By Leo Babauta
There’s a sense of incompleteness in our lives.
We have felt it since adolescence, at least, if not since early childhood — it’s a feeling that something is wrong with us, that something is missing, or that we’re missing out on something in the world.
It’s a feeling of disconnection or loneliness from others, a sense that we don’t fit in. A feeling of moving through the world in isolation, unfulfilled, without a sense of intimacy with others, without a sense of purpose in what we’re doing.
We crave that feeling of connection and intimacy with others, and seek it in online social networks, but it’s lacking. It drives us to use dating apps to find the perfect someone, but the dating doesn’t bring intimacy. It drives us to look at photos of what other people are doing in the world, read about their adventures, but feel like we’re not doing anything meaningful.
We wake up and immediately begin distracting ourselves, seeking something interesting, exciting, any kind of dopamine hit. We look for the convenient over the difficult, the quick and easy over struggle and meaning.
We don’t give ourselves a moment of space or quiet, filling every bit of space with videos, songs, podcasts, audiobooks, short online reads, news, social media, quick tasks, messages.
We try to fill this craving with consumerism. Buying things instantly gives us a feeling of satisfaction. Not a lasting satisfaction, not real fulfillment, but a boost of excitement. It doesn’t satisfy the craving, and any pleasure dissipates several mintues as we open the package that gets delivered the next day.
We try to fill it with food, with TV, with shopping at big stores … but none of that brings greater satisfaction beyond momentary pleasure.
This is all driven by our sense of incompleteness, our craving for wholeness. A craving we never let ourselves really feel, that we never face with our eyes open. It’s always there, unacknowledged, unseen.
The tragedy is that if we could just stop for a little while, and allow ourselves to feel the discomfort of that disconnection … we could find wholness.
The wholeness of being completely OK, no matter where we are, no matter what we’re doing. Of being absolutely in love with our experience, of not needing anything more.
- Pause, and be still and silent for a little while. Let go of all distractions, don’t follow urges to do something or entertain yourself.
- Feel the discomfort of your being. Feel the uncertainty of who you are and what you should be doing and what gives you meaning in the world. Allow yourself to fully feel it, be present with the feeling.
- Notice the goodness in your heart. It’s your kind heart, that can be tender and doesn’t want to be hurt, that loves and wants to be loved back. It is always present.
- Connect with a sense of wholeness not only in you, but in everything. All around you. It’s chaos but it is life, it’s imperfect but it is profoundly awesome. Widen your awareness to everything around you, and notice how you are a part of it, interconnected with all of it. Your wholeness is in this connection to everything around you. Allow yourself to start to feel that, and to trust it.
You can bring awareness to this sense of wholeness in everything (yourself included). You can rest in this awareness. You can learn to trust it.
It’s not outside of us, in our phones or online, in books or in what everyone else is doing, in TV or food, in shopping or stuff. It’s all of that and much more, but we don’t need to look to any of these things to reclaim that wonderful, loving, gorgeous sense of wholeness. Over and over again.