Which do you think is better, to be in control of our lives, or to be in alignment with our lives? I’m sure you can guess which direction I’m leaning, but it’s not always so black and white. When life isn’t going well or the way we want, we may want to change things, in other words, control things. For example, a lot of us wish we had a job that we loved, but the reality is many of us aren’t very happy with our jobs. We may experience thoughts like, if I had a different boss, I’d be so much happier, or if I had a job that made me more money, I’d be more comfortable, therefore happier. In other words, if I had more control in my life, I’d be happier.
I believe that our need to control things in our lives stems from either desire or fear. For example, if we grew up in poverty and we didn’t like to see our parents struggle, in an act of control we may try to earn as much money as possible to avoid putting ourselves in a similar situation. It’s extremely common for people who did not have much control growing up to desire that control as adults.
Alignment on the other hand isn’t about being in control per se, it’s about flowing with who you are. Let’s use an example to explore this further. Let’s say you currently don’t have a partner in your life, but you would like one. The desire to find a partner means you are currently craving control, specifically over your love life. So, you put yourself out there and end up dating someone who fills that void. After dating for a few months you start to ask yourself, is this someone I can really spend my life with, or am I just settling?
I believe that this is a common situation many people find themselves in, and the reason being is we seek control over our lives so much, but we don’t seek a sense of alignment or harmony with ourselves. In this specific scenario, we’ve allowed our desire to find a partner to outweigh our desire to be in alignment with ourselves.
You may ask yourself, how do I know if I’ve found someone who I’m ‘aligned with’ vs. someone who is simply fulfilling a desire? We’ll find that they improve, bring joy to, and add bliss to our lives, vs. simply filling the need for a partner.
When we’re in alignment, we flow with life. Let’s say you experience a lot of pressure from your family to go to college and get a good degree. As a result, you study Business, but you quickly discover that you really don’t enjoy those classes. You do however have an elective in art that you love and always look forward to. Even though you know that you like the art class more than the business ones, you still have that voice inside your head telling you that business classes will get you further in life and help you pay the bills someday. In other words, you’re in conflict between your head and your heart.
To be aligned with ourselves simply means to listen. If you have a strong, visceral reaction to something that is telling you “I don’t like this,” listen to it! If you find something that energizes you and makes you happy, listen to that information as well.
Recently for my birthday, I went hot air ballooning. I struck up a conversation with the people who controlled the balloon and asked how they got into it. One thing they all had in common was that they pursued a career in this because they loved it. It was in alignment with what brings them joy and their values. The reasons varied across the different people who ran the balloon. The crew for example liked the idea of doing this job that they loved, and finishing their workday before lunchtime. The boss of the company loved what he did, but also enjoyed the financial security that came from the job.
We can be in alignment in many different ways. I personally love art and traveling to different countries to experience it all over the world. But I have no interest in becoming a painter. I enjoy looking at art much more than creating it.
So how do we find our alignment with the universe?
Let me pose you a different question – how would you uncover a stranger’s alignment? You would spend time with them, ask them questions, and have them try out different things. It’s the same thing with ourselves. It’s important to explore different avenues and see which one sticks or calls to us. Once we find something that we like, we can take the next step and see if this is something worth pursuing, and sometimes the answer is no, which is also okay!
Again, alignment is about listening. Is this giving me energy? Is this bringing joy? Does this feel like something I genuinely like, or is it something I just want to be in control of? This process may take some time, and becoming more aligned with our inner selves won’t happen overnight.
For example, I have a friend who is a teacher that loves nature. He made a goal to spend more time in nature, and to make that happen he didn’t work as a teacher during the summers like he normally did. Instead, he got a job at the National Parks and worked there. During the school year, he started taking courses on park management and forestry, and a couple of years later he shifted his career entirely and is much happier. He is now in alignment.
Outside of our career choices, there are so many different ways for us to be in alignment with our lives. We can find alignment through our friendships, our daily habits, where we volunteer, and the list goes on. The first step in finding alignment is simply listening to yourself. And when you’ve found that ‘this feels right’ feeling, it’s important to remember that things don’t always go as planned because some things are out of our control. But again, we’re not striving for control. Once we strive solely for alignment, it’s okay when things don’t go according to plan. Because I believe when we align with our hearts, the whole universe conspires to help us.
One last thing to remember is that life is always changing. It presents us with new opportunities, and sometimes it takes them away. For example, you were an avid runner throughout your 20s and 30s, but now in your 40s, your knees can no longer handle that level of activity. Instead of pushing your body past its limits, you pivot and find something else that will bring you that same level of fulfillment.
Once we let go of the things we’re not in control of, doors you never knew were there will open. And I know that things won’t always work out the way we expected or planned, but I challenge you to instead look at these moments as opportunities. What new adventures could be before me now that I have more time? How can I open up my heart in a new way now that I have the space to do so?
And last but not least, finding our alignment starts with listening to our hearts and how our body reacts to things. It’s important to look inward and see what feels good, what feels right, and also what doesn’t feel right. We can then take that information and pour our energy into the things that bring us joy. When we spend our energy on things or people that we love, the world becomes a better place.