THOUGHT 4 THE WEEK
Most people are not living On Purpose because their ego is getting in their way!!
They wander through life in a daze looking forward to the next fix (viz. disposable pleasure) to relieve the tedium of their existence.
They wonder why they lack inner peace (viz. fulfilment) as life seems to pass them by.
They drive to a job they dislike to pay for that newish car that takes them there to earn just enough to pay the mortgage on a home they abandon each day to go to the job.
Have I depressed you enough?
Let’s understand the limitation of egocentricity before we look for its antidote.
Human ‘ego’ may be defined as, a person's sense of self. All well and good but when out of control ego manifests as dominance over or submission to others. A win/lose, lose/win posture that conflicts with the higher ideal of collaboration ~ a combined output greater than the sum of the individuals.
The founder of Brass Check, Ryan Holiday observes: “Ego is the enemy of … mastering a craft. Of real creative insight. Of working well with others. Of building loyalty and support. Of longevity. Of repeating and retaining your success.”
Too many people in the western world have been ‘educated’ to believe that ego is a vital component to accomplishment. Whereas an appropriate sense of self-worth is karma, an out of control ego “… repulses advantages and opportunities. (is) a magnet for enemies and errors.” Ryan Holiday, again.
Ego loves the comfort of its zone ~ of where it is. But its over-inflated sense of self-importance chips away at any true potential of the individual. Always seeking more than the next guy; the egocentric mind tends to berate and abuse others on its supposed journey to get ahead.
Wow, that doesn’t sound too good!
Many harmonious and effective people ~ those truly comfortable in their skin ~ found peace of mind, even within highly unfavourable circumstance, by seeking answers to the following questions that revealed their purpose in life:
- Why do I do what I do?
- Who am I?
- What purpose am I serving?
Stoicism is an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded in the early 3rd century BC. It teaches the highest ideal of knowledge is virtue, meaning: the wise live in harmony with the divine reason that governs all nature and are indifferent to the often unwelcome or unpleasant changes of circumstance and to the pleasure or pain those changes may bring. In other words, everything is what it is, and we may only control our responses to it!
Talking is easy, everyone does it, but silence is rare in today’s world. Out of control ego tells us that we need recognition, but real confidence is in silence. We must re-teach ourselves to let go of the distractions of peer groups, of social media, of the news and to pay greater attention to our life’s purpose.
We must learn not to concern ourselves with complicated theories about the world, but with helping overcome destructive emotional re-actions by thinking through and acting on what can be acted upon. This is founded on appropriate, uplifting action, never argumentative dialogue.
When you identify and follow your life’s purpose, the ego within begins to lessen, and you will gain the quiet confidence of having a sense of your own destiny by not getting overly distracted by outside influences. As you talk less and act more you will begin to gain a tranquillity that helps you maintain your purpose:
As Seneca eloquently put it, “The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.”
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Complicated IS Easy! Simple IS Hard!
Recommended reading, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor E. Frankl
If you remain who you are, you will never become who you can be!
A conflict you have not been able to resolve is causing you anxiety and stress. Maybe something in your life is asking you to take a leap of faith, change your perspective and become a better version of yourself.
Will you shut down and stick with what you know, or be willing to open up to new possibilities? Will you defend your existing agenda or search for truth? You have a decision to make!
Your choices and commitment will depend on how you define yourself, your mission in life and what and who you are willing to pay attention to.
Moses & Pharaoh
Children are taught the three-thousand-five-hundred-year-old story of the Israelite Exodus. They learn about two opposing characters; Moses who committed one of the most transcendent actions recorded in history and Pharaoh who committed one of the most heinous.
One brought light to his people whilst a self-proclaimed “god” serving only his own ends brought destruction to his. Moses and Pharaoh lived very different paradigms, each setting into motion events consistent with their respective self-image.
As any despot knows, one short road to power can be to invent the enemy. Like Pharaoh, some people we have met consider themselves self-made. It is mortifying for them to feel indebted to anyone for their successes ~ and especially a God-fearing foreign national (non-Egyptian) like Joseph.
It is written that Pharaoh exclaimed, “... the Children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we (invented enemy). Come, let us outsmart it (Israel) lest it (Israel) become numerous, and it may be that if a war will occur (invented enemy), it (Israel) may join our enemies, and wage war against us and go up from the land.”
To refer to any person or people as an “it” is to attempt to dehumanize them, defined as the psychological process of demonizing a person or people, making them not worthy of humane treatment. And, once someone allows themselves to view another as morally inferior any perception, description, or narrative they use is OK by them.
This is the core of bullying, oppression, subjugation, slavery, racism and worse.
Independence ~ A Lower Adult Value
In relationships, “independence” is too often lauded by those who have not thought it through as the highest ideal to shoot for. To be independently minded is to know and get what you want, isn’t it? The Frank Sinatra syndrome of “I did it my way” where other people conform ~ or suffer. But this personal characteristic of choice all too often displays itself as “lack of consideration” for others?
For example, a person arrives home late without forward notification attacking their anxious family for being “controlling.” Their sense of personal ‘space’ prevails. They repeatedly behave from within their own comfort zone. They make independent decisions without consideration of anyone else since they never take the time to seek another’s point of view, even when that someone cares about them. They rarely listen to another’s opinions or feelings as they are "not worthy of consideration". They are Independent and proud of it!
Inter-dependence ~ A Higher Adult Value
Back to the Biblical story. The first time we meet Moses as a young adult is as a “Prince of Egypt.” When walking in the streets of the capital ~ Memphis ~ he witnesses suffering all around him. And, when he sees a taskmaster viciously beating a slave, he defends him at the cost of the taskmaster’s life.
Fleeing for his own safety, he arrives at Midian and, seeing a group of women being tormented by shepherds, goes to their rescue, too. While Moses must have been acutely aware of his now impoverished exile ~ prince to refugee ~ he always pays attention to those around him. Such awareness was not so common then and remains not so common in this 21st century!
We read that Moses was an imperfect man and made many mistakes. Yet, he made a point of paying attention to those around him. To be willing to enter another’s ‘territory’. And, by so doing allowed himself to become the best he could become. He became Inter-dependent!
Everything in life cries out for our attention. And, this is our challenge. To be inter-dependent means constantly paying attention to people and our surroundings and never growing numb to the not-so-good news that crowds our psyche each day. The annoying co-worker, the incessant barking of the neighbour’s dog, granny Annies' constant chatter, climate change, environmental pollution, natural and man-made disasters, crime on the streets. To become inter-dependent, to be our Best Self, we must be willing to un-learn to learn.
Learning to remain aware of your surroundings, to pay attention is challenging but do-able and ultimately self-fulfilling. Does this mean you have to be the white-knight in every situation? That you spend your entire life doing what other people want? Of course not!
But if you choose to remain self-centred, if you entirely shut off, if you fail to pay attention to the plight of others, “You miss information about the nature of life, miss chances to have your heart opened, miss learning what your impact on others might be. … Small issues that could have been resolved early on grow until they blow up. People don’t like having their pain overlooked.” Dr Rick Hanson, Neursocientist
Moses kept himself ready to serve in the moment. He paid attention. Whether it was finding a lost sheep, helping someone in need or saving an entire nation he lived the call of, “Here I am”. By becoming inter-dependent, he gained everything! In contrast, Pharaoh’s independence ultimately gained him nothing at all.
The moments of your life ask you to response. What will you do?
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Complicated IS Easy! Simple IS Hard!
HAPPY NEW YEAR & WELCOME BACK
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us." Marianne Williamson ‘A Return To Love’.
In the western world, we may pursue any career equal to our skills, qualifications and experience. Our family can walk down the street in relative safety. If our house catches fire trained professionals arrive to put out the flames. If we are sick or injured, other trained professionals patch us up or convey us to some of the best hospitals in the world.
We enjoy clean water, on tap. We have in-house sanitation. We have heating/air-conditioning. We have clothes to wear and shoes on our feet. We have the blessing ~ and curse ~ of supermarkets. We have abundant farming systems. We live a life of relative ease.
So why are feelings of desperation on the rise?
Emotional starvation shows itself in people as low self-esteem. One outcome is to channel that deficiency through spontaneous aggression not because someone is emotionally self-assured, but because they feel emotionally inadequate.
Shannon L. Alder puts it this way, “The source to low self-esteem is the lack of control you feel you have in your life. If you spend your life competing with others, trying to make right the wrongs done to you, or waste your time trying to look right, you will never achieve contentment and emotional balance.”
The ultimate irony
So many people in the western world surround themselves with trophies of their supposed success yet act as if they are deprived ~ home, car(s), gainful employment, club memberships are never enough. Their advantageous circumstance compels them to buy ever more needless stuff and find some false sense of relief in criticising, complaining and finding fault.
Majoring on the minors, such individuals dismiss what they have going for them. What should be happy relationships are soured by ‘if only’ thinking. From their perspective each real or imagined problem can’t be dismissed merely because others in this world experience genuine loss of home, of separation from loved-ones, of life-threatening conflict.
So, What Is ‘Emotional Balance’?
Emotional balance ~ is one of the 4 life-essentials and companion to physical, mental and spiritual.
Emotional balance ~ may be defined as maintaining the courage to change the things you can change, the grace to accept the things you cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Emotional balance ~ requires conscious effort and constant application. It requires sustained forbearance.
Emotional balance ~ begins with the miracle of forgiveness of others, and forgiveness of self.
To sustain your emotional balance, seek relationships with meaning and purpose. Be prepared to un-learn to learn. And, when you are learning that wisdom is knowing the difference between what you can and cannot change, you will be on the true path to your emotional balance.
To discuss this paper or any of the four life-essentials, text 0044 7900 251258 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your readership and welcomed questions and comments throughout 2019.
We shall be taking a break w/e 20th December until w/c 6th January and wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas and an Exceptional New Year.
- Life Is What Our Thoughts Make of it!
- We Typically Get 500 Months In A Working Lifetime!
- We Become The Average Of The Five People We Spend Most Of Our Time With!
Complicated Is Easy! Simple Is Hard!
The 19th century American humourist Mark Twain (1835-1910) quipped, I’ve never let my school interfere with my education.
And, the 20th century American futurist Alvin Toffler (1928-2016) wrote, The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. [underline added]
Why Learn-ing To Unlearn?
Have you ever read something or heard someone say something you knew was simply un-true? Yet they knew what they knew.
Have you ever written or said something you later changed your mind about because you came to know it was also un-true? Maybe you changed your mind yet again, based on even greater understanding. Unlearning is essential to learning as not everything we think we know is actually true.
Remain Willing & Eager To Un-learn
All formal education institutions teach what they suppose to be true based on the accumulated knowledge of those who have gone before. Libraries are full of the stuff! But all too often we are not being taught the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth because it isn't known at the time. We are simply being taught the consensus of what learning institutions want us to know.
The journey of 'unlearning-to-learn' commences when we start to sincerely question what we have been taught. And, if you doubt this is a legitimate pursuit to greater knowledge, consider that it is only for the past 300-years we have known the earth is not at the centre of the universe. Unlearning leads to discovery!
The Habit Of Unlearning-To-Learn
A habit is something we action automatically and is for the most part performed unconsciously. We learn to move, say and do something having done it the first time ~ by trial and error or under tuition ~ and then by repeating it again and again. Only good habits help us progress and suceed whilst poor habits maintain ignorance and want ~ the incorrect stuff we think we know that holds us back. Reflect on Mark Twain’s quip about education for a moment.
To know the absolute truth of something, we must constantly challenge what we think we know. We must persistently and politely ask questions of everything and everyone with an interest until we know what we know, what we know. We owe it to ourselves to maintain an enquiring mind or remain in ignorance ~ even deceived.
What we accomplish by this new behaviour is to make the old habit of accepting everything on face value ~ because the source is ‘impeccable’ ~ redundant. Think about the ‘science’ that placed the world at the centre of the universe.
The Shortcut To Unlearning
Unlearning-to-learn is one of the most critical skills to acquire in a rapidly accelerating 21st century world. Consider the apps, websites and technologies today that simply did not exist for the masses before the last 2-decades. No iPhones, no GPS, no Instagram, no Facebook and yet today all of these seem commonplace. We handle it all reasonably well - or we don't.
Unlearning-to-learn constantly recalibrates our moral compass to focus our mind on an expanding discussion, idea or action to determine error from truth, ignorance from correct knowledge.
For example, take the simple physical habit of replacing coffee with carob by steadily reducing the consumption of one in favour of the consumption of the other. All paradigm can be challenged/confirmed/unlearned/relearned in the same simple way. Just keep reviewing what you think you know using all available and reliable sources, expanding your mind based on greater and greater revealed truth.
With this approach of replacing old thinking using newly desired simple-steps, the process of unlearning-to-learn-and-relearn makes redundant the old habits that interfere with learning truth. You will kick the habit of excess caffeine faster by changing which drink you take. The choice of where to focus your attention and energy will affect the speed with which you will unlearn-to-learn-and-relearn.
Flood your mind with what you want to know, and you’ll get there quicker, enjoying the journey to truth along the way.
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Complicated Is Easy! Simple Is Hard!