Given the recent surge in 'TOP 10 everything under the sun' lists, I too felt like coming up with a list of 10 items. 'Top 10 parenting skills' and 'Top 10 dog names' came to mind, as I had previously written about parenting and keeping a dog, albeit in separate articles.
However, as soon as I thought of those topics, my mind discarded them as something else intrigued me more. Closer to the end of the year, perhaps as a new year's resolution, the question that I pondered upon was: is there any purpose to life, and if so, what might it be?
Based on that, a list of 10 things that I believed in came to mind because, you see, prior to figuring out your life's purpose, you must believe that there can be such a thing as life's purpose.
Thus, here I share my top 10 beliefs, in no particular order:
1. I need to love myself
For that I first need to be myself and then like myself. I must stop being harsh on or judgmental about myself or others. And I must stop blaming myself, or others for my life's perceived mess.
2. I need not simply be who I am, but who I am meant to be
For that I need to do away with all my 'baggage': cultural, religious, societal, capitalistic, and consumerist notions about pretty much everything. In order to get to my core or essence, 'stripped of everything, who am I really?' is the question that needs to be addressed.
3. I need to let my mind be still
Only then will I be able to reflect on my life and where it is headed. During this reprieve I exercise regularly, eat healthy, drink lots of fluids; I rest my mind frequently; I pause to look at flowers, trees, squirrels, clouds, the sun, stars… perhaps easier said than done, but I make a conscious effort. It reminds me of my insignificance. Yet, when I am ready for 'change', I can look upon mountains and feel strong enough to move them as well.
4. I need to be happy
Contrary to popular belief, the pursuit of happiness is not overrated. Therefore, I seek out what makes me happy and then pursue it, irrespective of fears of failure, rejection, or regret. Even when faced with challenges, I remain happy and I accept and learn to deal with them because they help me grow.
5. I need to acknowledge my darkness
And that it is there for a reason. Light would not be light if it were not for darkness, and vice versa. Opposites make up the whole. If I cannot entirely let go of the dark side, then I need to control it, versus the other way around.
6. I need to be one with nature and people
I can truly love nature unconditionally, and she loves me back in a similar manner. And be one not just with 'my people', but people of all kinds, nationalities, cultures, religions, genders (or lack thereof), and ages. I can only do this once I stop being judgmental and superior.
7. I need to stop fearing life and death
I need to love life. Recall that life is a gift, perhaps the greatest gift of all, hence, I must not wait for it to be taken away from me. So I live life, love life, live love and love love– all in the here and now. That moment will either create my heaven or it will create my hell. But I can choose what I need from that moment. Living in the moment is 'what is', so why to worry about 'what if'. And that is how I stop fearing death.
8. I need to attract positive with positive
That is one way to become the flow. I need to be like water: a positive life force as well as a positive flow. Water does not resist, and it will not be resisted by hurdles – it simply flows around or through road-blocks. But then water can be destructive too. Therefore, too much positivity is also not good as that can sap and zap me as well as those around me.
9. I need to distinguish between true passion, an escape, and 'just fun' activities
Because my purpose or calling in life is likely tied into my passion. For instance, reading books, although a fun time-pass, might be a temporary escape from my daily reality. But it's not a passion. Writing might become a passion, but it does not pay the bills. So, finding a passion that I can tie into my daily routine at the workplace might make me achieve or reach a 'career high'.
10. I need to find a teacher
Once I find a teacher or two, I stick to him, her, or it, as long as the need be. Only I can know who my teacher is. In my journeying, I might come across books (as teachers), either recommended by someone, or I might just stumble upon them myself. If I approach the 'right' books (poetry or prose) in a certain way, then I can get a lot of understanding of life and love. And I get signs or indication of my progress towards a purpose. But that process is hard and long. I must be patient, and I must not force reading upon myself, because that will do zilch. The best kind of learning is experiential – I learn from my own experiences, trial, and error initially, but then with increasing accuracy. My most sustainable teacher is myself and my core beliefs that have been stripped of conditioning. My best teachers are life and love.
Post-script: The author acknowledges that 'Top 10 needs' or perhaps '10 things to strive for' might have also been appropriate titles too for this essay, although that would have lacked creativity. He also acknowledges that this list of 10 beliefs has helped him move closer to his life's purpose.
Published first in the Express Tribune.
About the Author
Although a pediatrician, ER physician, and researcher by profession, Asad’s proclivity to writing is his means of creative exploration and expression. His articles on health, education, children, humor and popular culture have appeared in newspapers in the US and in Pakistan. Other than the Biloongra series of bilingual books for children, he has authored 'an itinerant observer' a book of short stories/essays first published in the US in 2014, and then updated/reprinted in Pakistan in 2020 by Bookgroup.