A month ago I was on the other side of the world traveling through Japan on the trip of my dreams. Everything was perfect… on most days.
But on some days I struggled.
I struggled to find joy despite the beauty around me. I struggled to find contentment despite the fact that I had made huge strides over the last year both in my career and personal life.
I had just started a new job that I loved. I had made the decision to move to my favorite U.S. city of New York. And I was on a trip in the Far East that was an impossible dream for most of my life.
Everything was perfect.
So why then did I have these unshakable moments of anxiety? Why did I still dwell on the problems in my life and all the things I didn’t have?
It didn’t make any sense to me. This was the time in my life I was supposed to be happy. I had finally made it and done it my way.
In the midst of this discouragement I decided to confront these feelings. I decided to examine them and uncover a solution to my suffering. So I turned to meditation.
I sat along the shore of a serene pond in Hibuya Park, Tokyo (pictured above) and thought through my dilemma. I tried to get to the core of these feelings.
What I discovered can be seen in the picture of my journal below. After my meditation that day I wrote down five steps that explain the cause of my suffering and also how I would alleviate it in the future.
As the journal entry above explains, I determined that my suffering was caused by an insatiable craving for more. This craving is a great tool in my sales role, but did it get me any closer to happiness? I realized the answer was no.
I then understood that the craving itself was caused by my ego. My goals had always revolved around improving myself so that society would approve of me. It was an endless cycle that always ended in a feeling of not being good enough.
After realizing my faults, I then tried to think my way out of this problem. I came to the conclusion that I could end my craving by ignoring my egotistical needs and focus exclusively on helping others.
During this reflection, I realized that I’m happiest when I’m in service of others. I am most fulfilled when the attention is not on improving myself, but improving those around me.
So from that moment forward I realized what I must do. I must stop focusing on the improvement of my own life and start focusing on the improvement of others.
Over the last month I’ve seen how this shift in perspective has reinvigorated me but also fueled those around me. I also can see how this type of mindset, if implemented by others, could have a ripple effect.
Instead of living in an unhappy individualistic world where we’re all out to help ourselves, what if we create a world where we give our best self to others and find our own happiness in the process?