Okay folks, I’m going to go on a rant today, so get prepared!
You see, I went through life in auto-pilot, dutifully going about my business without much thought. I didn’t need to think, because I had been taught what to do. In the jobs that I have had, I saw people who were just like me (the vast majority), that were just going through the motions. Sheep.
This pisses me off. I got pissed at myself. I would literally stand in the shower in the morning with a profoundly deep sense of dread. Sundays were torture. This is a recipe for failure. It is failure.
People fail in many ways, from a life of discontent, failed business ventures, failed relationships, and maybe even failed finances. What I’m talking about here, is failing at life in general.
A life without purpose is a failed one.
Let’s face it, the odds are against you. It’s really not your fault. You’ve bought into the script: you got your education, got good grades, got the right job, chased the latest fad, moved to the right zip code.
Yet you still sit at your desk, quietly hating your job. You are overwhelmed and stressed. You hope that someday you will finally get ‘there,’ get the big raise, the big promotion, the big house in the burbs, the sweet retirement where you can finally start to live.
You keep waiting to live. Hoping…
And even if you achieve those things, there is still something missing.
You grow older, your joints ache, you can’t stay up past 8pm, and you would rather sit around and complain about politics on the evening news.
I know this is a crappy message and it’s unpleasant to hear.
The fact remains that this is the destiny for far too many people today. Few love (or even like) their jobs. We are overwhelmed, we don’t save enough and we don’t save enough for retirement. Prescriptions for anti-depressants are exploding.
Life is Hard and Then You Die
Why do I paint such a bleak picture? Because not many people attain happiness. I don’t mean pleasure – we engage in activities that do that – but a deeper sense of contentment and Purpose. It is a problem that needs to be acknowledged, confronted, and changed.
The story can change, but we need to start with how we got where we are.
Our beliefs and thoughts are governed by our conditioning. We have been conditioned by our parents and people we associated with, all the way back to childhood. We live in a specific social climate, spiritual climate, educational climate and economic climate, among others. We are influenced by what we are exposed to, and as we learn, we keep applying the filter of experience to our knowledge which further skews our beliefs.
We have basic needs and drives that are preyed upon by external forces. We all know that ads target our base needs, but so does the society around us. We rarely, if ever, understand the full impact of those forces upon us.
All Hail the Sheeple
How do we respond to this? We join groups we relate to that reflect our values, such as social groups, political groups or religious groups.
We jump on the conditioning bandwagon and believe what everyone else believes, even without understanding the subject or whether it is contradictory to our values. We swim in Pooled Ignorance and judge others because they hold different beliefs than us.
“The one who dies with the most toys, wins.”
We consume by wearing nicer clothes, buy idols of status such as luxury cars, expensive jewelry, fancy vacations and bigger homes. More and bigger is the mantra.
We do what we are expected to do, because we have been taught to be good little workers and responsible taxpayers by our governmental assimilation ‘education’ system.
We continually strive to fill the always present hole in the middle of our souls.
If you think life will be swell when you retire, consider that nearly 50% of all Americans over the age of 50 have more than $25,000 saved for retirement. Social Security isn’t going to keep you in margaritas at poolside.
Okay, I think you get the point.
This is the script for the majority of people. Even if you don’t feel miserable, it’s because you don’t know true happiness. When I’ve been depressed, just feeling close to normal felt manic, but I was still suboptimal. Any relief is better than nothing.
The Grass IS Greener
There is so much more out there available if you are willing to work for it.
If we are conditioned to think and act in ways that won’t provide true peace, we need to change our conditioning. Awareness is the first step. Once you are aware of a problem, then you can take action to improve it.
The answer lies in being able to think for yourself. Not a conditioned belief, because catering even to our desires can be detrimental. I mean understand that a rich and rewarding life is a journey, not a destination.
By knowing yourself, you can direct your thoughts and actions to activities that will provide you the most benefit, rather than just follow your conditioning blindly.
Money Won’t Buy Happiness
We all know this to be true, but we all want more. Perhaps envy is what drives us, perhaps it’s our belief that by satisfying something that makes us feel good, we really will feel good. It doesn’t work that way.
By knowing yourself and directing your actions in positive direction, acting out of a sense of purpose will provide much more happiness than a fat bank account.
The Latest Thing
Related to the point above, we often surround ourselves with symbols of success and achievement. We want the finest clothes and the fanciest cars to project our status and importance in the world.
The problem is that these are superficial, and are projecting the wrong image. If your goal is to project wealth, you are projecting the wrong value. George Carlin said “symbols are for the symbol-minded.” Don’t be materialistic.
Be Radically You
Be yourself, be genuine, and be authentic.
Instead of following the latest fad, why not be your own fad? Act from purpose and values. Life is not a popularity contest.
You will bless others much more by expressing your true self, following your own passions, and living life from a place of personal values. You will be more engaged with life, be more centered, and be uniquely you. The world needs you, not more sheeple!
I started acknowledging the positive things I have in my life. By focusing my mind on what I’m grateful for and those things around me that provide value has really helped me keep perspective.
People that genuinely feel gratitude feel they are much happier than people who don’t. Keep a gratitude journal to build a habit of reflecting on the important things.
Happiness is not something that can be bought, or caught. It isn’t something to be obtained or achieved. It is a sense of purpose that life is precious, and you are going to make the most out of it. It is a by-product of a life well lived, focused on the activities that are important deep inside.
This changes over time. As we learn and experience life, our values shift, our priorities shift and what provides us the most personal satisfaction changes. Life is a journey, not a destination, and happiness won’t just come to you.
Look deep down inside yourself and define your values. Don’t look externally for validation, but internally. You don’t know what the future brings. You could be ‘hit by the beer truck’ or you could live to 100. No matter what, it is impossible to say what will be most fulfilling to you in the future. You can choose to do what is fulfilling to you today.
Make small changes, and be mindful of life and what is most important to you. Express gratitude and build strong relationships. Life with Purpose and you won’t fail.
What is your experience and what have you learned about life that brings meaning to you?