How to become best friends with your biggest frustration in life (in 5 minutes a day)
(This post was originally published on Medium.com)
Frustration is the gap between what we expect and what we get.
The relentless pursuit for always more creates frustration because reality cannot catch up with constantly changing thoughts.
A commonly suggested solution is to identify every longing as an expression of the ego and not of who you truly are.
We are supposed to accept the present moment. This, so the idea, will free us from the pain of experiencing new unmet expectations.
We are closing the gap by lowering our expectations and call this living a spiritual life.
At the same time, you can find hundreds of guides, cheat-sheets, and secret formulas that will help you to manifest the life of your wildest dreams. This way, we would close the gap by actually getting what we want.
I see a huge contradiction here.
How can you spiritually evolve by accepting every moment and achieve your goals at the same time?
Well, you can’t, because you still have goals. But why do you need them if you accept the NOW? Why is it that we simply cannot let go of aspiring for more?
Imagine being a tree, this would be pure acceptance of the present moment. Standing around at one and the same spot for hundreds of even thousands of years is definitely off the records. Don’t get me wrong, trees can teach you a great deal about many things in life, but after all, I am not a tree, or you can call me Treebeard.
What if not every desire is bad in its nature? Could it be that some of our desires are mistakenly seen as being ego driven whereas they are actually part of OUR nature? So by not satisfying these needs, we would work against our own efforts to live a happy and fulfilled life.
Think about it for a while, what are the core needs that each and every one has?
Human core desires
Here are 7 slightly adapted desires as described by Dale Carnegie in his book How to Win Friends & Influence People. You most likely can identify with them:
1. Being alive — survival instinct, and ideally being healthy
2. Water and food — When you are hungry, you are hungry. Never stand between a lion and its food
3. Sleep — After your favorite dish it is time for a little nap. Siesta! Sleep is essential for your well-being.
4. Sexual gratification —The sexual drive needs to be addressed one way or another. Beyond the physical plane, it means also creative self-expression. It is most powerful when you equally accept and merge both the female and the male aspect within you.
5. Money and everything you can buy with it — Everyone needs a minimum of money in order to survive and interact with society. Whatever your relationship with money is, it is necessary as a means of exchange. Currency is energy and it needs to flow in order be of value.
6. Life in the hereafter — This is aspect depends highly on your individual beliefs. The desire of an eternal life or immortality of your soul is expressed by some sort of virtuous spiritual or religious practices or in a worldly fashion by seeking to be always young or immaculate of some sort.
7. The well-being of one’s children and family — Parents want their children to have a better life and wish to give them everything they need. In extreme cases, some parents seek to increase their self-worth through their children but in general, a good and healthy relationship with your children and family positively affects all other areas of your life.
These are the core desires each and every one has that are generally achieved on a daily basis. You live and have food and shelter. You have a partner and at least some money to buy stuff. You have your beliefs about life that work for you and your family and children are fine as well.
This sounds like a pretty good life to me, and unfortunately, there are still too many people that cannot live up to at least this level.
But those who do, are prone to become easily frustrated. The reason is that there is another core desire which I haven’t talked about yet.
The 8th core desire 95% of the people never satisfy
It is easily overlooked although everyone is desperately craving for it, very often on a subconscious level.
Why then, do we need reasons and justifications? Why is it that you always lack something no matter how grateful you try to be for what you already have?
The first reaction would be this: More MONEY.
Let’s do a little thought experiment:
Imagine winning the lottery. All of a sudden you could stop your job and tell your boss that you quit. You would then get into your dream car and drive off into the sunset followed by a big party (with Treebeard). It is time for fun!
The question is: How many parties can you have before it will get boring? How long will it take to get used to the new situation:
1 week, 1 month, 1 year?
If you finally run out of money, you would say that it was the money and the things you could buy for it that made you happy and fulfilled.
Now consider this:
Assuming you would have still enough money by then, would you continue to show up in your new car? Would it give you the same level of excitement? How many times can you do that before no one wants to see you anymore or you feel annoyed of yourself?
Objectively nothing has changed. You are still rich, and you have everything you need, yet there is something missing again. What is missing now is what made you actually excited about winning the lottery in the first place.
Nope, it is not the money. It is what most people desperately crave for:
The desire to be important.
Winning the lottery gave you this immense feeling of being important.
Most people think that money correlates best with importance. All the others might get their feeling of importance by “fighting the system”, being spiritual, or having some sort of power.
Same craving, different behavior
Imagine buying a very expensive flat screen or whatever it is you want. On the day you finally buy it, you are super proud and cannot stop grinning. You explain to everyone what it is capable of, how big it is, and what an awesome picture you get, and so on.
They would say probably something like this:
Do you really need all of this?
This is when you proudly present all the exclusive nitty-gritty details and conclude that this device is simply awesome and absolutely worth the money.
At some point, someone will have an even better screen (twice as big, expensive, and insanely awesome).
Suddenly, your attitude would change to something like this:
Come on dude, it is just on TV! I actually don’t care so much about it.
It does not matter, where you draw your sense of importance from as long as you get it in some way.
This happens fully automated on a subconscious level and can only be detected if you pay attention to it. Soon you will notice that there is more to it than just an ego-driven desire.
The first step to bring happiness into your life is by accepting that there is something missing. You need to stop lying to yourself
Why do we crave for importance?
The desire for importance is just one aspect. On a deeper, less ego-driven level it is the desire for appreciation, which is fueled by the need for love.
Everyone needs love. Love energy is the very core of our being and by getting more of it, we become more of who we truly are. We tune into our core frequency. This is when you unleash your inner self and awaken to who you meant to be
Only by accepting and nurturing your desire for importance you can become truly free.
How to get the appreciation you deserve
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be important or being appreciated.
You want to make a difference in other people’s lives. You want to have an impact somehow.
What people normally do
Method 1: Seeking appreciation from others (unconscious behavior)
People often try to get this by drawing attention to their actions and hoping to be appreciated for what they do and for who they are.
They seek confirmation from the outside by giving away their responsibility for their own life. They become dependent on what is happening around them and call it fate without the possibility to change it.
Method 2: Appreciating yourself (danger of unconscious behavior)
You start appreciating yourself no matter what is happening around you.
Although I totally agree with this, some people (including myself) get too focused on themselves.
The problem is the at some point the ego kicks in. This happens always when you least expect it. The result is that you are acting arrogant or overly self-confident. Eventually, there comes a point when you realize that people are not appreciating you and you still kind of want it.
Here comes the no-brainer I seriously didn’t see for most of my life:
Method 3: Genuinely appreciating others (conscious behavior)
Instead of playing the either-or-game we are going to implement both strategies.
In order to get your well-deserved feeling of appreciation, you need to see it in others first!
It is way easier to appreciate others for what they do and for who they are, especially, when you have a low (or too high) level of self-confidence.
Over 90% of our thoughts start with I or have an egocentric perspective. By genuinely seeing the other persons view and by understanding their own desire for importance you can have a great and positive impact on their lives. This, in turn, will make you feel important and appreciated and give you actual real life feedback.
Research has found out that giving to others has many benefits. One is that it makes you actually as happy as receiving something. By giving you also make a lot more people happier than just yourself.
You are taking conscious action by reaching out to others and receive positive energy in return. You are proactively sending and receiving what you and others most desire.
Advantages of this approach are:
- You learn to see the world around you from other people’s perspective
- Higher sense of connectedness and compassion for other people (everyone wants basically the same)
- Your feeling of appreciation neither depends on your environment or on your inner voice that is prone to ego influence
- You are creating value for yourself and others in each and every situation
- By perceiving other people’s problems you understand better how you could genuinely help them by simply being who you are (and potentially start a business, blog, etc.)
- You are your own source of positive energy by reaching out and taking action rather than staying focused and centered on your own being.
- People will love to stay around you and give you happily what you want, sometimes more than that, and sometimes without even asking
“The road to success runs uphill.”
— Willie Davis
- You need to move out of your comfort zone
By giving other people appreciation you will automatically receive it as well. And it will come in the most unexpected ways to you and in always higher quantities than you could possibly expect
You could call this the Star-Taler-Principle after the same-titled German fairy tale
Do you remember when you received praise or were being told that you are particularly good at something? These are the days you sometimes remember for months, years or even decades.
How is this supposed to make you happier and give you a feeling of importance?
Once you start to see the strengths and skills in others you will recognize them inside of you as well. And people will start to appreciate you as well for what you do and for who you are.
This is a self-sustaining circle which will lift you higher and higher by truly connecting to the people around you and to your inner self.
By appreciating others for what they are you change the way you look at the world.
“Changing the way you look at things, changes the things you look at.”
— Wayne Dyer
Everyone has appreciation to give for others. It is free for you to give and it is a priceless experience for the one who receives it. This is the secret of true wealth. By doing this you won’t just walk like a millionaire, but like being truly free. Because this is what you are and, therefore, have every right to aim for.
How to unleash your inner greatness
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
There is nothing wrong with becoming your greatest version and awakening to who you meant to be. There is nothing wrong with redefining your self-set boundaries that limit your natural self-expression and therefore, your chance of inner peace and happiness. There is nothing wrong with simply being who you are and making it your life purpose to be you, for this is why you are here.
More so, it is your birthright to have the most amazing life you could possibly imagine by simply being who you are. And it is the only way to get that life of your dreams.
As always we can learn from nature:
The natural state of nature is abundance. This abundance is achieved by every being appreciating and expressing its own and others very nature.
Only a tree being a tree can provide abundance for its environment and for itself (thank you Treebeard for the hint)
By consciously creating in the space of our individually perceived reality we live the life we most want and desire. This is why we are here. This way, we help to expand the universe and experience itself in the most comprehensive and interactive way.
Your growth serves the entire universe. You are the creator of your own reality and you have every right to make it the most awesome experience you can ever dare to dream about. And once you are there, there are new experiences waiting for you.
Call to action: 5 Minutes to activate your daily source of happiness
- Now, right after reading this post think about someone you could truly appreciate within the next five minutes
- Whatever it is, you should truly mean it and not just try to be flattering. Think about what this person does and what you truly appreciate about this person. This could be someone you like or even better, someone you don’t like.
- Go to that person and tell her or him what you honestly appreciate.
- Do this at least once per day and write down your experiences in your journal. How did it make you feel? How did they react? Think about who else you could appreciate and track whatever changes in you and others you notice. Think about opportunities you missed to appreciate someone.
- Repeat the next day. Enjoy your new life.