I used to feel anxiety so great that I froze and did not know what to do. Everything I did was wrong, not good enough or stupid. I never got anything right even though my mother constantly nagged me about what to do. I have developed a quiet confidence that everything will work out fine. Even when placed in a new situation, I no longer feel intimidated. My inner strength came from deep reflection about Life, and the purpose of human existence.
As a teenager, I was concerned about many problems, like war, poverty, diseases, corruption and injustices. I read extensively about the human condition, including history, philosophy and politics. Soon, I developed a very bad impression of Humanity. In fact, I felt that they are the scum of the universe. Why should I bother to connect with scum? Yet, the more I rejected Humanity, the more Humanity rejected me. Eventually, I discovered 10 beliefs that have changed my life and ended my struggle against Humanity.
The first belief is that Life requires nothing of us. It is we, human beings, that require something from each other. We require each other to fulfill our duty as citizens, employees, family members, religious followers etc. We require each other to fulfill promises and agreements. We require each other to fulfill our rights (since there can be no rights without obligations). There is no end to our requirements.
Yet the universe operates fine with or without our requirements. Even the desire for survival is not an absolute requirement, but our own requirement. What we require depends on what we value. A dog values his bones and a monkey values his bananas. We humans value material possessions, achievements, recognition etc. We have little interest in fighting with a dog over his bone, just as a dog has little interest in snatching gold bars from us.
Even if we require something from each other, we cannot carry our valuables with us when we die. Everybody must die someday. There is no point keeping a stash of treasures locked up in a tomb with our decaying bodies, when we have no means to use it.
This is why we can give ourselves permission to stop requiring things from other people, and to stop requiring things of ourselves. We owe nothing to the world, and the world owes us nothing. We own nothing in the world, and the world owns none of us. Every moment is a new time for us to choose and live what we now value, free from the constrains from the past and also from what other people think of us.
However, this does not mean that we can ignore all our promises and obligations. We must still live with the consequences of our choices and the limitations of our physical life situation. Even if we do not have to bear the consequences, we must still pay a price: “who we are”. It is not worthwhile to betray ourselves for a little material gain or whim of fancy.
The second belief is that failure/inferiority is in the eye of the beholder. We fail only because we judged ourselves and decided that we have failed or are inferior. If we value nothing, then we cannot fail since everything will be fine with us. Failure is helpful to guide us towards achieving our goals, but it is not real. Making failure real will only create unhealthy psychological problems. Therefore, we can give ourselves permission to stop seeing ourselves as failures, and to let go of our past perceived failures.
We can also let go of seeing other people as failures or as inferior to us. We do not know what Life has in store for other people, just as we do not know what Life has in store for us. We do not fully understand why other people chose something, just as they would not fully understand why we chose something. We would also not know the true meaning of the experiences other people encounter, just as we may not initially know why we experience something in our life. Therefore, judge not, for we do not see the big picture of Life. Freshly experience each new experience, free from the events in our past.
The third belief is that we see what we believe in. Quantum Physics has shown that even physical reality is “unreal”, let alone everything else. Since we perceive this world through our senses and mind, there is no fixed and objective interpretation of this world. Therefore, we must chose what we believe in carefully. Do we believe that a good son must always obey his mother? Do we believe that our religion is the only path to truth? Do we believe that we cannot afford to take any major risks in life? What we believe, we will see as truth.
The fourth belief is that we receive what we give away. We are linked to everyone else in the world. There is no such thing as “none of my business”, since everyone affects everyone else. Our global economic system is a good example of how interlinked we have become. However, there is a hidden process at work that is difficult to explain: what we give away comes back to us through the interconnected web of Life. Giving away something that we thought we lack also changes our mindset and shows us that we do not really lack that something. Therefore, we can give away what we treasure most (and this is not necessarily a material possession).
Yet, choose to whom and what we give away carefully and wisely. Do we wish to give a beggar $5, or invest in letting him set up a business so that he can stop begging on the streets? Which gift do you prefer to receive if you were the beggar?
The fifth belief is that we already have the answers to our problems; we have merely missed it. In fact, we may get more than we bargained for when the solution solves many other problems at the same time. Sometimes we do not realize that it is not necessarily that we want a car, when what we really want is fast and convenient transport. Sometimes, it is not more money that we really want, but a beautiful home in nature. It may not be the answer that is stopping us, but the question. Therefore, we can reflect on the question that matters, rather than the answer that we have yet to figure out. Exercising my power of creativity, of solving my problems in a new way, was what started me on my journey to self-awakening.
The sixth belief that we already have what we need. Human desire is insatiable, and we constantly find many things lacking in our lives. Yet it is our perception that is lacking. We have what we need to live at this stage in our life. As long as we are functional and able to live without betraying ourselves, this is good enough. We do not need to feel jealous of other people, since they also have what they need. Neither do we need to feel that other people are superior to us because they have more possessions or a higher status. How other people live their life is none of our business – our business is how we live our own life. Therefore, we can give ourselves permission to accept our life situation as it is now, and work within our power to change this situation towards one that gives us more room for self-expression.
The seventh belief is that there is nothing for us to do on Planet Earth. We are free to make what we wish to make with our life, and there are countless things we can do with our life. Hence, it is most important for us to live meaningfully. We can create meaning in our life by living for a life purpose larger than our own individual needs. Without a overarching Life Purpose to organize our life, we merely encounter a series of random experiences happening one after another. Hence, we can give ourselves permission to believe in and achieve what other people think is impossible.
The eighth belief is that Life is not a straight line from point A to point B. Rather, life is more like a winding river that takes many turns and twists. Since we may have conflicting goals and obligations, sometimes it is necessary to ignore some of them in order to fulfill others. Since we have conflicting instructions from different people, sometimes we must ignore some of them in order to obey the rest. If we insist on going straight towards our goals, we often find ourselves getting stuck in our Life Situation and unable to advance further. If we let Life take us on a few of the detours, we may find that we could achieve more than what we bargained for. If we let go of or change some of our goals, we may find that we succeed even more spectacularly in the end.
The ninth belief is that Life is an opportunity for us to grow our character. We may know that we are kind, but until we act with kindness, this is only a concept. We may know that we are courageous, but as long as we do not show it, we cannot experience it. Hence, we can give ourselves permission to live the Grandest Version of the Greatest Vision of who we are. Only by doing so can we realize the opportunities of life. Yet, growth is not easy. In order for us to achieve something, we must give up on many other opportunities. We grow our character when we experience the pain of losing something we value. A mature person must accept that the gains comes with the losses whenever he chooses.
The tenth, and very important belief is that everything will turn out perfectly. The worse that can happen to us is death. If we are prepared to die and live our lives with death in mind, we can place our trust in Life and let Life show us our next step. Therefore, we can give ourselves permission to trust in Life, and to end all anxieties by living with an unshakeable faith in Life.
These 10 beliefs have ended my anxieties and carried me through the darkest periods of my life. May they do the same for others too.