How Can I Find Out What Give Me Joy and Meaningfulness?

You always start with the present moment. You start with where you are rather than trying to get away from where you are.

I suggest, when you travel to work every morning, that you enter the state of presence rather than drifting off into thinking. Be there every moment, whether you’re driving or taking public transportation or walking to work. Absolute presence.

And when you’re at work, do one thing at a time and bring in spacious moments as much as possible. It could only be a few seconds. One spacious breath after you’ve made a phone call. And then when you go to lunch—again, present with every movement.

So you use what otherwise would be a “boring situation” as the background for presence. Ultimately, you’re not looking for some satisfaction in the work but you bring a different state of consciousness to it. In a way, your work situation becomes like an excuse for practicing presence. And you’re lucky if you have a relatively boring job. It gives you a great opportunity for practicing. If you had a very stressful job that kept you in a state of excitement all day long, it would be more difficult. So be thankful if life has given you something relatively boring.

Now as you learn how to use the situation as the background for presence, often the discontent disappears—and that is the mark of true surrender. If there’s discontent, of course, there’s still not complete surrender. For example, you’re still thinking, “I’d rather be somewhere else,” or, “How many more years till retirement?” You’re losing yourself in past and future and you’re carrying the burden in your mind of past and future, missing the opportunity of the present moment because “it’s not interesting enough!”

Practice and you may find that if you come into alignment with the present moment, you feel more alive. Even within routine activities, there is then an added dimension of aliveness that comes in and you perform the activities with a greater sense of aliveness. It is often then that change comes into your life.

When you align internally with the present moment instead of trying to get away from it, power begins to flow through. That’s why I call it The Power of Now. It’s the power of life itself. It begins to flow through you.

At first it flows into your routine activities, and the way in which you relate to your colleagues becomes more present or somewhat different. Some people may notice it. Others may not. And so, gradually the universe or life notices that you are in a different state of consciousness and often it is then that change comes into your life—either through a chance event or a chance encounter or a sudden idea or realization that comes into your head one morning.

Now in what way change comes into your life, we don’t know. It is much more likely to come in, but you no longer depend on external change for your inner state. That’s the main thing. Even if nothing else came into your life, you would continue practice until your last breath and your last breath would be a conscious breath and you would have fulfilled your purpose on this planet in this form, which is to be the vehicle for consciousness to come into this world.

So, you don’t depend on anything. Change is more likely to come, yes, but the presence practice is not a means to an end. You’re not practicing to say, “Okay, I’ll practice but if nothing happens within six weeks, I’ll stop practicing.”

To all of you who are bored at work: Make it into a spiritual practice, a consciousness practice. “Bored at work” also means you’re not particularly challenged at work. In the absence of life challenges, there’s always the danger that you will fall below thought and you might find yourself in a routine that you think is acceptance but you’re really falling below thought. Then you go to work and there’s a decrease in your sense of alertness and aliveness. That’s not surrender or presence.

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Author Information

Eckhart Tolle

Spiritual Teacher and author was born in Germany and educated at the Universities of London and Cambridge. At the age of twenty-nine a profound inner transformation radically changed the course of his life. The next few years were devoted to understanding, integrating and deepening that transformation, which marked the beginning of an intense inward journey.

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