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“What you seek is seeking you” is a quote from the noted poet and philosopher Rumi (1207 to 1273). But what does it actually mean? And how can you apply it to your life?

Trying to wrap your brain around the words, and getting nowhere right now? Well, let’s take the words of noted poet and philosopher Madonna (1958-eternity) who said “beauty’s where you find it, not just where you bump and grind it.” Maybe not as profound, but she was kinda talking about the same thing. Honest.

Because contained within those words of wisdom (the Rumi ones more so than the Vogue lyrics) could be the key to a happier life!

“What you seek is seeking you” is a quote attributed to the Sufi mystic and poet Rumi, who has been a superstar of Eastern literature since the 13th century. (And you thought Harry Potter was a bestseller.)

Since the late 20th century, he’s also been getting more recognition in Europe and the United States, as people find meaning in his words, digest them, and apply them to their own lives. Or just put quotes on IG with a swirly font. Whatevs.

You might still be thinking, “but I don’t quite understand it?” or “is this some kind of hippie sh*t?” And that’s OK. You’re not going to have to do an in-depth retreat in Goa to link this phrase to your own life, and you can interpret it in pretty much any way you want.

But in its distilled form, the phrase basically means that if you seek happiness and work towards it without putting a megaton of pressure on yourself to achieve it, you’ll actually find some pretty real contentment. And that sounds pretty awesome, right?

It’s also similar to some concepts that you might’ve already heard of, like the Law of Attraction. This theory says that your energy attracts similar energy, so if you have a negative mindset about something, it’s more likely to fail or become a generally miserable experience. The book/film “The Secret” also explored these ideas.

An example

A good example of “what you seek is seeking you” and how it can make your life that little bit more awesome lies in potential careers.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re facing redundancy from a company that’s either gone bust or downsized due to the pandemic. You might even have loved the job or taken pride in it, but events out of your control have left you a little bit f*cked.

Never fear! As long as you’ve been performing well, you might well get headhunted for an amazing opportunity elsewhere. Or, you might use your redundancy package to support yourself for a couple of months and get your own labor of love off the ground.

At the very least, your experience at your place of work allows you to open another door elsewhere. And although there are very obvious cogs turning — another company needs a certain kind of employee, you’ve developed skills that fit the bill, and they find you because you’ve done the work on your social media page — it can very much feel like this opportunity has dropped out of thin air at just the right time.

So, “what you seek is seeking you” is a way to reassure yourself in darker, more chaotic times that something wonderful and life-affirming is just around the corner.

So, people use the concept of “what you seek is seeking you” to find purpose in life and true happiness. Groovy.

But how the heck do you actually go about it?

Links to meditation

Let’s start at the start — before you find that happiness, you’ve got to identify what it actually looks like. And meditation can be a pretty good way of doing that.

You don’t have to be a meditation pro. You can simply find a quiet, safe place where you can relax, and completely tune out. Shut your eyes, turn off your phone, and visualize where you want to be in life.

Your immediate reaction may well be “a private beach in the Bahamas” (right there with ya, buddy). But try to look beyond that. Ignore short-term wants and desires or any obligations that you might have. What will truly make you happy in your everyday life? A certain job? Living in a certain place? Being nearer to your family?

If your mind is too busy, or meditation just isn’t your thing, try making a list of things that make you happy and see which you’re most drawn to.

But do give meditation a try. Aside from finding that potential path to happiness, it can be pretty rad if anxiety or depression are blocking your thoughts. It can also help you find balance.

You don’t have to be the best at meditation. It’s just important to spend a little time with yourself.

Defining a purpose

Whether you engaged with some meditation or already have a clear sense of what makes you happy, you can use that to find your purpose in life. Sounds pretty scary and final, right?

The nifty thing is that it doesn’t have to be — if you’re following the philosophy of “what you seek is seeking you”, then your purpose is already calling out to you. Think about those things which make you happy, whether it’s being with children, painting, or playing in a band.

Which one is really standing out in your mind and making your heart do a happy dance?

Listen to your inner voice and your intuition. Painting is calling you? Then that might well your purpose in life: to paint and be happy doing it. If you follow that calling, it’s more likely to lead you to happiness. Even if it doesn’t end up being your ultimate calling, it’s enjoyable for you, and you’re doing it. So, what’s to lose?

Don’t stress over it, though: that’s completely counterproductive to finding happiness. Keep it fun! No one made a rule saying that you can’t change your purpose in life if you suddenly discover something else you love. Your purpose will find you, and you don’t need to get anxious about tracking it down.

Shaping our to-do list

Now that you’ve spent a little time honing in on what your vision of happiness looks like, it’s time to fill in the blanks! While, yes, “what you seek is seeking you,” you’ve still got to make sh*t happen. Mary Poppins doesn’t just show up for everyone.

Listening to that inner voice and trusting that your purpose will find you, lets you cut out the crap and streamline your to-do list. That job doesn’t contribute to your end goal? Focus on finding another. Want to take some online courses, but not sure which one? Well, which one benefits that end goal?

Remember that even small actions can produce big results when you know what you want out of life. It’s all progress toward your vision of a happier existence. Let your purpose sketch out a plan that guides your to-do list. It’s way easier to blast through a list of daily chores if you know which part of your happiness you’ll work toward by doing it.

So, say you realize that being a YouTuber or Twitch streamer would make you happy. Your to-do list might involve messaging people about vlog collaborations, buying podcasting gear, or researching ways to boost your subscribers. You might have videos to put together or scripts to write and edit.

You don’t need a super-detailed plan. You can just let it flow, see what happens, and gauge where life takes you. Have ideas, and take action on them. As long as you’re enjoying it, it doesn’t really matter how long the journey to your end goal actually takes. Ticking items off the list not only gets you closer to what you seek, but it also just feels pretty damn good.

See how much you’ve achieved, and put together a few ideas as to what your next step toward happiness looks like.

Not worrying so much — and surrendering to the universe

Ahh, the expression “no pain, no gain.” The misconception that to get something good, we need to struggle and fight like a pissed-off honey badger?

Welp, let’s not get in touch with our inner honey badgers, because does that sound fun to you? They’re not even the cutest brand of badgers (Shout out to polite British badgers. We see you.)

Life is meant to be enjoyable, right? If you follow the philosophy of “what you seek is seeking you,” you’re trusting the universe to deliver that end result to you without all that extra stress by approaching life with the right attitude and energy:

  • You don’t have to worry about finding happiness because you’re already enjoying the journey.
  • You’re not struggling to be in control and feeling helpless when you’re not.
  • You can be patient because you trust that you’ll get where you need to be.
  • You don’t doubt the process, because you truly believe that it’ll happen for you.

If you can find meaning where you are, you don’t have to go digging for meaning like… well… badgers.

And there may well be speed bumps (and the occasional failure) in the road. Don’t fear them: Use them as learning experiences that actually help you towards your goal by teaching you what not to do.

“What you seek is seeking you” can have an entirely different meaning to each and every person. But we all understand the concept. After all, isn’t everyone looking for the things that’ll make them happy? And isn’t it super f*cking draining most of the time?

Just breathe, enjoy where you are, and take the blessings that come your way.

Practice meditation, which can help you stay present in the moment. Or, just give some serious thought as to what you want your purpose in life to be, and you’ll be more likely to recognize exactly what your crazy version of happiness looks like, rather than trying to hunt it down and stress yourself out.

You can streamline your life and cut out the other stuff that doesn’t give you that warm fuzzy feeling.

But the main thing is to relax. Let happiness come to you by approaching life with an open mind and exploring every avenue that interests you!

Have fun! (Especially if you’re a honey badger. Seriously, chill out.)