Shallow Living: An Occasional Visit on the Way to a Deeper Purpose


Here in the States, we’ve become a culture that looks more and more outside of ourselves to “know” who we are. Social media hasn’t really helped us work through this skewed value system. In fact, in 2017 research by First Choice revealed that more than three-quarters of today’s youth would like a career in online videos as YouTubers/bloggers/vloggers, according to a survey of 1,000 children aged 6 to 17. The top reasons being: creativity, fame, self-expression, money, connecting cool people, recognition, travel. While it’s good to access one’s own creative nature and self-expression, it seems to be at the expense of altruism, service to others and a greater, deeper purpose.

The problem with such superficial goals is that they don’t really hold up over time. No matter how hard we may work to seem successful, to show how “perfect” everything seems from the outside, something will still be missing. That’s because approaching life from the “outside-in”, one can never really fill-up. You will constantly be chasing that next new thing, thinking it’s going to be the thing that makes you more happy, more successful, more wealthy, etc.

Approaching life from the position of “inside-out”, though, is quite different. This is the place where you slow down and take a moment to reflect about yourself and the world. It’s the time when you look outside of the box to see the truth of what is, not some prescribed script of a societal norm. But how do you get to that higher place within Self? How do you begin to transform from being focused on the external world to your authentic inner Self?

Transformational practices will bring you closer in to a deeper existence. They can take many forms. These include consistent contemplative practices like meditation and yoga, somatic therapies, time in nature, creative arts, healing ceremonies and ritual, devotional prayer, and non-violent martial arts, like tai chi and aikido. These practices embody the virtues of compassion, loving-kindness, gratitude, forgiveness, altruism, honesty, and joy, seeing the bigger picture and being connected to a higher divine force.

As we begin to take on these practices, we begin to challenge the long-held belief systems. This new way of seeing outside of the status-quo and stagnation, can bring up some challenging feelings. It may feel like a big risk, but then anything that is worth moving us out of the safe zone and transforming our lives in the highest good, always is.

Mostly, whenever we step outside the familiar, and the comfortable, we take a healthy step forward. Letting go of the old self as the new one emerges, is truly part of the cycle of life. We weren’t meant to play it safe and constantly be distracted in an artificial world. That’s not why we are here. We are meant to grow bigger and grander within the divine Light through the deeper exploration of and healing of Self. This is a risk worth taking, don’t you think?

Tanya Vallianos, MA, LPC, ATR, NCC, EMDR III, EAP II is a psychotherapist in private practice in Fort Collins, CO. She can be reached at or 970-420-9504.