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You have already made that journey—many times, in fact. As a child, you hoped you would be a grown-up. In your 20s, you believed that it was possible. Now you know you are an adult. You hoped someone would love you; you believed in time that somebody did; and now you know that they do. If this natural progression hasn't happened, something has gone wrong, because the unfoldment of life is designed to follow from wish to fulfillment. Of course, we all know the pitfalls. Divorce generally means you didn't know if someone truly loved you. Children who grow up resenting their parents usually don't know who to trust. A hundred other examples could be offered.

But the important thing is to get you back on the path.

Step 1: Realize that your life is meant to progress.

Step 2: Reflect on how good it is to truly know something rather than just hoping and believing. Don't settle for less.

Step 3: Write down, on three separate lists, the things you hope are true, the things you believe are true and the things you know are true.

Step 4: Ask yourself why you know the things you know.

Step 5 : Apply what you know to those areas where you have doubts, where only hope and belief exist today.

I believe that when you truly know something, the following things pertain:

You didn't accept other people's opinions. You found out on your own.

You didn't give up too soon. You kept exploring despite blind alleys and false starts.

You trusted that you have the power, determination and curiosity to find out the real truth. Half-truths left you dissatisfied.

What you truly know grew from the inside. It made you a different person, as different as two people, one of whom has deeply loved and the other hasn't.

You trusted the process of personal growth.

You aren't afraid of your emotions. The truth always feels a certain way; uncertainty is queasy and gives off a bad smell.

You went beyond logic into those areas where intuition, insight and wisdom actually count. They became real for you.

I would say that these elements are universal. They apply to the Buddha but also any young person learning how to be in a relationship or finding the right purpose in life. By dividing the project into its components, the huge questions about life, love, God and the soul become manageable. You can work on each ingredient at a time. Are you prone to accepting secondhand opinions? Do you have a habit of distrusting your own decisions? Is love too painful and confusing to explore deeply? These aren't impossible obstacles. They are part of you, and therefore nothing can be nearer or more intimate. Moving from "I hope" to "I believe" to "I know" is nothing less than the journey of life. You don't have to buy a ticket. You were born with one in your hand.

Deepak Chopra, MD, is the author of What Are You Hungry For?: The Chopra Solution to Permanent Weight Loss, Well-Being, and Lightness of Soul, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center.

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