What do you want in life?
Since my multi-month-long vacation has ended, I’ve been back to work and in a steady routine again. Which mostly includes work. Also featuring a healthier diet, regular gym visits and occasional reading and writing. It feels like months since I’ve picked through a book. I’ve currently been reading ‘the monk who sold his Ferrari’. A nice story-style personal development book. I must admit, over the last few years I’ve started to see personal development books more as mental masterbation than anything else. Spewing the same ideas again and again. Thankfully, I’ve actually put into action at least one of the lessons or suggestions from the book. Meditation.
I’m not new to meditation. I randomly took a university course on mindfulness and positive psychology in my academic years. And a good chunk of the class had to do with meditation. But it’s been a while since I regularly practiced. Highly recommended, it’s a great way to answer the question of ‘what do you want‘ for yourself.
Is meditation good for your health?
Now, to get to the point of this post. There’s something about sitting in silence or to the soft hymn of a guided audio track / monks chanting, and focusing on nothing but your breathing that gets the mind working clearly. Since I’ve been regularly practicing I’ve come to realize something that’s been said for centuries and is pretty much a cliche at this point; Much of what you want or need is already within you. Now stay with me, I know it’s not a new concept. But perhaps reading how I arrived at the realization for myself can help you see your situation in a new light.
It’s like personal development books; they all say similar things. But the unique method of delivery can sometimes spark something within you. And that’s what we’re all after, isn’t it?
To help you understand how I asked myself ‘what do you want?’ and I arrived at the conclusion; I already have what I was looking for. I need to bring you back a few months to a trip to the Philippines.
Should I travel to the Philippines?
July I visited the touristy island of Palawan in the Philippines. Yes I did the tours, patronized the party hostels and put my liver through hell. I also rented a bike to drive to each of my destinations over the entirety of the trip. There were many stretches of 4 or 5 hour long drives, making my way through tiny villages many people either sleep through or don’t get the connection of smiles when you drive slowly by on a bike or stop for food or water. Something about how happy each person was that I saw, or how friendly every local I spoke to was, made me truly fall in love with the country. And man, these people were poor as I’ve ever seen human beings. Living in tiny huts along the road. No running water, having power seemed 50/50. But they seemed to have so much joy and happiness.
At one the hostels, I spoke to an older man and he told me of his travels, living in Lao and buying school supplies / equipment for villages deep in the jungle to help them. Just out of his own pocket. He said it was the most rewarding feeling he’s ever encountered.
What do you want? It it true happiness?
From this trip I learned the highest level of happiness is found through giving back to others. Sex, drugs, money, power, success.. these are fun and invigorating. But the buzz wears off, some sooner than others. True lasting happiness is achieved through giving back.
I came back from the trip with a new outlook. Wondering how I could start to give back. Start a charity? A gofundme? Start throwing part of my investment money each month in a worthy cause? I’ve had a few opportunity to give money away to others who need it more over the last few months. Tried to spread this message to other people that would listen when I had the chance. And I still plan to orchestrate a way to support the Philippines in a way that won’t go to a corrupt government or charity that barely uses proceeds for actual help.
But while meditating, I realized I already have a way to give back and help others. And many at that. Each week my presence touches over 800 children. Helping them to understand a new language that can help them to also travel the world and make further impact. I couldn’t believe I’d never truly considered this.
Teaching ESL is a great way to make a difference in the world
Truth be told I still have a hard time considering myself a teacher. My primary motivations for teaching aren’t because I love kids. But now I realize I have within my grasps a way to meet my financial goals, ability to see the world as I’ve always wished and make an impact altogether.
Over the last year I’ve been deep in my head considering my next move, to get out of teaching. So I can start working on my life’s mission. While all along I may have had what I was looking for. Financially, I am able to save what’s comparable to the starting salary of the professional position I was originally planning to pursue after teaching. (And after 4-5 years of further education and low level experience gathering). Travel wise.. What other job allows you to travel 2-3 months a year?
Seriously, why am I trying to get out of something that offers me everything I am looking for?
The future remains unseen
I don’t know how far I will take teaching English. But I do know I have the ability to use my current position to make a difference if I wish to. So I suggest to you to start meditating. Or start doing something you’ve been thinking about for awhile. See where it takes you.
I also challenge you to look into your own situation, ask yourself what do you want? And to really notice how green the grass is on your side of the fence. And if you already have what you are looking for.
I would love to hear what you find in the comments. And if teaching English abroad interests you, please contact me to see if it’s possible for you.