The cards are stacked against truth and in favor of the illusion of security. The global economic system relentlessly seduces us with icons and images that communicate that we can be both rich and famous, which sometimes equals security in our minds.
One only need look to Trump, a malignant narcissist, to see that wealth and fame does not equal becoming a more secure human being.
Trump is arguably the most visibly insecure man on the planet. Although he’s famous, and he has a fortune, he’s also clearly angry and unhappy. He exudes misery. Who wants that, even if rich and famous?
What makes it even more difficult to take the path less traveled toward truth are the social norms and constraints that discourage us from going against the grain; doing what others aren’t doing is much harder than going along with the crowd, hence we choose a business degree.
All of us want to be a part of an in-group; being in an out-group often meant death throughout the history of human evolution, so it’s scary as hell to go against the grain.
The advice I’d give to myself is this: go against the grain.
Begin making choices that help us get to know ourselves as honestly as possible. So, if we truly love doing something, like acting, painting, or writing, pursue it! Our true security follows from a deep alignment with our truth.
There will be obstacles along the path and the tension between securing our survival and pursuing our deepest truth will always remain. At first, it might feel uncomfortable rather than joyous, but at least we’re less likely to hate our job and live an unhappy life. Ultimately, we have to accept that the tension isn’t going to go away—and that it’s for the sake of our greater good.
So, why does this tension remain?
The evolutionary imperative to secure our survival, to meet our basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter, supersedes the aspirations that are connected to our truth.
This imperative can be so strong that it leads us to make security-based choices, like pursuing a business degree. However, these choices only provide a temporary, or a false sense of security, and over the long term often results in anxiety (worrying about an uncertain future) or depression (lamenting a path that is no longer possible).
The tension between security and truth is relentless, but living in truth is actually the only way to ensure our security at the deepest level. When we take the time to stay focused on the things we truly enjoy, the things that make us feel expansive, we’re ultimately creating the conditions that will provide us with security where it matters most: inside of us.
So, what do we do to set out on the path?
We have to know what we want.
Fortunately, after doing the first three exercises, we have the information we need to get clearer about what we want. Take our list from the first exercise and revisit it. Now, pull out the things that made us feel expansive versus neutral or contracted.
We’re going to focus on what made us feel expansive, or joyous, and ignore those where we felt neutral or contracted. We should also think about any other joyous moments in our lives (personally or professionally) that were not included on the list since we may no longer be doing them.
Next, note what we were doing at those times, how it felt, and what the experiences say about our needs and interests. The next step is to write two to three sentences stating why these moments were particularly joyous. Write it out in a narrative format.
The aim is to simply begin identifying everything we’ve done, past or present, that truly brought us joy. We want to identify these experiences so that we can begin focusing on opportunities that are aligned with the joyous aspects of our lives.
In the next article, I will show us how to begin crafting a vision for our lives, one that is aligned with our deepest truth and most joyous experiences. We’ll then begin working backward from that vision to create the life we want, while also answering the question: what the f^ck should we do with our lives?