Searching is half the fun: life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party. – Jimmy Buffet
What are you looking for in life? We are all looking for specific things, such as happiness, creativity, love, and fulfillment. But the ways in which we search for these things and how we define them can vary a lot. Let’s examine what you are searching for and what you can do to find it through a series of questions that will guide you in this journey.
You have a lot, so what is still missing?
In this journey, the first step comes with the question of what is still missing. You can consider the things you have. Sometimes, as happens in many stories and also in many people’s lives, we already have what we want, we just don’t acknowledge it fully.
The first step is to practice gratitude and give yourself the opportunity to recognize and cherish what you have. Are there things that you like, appreciate, and value? Start here, and perhaps you will note that your life is fuller than you expected. But if not, ask yourself: what is missing?
A good second step is to pay attention to the things that evoke negative emotions. If you see another person in a happy romantic relationship, what do you feel? If it makes you feel negative emotions, then it could be showing that it’s something you want but don’t have.
Jealousy, envy, anger, frustration are all feelings we are used to ignoring. Sometimes, we might even feel guilt for, say, not being happy for a friend who published a book, got a promotion, or started their own business. But we can put a more positive spin on this experience by using this as a signal. If we don’t feel good, one of the possible explanations is that we are seeing something we want but don’t have yet. Look at your emotions as a compass that will guide you towards what you want.
What makes you unhappy about your current situation?
But you can’t focus only on other people. You should also take the time to examine your own situation in-depth. Consider what aspects of your daily life and your routine make you unhappy. Maybe you feel bad about your job or about your personal projects. Identify the elements that do not seem to be working.
Think about the things that make you feel bad about your life. Decide what is the thing that seems to add the most to your happiness and chart a plan for shifting and changing the situation. Decide what you want to focus on first.
What did you dream of as a kid?
There are childhood dreams that might not be very applicable in adulthood, like becoming a wizard. But others can point you in the right direction. Maybe you are missing an important element of your life that used to mean so much to you.
Consider the things and activities you enjoyed as a child. Who were your heroes? What topic were you obsessed with? Perhaps your life needs a little more of that, and it will pave the way for you to discover exactly what you need and want or what could make life more meaningful or more joyful.
Remember what matters
You can focus your life on what’s important for you and see whether your priorities match your values. It could be that what is missing is living a life with more intention and more focus.
Consider what your central values are. What are the things you hold in a high regard? That is usually not the toughest question to answer. However, asking yourself whether you are actually giving these values a place in your life is harder. You might need to check whether these values are actually present in your life and, if not, make adjustments. Often, this is the missing ingredient for a more purposeful experience and can provide a whole new dimension to daily things. It’s like opening a window and seeing things that are familiar from a new angle.