The most important thing that you can aspire to in this life is knowing what makes you tick.
Knowing what speaks to you.
Knowing what gets you out of bed in the morning.
Knowing your why.
Discovering your why—and then living it—is the thing that makes your life worth living.
It’s the foundation of love. The root of passion. The bond in your relationship.
It’s the central pillar of everything that matters.
Unfortunately, it’s also a difficult thing to find…
Because all of us are so different.
We can’t just look to the crowd. Or learn by example. Or borrow our why from some passing celebrity.
We have to figure it out the hard way.
And so unless we just fell off an assembly line… Or work our asses off in contemplation… We probably don’t know exactly why we do the things that we do…
We just know when we feel good. And when we don’t.
And that’s just enough knowledge to make life really, spectacularly—dangerously—mediocre…
All the Wrong Places
There are certain things that make all of us feel good…
Things like expressing who you really are.
Falling in love. Finding a relationship that clicks.
Spending time with the friends who really get you.
Or going on an exciting new adventure.
All good things…
But if that’s all we know…
If we don’t dig any deeper than that, and discover the why that sits beneath…
Then it’s easy to get caught up in simply looking for “more.”
More time spent in a relationship.
More time being social.
More time feeling good…
We go searching for excitement.
And discover some new activity, or new connection. And feel satisfied for a while…
But then the magic wears off, and the excitement fades.
And then we have to choose…
Do we settle in and settle—or go searching again for something more?
It’s the circle of (a mediocre) life.
Now, some of that energy drop is inevitable.
Some of it is just adrenaline winding down.
Novelty giving way to familiarity. (Which brings its own opportunities.)
But sometimes it’s a sign that you were never in the right place to begin with…
You want your life to feel fulfilling.
To feel like things are lining up.
Like the things that happen actually mean something.
You want to feel excited!
But that excited, feel-good feeling isn’t the root of what you crave.
It’s the byproduct.
It happens when your life is in line with your why.
When the people you’re with are living their why…
And when your why’s are in alignment.
That’s where real excitement comes from!
That’s what makes a relationship click.
You’re both doing the things that matter. And doing them together!
Your why is the difference between a casual friend—and a bond beyond blood.
It’s the difference between a love that lasts—and love that goes spiraling apart.
It’s the difference between an entertaining trip—and a sacred quest, that forever changes who you are.
But if you don’t know what it is, then all you can do is chase the feeling.
And hope you get lucky by looking in the places where you found it in the past…
In love. In relationship. In friends. In socializing. In adventure.
And those are all exactly the wrong places to look.
The Deadly Promise of Potential
We’re all social creatures.
Some of us more than others… but all of us are.
We love to engage, and share the things we care about with other people.
In fact, it probably steps beyond love, and into need.
We need to share our why.
And that makes us very susceptible to the lure of potential.
It turns the places where we found happiness in the past, into seductive wellsprings of opportunity.
And that isn’t good.
Because the thing is…
Your why can only be found within you.
Not in love. Not in relationship.
Not in adventure.
Only in YOU.
You can share it with another person.
And that may lead to a wildly fulfilling relationship.
And passionate, connected love.
But if you haven’t consciously found you why…
If you haven’t found your purpose…
Then it’s dangerously easy to shift the weight of that responsibility.
Instead of looking to your relationship as a space for shared values…
(By itself a healthy need!)
The relationship becomes the source of what you care about.
Or, at least it could be… The possibility is there…
The relationship becomes a well of potential.
And the weight of that responsibility will sink you straight to the fucking bottom…
A relationship is a place to share the lives that you’re already living.
A space to connect on the things that matter most.
And the more that your why’s are in alignment—the better that connection is going to be.
But your why won’t come out of that shared space.
It isn’t buried in the future of your relationship.
You have to find it in YOU.
And stay balanced in yourself.
Because if you don’t bring your why into the relationship with you, then you only bring your need to share it.
And that won’t sustain you. And it won’t sustain your partner. And it won’t sustain the space between you.
We’ve all been lost in a failing relationship…
Felt it slipping away—stomach in knots—and despaired over what’s to come…
(If you haven’t, you will. Just give it time.)
You can’t play in the deep end without occasionally going under…
It’s a horrible, shitty feeling.
But once you understand what lies beneath it, it isn’t quite so awful.
Just like there’s a common thread that runs through the high points in your life.
A why that connects the things that matter…
There’s a thread that connects the lows.
Stringing together all of the worst moments of your life…
And it’s the very same thread.
If you look at the times when you’ve been the most miserable…
When you’ve felt trapped and stuck and hopeless.
Like nothing matters. And like nothing is ever going to change…
You’ll find the times in your life when your why wasn’t just absent—it was inverted.
When you couldn’t share the things that matter most.
Or even live them in the first place.
That’s why those times were so horrible…
It’s what life feels like when it unfolds in opposition to your values.
It’s the threat of a life without your why.
It’s letting go of your why and leaning on your relationship… And feeling yourself go under when your love takes a step away.
(And examining those times is actually a pretty good way to narrow down what your why really is!)
That’s why you need to keep your balance.
In your life, and in your relationships.
And keep your focus where it belongs.
Your why comes first.
Because it has to.
It’s what sustains the love. And grows the space between you.
It’s what allows the relationship to exist.
And no, that doesn’t mean that you can’t immerse yourself in connection. Or put your partner first…
It’s not about being selfish, or keeping to yourself.
Or staying safe in the shallow end of the pool, and standing alone on your own two feet.
Go deep! Go under! Grab hold and give it everything you’ve got!
But when you feel yourself sinking, use that feeling as a wake-up call…
An indication that your balance has shifted.
When you feel yourself going under, ask yourself if you’ve been leaning too far forward?
Putting the weight of your life on your relationship?
Or succumbing to the deadly promise of potential?
And if you have, you can adjust and find your balance again.
It doesn’t mean that you have to leave. (Though you might.)
And it doesn’t mean that you should never look at the potential in your life.
You just have to be honest about what kind of potential it is…
Your why is the difference between a casual fling and a deep and passionate love.
It’s also the difference between a potential that opens the path in front of you… surprising you with one gift after another.
And the kind of potential that lures you in… and keeps your eyes fixed upon the future. Forever waiting on a promise that never, ever, delivers…
Your why is what makes the difference.
You should know what it is.
I opened this article by saying that the most important thing that you can aspire to in life is to know what makes you tick.
But that’s not the whole truth…
You have to find your why.
But the most important thing that you can aspire to is to live it.
No matter who tells you to stop. No matter how many people try to send you the other way.
Live your why.
As well as you can.
As true as you can.
For as long as you can manage.
With all of the amazing people, who will live and love the journey with you.
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About Zach Herbert
I teach people to do cool things with their consciousness, and break their brains with beautiful ideas.
Professional heretic. Unlikely mystic. Host to rebels, misfits and independent thinkers.
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