man holding an umbrella protecting him from sparks from a fire
Image by Lakshan Costa 

Over time, you will form an intensely personal relationship with this beautiful inner force. It will replace the relationship you currently have with inner pain and disturbance. Now peace and love will run your life.  ~ MICHAEL A. SINGER, THE UNTETHERED SOUL

You’re late for a doctor’s appointment. In the mad dash to gather your keys and wallet, you find that your phone is missing. Frantic, you run around the house yelling to the members of your household, “Gah! I just had it! Does anyone see it anywhere? On the counter? In the bathroom? On my desk?” After a few minutes of searching, you realize it’s in your hand.

You’re giving directions to your friend as he’s driving and you’re navigating. “Turn left here,” you say. As he begins to turn left you call out, “No! Left!” He shoots back, “This is left!” With a cringe and a sheepish grin you reply, “Oops. I meant the other left.”

You’re about to leave a friend’s house, and you’re looking for your glasses. After a few minutes she asks what you’re doing. “My glasses. I can’t drive home without them.” She replies with a smirk, “Um, you’re wearing them.”

What’s your typical response to situations like these? If you’re like me, you laugh. But what about the deeper things we’re looking for, beyond the mundane?

innerself subscribe graphic

To paraphrase the spiritual teacher Gangaji, everything we need or seek is “closer than close.” It’s hiding in plain sight. That’s one of the great cosmic jokes.

When I first heard the term “cosmic joke” in my spiritual studies as a teenager, I delighted in the nuanced wisdom of those two words side by side. They spoke of something big, something important, but also something inherently funny—maybe even absurd. When it comes to seeking purpose and meaning, could the biggest cosmic joke of them all be that what we’re all really seeking is ourselves?

The Biggest Cosmic Joke

You are already that which you seek. So goes the ancient wisdom, a wisdom that many of us have a hard time wrapping our heads around.

The famous Zen interpreter for Western audiences, Alan Watts, put it like this: “The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet everybody rushes around in a great panic, as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” [Alan Watts, The Culture of Counter-Culture]

Case in point: the self-help industry is a multibillion-dollar industry, which proves that we are on a constant search for something—for truth, for purpose, for meaning, and for happiness.

But coming back to the cosmic joke, those things can only be realized within you—as you. And the more you search the more lost you become. Seems simple enough, right? Maybe too simple. Maybe that’s why the cosmic joke was unknowingly lost on me in those formative years.

However, although spiritual irony was also (mostly) lost on me at sixteen years old, I at least got that there was something inherently amusing about the counterproductive effort toward enlightenment. Probably because I was consumed by counterproductive attempts myself—I just didn’t know it.

Hardcore Spirituality

When I was in high school, I remember coming home from a weekend meditation retreat completely determined to be the most realized meditator on the planet. I’m not kidding. Committed and driven, I militantly meditated for forty-five minutes at 4:00 a.m. and at 6:00 p.m. every single day for six months.

I don’t say “militantly” lightly. There was nothing graceful or compassionate about my approach to achieving an equanimous state of consciousness. “I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right, and it’s going to work.”

Looking back, I laugh at myself for my hardcore meditation strategy in the same way I’d laugh if I were to discover the missing twenty-dollar bill that I’d been searching for all day in the back pocket of my jeans. With a light heart. I have compassion for myself for falling prey to the cosmic joke and for being blind to the fact that it applied to me.

My Inner Opposition

My journey through an eating disorder, and the other breakdowns and breakthroughs of my life, led me to realize that my inner opposition stemmed from a single source—a belief that I wasn’t good enough. But the eventual eye-opening discovery of that negative self-belief wasn’t enough for me to break free.

In fact, this discovery had the opposite effect. It kicked me into high gear. The way in which I tackled meditation at sixteen years old was the way I tackled transformation and freedom. “I have to be diligent . . . I have to work hard to change my thinking . . . I have to change everything about my ways to overcome this debilitating belief. And then I will be free.”

Paradoxically, my misguided but well-intended approach to personal transformation kept me from the peace and fulfillment I knew was my birthright. Yet despite all my effort, I knew it all still boiled down to choice: I was the one continuing to harbor this belief, and I was the only one who could do something about it. This conundrum—the awareness of the power of choice merging with my inability to choose otherwise—kept me spiritually hungry and dedicated to find a way out.

Maybe it was “the way out” thinking that held me up in my twenties. I had yet to discover that the only way out was through, through my own conceptual delusion that freedom exists in a paradigm where I need to earn and prove that I’m a complete human being. It took me about fifteen more years to truly understand that coming back home to the truth was not something to be gained through trying, that it could only be realized through present-moment knowing. We are already that which we seek.

Once I discovered the profound difference between believing and knowing—and chose to know, not believe, my enough-ness—I found my home in the joy, ease, purpose, and fulfillment that has been my true nature from day one. And that is my invitation to you. The final delib­erate choice of an always-on-purpose life is Choice #5: choose to know, not believe, your worth.

From Inner Opposition to Calm Clarity

Awakening to your unconditional whole­ness clears your path of drama. In the space once consumed by inner opposition resides a calm clarity, peaceful presence, and meaningful joy. What emerges is time and energy. That’s magic. Magic without fanfare. Which is both a big—and not-so-big—deal. Why? Because, after too much struggle and pain, you’re finally stepping into the life you were born to live, the life your soul has known and held a torchlight for since the day you were born.

But your heart has known it too. And your mind has probably had an inkling of the possibility. It’s just been impossible to figure out how to be free in the paradigm of belief. And rightfully so, because we can’t figure ourselves into this transformation! So instead, let’s honor those knowings and follow the inklings by embracing five extraordinary choices.

Five Deliberate Choices to Realize Fulfillment and Joy

Choice #1: Choose to feel it out, not figure it out.

Your soul is speaking to you through the language of inspiration. Lis­ten to your mind but follow your heart. It knows the truth. This journey transcends the intellect and aligns your most expansive inklings, inspi­rations, and knowings to the path of least resistance, which is the path of most abundance, which is the expression of your best life. And while there is no absolute path to find or formula to follow, this is your unique journey, which you alone get to create. To do that you must . . .

Choice #2: Choose to know that there is no way things—or you— should be.

Drop the word “should” from your vocabulary and notice how much easier life is when you let go of this idea that there is some imaginary standard you need to adhere to. There is no big book handed down from the sky that details all the things you must do to live the good life. Release the weight of “should” and focus only on what you want and what is true. You can do that when you . . .

Choice #3: Choose to know that it’s always working out for you.

Even when it doesn’t seem like it! Why entertain anything else? Rec­ognize the fertilizer that each manure moment is and focus on the blossoms that will inevitably sprout in your life. Powerful growth comes from the contrast life provides, so honor and appreciate the opportunity to know what you don’t want so you can know what you do want. Honor the opportunity to know who you aren’t so you can claim who you are. Now, how do you do that?

Choice #4: Choose to know that you are already complete.

You always have been, and you always will be. Have compassion for yourself for having taken on a few wonky beliefs in order to stay safe from rejection. Be easy on yourself for being practiced in surviving them. Knowing your completeness is a moment-by-moment practice, not a one-time decision for all time. Have fun with it. Don’t demonize your split self when you find yourself entertaining a false belief. It happens to all of us! Instead, get excited for the chance to choose truth again, and again . . . and again. Even when it’s hard. And when it is really hard . . .

Choice #5: Choose to know, not believe, your worth.

Believing requires proof. There is no amount of evidence that will ever prove yourself complete. Knowing your truth is a choice in claiming your worth. Unconditionally. Knowing is a choice. Once you choose to know your worth unconditionally, it’s just so.

All good things take time. Giving birth to a new thought, action, habit, and even a new life requires a gestation period. You’ve been in a gestation period. Living with inner opposition has developed within you a determination to break free from false perception.

Has that deter­mination led you to decide it’s time for a metamorphosis? If life has led you to that decision, now is the time to act—to choose. These five choices are your pivotal moment of change.

Copyright 2022. All Rights Reserved.

Book by this Author:

BOOK: Living on Purpose

Living on Purpose: Five Deliberate Choices to Realize Fulfillment and Joy
by Amy Eliza Wong

book cover of Living on Purpose: Five Deliberate Choices to Realize Fulfillment and Joy by Amy Eliza WongMany people from all walks of life, even after their many accomplishments and experiences, are often plagued by feelings of dissatisfaction and deep questioning. These feelings may lead them to wonder if the life they are living is the life they were meant to lead.

Living On Purpose is the guidebook these people have been waiting for. This book shows readers how to feel more connected to the people around them and how to be truly satisfied by the life they’re leading. Written by transformational leadership coach Amy Wong, this book will help shift readers to a mindset of possibility and freedom. 

For more info and/or to order this book, click here

About the Author

photo of Amy Eliza WongAmy Eliza Wong is a certified executive coach who has devoted more than 20 years to the study and practice of helping others live and lead on purpose. She works with some of the biggest names in tech and offers transformational leadership development and internal communication strategies to executives and teams around the world.

Her new book is Living on Purpose: Five Deliberate Choices to Realize Fulfillment and Joy (BrainTrust Ink, May 24, 2022). Learn more at