Harvard-trained psychiatrist, Dr. Shelley Uram shares her theory on how we find out what we really want in life. Our innermost desires have been lost along the way and Dr. Uram helps to break down the barrier in our minds to identify the genuine desires versus what most people think they want most, such as money, success, more free time, getting married. etc.
In order to achieve complete satisfaction in our lives, we must be happy with what we’re doing and continually move toward our happiness. Essential Living focuses on finding what that happiness is. Dr. Uram writes, “The Essential Self (our most real state of being) was around way before any thoughts or emotions were present.” However, society’s pressures and what our culture has made us believe is the correct way of living has hindered our natural ability to recognize what is right for our individual needs.
Dr. Uram guides readers in finding a sense of peace, happiness, love, and a sense of freedom. Some of the benefits to reaching our essential self are:
• An increased sense of well-being
• An inner stillness
• A greater sense of inner peace
• A greater sense of connectedness with others and with life itself
• More loving of self and others
Most of us have taken an indirect path to what we want most; Dr. Uram explains how that happens and shows readers how to get on a direct path to their ultimate goal. Exercises are incorporated throughout Essential Living to help readers learn, retain and progress more quickly.
SUAVV: What is Essential Living about?
Dr. Uram: At birth, our identity is one and the same as our essence (Essential Self). As the thinking brain areas mature, at around 3 months old, we begin to discern that we exist. The survival brain areas react strongly to protect that newly found me. The “voice” of survival circuitry is far louder than the Essential Self voice. We soon forget who we are at our essence. Our personality and lives develop around and through the fear- based survival circuitry. I refer to this as the “false self.” By our teen and young adult years, most of us have long forgotten our true nature. We suffer greatly from this. Finally, we look at possible ways to reclaim our Essential Self.
SUAVV: What in your professional and personal background led you to write this book?
Dr. Uram: Personally, I sustained a lot of trauma in my formative years. This made me acutely aware of my own suffering. Professionally, I have seen suffering in most human beings. When our identity becomes attached to the “false self,” it is impossible not to suffer. True freedom can only come from re-identifying with our Essential Self.
SUAVV: Does our culture even recognize that concept of an Essential Self?
Dr. Uram: Although some religions do, our culture does not. Most of us become convinced at a young age that if we succeed at certain accomplishments, e.g., having a family, work or financial success, etc, that sustained peace and happiness will follow. It does not. Peace and happiness are an inside job.
SUAVV: Are you saying we should not strive for success, money, etc?
Dr. Uram: No. By all means, seek whatever it is you want. But realize that if your underlying belief is that you will reconnect with your Essential Self through these successes, you will likely land up disappointed. There is an exercise towards the beginning of the book that helps the reader become clearer about what they truly most want. This is usually different than what they initially think.
SUAVV: You mention in your book that many people with terminal illnesses come to these same understandings on their own. Can you explain that?
Dr. Uram: Many of the people I have met or worked with who were terminally ill naturally began to ask themselves these same kinds of questions. For example: “Who am I?” “What do I really want the most?” “Am I living my life in alignment with this?” etc. As they begin to dig and find the answers to these deepest of questions and motivations, many of them express regret that they had not asked themselves these same questions years earlier. So I say to the reader of this book: Why wait until you are dying?
SUAVV: Is the guidance to reclaiming the Essential Self the same for everyone?
Dr. Uram: No. The game plans that I outline in the book can be applied to each person in an individualized manner. The game plans would depend upon how each person’s brain functions at its baseline. For example, as was the case with me, many people first need to calm the brain before they can shift the “spotlight” of attention from the outside world to the inside world of the Essential Self. Other people don’t need to first calm down and can proceed differently.