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Finding and Living Your Highest Truth

Finding your highest truth is another way of saying, “Get clear about your values and do what is right for you, not what you should do.” In his book, The Man with a Thousand Faces, mythology expert Joseph Campbell called it “following your bliss.”

Maybe you want to be an artist, an archaeologist, move to a foreign country or an ashram, or live another lifestyle that may be considered unusual by many people. Deciding to break out of a rut is easier for some people than others. You may be so trapped in a routine you have no idea who you really or what you like to do.

If you are unhappy with your life, but don’t know why, you probably aren’t “following your bliss.” The things that are supposed to make people happy – making lots of money, having material things, and doing what society and our families dictate – may not be right for you.

Money and fame don’t guarantee happiness. There are millionaire celebrities who commit suicide, and happy, well-adjusted people who have little income to spare.

While finding your highest truth is mostly an internal process, having the right amount of money (and that amount differs from individual to individual) can buoy this process and make it easier.

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Money and Values

If you are doing what is right for you, and surrounded by positive, nurturing people, you can be happy and lead a fulfilling life. Money is necessary, too – you’ll need enough to cover the necessities of life, and some discretionary income to do what you want.

People who earn or inherit millions are no happier than people who make $105,000 a year. A study cited on Nature.com shows that $105,000 is the saturation point for wealth in America. If you make more than that, you aren’t going to be happier, according to the research. Money makes Americans happier – but only to a point.

Making too much money may cause headaches for some people. Other people may ask you for financial help, and taxes or investments may be a bother. (As a rap song from the 1990s said, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.”)

Of course, individuals making average or working-class wages would joke that they’d love to have those problems. But generally, if you have enough money to cover your needs and enough for emergencies and occasional fun, you can be happy and pursue your highest purpose in life.   

Past a certain point, the acquisition of more money won’t make you happy or help you find your truth. Too much money may cause “lazy” thinking by enabling you to throw money at problems instead of solving them.   

At the opposite end of the spectrum, having too little money is a deterrent to following your highest truth. When you struggle financially to merely survive, you have little time to figure out what you want to do other than pay your bills.

If you are in a financially-challenging situation, determine how much money you need to live comfortably, and pursue opportunities that will provide what you need. Self-employment, going back to school and starting a business are avenues you can explore. You’ll not only make more money as a result, you’ll have more time to discover what activities and career choices are most fulfilling to you.

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Track Your Thoughts to Determine Your Values  

Searching for your highest truth can be fun or laborious depending on your attitude. It takes a lot of introspection and honesty to determine what you truly want to do with your life if you’ve been stuck in a bad job, relationship or other situation for years.

Admitting the truth is the hardest part. If you occasionally wish you’d stayed in school and gotten a Master’s Degree and then move on without thinking about it again, the feeling isn’t strong enough to merit further exploration.

If you keep thinking about it, and the feeling of regret constantly gnaws at you about a missed opportunity, heed that emotion. Act on it. Look at available classes, even if they’re online. Talk to a school counselor or visit a campus if you want to attend class in person. Any small action toward your goal will make you feel better and lead to more pronounced actions.    

Happiness and Your Highest Truth

The Maya Angelou quote, “You won’t remember what people said, you won’t remember what people did, but you will remember how they made you feel.”

Use this quote as a touchstone for figuring what you want to do. How do you feel at a current job? Are you bored, miserable or angry? This is a sign that you need to look for another job, work in another field, start your own business, travel or do something else with your life, something that fulfills you and makes you look forward to each new day.     

Being happy doesn’t mean you constantly have an ecstatic, “doing cartwheels” feeling all the time. Happiness is a feeling of contentment and confidence – you know you’re doing the right thing for you at a given time. (Your highest truth may not stay the same throughout your life – it may change as you get older.)

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Keep a Journal

Start a journal to discover your highest truth. It may be easier to write it on your computer or iPad, but a handwritten journal has a greater sense of permanence, and more of what you write will be ingrained into your consciousness if you write it longhand.

If you are miserable in your job or lifestyle, but have no idea what to do to be happier, keep a journal with random thoughts, a rundown of your day, and your feelings during different situations. Keeping a journal is a kind of self-diagnosing therapy. What you write will shed light on what makes you happy, angry, or depressed. You can’t get what you want unless you know what you want, and a journal will help you pinpoint what is vital for your well-being and overall success in life.

You may notice that certain people, places, and events always bring out your negative emotions, while other activities and folks bring out the best in you. Increase the amount of time you spend on activities that make you feel alive and stop doing things that bore you or make you unhappy.

Once you know what you want, take action every day to set it in motion.

Dealing with Jealousy

In Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, she addresses the issue of creative or career jealousy, and suggests putting your own dreams in motion to quash jealous feelings. If you resent a friend’s success as a writer, start your own novel, take a writing class or get a website and post your own stories online.

Once you take action, you won’t have time to think about what other people are doing. You’ll be too busy doing your own thing.  

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Being Authentic Throughout Your Day

When go out for a night on the town with friends, do you dress the way they dress, or wear what you think will attract a potential partner?  Do you talk about what your friends like even though you’re not really interested in those subjects? If so, you aren’t being true to yourself.

Think about what you would wear if you didn’t have to worry about impressing anyone else. What clothes fit your personality and reveal your most authentic self?  What do you like to talk about – and what type of people do you like to be around? You have a choice in these matters.

You don’t need to do what your family, friends, co-workers, or the media tell you to do. Think for yourself, and you’ll have more confidence, accomplish more, and feel happier

Once you know who you are and what you want, live it 24/7. There may be times you’ll need to put an “act” to get through a particular situation, but 99% of the time, be yourself and you’ll have a happier and more abundant life.

The Truth Will Set You Free  

Think about your hobbies and the interests that keep you engaged and happy. Focusing on a hobby, such as painting, writing, bodybuilding, yoga or collecting sports memorabilia gives your life passion and purpose, and may lead to business or a career.

If you collect baseball cards, you may be able to start a side business selling some of your cards on eBay or even open your own sports memorabilia store. Even when hobbies don’t lead to a career, they can put you in touch with like-minded people who may become good friends.  

In order to live your highest truth, and spend your life in the most productive way possible, you’ll need to have self-knowledge. Once you understand who you are and what makes you tick – you’ll experience the following improvements in your life:

Better self-control

When you devote your life to your highest truth, you won’t be tempted to veer off-course and participate in time-wasting or potentially harmful activities. You’ll have the self-esteem to avoid anything that will interfere with your well-being, no matter how tempting it looks on the surface.

More empathy

When you know you have a good grasp on your motivations and desires, you are better equipped to understand other people's’ emotional struggles. You’ll have more empathy, instead of “writing people off” when they are enduring a difficult situation.

Less confusion

When what you do and say matches your values and goals, you won’t waste time feeling guilty about participating in activities you don’t enjoy. Because of this newfound mental clarity, you’ll feel better and spend more time engaged in positive pursuits that enable you to reach personal and career goals.    

You’ll make better choices

When you know what’s important to you, it will be easy to make decisions in all parts of your life, from what to do for a living to how to dress for a date. You won’t be dependent on whims or comments from others regarding what decisions to make. All your decisions will be based on your values, not on anything external and temporary.

Having a set of values allows you to live the life you want and meet your goals.

More autonomy

You’ll be less apt to bow to pressure from friends or family to do things that will make you miserable if you have a strong sense of your own values. Many people “go along with the crowd” and then feel empty or depressed when the day (or event) is over. If you hold on to your preferences and beliefs regardless of outside influences, you’ll say “no” when a request is wrong or ill-timed, not “yes” or “maybe.”  

How Your Health Affects Your Personal Truth

It’s harder to think coherently or participate in pleasurable activities when you feel sluggish. Eat healthy foods and exercise more to feel more energetic. Your newfound energy will improve your attitude and make it easier for you to determine your core values.   

Bypass long, alcohol-filled dinners with fair-weather friends and learn how to cook healthy meals at home. Shop at farmer’s markets and frequent health-conscious food stores instead of generic supermarkets. Some foods that will help you think more clearly are blueberries, beets, dark chocolate, broccoli, fish, green tea, turmeric, and citrus fruits.

Exercising helps stir endorphins, happiness-inducing chemicals in your body that will help you stay on track emotionally, cognitively and physically. Get up early in the morning to take a walk or jog, or join a local amateur sports team.

Deep Breathing

Concentrating on your breathing will help calm you down and think more clearly. It will rid your brain of the clutter that prevents you from focusing on what’s most important to you. If you have a problem with depression or anxiety, deep breathing, or pranayama, is especially beneficial  

Timing your breath so the exhalation is longer than the inhalation will soothe your brain  and your nervous system, allowing you to feel calmer. If you exhale longer than you inhale, your vagus nerve (which runs from your neck to your diaphragm), tells your brain to focus on the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls relaxation and digestion.

Here’s how to focus and calm down through concentrated breathing:

Sit in a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and breathe through your nose. Inhale for two seconds (or a count of two), and hold the breath in for a second. Exhale for a four count. Then hold your breath for one count. Repeat this for five minutes.

Once you’ve conquered the two-second inhalation and four-count exhalation, you can increase it to a four-second inhalation and six- second exhalation or inhale for six and exhale for a count of eight if you feel comfortable doing that.

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