For as long as I can remember, I had the idea in my mind that I was supposed to do something special. Even as a young child I have a few faint memories of thinking, “I’m special. I’m going to do something significant.”
Years later, I’d realize that there wasn’t really anything special at all about that thought because we all have it at one point or another. We all believe we’re supposed to do something “big” with our life...that we’re special. Little did I know at the time, but that initial idea which was sparked in my mind would lead me down the path I travel today.
For the past eight years, I’ve studied feverishly with one goal in mind. Everything from books like Think & Grow Rich, The Millionaire Mind, and The Secret to John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, all books very popular in sales and commission-based business environments due to the focus around self-actualization, or realizing one’s potential, and money (a part of self-actualization, to most).
I’ve read just about every major self-development book you can name, from Tony Robbins' Unlimited Power to The Magic of Thinking Big. Later, I’d dive into Positive Psychology and the study of happiness and our overall well-being by reading the likes of Martin Seligman, Shawn Achor, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and others.
Lastly, I moved on to everything spirituality and worldly wisdom, eventually landing on Buddhism, most specifically Zen and the likes of Thich Nhat Hanh, Alan Watts, D.T. Suzuki, Shunryu Suzuki, and other teachers from The Dalai Lama and Pema Chodron to Chogyam Trungpa, and of course, the Buddha.
Each new book I read, each new talk I listened to, and each new person I studied, from the self-actualization arena to pure “self-development”, “well-being”, and “spirituality”, I got a little bit closer. But a little bit closer to what? It was always about fulfilling the need, filling the hole I felt inside of myself.
Whether it was monetary-based fulfillment, self-actualization, the happiness-based version of self-actualization (which is really what Martin Seligman’s Flourish was), or some deeper aim to fulfill something within me through spiritual practice, it was all the same one effort…
To realize freedom.
It was freedom, or peace (two sides of the same coin), which is what I was really after. Freedom from the conditions and habitual patterns which held me back and kept me from enjoying what was in front of me all along: this moment.
It took years before I realized that true freedom is what we’re all after from the very start. It just takes many different shapes, each “stage”, if you will, becoming a little clearer and more accurately defined, and each stage bringing a little more peace and happiness.
If I was to pinpoint the origin of This Moment, that would be it. That is, the path to realizing that we’re all after the same thing. We all want to realize freedom, we all want to discover true peace and happiness by coming to a place where we can live fully and freely in this moment of our life as it is.
That’s all any of us ever want, no matter what our efforts look like on the outside. But most of us lack clarity and this lack of clarity misguides us to pursuits such as the collection of wealth, fame, and power in an attempt to fill the void we feel in our hearts. But none of these things will ever fill us up, and until we realize this we’ll never become truly fulfilled and at peace.
You see, despite all my effort to “become my best self” as I used to refer to it, I was still intensely stressed, anxious, and unhappy. At the time in my life when it was worst, I was about to be a father and was already having enough trouble paying my bills and figuring out what I was going to do with my life.
How could I properly raise my son with these challenges in front of me? And with no resolution in sight? It was at that point in which I stopped looking on the surface and began to dig deeper.
I had finally realized after so long that I really had no idea what I was doing. My search for success and my efforts towards realizing my potential had led me nowhere but to more unrest and unhappiness.
I began to look at my original quest for self-actualization in another light. It wasn’t about being special or doing something special, success or realizing my potential, it was about being free and at peace.
Peace and freedom were what I was after all along, I just didn’t know it. I didn’t have the clarity necessary to see that and so all of my efforts were misguided and only caused me more suffering. This is so often the case for so many people.
From that point on, everything I studied was about the mind, happiness, peace, fulfillment, meaning, and really “figuring things out”. It was at that point that I began feeling a little like the Buddha, attempting to find an answer to the suffering I and others were experiencing.
Looking back, I see that many of us follow that same path. Some, the lucky ones, realize something is amiss and turn inwards, perhaps intuitively (if you’re reading this book, you’re on that path whether you realize it or not).
We become fed up with our life as it is, and see clearly that what we thought was “it” just isn’t working. It’s from there that we begin to search from within for the real answer to the question. That is, the question of how to transcend our suffering and realize true freedom, the one and only ingredient necessary for true peace and happiness to arise.
Fast-forward to three years ago, I had begun organizing my notes and research (which was mountainous, at that point) into Evernote with regards to everything that I had studied and the ideas which I had developed. What I had discovered, particularly through the practice of Zen, meditation, and mindfulness, had helped me not just get my daily life in order, I had altogether transformed my relationship with my stress and anxiety and brought a great sense of peace and contentment into my life.
I knew what I had discovered could help others, so I began contemplating how I could do that most effectively. It was one year later that I created my personal blog, Buddhaimonia.com.
I knew I didn’t have all the answers at that point, but I saw Buddhaimonia both as a platform for offering to others what I had found so far and as a valuable opportunity to start formally organizing and further developing my work on the subject.
I knew from my business experience that the best way to learn is to put yourself out there, with others, and to start an open conversation. The internet provided the perfect landscape for doing just that as well as doing it in a way that allowed me to grow it into a resource for others.
Two years later, in the present day, I’ve grown more through Buddhaimonia than in perhaps the entire rest of my life. Putting yourself out there isn’t ever easy, but bringing these ideas front and center so that others can utilize them in their own life as well as see what works and what doesn’t work, what was off the mark and what simply needed to be adjusted, has been invaluable.
As my own daily practice of meditation and mindful living deepened, I was able to communicate that to the community and in many ways, the community helped me grow and kept me grounded (thank you).
More from This Moment: How to Live Fully and Freely in the Present Moment
This post was an excerpt from the preface of my latest book, This Moment.
Living simply, mindfully, naturally, and with great love. Those are the 4 core principles of the book and they together cover what I believe to be the most important efforts in life.
Whether it's peace, happiness, freedom, or meaning, these 4 principles, and the many sub-topics within them, encompass a complete moment-to-moment guide to living a deeply nourishing, easeful, and joy-filled life even amidst the most difficult everyday challenges.
To get more information and purchase a copy, click below: