I’m fascinated by observing people and how they live their lives. Some people carry heavy emotions and are high-strung and full of fear. They have layers and layers of struggle in their lives, with brief interludes of peace. Others, however, are more lighthearted and stable. Life seems to work out for them, and they focus on giving back to the people around them.
I often think about these differences. What makes one the victim of life and others the master of their destiny?
Thousands of books have been written on the subject, ranging from entrepreneurial success books like Gary V’s Crushing It and Russel Brunson’s Expert Secrets, to books about the law of attraction, such as The Secret or Neville Godard’s The Power of Awareness, which tell us that thoughts are things and that we create our lives in the way that we think and the attitudes that we hold.
So why aren’t we all crushing it? Why can’t we simply think happy thoughts and have checks appear in our mailbox?
Some will say that it’s just because we aren’t properly applying the principles, or that we are lazy. In fact, these self-help or “how to succeed” business books make it sound so easy that you can feel like a failure for not succeeding. Self-help and how-to books can actually make you lose confidence and become depressed.
But maybe these books aren’t really getting to the core of the issue. Maybe there’s more to life than just being successful, or perhaps we are looking at the concept of success in a limited way.
So, what is success, really?
If you ask people what success is, you will receive many different answers. For some, it’s the accumulation of money or power, while others want to become the best artist they can be. Still others define success as love, freedom, happiness, a loving family or being respected by peers.
Though there are many different ways to view success, there is tremendous social pressure to view success in a particular way. But I think it’s important to take a step back and look at life from a wider view.
In a previous article I challenged you to look at your true identity differently. I believe that our language is wrong when we say that we “have” a Soul. Rather, we ARE Soul, and as Soul we are created in God’s image. It’s more accurate to say that I have a body, and I reside temporarily in this clay temple to learn certain lessons.
Life, and this physical world, can be looked at as a school for Soul. Sometimes life is hard, sometimes life seems easier, but then it goes back to being hard again. Every challenge we face is an opportunity to grow.
So this makes us ask…
“What lessons am I here to learn, and why?”
I believe that we are here to grow in harmony with our true selves, and with life itself. I believe that self-realization is about actually realizing ourself as the divinely created Soul that we are. We strip away the illusions of weakness and our lower desires, to expose the truth underneath, and as we find ourselves, we naturally become vessels for divine love in this world. It’s like cleaning a dirty lightbulb; strip away the dirt and impurities and the light comes shining through.
This is our destiny, to allow life to purify us so we can realize ourselves as a divine creation. As God’s love shines through us, we become loved as never before. I believe that this is our true desire and driving force for every action we take.
Life is a school for Soul to learn and to become purified.
This purification process happens simply by living life. Every single thing that happens to us is an opportunity for us to develop the strength we need to become a better vessel for God’s love. Love requires strength, patience, persistence, tolerance, forgiveness, self-discipline, humility, discernment, contentment, flexibility and more.
Our challenges of daily living give us the opportunity to develop the strength we need.
We each enter this world in different situations, and we have different strengths, weaknesses, desires, fears and faults. We live in different locations, with different genders, governments, cultures, and races. More than this, our lives are intertwined with other people in countless different ways, each of whom has their own problems and lessons to learn.
This is a recipe for a tremendous amount of friction. It’s a tangled web, but it’s chaos with a purpose. The fact is, we learn more through the challenging times that through the good, easy times. This is why our challenges are, in fact, a gift from God.
While the challenges we each face are different, the opportunity for spiritual growth is universal. This is, in fact, why we are here.
Success is truly an individual pursuit, and it’s between you and God. When you look at it from this perspective, it’s clear that there is no formula that will lead to success, no self-help book that will solve your problems, because we are each here to learn different things.
At the beginning of this article, I asked the question, “What makes one the victim of life and others the master of their destiny?” Or in other words…
Can we take control of our destiny?
I believe the answer to this is yes, but we do so in recognition of Soul’s purpose here, and that success, from Soul’s perspective, may be different than what our minds can comprehend.
God gives us lessons to learn, so learn your lesson.
Sometimes we learn our lessons easily and move quickly to the next life lesson. Other times we fight it like a little kid throwing a tantrum because he doesn’t want to take a bath, but once he gets in, he enjoys it so much that he doesn’t want to get out.
Are you a good life learner? Are you ready to change? Because that’s a prerequisite; God wants you to change and grow.
The first step is acceptance.
Accept life for what it is. Don’t fuss and scream. Don’t bemoan, “why me?” Don’t be filled with resentment or guilt. Don’t look on someone else’s life with envy, because that person also has challenges that are between him and God.
For your own sake, forgive yourself and others. Figure out what you’re supposed to learn from your current situation and move on with life. Or, if you are meant to learn to persist and have patience, find happiness where you are right now.
Find the God-quality you are meant to develop and get on with life.
I find that one of the best ways to do this is to take a half hour each day, put your phone down and be alone with God. Find the still point within you. Focus on gratitude and love. Relax into God.
It’s also important to understand what you really want in life, because what you think you want, may not be what you actually want, or at least it’s not the whole story.
I see it like this…
We each have mundane desires, making money, succeeding at our job, being respected by our peers, and finding the right partner, etc.
And each of your mundane desires has their root in your Soul’s true desire; to realize yourself as God’s creation and let God’s Love shine through you. Soul’s desire is the truth beneath the illusion of the mundane desire.
So let’s explore this.
Let’s suppose that I ask you what you want in life, and you answer, “I want a million dollars.”
Okay, let’s start with that. Now ask yourself “why do I want a million dollars?”
“Because with a million dollars I can travel, and not worry, and give money to my parents, and invest in my own art gallery and have time to do what I want to do.”
Let’s pick one of these points for now and dig deeper. Why do you want to travel?
“I want to be able to go where I want to go, whenever I want to so I can have adventure and fun.”
Dig deeper. Why?
“Because I want freedom!”
Yes! Freedom is a state of mind. Freedom is a fundamental state, meaning that when you dig deeper towards the root cause, there is a point that you can’t go any deeper. Freedom is a core desire of Soul!
Now explore your core desire of freedom. Close your eyes and go to that place that is at the center of your desire. How does freedom feel to you? What imagery do you see? What sounds do you hear?
You may imagine a specific place, or a feeling. You may feel lightweight, like you are flying. You feel happy and relaxed, in control of your life. Maybe you see sunlight and hear the wind or the splashing of waves on a beach. The feeling is important. The imagery is important.
Feel FREEDOM at the core of your being.
What you’ve done is taken what you think you want, a million dollars, which is a mundane desire, and you’ve uncovered your root desire, or your “Soul’s Desire”.
Notice a couple important distinctions between mundane desires and Soul’s Desires…
MUNDANE DESIRES are external from you. They exist in the future (or the past). They leave you feeling empty, frustrated and separated from life. They are an illusion and are not your true desire.
SOUL’S DESIRES are a state of mind that you can experience right now. By experiencing them, you will feel happy and contented and complete. Instantly, you can close your eyes and use your imagination to experience all the joy, happiness and freedom that you want. I believe you will discover that all mundane desires will distill down into three pure Soul Desires: love, freedom, and happiness / contentment.
This is a very important point…
You can realize your Soul’s Desire now!
You don’t have to wait.
You aren’t dependent upon anyone else.
“So what”, you say. “Me thinking about success isn’t the same thing as actually having success.”
Actually, yes it is. As Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” To me, this means that by realizing your Soul’s Desire (the kingdom of God), and realizing it now, you create a situation in which other things that reflect your state of consciousness will be brought to you.
In other words, when you open your heart you allow God to change things in your life in accordance with God’s desires and your desires.
Creating Your Life.
So how can this help you create the life you want?
FIRST, think about what you want. Be honest.
SECOND, think about the happiness and relief you would feel if you achieved these goals right now. Use your imagination to be there now. Right now, feel this happiness, freedom and love. See the light, hear the breeze blowing past your ears. By focusing on this feeling, you are actually reflecting the qualities of God; you are keeping your heart open to God’s love for it to enter your life and change you.
THIRD, don’t let past failures taint your belief in your ability to move forward today, and also don’t let anxiety over your future affect you right now. You exist here and now. The past is simply a memory and the future a dream.
FOURTH, as much as possible, persist in this feeling of happiness and relief, and know that God is guiding your life and giving you the experiences that are moving you forward. This will not necessarily be easy. We have mental patterns and ruts that are hard to break but stay focused on your wish being fulfilled. Be positive and optimistic.
FIFTH, work towards making your dreams come true. Do whatever you can to make them come true. Do as much as you can in a relaxed, tension-free way, and then turn them over to God.
SIXTH, accept the gifts that life gives you with gratitude in your heart.
This is how you can change your life.
Will you get a million dollars. Maybe, maybe not. If this is what is best for you to successfully live your life in accordance with your core purpose of being in this world, then it will happen.
The main thing, however, is that you will change as a person. You WILL receive all the divine love, and freedom and joy that you can accept into your life.
The only path to true success and happiness is to find your Soul’s Desires, realize them now and let them inspire you in life.
Don’t let others define what success means to you. Success is an individual pursuit, and it’s between you and God.
Life is a gift from God. Life’s challenges are an opportunity. Accept life as it is. Learn what you need to learn. Move forward with grace and uplift yourself and others. In as much as possible, be grateful, because gratitude opens your heart.
As your heart opens, God’s love will enter, and it will change you. You will become stronger and you will become a vessel for God’s Love in this world.
If you like this article, please subscribe to my premium newsletter, because among other reasons, I am writing a book on everyday spirituality and I’d love your help. By joining, you will be part of a community that helps me create the book that the world needs right now. Learn more here.