Our dog, Roxi stayed at a lodge last week while we were traveling. I think they used to call these pet boarding places, kennels. That was back in the day when they were basically a bunch of cages. Now they are like mini hotel rooms with comfortable beds, toys, background music, televisions, and views of the great outdoors. She stays in what they call a cabin, how nice.
She always seems to be in good spirits when we pick her up. She is so excited when we get home. She runs all over the yard and then explores all throughout the house as her way of celebrating her new-found freedom. She is so happy! I don’t know if dogs can actually smile, but she sure seems to be.
She especially loves going to the park following a kennel stay. We take her during a time we know others won’t be present so we can let her roam free. She runs all over the grounds looking for varmints to chase. She is a Scottish terrier and that is what they were bred for, ridding castles of rodents. She didn’t need to be taught how to do what she does, she just does it. And she is smiling again.
Watching her makes me smile too. It reminds me of the most important thing we humans can do to be happy. It should be the easiest, but seems to be the most difficult. We must figure it out for ourselves. No one else can help us. In fact, the more others try to help, the harder it is to make it happen. What is this key happiness component? Being your true self.
What does that mean? Who else could we be? How can we be anyone but ourselves? There is only one us, right?
Well, if you were a dog it would be that simple. As a dog you were bred to be something in particular, that is your true self. You don’t have to be taught what to do, you just do it. As long as you are free to do that thing, you are a happy dog.
Unfortunately for us humans, we do not innately know what our thing is. Or maybe we do, but we are so heavily influenced by others that we don’t recognize what it is. Or it could be that we have so many choices about what to do that we get confused. I’m not sure, I just know that finding our true self is a difficult task that often lasts a lifetime.
What I do know is that we all have natural talents that can’t be explained. There are also things that inherently peak our interest. And when we do things that use our talents and that we find interesting, we are happy. Maybe we are each “bred” for something specific.
I actually do think we each have a special purpose in life, something that we are uniquely qualified to do. I also believe that when we do our thing, it will provide value to other people in some way.
Further, I believe that collectively our things fit together in a way that could make the world the place I think it was intended to be … heaven. Yeah, I’m a dreamer, an idealist. Sounds nice though, doesn’t it.
If only we could live a dog’s life. What if we innately knew what our thing was? Then we could spend our time becoming the best we could possibly be at doing that thing. We could ignore everything else, in fact we would want to. All we would want to do are the things that help us become better at what we are supposed to be doing to make the world a better place. Wouldn’t you be unceasingly happy if that was how you were spending your time every day?
The more I think about this, the more I am convinced that we do all have a specific purpose, a calling. It is calling from within us, telling us what to do, and what not to do. We are happier when we listen and do what we are being told.
Think about it. How do you feel when you are doing something that (1) is in line with your talents, (2) you find interesting, and that (3) benefits others in some way? Now contrast that feeling with times when one of those three components is missing. They are very different feelings, aren’t they?
When you are being your true self, that person you are meant to be, you are happy. The further you stray from yourself, the less happy you become.
Test this theory for yourself. Gauge your level of happiness at any time and examine what you have been doing to generate that feeling. I’ll bet you are happier when you are doing things that are in line with your talents, interests, and the needs of others. We are happiest when we are doing something we enjoy and that others appreciate. That brings meaning and fulfillment into our lives.
It is so logical, so simple. Why then is this not the way of the world, everyone doing their thing and living happily ever after? Do we know what we should do, but resist it? Does it seem too hard so fear creeps in? Are we peer-pressured away from doing our thing and being ourselves? Is our one size fits all educational system not geared toward helping us find our true self and our purpose in life? My answer to all these questions and many more like them is yes.
So what can we each do to overcome the inherent difficulty in finding and being ourselves? The first word that comes to my mind is, Explore. Take time to identify your talents and your interests. Then figure out what you can do with them to provide value to others.
If you are lucky you may find that what you are doing now is your thing. Congratulations! If not, keep searching. There is nothing more important in life than finding and doing that thing that makes you happy, and as a by-product that serves to help others be happier as well.
If you want to learn more, check out chapter 10, “Mission Finder” of my sAint Me?! book or Chapter 8, “What’s Your Game” of Playground Heaven, which provide a step-by-step process for finding your thing, your calling, your mission, your game, whatever you want to call it. I’m thinking of developing an on-line course that will walk you through the process as well. Let me know if you would find that useful.
In the meantime, here’s your challenge for the week. Identify one thing that you do which is not in line with your true self. To be more specific, pick a behavior that you dislike. Like maybe you are too agreeable to doing things you really don’t want to do. Or you go along to get along too often.
Whatever it is, choose something that you want to change, that is not in line with how you really want to act. Then do what you really want to do next time you encounter that situation. It will take some courage and maybe a leap of faith that things will turn out okay. But you know you can do it, and you know you should do it to be yourself. If you don’t, who else will?
Here’s to living a dog’s life by being who you were meant to be:-) Scott