Have you ever felt like booking a one-way ticket to Tibet or the Himalayas, never to return? Wouldn’t it be nice to live with friendly nuns and peaceful monks — to let the walls of a monastery protect you, instead of dealing with all the challenges we go through on a daily basis?
But before you book your ticket or quit your job, you should ask yourself whether or not a monastery will solve all your life’s problems, or just make them go away temporarily.
What if you didn’t have to travel very far to change your life?
Can you live like the spiritual masters of the East without getting rid of your worldly possessions and booking a one-way ticket overseas?
Here are nine practical ways to live like a wise soul in today’s world.
1. Accept change and fear less.
You likely hate flight changes, weather changes and life changes. But try to learn to accept changes, large and small, that come your way. Change isn’t entirely a bad thing — change happens to help you grow and become stronger and more resilient in the face of what life brings your way.
Your resistance to change makes you fearful, but what if it was a good thing? Change can bring different, better experiences into your life. Also, knowing that things will always change reminds you to appreciate what you have right in front of you.
2. Work without an agenda.
Are you doing your job so that you can get more money, move up the corporate ladder and have more responsibility? Well, a spiritual master would tell you to practice “karma yoga” or, working without attachment.
Do work not for any outward gain, but for the pleasure and joy that the work itself brings. Try to release your attachment to compensation or reward. Enjoy the work you’re doing for the pure pleasure of that work itself. You don’t need to do anything or achieve anything. Simply be who you are and show up to do that work in the world — that is your purpose.
3. Complain less.
You can’t change a lot of things in life, but you can change how you react to them. Embrace the changes with open arms and show gratitude for what you have in your life. Or, complain and scream at everything that doesn’t go your way.
Acceptance leads to joy and happiness. Complaints lead to bitterness and resentment. Choose wisely.
4. Live in the moment.
Emails, texts, instant messages, Twitter and Instagram … how do we keep up?
You can keep up with it all and drive yourself crazy. Or, you could choose to remove these things from your phone and live a more focused life.
Multitasking means reduced-focus tasking. Take on one thing at a time and put all your energy into it. Limit yourself in terms of your data and online world. Turn off your phone at night, or at least leave it in a different room.
When the past comes up in your life, let it go like clouds passing in the sky. Build up a mindfulness practice so that you can continue staying present and being here now.
5. Fewer expectations, more contentment.
Instead of expecting certain results, focus on the process. Let the results come as they do. Don’t be attached to results that only lead to disappointment and misery.
To be clear, have goals and dreams, but don’t attach yourself to them. Enjoy and master the journey to that destination — let the destination unfold as it does. Be content wherever you are and find contentment in the small things.
View the world through a lens of sufficiency, abundance and gratitude. You are enough. What you have is enough. This moment is enough.
6. See how you’re connected, not divided.
You’re part of one human family and one universal spirit.
As much as your ego wants to separate and divide you, the ancient master would remind you to seek understanding, compassion and love for others. Even more so with people who hurt you and harm you.
Your enemies are your spiritual teachers — forgive them and learn from them. Fewer grudges, more compassion. Less taking, more giving.
7. Accumulate less, simplify more.
Stop piling up your life with too many commitments or things. If you have too many relationships in your life and no time for yourself, cut down on your number of commitments. If you have too many activities and a hectic schedule, prioritize and drop the things that don’t matter.
When it comes to material things, remember that the more stuff that occupies your life, the less you can focus on what truly matters. Simplify your spending, your purchases, your closets and your life.
8. See suffering as growth.
You may view hardships as painful life struggles. That view is causing you mental and physical suffering, but can you learn to see suffering as growth? Can you see suffering, including the people who cause it, as spiritual lessons?
Are you suffering needlessly?Learn to accept what comes your way with love and compassion. Sit with your feelings and thoughts instead of resisting your experiences or the pain that comes with it.
Unlike what modern society tells you, you don’t need anything more to be happy. No one or nothing can come into your life and improve it. You cease to suffer when you realize that you’re not lacking anything, or that you don’t need anything more.
9. More truth. Less hiding.
The ancient spiritual masters would encourage you to show up in the world as you are. Yet you might feel like you’re not likable enough and try to put up a front. Or perhaps you might try to please way too many people.
Instead of putting on a façade or being a people-pleaser, be true to yourself. Get clear on your values and priorities, and live according to them. You don’t have to change your personality or put on an act to have someone love you.
Find the courage to be yourself, to say what you believe in and to do what you were afraid of.
“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.” -Swami Vivekananda