Walk the Walk
Sometimes the most difficult path is the one that follows your beliefs. There are so many extraneous sources constantly pulling you in different directions, competing for your attention, and masquerading as truth. In our “perception is reality” world, it's sometimes impossible to know what to believe, much less to consistently behave in a way that supports that belief. It's so much easier to follow the crowd, accept their truths, and avoid their judgement. It's so much easier to stay where you are and ignore the gnawing feeling that something isn't right versus striking out on your own into the unknown. It's important to remember that the one true constant in the equation is you. No one else is responsible for your happiness. No one else can make choices for you. It's a solid enough ideology, the subject of countless proverbs and wise quotes; but it's certainly not easy. Before you can make the best decisions for yourself, you have to know yourself better than anyone else. You have to understand what makes you tick – and even more, you have to understand how you tick. Cut through the emotion and understand the logic behind the emotion. Pause your instinct and study it, as if it were a malleable object suspended in time and space for you to review from every angle. The clearer you become on the “how” and “why” you respond to external factors, the more likely you are to remain true to yourself when faced with difficult decisions. This process of understanding yourself is meditation, and it takes time and practice. But the good news is, you don't have to sit cross-legged like a contortionist or an ancient yogi to do it. Anything that makes you feel safe to observe your thoughts and feelings without interruption is a form of meditation. You don't even have to be sitting still: walking, running, yoga poses, journaling, and praying can all be considered meditation. Try this: imagine yourself in a movie theatre, and your thoughts are moving pictures on the screen. Just watch your thoughts on the screen, notice your emotional or physical responses to the thoughts, then allow that scene to dissipate and wait patiently for the next thought to enter the picture. Avoid allowing yourself to get caught up in that emotion, just acknowledge it and move on. The next time you're in a situation with the external stimuli to prompt that same emotional or physical response you'll behave less impulsively. Enjoy the journey!