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On a day to day basis, we feel unhappy – with our jobs, our routines, and all the mundane details of our existence. We yearn for passion, excitement, adventure, and meaning… anything to remove us from the ennui that clings like a fog, anything to make us feel alive! Yes, we have family, we have food, we have heat, we have shelter, as do billions of others. These will hardly impress our friends, soothe our ambition, or safeguard our legacy. To hell with what we have! We must think big, create significance, leave our mark, untangle ourselves from the masses…we need to feel fulfilled.

We have people who love us and depend on us, but we’re held back by their desperation. We watch from afar as others travel to five-star hotels and own private yachts. We witness others live their lives with conviction, traveling the world to make it a better place. We see the elite and the upper crust make changes. Still, we lack the freedom to discover ourselves, and if we’re not hurrying, it’ll be far too late.

Assume that we do ride through life, unchained and uncontained. We’d sit on the back of raw unbridled freedom. We could go anywhere, live anywhere, do anything, be anything…what would offer fulfillment?

Perhaps we yearn for adventure, to travel the world, to explore new cultures. For a time, certainly, yet after a while, we tire of travel, we tire of moving from place to place. We begin to seek comfort and stability.

Alternatively, we seek the adrenaline rush from parachuting, bungee jumping, rock climbing, heli-skiing. Yet we cannot sustain this sensation. Perpetual stimulation exhausts us, taxes our bodies and minds, and inevitably we crash and burn. In daily life, between highs, we feel numb, dead, and depressed.

Ok, then we need wealth and status, to assert our self-worth, to prove our significance. Do wealth and status induce respect or confer validation? Perhaps, from those who have less…yet we wish to distance ourselves from the masses. What value does reverence provide, when it comes from those beneath us?

If we become mired in stagnation, we believe that new circumstances, activities, and interests will spark joy and infuse life with meaning. We imagine life as a series of triumphs, a dance across mountaintops…a perpetual state of bliss! Such a mindset leads to chronic dissatisfaction, an endless search for more that boasts devastation in its wake. We cease to count blessings, or acknowledge all that we hold…the improbability of existence; the complexity of body and mind; the ability to live laugh and love, to think and create…we relegate these gifts to inconsequence. We gladly trade that which has substance and beauty for an impossible fancy.

And ironically, our stagnation emerges from our quest for fulfillment. What is life but continuous evolution? Our frenzied need to escape creates the impression of movement. In reality, we stand still as the background transforms around us and without us. Growth comes through dedication, discipline, and focus; we hone skills, we find conviction in ourselves, and we succeed evermore. And this diligent application of ourselves provides satisfaction: we see the tangible impact of our actions; we feel useful and productive; we delight in the journey of the steady refinement of self. We rarely experience such delight and satisfaction because we eschew the mundane…yet most of life is mundane.

We lament our lives, the feelings of worthlessness, misery, disappointment, and we blame proximate conditions: job, family, society, parents. Yet we never really live! We have never immersed ourselves in the details, situated ourselves in the present, tasted that which we causally reject. Our discontent stems from the belief that our lives have no meaning, and this belief becomes self-fulfilling. We chase form without substance, reward without effort, highs without lows…we must feel distress for we chase an illusion! And through this fruitless search, we squander potential for greatness.

How, then, should we live? Should we avoid risk, embrace status quo, simply accept what life provides? How can we reconcile innovation, achievement, the towering minds that advance humanity, with the pedestrian? Through mindset. Mindset captures our approach to life, it shapes the quality of our experience, the thrust of our decisions. We can view life as a means to indulge our senses and placate our egos, in which case we always chase more…or, we can view our “self” as a means to express life, to further our world and our species, in which case we recognize each moment’s sanctity. If we adopt the mindset of an instrument, a conduit for divine intelligence, two principles govern our decisions:

Serve the world

Sharpen ourselves, so we may better serve the world

At times we follow routine, reprise the same role – raise our children, serve our clients, love our spouses – and slowly advance our objective. At times we may disrupt status quo, or choose a new path. Yet we do so without expectation of pleasure, wealth, or accolade. And we do so with full awareness of the obligations we hold, the promises we have made, the opportunities we forego. We act to express a timeless volition, connect to that which exceeds ourselves, and through exhaustion of our self, surrender of our self, we feel fulfilled. We know great peace.

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