“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try
sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.”
Too often we get so hung up on what we can’t have that we don’t think enough about whether we really want it, or even more importantly, whether we really need it. In fact, we usually need much less than we think we do to be happy and successful in life. It’s just a matter of living abundantly.
That’s what this short article is about – how to live in such a way that you always get what you truly need.
1. Open the door to infinite possibilities by helping others.
You can get almost everything in life you need if you simply help enough people around you get what they need. The most prolific work is found in the challenge of helping someone who has less than you do. It’s one of life’s great paradoxes; when you help others you end up benefiting as much if not more than those you have helped.
If you feel stuck in your life because you have lost your direction, shift your focus from your circumstances to the circumstances of those around you. As Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Instead of asking, “Why don’t I have what I need?” ask, “How can I help you get what you need?” Find someone who could use an extra hand and make an offer they can’t refuse.
Life is a circle – what goes around, comes around eventually. Since so many people are out to only help themselves, when you genuinely seek to help others succeed in getting what they need, they will notice your presence. These people will in turn fight to help you succeed in getting everything you need. What you need becomes what they want most.
Bottom line: Live so that your life is not defined by what you have acquired, but by what you have given away… not by what is etched on a gravestone, but what is etched in the lives and hearts of those you have helped. (Read The How of Happiness.)
2. Dedicate time to meaningful work.
When deprived of passion and meaningful work, human beings lose their reason for living; they get lost and go frantically mad. Thus, a fulfilling life is lived by letting your interests and passions drive you forward, and then losing yourself in the journey of taking each required step.
The same way your body responds to the right nutrients, your heart, mind and spirit also need nourishment. You are able to get that nourishment when you indulge in meaningful work, because when you truly lose yourself in something that moves you, you will eventually find yourself there too.
So never let the reality of what is, get in the way of what is possible. Never give up on the things that make your heart skip a beat. A focused human being driven by passion is always more powerful than the reality of the moment. Express your love. Live your truth. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards meaningful goals. Walk your talk. Embrace your gifts. Bounce to the beat of your own drum. Work on something worth remembering.
3. Be willing to be vulnerable.
What happens when people open their hearts and minds? They experience. They love. They learn. They grow. That’s what vulnerability is – the openness to possibility. Love is vulnerability. Happiness is vulnerability. The risk of being vulnerable is the price of opening yourself to beauty and opportunity.
Being vulnerable is not about showing the parts of you that are polished; it’s about revealing the unpolished parts you would rather keep hidden from the world. It’s showing up and letting yourself be fully seen. It’s looking out into the world with an honest, open heart and saying, “This is me. Take me or leave me.”
The truth is, nothing worthwhile in this world is a safe bet. Since love and happiness are born out of your willingness to be vulnerable, to be open to something wonderful that could be taken away from you, you must accept it. Because when you hide from your vulnerability, you automatically hide from everything in life worth attaining.
Be vulnerable. Allow yourself to feel, to be open and authentic. Tear down any emotional brick walls you have built around you and feel every unique emotion, both good and bad. This is real life. This is how you welcome new opportunities. Vulnerability sounds like honesty and feels like courage. Honesty and courage aren’t always the easiest choices, but they’re never the wrong ones. (Read Daring Greatly.)
4. Ask yourself the right questions.
Stop looking outside yourself for the answers. Start asking yourself the right questions. Voltaire once said, “Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” This is such sound advice, because if you keep asking yourself the wrong questions, you will never get an answer you like.
The questions you’re regularly exposed to have a powerful influence on the direction of your life. And, not surprisingly, the questions you hear most often come directly from YOU. What questions are you asking yourself? Are they helping you better understand yourself? Or are they sending you on a wild goose chase?
The problem is that when you think you have to “look” for things in life like love, meaning, and inspiration, the “looking” implies that these things are somehow hiding behind some bushes somewhere, just waiting to be discovered. So you start asking yourself questions that lead you further and further outside yourself, which is not where the answers you seek live.
In life you have to create your own love, define your own meaning, and harbor your own inspiration. This process starts on the inside, not somewhere else. Much of this can be accomplished simply by asking yourself the right questions. Start with these:
- “Who am I?”
- “What do I need?”
- “How do I function best?”
- “What do I have to give?”
- “What’s the next step I can take right now?”
Obviously, there are many other questions you can ask as well. It’s all about self-inquiries that help you stay true to your principles, pursue your passions, grow through adversity, and add value to the world around you. (Angel and I cover hundreds of important life questions as a theme that radiates through every chapter of our book, 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
5. Take a few tiny steps forward every single day.
Whatever it is you need to achieve in life, take everything in stride, one tiny step at a time.
Don’t build mountains in your mind. Don’t try to conquer the world all at once. When you seek instant gratification you make life unnecessarily painful and frustrating. When you choose instead to treat each moment as an opportunity to make a small, positive, investment in the present moment, the rewards come naturally.
Although each individual effort in each moment may seem to have an insignificant impact when you make it, at some point you’ll look back and realize the momentous impact these moments created once they were added together. By moving at this sustainable pace, you’ll be able to continue moving forward for as long as it takes to get precisely where you need to go.
Take a step now, then another, and keep on stepping. You are responsible for getting what you need in life. It always comes down to your actions in the present moment. You choose: either action and results, or inaction and excuses. You can’t have both.
You may not feel like taking another step right now, and that’s fine. Take a break, rest, and then take another step as soon as possible. Know that the pain of discipline and persistence is far less than the pain of regret. No one has ever given their needs their best shot and regretted it.
The floor is yours…
What do we all need in life? What are some other important steps that can help us get what we need? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Jonatas Cunha