The expression “self-realisation” brings with it a lot of baggage. Some people associate self-realisation with illumination; others with religion and spiritual practices; even with the mystical.
Self-realisation is an innate desire shared by humans, every creature, every plant, every tree. In fact, all that lives has a desire to be the best that it can be. What does an acorn desire? It desires to be the very best oak tree that it can be. We all share that quality with the acorn, the desire to be the best we can be.
This is not something we get to choose; it is simply a fact − like it or not.
If we try to ignore this desire, this fundamental characteristic in ourselves, we avoid growth and invite dissatisfaction into our lives and we create unnecessary suffering.
Growing can sometimes be uncomfortable but it is deeply satisfying work. Happiness is simply the contentment of knowing that you are on a path of growth, toward your natural desire of self-realisation. It comes from an understanding that the process and the goal of self-realisation are one and the same thing. All life is my teacher.
We may fear what it is we have to face in order to grow; we might choose instead, to anaesthetise ourselves with drugs (I include alcohol in this), sex, social networks; there are many possibilities. We fear the work implied, so we may settle for being “comfortable” instead of happy.
The most common of these traps is confusing having a good time with being happy; they are radically different. Having a good time usually involves drinking to disconnect or avoid uncomfortable feelings. Being happy is the gentle effort to be fully present in your life.
Life has a bitter-sweet quality as do many worthwhile experiences. When we embrace this bitter/sweet aspect of existence, once we embrace and walk the path of growth of self-realisation, life is both more intense, miraculous, joyful, sad, and always more meaningful.