What is Faith?

For many years, I had a misconception of what faith was.  I used to believe that faith says, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  I had confused faith with hope.  Then, after awhile, this definition morphed into “I’ll believe it, then I will see it.”  While this definition was much more satisfying, eventually I came to the conclusion that I was setting myself up for potential frustration.  Here is why — what happens if what you believe will happen with 100% certainty doesn’t happen?

For example, suppose I want to be the first person to fly to Mars.  I could believe this goal will come true one day with all my heart-and-soul.  Yet, the vast majority of circumstances and situations we encounter in life are completely out of our control and we are thrust into these circumstances and situations as reactive or inactive participants.  There are so, so many moving parts involved in the intricacies of life that it would be foolish of me to believe that something will happen with 100% certainty simply because I believe it will.  There is also the factual, objective side of the ledger.  There could be many people far more qualified to fly to Mars than me.  NASA could experience a budget shortfall and end the Mars program.  And on and on …

So what happens if I do not make it Mars?  Can I live with this?  Can I still be happy?  Rephrased, shouldn’t I still be able to be happy even if things didn’t play out my way?  I believe this is the salient point of my current definition of faith.  My new definition says, “I’ll believe it, then I could see it.”  My new definition of faith first says to dream big and come up with your goal.  Maybe you want to fly to Mars, maybe you want that job promotion, or to get a PhD.  Maybe you want to have kids someday or have a beautiful marriage.  Maybe your goal is to make a million dollars and vacation every year in the French Riviera.

Regardless of what your goal is, you must dream big and then … do your best with all-out effort.  My definition of faith is not passive, it is intensely active.  If you don’t take any steps to initialize your faith, to back up your words with actions, then one thing is for sure; it’s almost a guarantee that you will not realize your goal.  Getting back to my Mars example, there a ton of things I could do to initialize my faith.  I could start taking courses in astrophysics and aeronautical engineering.  I could hit the gym every day and start training to whip myself into tip-top shape.  I could take a trip to NASA and make some friends, learn to fly, read books on the Apollo missions, etc.

Here’s the key point:

Faith says even though I want things my way, I am at peace with life’s way, because I will still choose to be happy regardless of the outcome.

Simply put, it is the process of the journey and not the destination that is the root source of happiness.  It is the sense of fulfillment of living your life by your values, from the inside-out, doing what you know in your heart that you were called to do.  I have learned in life that whenever your happiness is dependent on another person, place, possession, position — anything external to you and your soul — you are sowing the seeds for suffering.  If you cannot look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you can be just as happy and lead just as joyful a life not being the first person to set foot on Mars, not being the CEO of the company or a doctor, not being married and having kids, then it respectfully is time for you to have an internal reality check.

Always live big and reach for that goal.  If you are religious, believe in God.  If you are spiritual, believe in the Universe.  If you are agnostic or an atheist, believe in luck.  Regardless, and importantly, believe in yourself.  Fear is the opposite of faith so ignore the worry and negative thinking.  Be happy with who and what you are and the direction of where you are going in life.  Move forward and always have faith.

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