“Life is a game, play it; Life is a challenge, Meet it; Life is an opportunity, Capture it.” ~ Unknown
In order for us to experience a truly authentic sense of happiness as individually determined, we must live from the inside out. It is that sacred place we keep hidden on the inside of us that brings us joy. Living this out means becoming intimate with self and choosing to live organically from our core being. Some may be more familiar with the phrase, “to thine own self be true” by William Shakespeare which took on various meanings. Most of us are prone to have distorted vision and see things inaccurately. However, living in truth with who we are through creation can make life much better for ourselves. What our faith says first and foremost is to be true to God, not ourselves.
Normally, we live from the outside in which means everything that happens in our life dictates the way we live or what happens on the inside or what we ascribe to it. How we experience life is based on our evaluation and interpretation encouraged by our beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and past events. It is easy to get caught up living outside in when culture tells us who we are accompanied by the scrapes and bruises of life, then we claim it as our own. We begin to behave or act in a certain way that makes living outside in our truth. However, to be mentally and emotionally healthy involves living from the inside out engaging in the process of the life you want to live. Cherishing our growth and development instead of blaming circumstances or other people for the way we feel. Checking ourselves inwardly on a regular basis by turning the pages of our story or circumstances and evaluate the feelings it produces within us will help us to live inside out and make better sense of life or the life we want to live.
When we begin to live from the inside out, it will change the trajectory of our being. What was once a dying system becomes a more sustainable and flourishing system that will exude to impact not only our lives but others as well in a powerful and positive manner. Just as the apostle Paul acknowledges in Romans 7:24; “What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die?” (CEV), we must acknowledge this in ourselves. Further, David tells us in Psalm 23, “He leads me… You guide me…” indicating that Christ is the captain of our ship, not-self. Christ is at the core of our being and living inside out means He will guide us and lead us on the right path. Jesus said, “I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest” (John 10:10, CEV). How can we live life to the fullest unless we allow Him to guide us and lead us? Life is not about being true to ourselves, rather allowing Christ to lead us.
To get a better understanding, there is truth in our need to follow our heart, to pursue our goals, and to remain committed to those ideas we believe in. We are never meant to betray ourselves in an attempt to please other people. In that regard, we must be true to ourselves to avoid misery. However, the divide comes to play when we seek to live life in control or on our own with an emphasis on self or focus solely on engaging in a love affair with self. This engagement begs us to get over ourselves because self has become the basic standard for truth. Many inter-personal struggles are a direct result of these kinds of people being true to themselves. The Bible offers a radically different perspective; Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24, NLT). Therefore, 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (NIV).
When Jesus said, “deny yourself,” He was not talking about denying yourself something food or other pleasures in life. He meant deny “self-desire” to constantly climb onto the throne of your life or putting on a crown that He has not given you as many of us do. If you are a follower of Christ, understanding who dwells inside of you will lead you to a fuller life. Tap into Him and start living inside out! The key to living a full life is finding out what really matters to you, determining what you want, going after it full force, and allowing Christ to lead and guide you.
Your thoughts and actions are expressions of an inner sense of your identity, purpose, and intentions rather than simply being reactions to outer circumstances and events (Mark 7:21-22).
Experience a fairly steady state of well-being rather than a high-drama roller coaster ride and sometimes that may take quite a while (Proverbs 4:23).
Seek to achieve inner peace while doing your best to respond to people, circumstances, and events of your life with honesty, integrity, and kindness (John 16:13).
The Big Three Questions
What do you do on a daily basis with living a full life in mind? If you're struggling to think of anything, that's okay, you're not alone. Here's the thing – you aren't going to enjoy every minute of every day, bad things will happen, therefore, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4, ESV). So, if you are trying to determine what it is that you really want from your life and what will help you live a full life, then ask yourself these questions and rely on the core of your being to understand what you are trying to tell yourself. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9, ESV).
1. What Does Your Heart Want Right Now?
Right now, at this very moment – what do you want? Empty your feelings onto a sheet of paper and review it later. It might not make a whole lot of sense initially; it is essentially free writing to direct you. It is not about doing something because your brain is telling you to, it is about relying on God to lead you.
2. What Are You Feeling Right Now?
Follow the guidance of God and sense where you are being led, no matter where He may be guiding you. Emotions are not always wise, but your inner being is, so listen to your inner truth. This will help you filter out some of what you have written as you have let yourself flow onto the paper. It is part of the process required to make sense of what you have put down on paper.
3. What If It Is Different Than I Imagined?
Nothing is ever as you expect it to be. If you are truly following your purpose it will not matter whether it unfolds as you imagined, there is a good chance that it will be even better. It is important to remember, though, that even when chasing your dreams there will be bumps along the way. Life can never be perfect, but there is something about life's imperfections that make it worth living.
What Limits You
We all feel held back by assumptions and expectations at various points in our lives. We are comfortable in the box that we have created for ourselves, at least, that is what we tell ourselves. In truth, we have allowed ourselves to become trapped in a box with a trap lid. What assumptions could be limiting you from making progress in life?
I can't earn less than X to live a happy life
I'm too old for this
I'm not good enough
My marriage won't survive this change
I don't have what it takes
I don't have the necessary skills
I don't have anything to offer
I'm too tired
My life won't be better than this
There's nothing special about me
If you are considering something career-related, why not volunteer in a place related to that purpose? It is a great way to see if it really is what you want and get a better feel for things. Alternatively, you could shadow someone who is in the career you want for yourself and see what happens. If your purpose is not career-related, it should be much easier to launch yourself headfirst into it. When you are lying on your deathbed, those limits will not mean much.