What Do You Want?
by Art Ramsay, Ph.D.

 Almost twenty years ago I was asked by a seminar teacher, “What do you want?” and the words that immediately left my mouth were “inner peace”. Over the years since then, I have asked myself the same question while creating my dreams and setting goals. It is a question that is asked in seminars where people are seeking something in their lives, usually self-discovery. What seems peculiar is that not many can answer the question. Can you? In the moment, those that do attempt to answer usually spout out a bunch of things they don’t want.

 In our hectic, job-oriented societies we often lose track of who we are and what we really want in life. There is plenty out there to offer, but where are the takers? We cannot move forward unless we have a destination. Haphazard living leads to haphazard results. The old saying is that ‘if you continue to do what you have always done, you will continue to get the same results’. Which means that nothing will change in your life until you change your day-to-day habits.
Do one thing different for the next couple of weeks and see if you notice a difference in the way your days flow.

 Of course, the above saying applies only to those who care about making changes in their lives. It seems that most people are perfectly content to continue to live as they are whether they like it or not. People get stuck in their ‘comfort zone’ and are afraid to leave it, even if they do want something new. But changing your habits is only a piece of it. To get what you want, you must first know what you want. Most people, if they thought about the question for a few minutes might say that they want more money, or a new house, or a better job, or a relationship that works. Again, they are only haphazard desires that pop up when someone actually considers the question. They are surface desires, or sometimes needs, something to fill a current perceived void.

 While asking people what they want usually occurs in success-oriented seminars, it certainly applies to every facet of our lives. My focus in this article is to look at our spiritual lives, which really drives everything else whether we notice it or not. After “inner peace” rolled out of my mouth years ago, it became a subconscious desire, moving below my current awareness. Even though I continued to work on my spiritual life, the inner peace aspect really didn’t surface again until 2006 when I graduated from a peace seminary as a minister of peace.

 You have something lying beneath the surface as well, we all do. Some subtle, yet passionate desire lies dormant waiting to be awakened within you. Get into a quiet, relaxed mood and ask yourself “what do I want?” and write down the first thing that pops into your mind. Then let the question percolate, then write down and consider other answers when they appear. Ask that question just before you fall asleep at night and see if something comes to you in the morning. Many times asking a question just before sleep when our minds are quiet triggers some buried aspect of our lives that rises to the surface upon awakening.  

 Most of the time, it takes a bit of work to narrow down what is really important for us to bring forth when we have decided to do that. Over time, each of us probably can make a long list of things we would like to have in our life, but there is that one thing  we have so much passion about that it tops the list. What is that thing, skill, event, service, or creative element that would change your life if it suddenly appeared? How would it change your life? What would you do if it happened right now?

 Most of us think that we are just here to live a ‘normal’ life with nudges occasionally prompting us to go here or go there, and do this or that. But is it why we are here, really? Most, especially those that have become more spiritually aware, would look for something more. What is that deep longing within you that speaks so loud sometimes? When we are not so busy, when quiet dominates our moments, there is a ‘still, small, voice’ that calls us to a deeper understanding of why we are here.

What is it that you came to this life to complete? By asking the question, “what do I want?” you may reveal a facet of your life that has remained hidden most of your life. By daring to delve deeper into life and taking steps toward something else besides your daily lifestyle, you open a door. That door has been closed for too long. It is time to step through it and begin, or go deeper into, your inner journey of self-discovery.

 An exercise that might help spark some insight to what I have been saying here is this – write down what you want to be doing 10 years from now. This may take some consideration and time, but try it. Then write down what you want to be doing 5 years from now, then one year, then 6 months, and finally 90 days. By working backwards you can see what steps need to be taken to get to the next place in your life you would like to be.

The above is merely a way of carrying out getting the answer to “what do I want?”, because the answer lies deep within your psyche; it is not superficial. There is something calling you to be more, to look deeper, to consider why you are here and what you are doing about it. Take some time and consider what is written in this article. It may well be the beginning of a life-change that will propel you into the most rewarding activity you have every experienced.


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