December 20, 2018
If you are lucky enough to be in a financial, social, and cultural position to have your wants be the driving force behind your actions (and not your immediate survival needs) you’re already in the top 1% of our world.
Most people on our planet spend each day wondering how they are going to provide for their families, pay their bills, and still manage to feed themselves. If you are not struggling with acquiring the basic needs of food, water, and shelter: consider yourself lucky, very lucky.
Now, let’s say you are in the upper echelon of modern life- you live in a society that encourages you to pursue your wants. Maybe you live in America, where the American Dream is part of our core cultural identity- pursuing all the material goods life can offer simply because you can.
Yes, it is important (to some degree) what you want out of life. You can shape your entire existence around the very question, “What do I want?” But, an equally important and entirely underutilized question that may better serve our self-involved desires is, “Why do I want what I want?”
Let’s say, for example, that you want to behave a certain way in your friend group, your work environment, or the town in which you reside. The question is, why do you want to behave that way? Is it so you’ll be perceived as one thing or another? Is it because your culture values a certain behavior and so you model that behavior off of others in your clan, your tribe, your immediate sphere of influence that seem successful?
Think about the truest spirits we’ve ever been lucky enough to know or witness. Typically, they are the artists of our world. They thrive off being different; anything that resembles the status quo feels banal to them. They simply cannot bear to exist if they are not constantly creating, destroying, and re-creating themselves. For these people, to be different is to be alive.
Often times the be different comes from the painstaking truth that culture produces replicas of the same ideals embodied in the human condition: we see it all the time. When culture values thinness and small eyebrows in its females, we see females transform themselves to be thin and wax their eyebrows down to almost nothingness. When culture begins to value big butts and thicker eyebrows in its females, the women who seek to be accepted by the alleged “in-group” that dictates who or what is “cool” flock to the nearest makeup store to purchase eyebrow filler they just waxed off two years ago when thin eyebrows were cool. How do we maintain our own identity when it is human nature to want to fit in?
Perhaps we can begin to model after the senior citizens of our world, for across many cultures seniors, centenarians, and humans who’ve had the time and space and privilege of old age have learned what we are all in the process of learning: fads come and go. What is considered a cultural value now could change in an instant. All that will remain underneath the swaying pendulum of fleeting hit style choices is our true, unchanging nature: our true, reliable character. This is where the work of true expression begins.
What if we didn’t have a mass media machine telling us what is beautiful, what is desired, what is “ideal?” What if we gave ourselves enough time and space to look inside ourselves, to get intimate with the unchanging characteristics of our heart-centered desires and learn that what we really want, deep down, is nothing that we were taught to want? Perhaps what we want is to be a writer, a painter, a geologist- and not the job title we somehow end up discussing at every holiday party of the season. Why have we settled for pursuing lives that only appear fulfilling on the outside?
Because our culture values consumerism and stock market value. What is treasured one day, economically, filters into every little thing we see. And, because our eyes deceive us, what we see is often times the driving force behind what we think we want. Sometimes, we are so deep in pursuing things we think we want, we can’t even see that we don’t want them until we’ve spent years pursuing them. Only once we have them do we realize, our core values differ from the fleeting marketplace values foisted upon us through the culture of celebrity and the media marketing machine (one that exists off our own ignorance and dollars). A true privilege in this life is to be able to be in this first world, to see the machine for what it is, to step away from it for a while, and examine your core values to move forward in life with integrity and poise.
What do you want, and why do you want it?
What actions will you take today to be more in touch with your actual heart desires? How will you avoid falling into the trap of doing what you think you should be doing, culturally speaking, versus what your intuition knows you should be doing?
Even if it’s only for 5 minutes a day, imagine that anything you wanted, deep in your heart, would not only be accepted by your culture and society, but it will be relished. Imagine that your only requirement to have a successful life is to fearlessly pursue the very things that make you feel most alive, most engaged. How would pursuing what’s really in your heart change your current lifestyle choices?
Imagine the beautiful world we could create if we all stopped caring so much of what others thought of our own paths, and instead though more about what we think of ourselves. For we are born into this world and alone we will go out, and all the accolades you can gather won’t matter when it’s time to say goodbye to this life experience. If at the end of the day you do not want to look yourself in the eye and say, “I’m proud of the person you’ve become,” perhaps it’s time to reconsider your behavioral patterns and the driving forces behind them.
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