Breaking Habits

Why should it be difficult to let go of beliefs that held you back? Why should you be afraid to break those traditions that make you feel like a prisoner?

I am sure you have some habits that you want to get rid of, or maybe you don’t even know you have them. But if you, like me, have circled your way back to square one in life in your search for happiness, then this might help you.

Before anything, we must find out what we truly want from life. After years of asking this question from myself on various points in life — different ages, different milestones, career choices, life partners, etc.– and giving the wrong answer over and over again, I have arrived at a point where the answer I have now seems true and right. Life seems to approve and endorse my choice–finally!

Every time we give a wrong answer to the biggest question of life, we make a choice along with it. It is quite similar to arriving at crossroads, not knowing where we want to end up or what experiences we want to have along the way. So we pick a path that seems right at the moment, based on whatever information available to us. But none of those paths would make us truly happy if we do not listen to the true inner desire of life within us. Even though we get excited as the journey begins, that excitement would not last for a long time. At some point, we feel to the core that we are not happy. So we have to turn around and come back to the same old place we once began the journey.

But the good thing is that we won’t be the same person by then. We have gathered experiences along the way (and back). If we learned nothing else, at least we know not to choose the same path we walked before. We know the happiness we seek is not there. Isn’t that a wonderful thing to know? You see, at this point, happiness has already become our North star. We have a guide. We are no longer lost as we were once upon a time.

However, for me personally, it took several more attempts down the wrong paths to realize that happiness should be the fundamental requirement in life. When we are happy, we are open to opportunities, we are willing to expand, feel life. But I was so bogged down by loss, pain, along with the traditional ideas, and definitions that blocked my view. I could not see these wrong paths as experiences.

But life would never give up on us. It truly has a way of teaching us the same lesson in different ways until we learn. What I needed was a shift of perspective; a different way of looking at the same thing. Looking back at all that happened, I wonder how on earth did I not see these simple plain truths the first time, or the second time, or even the third! I made the same wrong choices until I saw them as lessons. If you are wondering why you make the same wrong choice, it is time to see what life is trying to teach you. Then, and only then can we move past them to the next stage.

In my case, I could not have seen what I was doing wrong because I was looking at the purpose of life through the same lens. Society had taught me that I had to do certain things in a certain way and that would lead me to happiness. It was like a template. I had been trying life with different people in different places, doing different things but in the same template. Of course, I would end up with nothing but the same result!

The key was for me to understand that there is a template in the first place. How can we know the existence of a template? Travel; Talk to people who lead a different life than you; Experience different cultures; Listen to the experiences of people who come from different backgrounds; Expose your mind to challenging realities; Be an observer of the reactions of your own mind. If you get angry, separate yourself from your mind and observe why you got angry. Analyze your own anger, find the root cause. Track its path to where it first occurred in your life. By the time you are done with this process, you would not be angry anymore. Similarly, when you feel true happiness, observe those moments, those people who were there with you, and find ways to recreate them, to have more of those moments in your life. Make this your daily routine… This would turn you automatically into a seeker, a traveler. With time, with continuous exposures, you would nurture an open mind. As you begin to wander with your open mind, you would bump into the walls built around your thinking patterns. You would finally be able to distance yourself from your thoughts to see the template.

A clay pot can be shaped when it is still wet and flexible. Once it is molded into its desired shape by someone else, it is dried or burned. It becomes rigid and of course, if you try to change its shape, it breaks. You are not a clay pot. If you are happy with how you were molded and burned into a shape, then that’s wonderful! But if you are not, if that shape is making you miserable, then remember, You are NOT a clay pot.

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Nimna Perera

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