to set out down this path, don’t forget the one thing that counts the most: your heart. A journey in the outside world serves no purpose at all if it’s not accompanied by an interior journey of self-awareness that leads you to reflect and meditate on your actions and on what you want from your future, in the knowledge that if you work hard enough, you’ll be able to achieve it.
Are you following your heart? Are you following your dreams? What would you like to do with your life? Tell me about it in the comments box below!