When I left my corporate career and dedicated my life to uplifting society, I learned so many wisdom lessons along the way that I wrote a book to share them with the world. One of the first transformative lessons was about commitment. Feelings come and go, but for life energy to flow in a direction, it’s essential to move with commitment.
So many times we give up too soon and sell ourselves short. The natural reaction when things get uncomfortable is to throw in the towel. That’s where commitment comes in. As my Guru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says: “What creates a river? The banks on either side. When you don’t have commitment, the water flows everywhere with no direction.”
In our lives, commitment serves as the banks to channel our creativity, talents, skills, and energy toward what we want to accomplish. When we complete our commitment, we are in integrity. When we drop our commitment, our wholeness breaks, which doesn’t feel good. The greater commitment we take, the greater energy and power nature provides to fulfill that commitment. Commitment creates expansion in our life and makes it magnanimous. It’s a law of nature that more will be given to you when you utilize what you have already been given.
If you prefer convenience over commitment, it’s only because it seems easier. The truth is that our nature is to expand. Living life to its full potential means striking a balance between commitment and convenience. This was never more obvious to me than when I quit my job and moved to Colorado to restart my life. I thought I knew what it meant to be committed, but my perception was about to change in a big way.
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Increased resilience and compassion in the Middle East
Before I dedicated my life to being of service to society, I had a luxurious lifestyle. I was a corporate executive who could travel first-class to anywhere in the world. I had a good family, good friends, and plenty of disposable income. Life was good — or so I thought. When a close friend of mine died and I went through a difficult divorce, I found myself wanting more out of life beyond the mundane. So, I quit my job and moved to Colorado. As I would later tell people, I downgraded my position to upgrade my life. For the first time, I was truly stretching and expanding my comfort zone to fulfill my commitment to realize something greater than myself.
This was never more true than when Sri Sri sent me to the Middle East. I’d traveled all my life, but I’d never been to the Middle East. I was sent there to start something new with a few people who promised one thing and then delivered something else, so the rules of the game changed. I also had to learn to adapt to the culture and understand it. At times, I had nowhere to stay and no transportation. At one point I had no money coming in while things sorted themselves out. Still, I had to find a way to fulfill my commitment to share with others what I’d learned about how to be happier in life.
By remaining in the Middle East instead of returning to the familiar comforts of home, I became so much more resilient. How did that manifest?
I found new ways to overcome the challenges I was facing. Despite the language and cultural barriers, I was able to connect with others. Challenging personalities didn’t trigger me the way they used to in my old job. So instead of giving up when things got tough, I dug in and did the work — and I’m so thankful I did.
I was able to touch a lot of lives and my own life became more fulfilling as I developed a new perspective. I saw firsthand what others were going through in another part of the world and what they struggled with, which increased my resolve to stay the course. My skills both as a teacher and as a leader moved to a new level as I moved beyond inconvenience in order to maintain my commitment.
When I wanted to give up, faith kept me committed
Were there times that I wanted to give up? Absolutely. When I first started out in this new chapter of life, I went from living in a beautiful home to living with people who I’d never met in order to keep expenses to a minimum. These kind people were members of my organization, but still, we didn’t know one another and now we were sharing a home for months at a time.
As a business executive, I was used to getting things done on my terms and in my own time. Now I had a strict schedule I was expected to follow and I was even more accountable. I was no longer in a homogeneous work environment. The people I was working with didn’t all share the same education, background or skill set. I was interacting with people from every walk of life: people who had been in jail, titans of industry, royalty, people who were very odd, students, and more. It was a level of diversity I never could’ve imagined.
My buttons were regularly pushed not only in the Middle East but for many years. This is the job of a true Guru. Sri Sri took responsibility to dissolve all that is small inside of me so that I could become unshakeable. At one point, I wanted to leave. I literally put my stuff in a box and said, “This is not for me. I want to go back to my former lifestyle. I’ll still be of service to society because that’s my nature, but I’m not going to do it like this.”
That’s when Sri Sri gave a talk about faith that I’ll never forget. He said that we must have faith that the Divine is taking care of us and that without this faith, you cannot progress in life. My stuff was packed and I was ready to go, but as I listened to that talk, I reflected on times I’d given up and told myself that the situation or the people were the problem, not me. I realized I had merely been uncomfortable in those moments because things were inconvenient or unpleasant. Here I was, about to make the same mistake again.
I decided to stay and honor my commitment. When we take on a new responsibility, more will be given to us by nature, the Divine, to support us. By keeping that faith, I became stronger, more resourceful, more resilient, and more patient. Stretching beyond your perceived capacity increases your capacity. The greater the commitment you take on, the more will be provided to you. Otherwise, it’s like stuffing our big self into a small box. It isn’t comfortable.
The growth that happens when we honor our commitment, grow our capacity, and receive more from the Divine gives us a much richer experience of life.