Our true self may face many obstacles as it tries to express itself, but these tips can help strengthen it to meet every challenge.
Occasionally, I have heard people say “fake it ‘til you make it” about the process of finding success in the world. The phrase suggests that it is best to act, dress, and behave like a successful person, even if you aren’t yet. There is some wisdom in that for creating a success mindset, and I think the same might apply to the process of spiritual growth.
Just like we can act with the confidence of a successful person even when you are not there yet, we can behave as if our lives were completely based on our true inner self. The journey to actualize this self and turn our insides out is not always an easy one, and it can have many blind spots along the way. But, if we understand the basic principles and follow them right now, we will probably arrive at our goal faster. Here are ten simple values you can use in your life today:
- Choose positivity. The world will present us with many depressing, frustrating situations, but responding with sadness or anger will not help us change anything. Even if we can’t help feeling down inside, we can smile anyway. Neuroscience has shown that smiling, even a fake smile, helps to release hormones associated with peace and happiness. If we feel wronged by someone, we can do what we can to change the situation, while forgiving as quickly as we can and moving on, rather than lingering in resentment and anger.
- Embrace challenges. Humans naturally want to delay or avoid facing obstacles. However, those difficulties were given to us for our growth, so the quicker we face them and solve them, the sooner we will see their benefit. Every hardship we face is like a weight added to the barbell of a champion weightlifter. The more we overcome, the stronger our true selves will grow.
- Nurture our own growth. Establishing a growth-oriented mindset is the best way to live a meaningful life. Rather than letting growth opportunities come to us, though, we can actively seek to improve ourselves day by day—physically, mentally, and spiritually—through a continuous process of self-examination and self-discipline.
- Pursue lofty goals. Instead of looking for goals with guaranteed results and clear payoffs, we can ask ourselves what we would do if there were no obstacles and no financial motivation. We could ask what we could do in this world that would give us great and lasting joy. Then, we can plan our path to that goal and move toward it steadily.
- Assume abundance. Financial constraints often cause people to hold themselves back, or they cause people endless worry about the future. The universe, though, is infinitely abundant, and it will provide us with what we need to become who we are meant to be. If we step boldly forward toward our goals with the confidence that all will be provided for, then we will likely see unexpected opportunities for abundance.
- Acknowledge our own power. I teach my students to say an important phrase to themselves: “My mind is not me but mine.” This is important because too often people imagine that their thoughts and emotions are out of their control. In fact, we are the ones in charge of our own lives, and we are the ones who have the power to change it.
- Trust our own brains. Most people do not come anywhere near to using the full potential of their brains. And we don’t have to be a “genius” to do amazing things. Every new creation and every solution to every problem in the human world started with brains that could think in new ways. So, if we want something new or different in our lives, we can ask our brains to find an answer.
- Take good care of our bodies. Our physical body was given to us as a vehicle on this journey of self-actualization. Just as we would change the oil in our cars and give it high-quality gas to keep going, we need to give our body the food, exercise, and rest it needs to keep in top shape.
- Envision our best selves. There’s no need to be satisfied with the “just doing okay” version of ourselves. Yes, the world will accept this version, so long as we show up for work and pay our bills. On the outside, everything is fine with this, but inside, we will not be satisfied. It helps to really think about who we really are and what we would really like to do in this world. In the long run, only that version of us will be enough.
- Live for the good of all. In Korea’s Tao tradition, we have a guiding philosophy called hongik, which means that we should live for “wide benefit” if we want to live in the best way possible. This means seeing everything from the broadest possible perspective, not just from our individual, self-centered perspectives. A Western equivalent might be having a “service mindset,” but its reach and intention are more global than that. If we take on this broad mindset, we will tap into a wellspring of motivation because we will be living for all humanity and for the earth. And this is most important: all previous values can only grow well if they grow from the root of hongik. We can build on the value of hongik by starting each day by asking, “What can I do to be widely beneficial for all humanity?”
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These ten values are about establishing a daily habit of nurturing our true selves. They give us what we need to strengthen it and encourage its expression.
You can learn about consciously creating a fulfilling life from my book Living Tao: Timeless Principles for Everyday Enlightenment.
- What Are Our True Selves?
- The Nine Levels of Awareness on the Way to Enlightenment
- Dare to Follow Your Heart in Every Environment
- Ilchi Lee’s 3 Simple Ways to Turn Your Energy Around and Become Your Authentic Self
- How to Break Free from Your Small Self and Claim Your Power