The ingredients aren’t hard to obtain, but the trick is knowing how much of which ingredient to add and at what time. ~ David Thorton
Have you ever prepared a dish only to realize too late that you left some vital ingredient out?
Maybe it was the sugar in a batch of cookies or the yeast in a loaf of bread. Everything seemed great until you took a bite and suddenly the missing ingredient was glaringly obvious.
Life itself also consists of recipes, even if allowing for liberal innovation to them. There are recipes for success, for example, with certain vital ingredients to achieve it. There are recipes for great marriages and good health and lasting happiness as well.
The Vital Missing Ingredient
But to some degree or another, we’re all missing some of those vital ingredients in the mixture of our lives. We live life on the verge. We’re nearly where we want to be, but not quite.
Very often, we’re doing all we need to do … except that one vital thing that will make all the difference.
It’s not that everything in our lives is out of whack. We’re simply missing a key ingredient: the sugar or yeast in the recipe. Often, all we need to do is to make that last change, start doing that one thing that leads to dramatic growth and improvement.
Here are a few examples of what I mean:
A strong and vibrant spiritual life needs certain things to flourish. Certainly, we can meditate and pray and serve others. Those are important parts of a rich spiritual life.
But like sugarless cookies, it’s missing a key ingredient when we don’t set aside time on a daily basis to read from spiritually uplifting and inspiring literature. The difference is palpable. We’re simply less in tune, less plugged into the divine.
We can eat all the right foods and work out every day. But if we miss too much sleep for too many days in a row (which happens on occasion to most of us), it doesn’t matter how many vitamins we pop, our bodies feel the difference. The vital missing ingredient needs to be added in the right amounts before we can feel our physical bodies operating at peak performance.
We can be the brightest optimists and the most positive thinkers, but when we allow something like impatience to get the best of us, our happiness will be predictably lack-luster. We feel it inside. We’re less happy, more often.
And while the ingredients to a well-rounded and deeply fulfilling life may be baking up pretty well for you right now, when even just one vital ingredient is left out of the mix, our lives can simply come out tasting a bit underwhelming (professionally, socially, emotionally or otherwise).
What’s Your Missing Ingredient?
Chances are you already know what that one missing ingredient is that if applied would notably change your life.
For some, it may be overcoming a fear or having a regular date night with their spouse or working out regularly. For another, it may be ending procrastination, forgiving a parent or learning the art of gratitude.
But in each of our lives, often sitting right under our noses, we have that one thing that can begin to change the trajectory of our lives. Add it, change it, start it or stop it and life will shine brighter than it has in a long time.
You Control the Recipe
Never let anyone make you feel like something is lacking in your life just because someone else has something you don’t or has more of it. If you prefer a cake without frosting, don’t frost the cake!
There is only so much time for so many things after all. To take your game to the next level in one area of your life may very well mean that you’ll be spending less time in another.
So be sure you’re clear on what you value most and whether any of those values are out of sync with first principles. Identify your priorities as you talk to those who will be affected by any changes you want to make to them.
Then, if you feel it’s the right recipe for you at this time, start adding the missing ingredients. But remember that you can choose not to add an ingredient as well, even if others are claiming it to be vital. But also remember that the missing ingredient will affect the recipe.
Beware of Counterfeit Recipes
Have you ever looked through a recipe book and spotted a photo of the perfect dish, then followed the recipe religiously and the thing ended up looking nothing like the photo? Sometimes we get images in our heads about what life will be like once we mix in a few ingredients as well. The we’re shocked when it doesn’t match the picture.
Here are a few examples of common mismatches:
- I’ll be happy when I find Mr. or Mrs. Right.
- I’ll feel good about myself when I can afford this house or that car.
- I’ll finally feel complete when my parents apologize or my spouse changes or my wardrobe improves.
- I’ll fall in love with life when my soul mate falls in love with me first.
- I won’t feel so lonely once I have kids.
This is only a tiny sample of false associations that can lead us down self-defeating paths, so be crystal clear about what is truly missing. Then identify the obstacles and rewrite the solutions around them.
And then, as you start to mix in the missing parts, over time, you will come to see that assumptions you’ve made about your own limitations have been wildly exaggerated, that you can fashion an amazing life of accomplishment, love, passion, meaning and joy by just a few tweaks to the recipe you’re currently following.
If life for you seems rather bland, or is not quite where you want it to be, if some aspect of your life (your finances, marriage, social life, character, happiness) is lackluster, chances are you’re not missing much.
It may very well be just one small part, a single step, a single omission, one ingredient that’s missing. Figure out what that ingredient is, make the proper adjustment, and watch what happens!
- So, what’s the missing ingredient in your life?
- And what are you doing about it?
- I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.
About the author:
Ken Wert is a personal development blogger at Meant to be Happy where he inspires readers to live with purpose, act with character, think with clarity and grow with courage. Sign up for his free eBook, A Walk Through Happiness! Connect with him on Twitter.