“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
Charlie S. says
I think we all need peace of mind. It’s one of those priceless things we can only acquire by doing what we know is right in life.
Great read BTW!
Your point on being vulnerable is a big one for all of us.
If we close ourselves off from being hurt, we close ourselves off from living our lives to our full potential. Too much safety = lack of freedom.
Hi Marc and Angel, this blog post is really nice to read and helps me think about what I truly need to achieve my goals.
Nice one here. Our dreams need positive ears and eyes. Without which the possibility of seeing and hearing right are chartered.
Thomas Joe says
Awesome post yet again! I can relate to #1 at the moment.
I just had this experience with helping a friend.
I did it the other day by helping him set up a word press blog!
I felt really good about it and he was super grateful!
We both won!
One Life / One Legacy
If one does not manage and balance their vulnerability, sometimes it can forces them to be emotionally isolated, which is something I struggle with 🙁
Lost and Confused says
I’ve been reading your post regularly for some time now, and I’ve enjoyed them immensely. Unfortunately, I feel like some of the best advice doesn’t apply to me. I was wondering if there was a way for me to tell my full story, and hopefully get some advice for what to do, without publicly sharing as I’m fairly certain some relevant parties also follow your blog.
Any help will be massively appreciated,
Thanks for the wisdom so far,
-Lost and Confused
Yvonne I Wilson says
Great post! I gave thought to this earlier and I believe it will help to get everything we truly need – lead with a passion, lead from your heart, & lead from within you. It somehow ties in with #4 to ask yourself the right questions.
Sea Dean says
The most important things are not to be frightened to ask for what you want and when you get it say thank you. I’m not talking about a sort of mantra, I’m saying ask everyone you know for whatever you want, write letter, post in FB whatever. And when you get it which I’ve found you often do, don’t say “no that’s Ok” “I’m fine” etc. If God or the universe has provided don’t kick the gift horse in the teeth, the first thing out of your mouth should be thank you and the second is recognition for who has provided it to you. :o) for occasional words of wisdom and some great Art, feel free to follow my blog “Paint a Masterpiece” at Blogger. THANK YOU
Great post Marc! I really appreciate it and the timeliness is perfect for me. After 12+ years with my AWESOME dog, we had to put her down last night. Reading this just makes me appreciate our time with her that much more in spite of the pain of losing her. Thanks again for all you an Angel do!
Great post! The part about vulnerability being revealing unpolished parts of yourself really spoke to me.
It would be cool to read some short stories/examples of how people are implementing these ideas.
I love this site.. I got my mom and sister on it too.. it always makes me think.. very inspirational. Thank you!
What we all need? A little love.
Pat R says
Your blog always helps me remember what I know deep down to be true. Thank you for sharing. I agree with all your points, and usually it’s a question of balancing the wants/needs equation–is this something I need, or do I just want it? I think you’ve hit the important needs for all of us.
This paragraph is one of the most powerful I have read in a long 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.”
It is so true. Often times we like to “tinker” (as I like to call it..and have done many times) and micro-manage each moment in our life trying to nudge toward a prescribed response or outcome that we “think” we “want or need.” However, if we stop and look back at the times we tinkered…we usually find that we made our roads harder and longer to get to where we truly were meant to be and instead of having moments of being present, grateful and at peace…we will most likely look back and find that that those tinkering moments were actually empty and frustrating. When we tinker, try to overanalyze and “be in control,” we rob ourselves of actual control, peace and joy.
Thank you for every article and post. You inspire me every day and can’t tell you how many times I have shared your site with others. Very grateful.
We all need LOVE! Open your heart and let the love and light in and out. Be willing to be vulnerable, even though you may get hurt. Don’t hold on to grudges. Don’t worry because it’s useless. And most importantly, just BE YOU.
“treat each moment as an opportunity to make a small, positive, investment in the present moment” – love this
The idea of vulnerability always hits home for me. According to the researcher, Brene Brown, it is fundamental to our sense of worthiness: ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html
Thank you – I take your posts to heart, to be reminded of what is true.
I think I need to think hard again about #4. I often ask myself what do I want, and the answer is always, I don’t know. What I mean is, I may want something today, like to make jewellery for a living, but tomorrow, I may feel that it’s pointless and just a materialistic way of creating more crap in the world! What I want changes depending on my mood and how tired I’m feeling, so it’s obviously not the right question. Or is this how everybody
David Rapp says
Ok: great stuff as per ususal:
1. Don’t build mountains in your mind. I did this all the time about relationships, and as a result I aimed at being friends with women I wanted to date. And the result was I have a ton of great female friends…and had VERY few dates. What I am saying is that you will ALWAYS find what you are looking for. You want failure, y0u got it. Choose victory, it will come. They teach Special Forces operation folk to map out their goal or objective in their minds over and over again. Why? Your body will achieve the plan your mind creates. I love that.
2. What do you need? Some lessons I learned along the way on getting what you need:
a. TO Stay 4:1, 2 ears open + 2 eyes open : 1 mouth shut. Its the best mode of learning.
b. TO: Cultivate the buffalo mentality: Buffalo are the only animals that stand shoulder to shoulder and face the storm. Think about it, who would face your storm right along side you? And who would you do it for? That is who you need in your life.
c. TO: The most common means of “failure” are to NOT start or to NOT finish. I am committed to going to the gym or working out on the road for 100 days. Its day 19 and its working…and only my family and few co-workers know. And they are telling others about my goal already. So what does this mean? 100 days maybe have been a mountain in my mind, but I am 19% of the way to climbing it. Little steps like Marc said above….
d. I totally agree about service to others. But we can add something to that, all of us. Proactively call, text, email or write someone in your life who you love…but have not heard from in over 6 months. I have devoted this year to that very goal. I cannot tell you how overwhelming the response has been. I send a note with updates on my family, a couple of great pix, and all my contact information. Who are the best responders? My cousins and my college female friends. Try it!!! Pick 3 people and send cards out this weekend.
I luckily happened to stumble upon your website a week ago. It’s so refreshing to read your blogs every few days. When life is put into perspective, it’s amazing how the lens through which we look changes and the whole world becomes entirely different – for the better of course.
Marc and Angel, you’re great inspirations!
The part about vulnerablitlity, and not always showing your polished side struck a chord with me! Thanks for your words, I am new to your blog! You ask tough questions… I am being vulnerable by admitting (since I tend to be a know-it-all) that I have NO clue what we need 😉 but hey, that’s asking the right questions!
Sabyasachi Dhala (Tikun) says
Fantastic one ! I am a regular reader of your blog. I am in love with your blog posts. They have changed my life. Thank you so much. ~ TIKUN
Shelly Miller says
Love the article. I have been working on dedicating most of my days to #2. Even though it has been an interesting road I feel “new” and as if every day really does have infinite possibilities.
Kevin Halls says
You started with a line from a Stones record but how about a line from a Beatles song too? “All You Need Is Love.” I reckon if you live by those five simple but powerful words you’ll be okay.
Easier said than done many people may say, but it has been proven that love is the most powerful force in the universe.All the great religions that have ever been say without it you have nothing. So you say what do we need? I think the Beatles summed it up quite nicely.
Great post! Loved it! I’m new to this blog but it already feels like home.
‘Doing meaningful work’ stands out to me the most. When i’m doing that, really working on creating something I feel the best. And when I kind of want to but am putting it off I don’t feel good at all.
One important step I am always working on is utilizing my subconscious mind to get the beliefs, behaviours, patterns etc that are going to support me in getting the goal I want.
Marc Chernoff says
@ope: So true. Everything positive in our lives is built on a positive foundation.
@Thomas Joe: Offering a helping hand to a friend or stranger is such a rewarding experience. So glad to hear that you feel the same way. Hope that WordPress site works out. =)
@Deepak: Indeed; vulnerability is something that needs to be balanced. The key is working on your own self-confidence in each moment. Be present, focus on your breath in the now, and realize that you are infinitely powerful in your own skin in this moment (the past does not exist).
@Yvonne I Wilson: Sounds like the right mindset to me. =)
@Sea Dean: Great points! You will never get what you don’t ask for… and you will never get anything more if you are not thankful for what you have been given.
@Buddy: Sorry to hear about your dog. I know how losing a pet feels. The memories I have of my late pets are some of the funniest moments of my life. I cherish them, and I hope you can do the same.
@Alissa: Read Daring Greatly. Great book that provides the examples you’re looking for.
@Pat R.: Balancing wants vs. needs is an exercise Angel and I used to struggle with as we were designing a more simplistic lifestyle for ourselves.
@TheresaS: So glad you are enjoying our blog. The concept of over-tinkering is important. I find it easiest to focus on the present, as you’ve said, and leave tinkering for set times if necessary.
@Amandah: LOVE! Agreed… we could all use more love.
@Melayahm: We all struggle with these fluctuations in our wants. This phenomenon is directly related changes in our emotions. The best thing we can do to counteract emotional decisions is to take things slow. Sleep on it.
@David Rapp: I have nothing to add to your insight, other than a BIG “Thank you!” You truly add value to every article we write.
@Kacey: Welcome! =)
@Kevin Halls: Great addition! Love the Beatles!
@Ben: Maintaining a positive subconscious mind takes a lot of practice, but it pays dividends. When I started reading about personal development over a decade ago, this was one of my primary focus points – thinking more positively all day, every day.
@All: Thanks as always for reading and leaving us comments. Your thoughts and insights have had a profound impact on my thinking and motivation to write and share. I hope all of you are having a wonderful weekend.
Showing vulnerability is what Brene Brown advocated in her Ted.com talk. Great article yet again!
Great blog Marc and Angel. I had written a similar blog post that revolves on this concept. It consists of two short stories. Please read it if you find time… linked above.
Zach George says
I want to compliment you for this well-written and useful post. Number 2 is something I’m greatly focused on in my life at this point in time. It is truly a powerful way to get what you need.
This is really good advice and I especially like the part on being willing to be vulnerable. Too often we miss out on potentially rewarding experiences because we are afraid of getting hurt.
Truly inspiring & great advice , thank-you
Vanessa Ducay says
I love reading your posts and love sharing these tips too 🙂 Thanks a lot!
No 1 & 2 are so true. Once you are dedicated and have the passion flowing inside of you, the road to your desired destiny wont be that far. Again, one’s daily routine matters as well, taking a step each day keeps you on track to where you are heading to.
I have 4 statements that I would like to remember from this post:
1. When you truly lose yourself in something that moves you, you will eventually find yourself there too.
2. “Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”
3. Either action and results, or inaction and excuses.
4. The pain of discipline and persistence is far less than the pain of regret.
Nosike John says
Great, it got me thinking…