When I can’t lead myself, I seek support.
From leaders, like a boss, a captain, or a mentor in my field. Or I seek support from others, like a partner, or family member. Or it can be the simple support of a schedule, in a job, or the regiment of the military. Maybe it’s the organization in a sports team, or even a political group.
Whichever it is, the support is necessary, even critical.
These supports help us set goals and the procedure to get to them. But choosing the purpose of those goals is up to me. Why are those goals important to me? Which organization will I choose? Should I work for company A or B? Should I be a creator or an administrator?
And so one of the great struggles of the human continues:
Choose what you want as an individual, while wanting to be an accepted member of the group.
In this delicate balance, we choose the place to spend our life..to sell our life. Each day of work is a day of my life I have sold to the highest bidder. Not just for money, of course, but the place where I will get the greatest reward: The reward of knowing what I’m doing is producing something important.
Knowing your importance is critical, because anything else we have in life is only a substitute we may use to get through the days of our lives, but not the reason for living.
There’s little sleep
when you realize your one life
is to do all your things.
The world is infinite with things
And I am small, and I take small steps
But I take many, to get far enough
To all my things, in my daily allowances
Which I’m given through some luck of the universe
But I take for granted,
Because I think I’m infinite
Like the universe.
But I’m a temporary assortment of atoms
Into this temporary being
Living in temporary segments:
Awake with the birds, Asleep with the crickets.
And in between I take my small steps,
Getting far enough to learn things, and love others
Before the universe reclaims me.
Picture credit: Kim Nelson
What do you want?
We know we want to feel good. This is natural. No one wants to feel bad, right? We seek pleasure. We avoid pain.
In the end, it all comes down to maximizing pleasure, but pleasure isn’t necessarily good. And neither is it good to avoid pain all the time. Pleasure is consumptive, requiring something external to you. And avoiding pain is protective.
Is that it? There must be something greater to human experience, which goes beyond the drives of consumption and safety.
What is that greater desire?
It is contribution. The feeling… no, more than that…the tangible production of something, the providing of value by you. How is something valuable? Of course, you can value what you made, and that is one valid measure.
But others need to benefit from it, so they need to see it as valuable, too.
If we don’t get appreciation from others for what we have done, our internal valuation is pretty meaningless. So this contribution is actually consumptive, like pleasure. But the difference it has from consumption is that it first requires production of something valuable from you.
Without our contribution, and appreciation for it from others, whether it’s in the workplace or in the home, we are left alone and lonely and isolated, and ultimately, unfulfilled.
Is there something you can contribute? I think so.
Cat lesson: Slow down and enjoy some time right now.
There’s no time later to enjoy anything.
“I can’t do this anymore,” she told me.
I looked at her puzzled.
“I don’t feel anything,” she paused. “I don’t love you.”
It was an empty feeling that washed over me, which soon became an aching hurt. But it wasn’t her fault. I’d hurt myself in getting into a relationship that wasn’t healthy from the start, and I’d known it.
She had problems, but also so much good. I was led by the good: her good heart, her concern for animals and the environment, her artistic eye…ah, those eyes… Part of her striking beauty which owned the room as soon as she walked in. It owned me, at least.
As for the bad…her dysfunctions? Well, my ego thought I would help her with all that. It gave me a purpose and a feeling of significance.
One of the best parts of maturing is realizing that the bad will be there, but there’s nothing much I can do about it. And more, that no one else has it figured out either, no matter how they may act. So reminded of this, I go forward with my convictions.
The moments of peace and motivation that come from these realizations are almost spiritual because they seemingly come from nowhere.
No, not nowhere…maybe from the natural wisdom of a diversity of experiences, and a life well-lived.
(20 second read)
“In my experience, meditation makes you 10% happier. That’s an absurdly unscientific estimate, of course. But still, not a bad return on investment. Once you get the hang of it, the practice can create just enough space in your head so that when you get angry, or annoyed, you are less likely to take the bait and act on it.” -Dan Harris, from 10% Happier.
Happiness is not about being led by anger, or annoyances, or anxiety. Quite the opposite. What’s the opposite? Acceptance, peace, chilling the hell out.
And how about if we focus on being helpful, contributing something meaningful to others? Start there. Add in some meditation, because there’s science behind it.
I think we’ll be fine.