A friend of mine used to say that when most people walk through the doors of temple for the first time, it’s because they want to end their suffering; they want to find peace and happiness. If that is why you are walking the path, or trying to, then you must be clear on one thing above all else.
Is being at peace and content/happy what is most important to you … more than any of the enticements and urgings of our culture or your ego-mind? It is highly likely that your initial answer will not be, "yes," but instead will say that something else ... security, money, a lover, convenience ... is most important to you. Then ask yourself why that is important? And with each succeeding answer, go deeper and ask, "Why?" When you reach the base of your feelings, their core, you will find that what is most important to you is your peace and happiness. This is the inner truth for all human beings.
Once you have reached this inner truth, typically after much introspection, the path to take is clear. That means saying “no” to your ego-mind, rejecting it’s guidance and instead listening to your heart’s guidance. There is no other way. (See my post, "Test the Wisdom of What You're Doing or Thinking of Doing.")
You cannot have your cake and eat it too. You cannot be at peace and happy if your mind is obsessing about the future rather than being present. You cannot be at peace and happy if you are caught in cravings. You cannot be at peace and happy if you have attachments.
These are all ways in which the ego-mind seeks to solve your “problems.” This is the guidance of the ego-mind, but it produces suffering. It tries to attain security and happiness in a way which is not attainable. The result is frustration. And that is why you must reject the ego-mind’s guidance if you want to achieve peace and happiness.
Being at peace and happy must also be more important to you than otherwise skillful desires, such as good health. If that is the case, even if your health fails, you will be at peace and happy, with faith that all will be well regardless what life throws your way. If not, if you obsess about your health, you will be in mental and physical anguish when your health fails because you have not approached it with equanimity and the desire turns unskillful.
The same holds true for emotions, like anger and bitterness, that we nurture and are attached to even though they cause us suffering. We must always be aware that it is the reaction of our ego-mind to the experiences, not the acts themselves, that cause our suffering. This is true even of the grossest evil. And so while acknowledging the undeniable hurt and unkindness we may have experienced, we need to find another way of addressing that experience, a way based on compassion and equanimity, free of emotion.
Only if we never forget that what's most important to us is our peace and happiness will we have the strength in all cases to reject the guidance of our ego mind and instead return home to our heart and be at peace and happy regardless. If our ego-mind takes control will we suffer..
This is your only hope of withstanding the daily barrage of the ego-mind, which is a not-to-be-underestimated force. It must be at the forefront of your mind every day. It must be part of your meditation. And you must return to it throughout the day. It is your anchor. Otherwise, your ego-mind will continue to overwhelm you and you will not be able to reject its guidance.
But be aware that even though your heart is speaking to you at times and you feel it’s yearning for peace and happiness, like most people you will still in thrall of and in the control of your ego. Finding our truth, our heart, and staying true to it is an incremental process. You need to daily meditate on the truth that cravings and attachments, and your emotions, are a product of your ego-mind and not your true self, your heart. You need to meditate on the truth that your emotions, judgments, cravings, and attachments cause you nothing but suffering. And so you must disown them. As the Buddha taught, if something causes you suffering "it is not you, it is not yours, it is not your self, because your self would not cause you suffering,"
When you understand these truths from within, then you will know with absolute clarity, without any hesitation, that being at peace and happy is what is most important to you, what you value most.