My commute anywhere involves religious use of GPS navigation. Yes, I was capable of driving from point A to point B before GPS was even a thing, but GPS has made it so much easier. I don't get lost, I know the most efficient routes, I'm aware of traffic that may slow me down, and I'm alerted to hazards like potholes. I've come to depend on GPS navigation for good reason -- it reliably gets me to where I want to be. There's another reason I like GPS. Some years back, while I was driving to work in Los Angeles, the GPS navigation voice said, "At the intersection, turn right," which made me think of the famous last lines of Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The moment Frost's beautiful lines came to me, I felt very quiet. Not the quiet that comes from a sense of calm but from something being amiss. I had read and dissected that poem many times in high school and heard it alluded to often through the years, but thinking of it while driving with GPS on felt like I was hearing the lines plainly for the first time, and somehow it made me uneasy. It didn't take long for me to understand why.
The poem is about the path we choose in life, and the purpose of a GPS is to navigate you to your intended destination. The melding of those two things in my mind led my inner voice to ask, "Are you on the right life path?" It's a common question we all ask ourselves frequently, but seldom do we acknowledge that we already know the answer. That's because we don't think of the answer as definitive and concrete, but more as an abstract notion involving many possibilities and we hope the right one will come along. But, if we think of ourselves as we do our cars, finely tuned machines that serve as vehicles to deliver us to our desired destination, then we should know that like our cars we have an innate, highly developed sensory navigation system that can lead us to our proper and desired destination; our destiny.
There's no machine as complex and advanced as the human body. Through evolution, there have been many upgrades and the current model is the most sophisticated we've ever known. So it only makes sense that we've evolved an instinctive navigation system that guides us as we navigate life. That biological GPS has many labels -- heart, soul, intuition, spirit, conscience, gut, instinct. And like the GPS in our car, our spiritual GPS alerts us when we're about to take a wrong turn somewhere. The remorse we feel when placing blame, the guilt we feel when taking something that doesn't belong to us, our satisfaction when doing something good and meaningful are all our intuitive GPS alerts. Those feelings are our guiding senses. They're steering us toward the right path and away from a seemingly easier, but wrong detour. Every day we're guided by our sense of right and wrong and this highly evolved instinctual GPS helps us make the choices that will lead toward our best self.
So on that warm Los Angeles day as I drove to a job I didn't love, I knew in my heart of hearts that I hadn't been following my internal GPS. I had veered off course somewhere and hadn't righted myself. Had I understood how dependable and accurate my inner GPS was when I was at important intersections in life, from choosing my college major to making career choices, I may be on the right path now -- my path. The one I knew would lead to what I wanted and where I should be.
Instead, I chose paths socially deemed as good ones that led to socially lauded achievements, like jobs with impressive titles and salaries, which weren't really on the route charted by my GPS, the one unique to me and meant for my soul. And boy, were there alerts along the way when I started veering off my course. Those alerts took the form of being unexcited, unfulfilled, and too often, unhappy. Whereas the journey on my own path, however challenging at times, would have still felt right because I'd be heading toward where I knew I needed to get to. But as I strayed, I didn't heed the alerts. Instead I continued to progress off course and navigate further away from my path. Sometimes I ended up in territory so foreign to my soul that I felt ambivalent at best. While that feeling can still sustain you for a surprisingly long time, it doesn't ever nourish you.
That moment on my morning commute was an epiphany and those are rare. I couldn't waste that moment and dismiss it like I had like many earlier alerts. Five days later, I bought a one-way ticket to Boston. I didn't have a job lined up or even a place to live there yet, but I had been to Boston earlier that year and knew it was where I needed to be. It was the place that would place me back on my path. In about a month after the day of my epiphany, I would leave for my new city and my new life. My family tried to dissuade me and many thought I was being impulsive, but I listened to my gut, and that has made all the difference.
We all have awareness and a sense of what we want in life. We already know what feels right and is the right direction for each of us toward our own happiness. So listen to your soul's GPS and seize upon your moment! Get off that errant path you've been led on for far too long and follow the one your heart has been guiding you toward all along.
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