As our world gets bigger, as complexity increases, it’s easy to get lost in it. It’s easy to feel irrelevant. It’s easy to feel that what we do doesn’t matter…that we don’t matter.
When we feel this way, we soothe ourselves by:
- Falling into “busyness” so we don’t have to think about what really matters in life.
- Focusing on clawing our way to the top of a corporate construct.
- Consuming drugs (prescribed and illicit) and alcohol.
- Eating to much…or too little.
- Participating in dangerous sexual or power-based relationships.
- Shopping for things we don’t need other than to display status.
- Shutting ourselves in and watching glowing screens for hours on end.
- Creating drama in our personal lives, just to feel we can "fix" something within our control.
- Engaging in vicious gossip to feel superior to the famous and not-so-famous.
- Abusing ourselves and others physically and verbally.
- Going into debt to remove the element of personal choice.
When it’s all too much, we need to heighten or dull our senses just to get through another day.* We can all understand why we do some or all of the above. The problem is that none of the behaviours listed address the root of the matter. We use them to distract ourselves, but they’re both temporary and grossly inadequate. And, deep down, we know it.
That said, it’s easier to ignore the problem than to tackle it because the latter is frightening.
Fighting The Good Fight via Personal Introspection
Unless we’re like the Unnamed Protagonist in Fight Club and we manage to have our alter ego do it for us, we need to take a long, hard look at what’s making us feel like nothing more than a cog.
It could be that we’re:
- Living and/or working in a place that makes us feel like an animal in a cage.
- Not doing anything for ourselves anymore.
- Counting our personal value based on what we have, not who we are.
- Surrounded by people who only care about what we can offer them.
- Feeling that what we do doesn’t matter or goes against our values.
Whatever the trigger(s) that lead us to do ourselves harm, asking the hard questions can do nothing less than bringing them to light. It’s only when we take a sober look around, stand in our truth and accept our current painful reality that we can effect meaningful change.
Whatever the method, it’s incredibly freeing to leave behind the activities and labels that don’t fit. We feel like ourselves again and that lets us really consider what it is that we want to do, what meaningful purpose we want to pursue to lead our best, most fulfilling life. Purposeful living is powerful. It’s enduring. It’s essential.
Living Well = Victory
Living well isn’t only essential for ourselves, but hopefully—for the fortunate ones—causing others to evaluate what they’re doing with their own lives. It can spread like a disease, helping dissolve years of indoctrination that keep us compliant and accepting of the status quo.
Indeed, living well makes us better people and better people don’t need to be convinced to be driven, curious, generous and loving. Better people have grit. They also don’t need to be strong-armed into taking good care of themselves because they're steadfast in their understanding of intrinsic value.
Ultimately, by embracing our inner Tyler Durden, we can answer what Mary Oliver asks of each and every one of us:
“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”
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*If you would like to explore this concept further, I highly recommend "The Human Zoo" by Desmond Morris. Though controversial, it raises interesting points and offers a great deal of food for thought.