I feel as though we are conditioned to be more and more externally focused as we grow older. But ironically, the reason for the external focus is that it is supposed to make us feel better internally: “You’ll be happy when you get this job, this car, this house, this money, this lover,” and so on.
I believed this whole heartedly for many years until I got all those things and what I found was, an amazing job to be unhappy in, a beautiful house and car to be unhappy in, money to keep fruitlessly trying to buy my unhappiness away and lovers to momentarily distract me from my unhappiness and/or support me when I was unhappy.
Then I found insight oriented therapy, meditation, spiritual text and quality time in nature and realized slowly that it’s actually an inside job first, then that work informs and manifests the external experience, not the other way around.
Most of us keep trying to import our fulfillment and our happiness from the outside in, but the way it truly flows is that via doing the internal work to realize completely that we are already fulfilled, we are already enough, we are already lovable, we can then export our fulfillment, happiness and love into our work, into our relationships, and into our financial activities. Our internal life is then not dependent upon the inevitable ups and downs of our external life but rather our external life is dependent upon how diligently we focus on taking care of our internal life.
Often we are solely focused on the external actions we think we need to take, which can leave us to deal with the unexpected mental and emotional consequences of them, only after it’s too late to change the actions.
But what if we reversed this process?
Maybe begin with, “How do I want to feel?" Then, design our external actions towards the achievement of that internal goal.