Imagine you just sat down to eat at a new restaurant in your neighborhood that everyone has been raving about. Your best friend sits across from you, and you can’t wait to dive in.
The waitress pops by with a big smile and introduces herself as Cheryl. She sets two waters on the table and gives you both menus. You look at the menu for a while but are more excited about catching up with your friend than you are getting specific about your order. A few minutes later, Cheryl comes back and asks if you’re ready to order. “Yes, I’m so hungry!” you say. “Great,” she replies. “What will you have?”
“Food. I would love some food.” Cheryl looks at your friend, then back at you. “OK. What can I get you?” she asks, holding her pen to her notepad. “Food,” you repeat. “And if you can hurry, that would be great.” At this point your best friend chimes in with her order of the seared scallops.
You look around the restaurant, noticing the people at the table next to you are enjoying their salads with fresh, colorful vegetables and an avocado dressing you can smell from your seat. “Yum,” you think, licking your lips as Cheryl walks away with a puzzled look on her face.
“I wonder when the food will come,” you think. I really need it. Everyone else around me has food. I hope mine comes soon.
Before you know it, Cheryl circles back with your friend’s scallops. It smells amazing. Your stomach rumbles. You look at Cheryl and ask where your food is. “I’m really hungry,” you say. “I need some food, and I need it now.”
She looks slightly panicked and returns several minutes later with some cold rolls. Suddenly, you’re upset. Why did you have to wait so long? And why did you get yesterday’s bread? Why aren’t you enjoying a delicious salad with avocado dressing, looking just as happy as the man to your left?
What is the fatal flaw in this story? You didn’t specifically ask for what you wanted. You stated a need: hunger. You thought about what would satisfy that need: salad with avocado dressing. But you didn’t ask for it. Why? You were too busy focusing on the need and the timing.
This is the lesson I want to share. How we get so caught up in how to get all of these things that seem to be making other people happy instead of taking time to get really get specific on what it is that we really want. I call it focusing on the when and the how instead of the why and the what.
The good news is, the why and the what are actually the easy parts. It’s the when and the how that sends us into fits of anxiety. Let’s dive into two powerful techniques that will help you to change the projection simply by changing the projector.
1. Get specific on what you want and why you want it. You knew the whole time that you were hungry and therefore wanted food, yet you continued to sit and declare your problem but not the desire you had that would fill that need. If you had asked for a salad, you would have gotten a salad. Do you want a partner? Great! What kind of partner? A man or a woman? Your age or a bit older? Someone who is structured and loves planning or a more free-spirited, go-with-the-flow kind of person?
2. Take inspired action. I believe that your desires are divinely inspired, and inside of those desires are the keys to bringing them into the manifest. Your desires are nature’s way of indicating to you where it’s trying to use you to deliver your fulfillment. We want to be co-creating with nature. When we get these desires, it is our job to bravely, boldly, and quickly take action.
3. Release your attachment to the when and the how. According to the Vedas, your happiness exists in one place and that is inside of you and in one time and that is right now. So many of us get caught up in “I’ll be happy when” syndrome, swearing that everything will be perfect once we get that next zero in our bank account or that ring in our finger. But the truth, you’re already living the dream.
Easier said than done, right? Well, meditation can help. Having a meditation practice gets you more in-tune with your deepest desires and helps you think clearly and creatively about how to achieve your goals. To begin a meditation practice of your own, click here to test drive the first 3 days of our flagship meditation training, zivaONLINE.
This article originally appeared on mindbodygreen.