Transcendent: Take on Work & Life from Another Level

By Leo Babauta

The way most of us take on our work, or anything else in our lives, is that we do it because we’re supposed to, we have to, we’re obligated to, we’re expected to, we should.

What this creates is a life of obligation and burden, of churning out things just for the sake of churning them out. A life of pointlessness and exhaustion.

What if life could be transcendent? Alive? Expansive? Lit up?

While there’s nothing wrong with always having our nose to the grindstone, and having every day feel the same as the last … what would it be like to open to something different?

Transcendence is an idea that might feel strange or out there, because it’s often associated with traditions or approaches that feel so foreign or off-putting. But I promise you, this is fairly simple, practical and doable stuff.

Let’s take a brief look and see what we can find.

A Transcendent Approach

Let’s start with a simple question: what is transcendence? There are many ways to define this, but I’m going to use a fairly simple one: it’s seeing the divine in the everyday and ordinary. This doesn’t rely on a religious view — anyone can see the divine all around us. Think of a time when you were out in nature and were awed by the profound beauty all around you.

Can you try it right now? Look around, and see if you can experience a sense of wonder. This means going beyond what you think you know about everything (because knowing is a way to shut out wonder), and feeling awe at the unknowability of it all. It’s allowing ourselves to be humbled by the majesty of the universe and the mystery and magic in this moment.

If you can tap into that experience, then imagine taking that transcendent experience to whatever you do:

If you take this approach, it will transform your life. You’ll start to feel more open and expansive, more alive. You’ll feel gratitude and love for your life and others in it. You’ll feel at least a bit more inspired in everything you do.

How to Practice

Now, in the previous section, I might have made it sound easy and great. And it can be, but it’s also difficult to shift out of our old ways. We can get frustrated or disappointed in ourselves.

I encourage you to find the wonder in those experiences of frustration or disappointment. They’re not signs of failure, but just more to practice with.

So to start practicing, set some reminders for yourself to practice — maybe a sticky note or phone reminder saying, “Wonder” or “Transcendence” or “Awe.” Then use this to open up to a more expansive experience in whatever you do.

Let yourself walk or sit as you practice transcendence.

Play some music that helps you feel transcendent and wondrous.

See each person’s face as an expression of the universe.

Whatever obstacles you face, look for the divine in them.

If you forget, see the transcendence in forgetting.

Have a divine day.