Shamanism, you could look this up, is the world's oldest religion starting up between 10,000 and 5,000 BCE. Hinduism and Taoism come in next from about 5,000 to 2,500 BCE. From at least 2,500 BCE Taoism is documented as saying "It all comes down to doing the right thing in the right way" (or words to that effect). We have known what it takes-- all that it takes for 4,500 years! And this is the best we can do (Looking around, palms up, disgusted expression). What? It is only about doing the right thing in the right way in each situation as it arises! This is not beyond any of us! It's like litter. It is a problem that is completely up to us and totally doable. About 500 BCE, Lao Tzu grew disenchanted and walked off into the woods to live out his days in the company of the birds and animals. It hasn't gotten better in 2,520 years. I don't know why.
It helps to believe in what we are doing-- in something we are doing. Joseph Campbell believed that "devotion to one's own inner work is the beam that keeps us on the path" (Phil Cousineau). We cannot live as tourists looking for something to like and finding things to not like. We have to be living out of our own core, and doing the things that serve that central thing that we are, while we also are making ends meet however we can. It helps if our job can be somewhat kin to our calling, to the things that "electrifies and enlivens our hearts and wakes us" (Joseph Campbell). And we have to always be mindful of walking on two paths at the same time, integrating consciously (and regularly) the opposites, balancing the responsibilities, dancing with the contradictions, and working things out. But the main thing is to have a main thing. Something we love with all our heart. Something we must do with our life, something that we build a life around, that we coalesce around, orbit around, that serves us as our anchor point, our center point, our still point in the turning world. Something that we would bear all manner of burdens to do in serving with all that is within us. We have to know what keeps us going, to know that we will go through anything to be able to do. If we have that, nothing can touch us. In light of that, we can say, "Yea!" to life just as it is, because having found the gold, nothing can take that from us, and we have nothing to fear from the clashing rocks or the heaving waves of the wine dark sea.
No one gets anywhere without changing their mind about what is important. Changing our mind about what is important is the essence of the Hero's Journey, the Spiritual Quest and Growing Up. And it isn't enough to just change our mind. We have to be right about it. About what is important. That is the only thing worth knowing. And serving with our life. No one can tell us what is important-- well, they can, but we can't hear them until we discover for ourselves what they are talking about. Their words have to "click" with something within us, something that knows the truth of what they are saying, in a, "So, that's it!" kind of way. We have to live ourselves into knowing what's important when it is pointed out to us. And it all starts with the realization that "This isn't it."
The Atman is a Hindu term for our essential Self, for the essence of who we are, for the divine being at the heart of all living things. If we were talking, I would want to know about your life-- about the life you are living, and about the life that is yours to live-- about what you do for a living, and about what you live to do. That is the dynamic within which we work out who we are. Working out who we are consumes our life. By the time we figure out the basics-- if we do-- most of the time for living has been used up. No one tells us early on what the deal is. Because no one knows what the deal is. Pleasing God and getting to heaven gets all the attention, or did through my growing up years, not that I'm not still growing up, but I could have spent my time in better ways with better guidance about how to spend my time. When I was sixteen/seventeen, I wanted a typewriter for Christmas. Where did that come from? When I was eighteen/nineteen, I had an epiphany upon seeing a 35mm single reflex camera sitting on a table. What was that about? I could have used some pointers. Carl Jung's autobiography is entitled, "Memories, Dreams and Reflections," mine would be, "The Tao, The Atman and The Silence." I lived blindfolded looking for the Piñata, with nothing to go on. It takes a while. But, the Tao, the Atman and the Silence, do not go away, do not give up, but hang around like gravity doing their thing, and here we all are. And if we were talking, I would ask you about your life, about what brings you to life, about where your fascination is found, about where your enthusiasm comes from and where your hunger leads you. And we could talk long into the night.