08 Aug 2022

COLUMN: 'Step back from the busy demands of life and see what you really value'

Tipperary Tipperary Tipperary

‘It takes strength and often courage to get off the hamster wheel’

What ever happened to having a meaningful life that is driven by your mission and not your ambition?

Your mission or purpose in life could bring you joy in the world, each and every day.

Ambition is important. Yes, that’s true. Without a level of ambition, in the modern world, we would probably be lost. We wouldn’t be sure where to go or what to do next and of course what we would like to accomplish.

The word ambition has a different meaning for everyone.

For one person it may mean to be in good health. For another, it may mean to rise to the top of the corporate ladder. Or maybe you want to be the best parent you can be. But sometimes, ambition makes us blind and we lose sight of the reasons behind this initial ambition.

Chasing something is an example of how we lose sight in the fog of ambition.

Where it turns to: “I don’t have enough in life currently or presently”. Be it, more cars, more money, more houses etc. This is where ambition turns to the need for more and more.

The want of “more” unfortunately will never satisfy any of us. It may have its fleeting moments of happiness where the ego becomes your shadow side - meaning that it is lurking somewhere in the background, having more control over your thoughts, feelings and actions than you may initially think.

Ego is important. I would argue that it is detrimental to our happiness and fulfillment, in a physical and mental sense, when we are blinded by the ego and all it wants for us is more of something or maybe even someone.

Our ultimate mission is individual to each and every one of us however our mission or purpose does share commonalities. We are inspired when we think of our mission.

We are frightened of our mission as we are afraid of what we truly know we can accomplish once we put our minds to it. We get a sense of happiness at the thought of our mission being complete. Overall, there may be a procrastinating pull and a satisfactory push when we think of what our purpose is, if we have not found it yet or taking action towards it.

Society is not designed in a way for us to find our purpose and true calling. We have to go and find it ourselves. Efficiency has led to a personal deficiency where being proactive is admired and recognised more so than a person’s recognition for the need to rest.

Let’s look at a question we often ask others: “Are you busy?” Questioning the “busyness” of someone else is a worthwhile example of how we are conditioned into framing conversations and boxing another human being’s value into whether they are “busy” or not.

Yes, while it may be a good way to start conversation, I would question this very question as a measure of efficiency in our daily lives as existential as it may be. We have to question these things and examine where we can improve on our ways of interacting socially leading to meaningful friendships and relationships. I don’t mean that on an efficiency level but more on a deeper, human connection level

Nobody has this life figured out. Many people are seen to be thought leaders in self-help, for example, but they don’t have it figured out either.

Whilst the conceptualisation of certain ideas may provoke thought and conversation (which is welcome), nobody has it fully figured out and each one of us are on our own individual path. I say this to support the idea that there seems to always be a drive toward efficiency in the modern world and this can now be seen in new thought leadership on self-help.

We now have step by step guides, habits, graphs, routines etc. that tell us how to be more efficient - from people who certainly, although maybe experienced, do not have the answers you or I seek. Efficiency, in my eyes, is the curse to simplicity which I believe is one of the keys to living a happy, stress free life.

When we strip back layers of the ego’s needs, what are we left with? I would assume that we are left with a very fragile, vulnerable and lost person which is why we need to have a certain level of ego in our lives. However, we can be mindful of what aspects of the ego we tend to build.

So in an ego driven world that almost demands efficiency, leads to a spiritual and mental deficiency where we may forget to nurture certain aspects of ourselves.

I would advocate a strategy that would be congruent to your overall daily set of values or importantly your sense of purpose or your mission. For example: “My mission is to be a great mother”. Firstly, define what “great mother” means to you.

Does it mean fulfilling the basic food, shelter, emotional needs of your child or does it surpass that? Whatever your purpose, define what success means to you, not the world’s demand for efficiency.

Overall, an Americanised, McDonalds culture of “getting stuff done” has filtered its way into most of the Western world.

Whilst efficiency is welcome in certain aspects of our lives, be it our cars, coffee machines and checkouts - at what point do we press the stop button on a robotic like efficiency that we human beings have also now become accustomed to in our relationship with ourselves and others?

It takes strength and often courage to get off the hamster wheel - be it your self-sabotaging belief systems, patterns of destructive behavior, your career, the role in your relationships - however, I would strongly advocate stepping back from the busy demands of life and re-evaluating what it is you really value.

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