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How to Live According to Your Values

How Your Values Are Formed

A long staircase - climbing up is how you live according to your highest values
How to Live According to Your Highest Values

Evolving Values

There is only one authentic way to live, and it’s according to your own values.

The more serious considerations are put on hold when you are a child and have not yet developed your superego. As an adult, you will often long for a time when you were not exhausted by the hardships of life, and bewildered by its questions. As a child, nature is your friend. Life is being explored for the first time. You may feel some feelings of anxiety every now and then, but they are short-lived and inconsequential.

When you are less young and enter into the second stage of life (17 to 35 according to Jung), you will focus more on your career, relationships, new experiences, pleasure, and money Your set of values are dynamic – and have developed. You know more about how the world works, and have much to prove. Since you have not accomplished anything yet – you educate yourself and work for the first time. At around the same time, you seek out the advice of older, more experienced people – usually your relatives. And you will tend to listen to them. Life will replace your new tastes and friendships, and you will be left with only a few lasting relationships. Your major accomplishment- in your post-adolescent stage of life – will be to have learned more about the world and yourself. But also to have experienced as much pleasure as possible.

As you get older, your thoughts turn to building a family, being more reliable, and paying attention to your spiritual life. Career goals will stop being as important to you. Instead, you will turn your energy to fostering your relationships, and being a useful member to your community. Your desire for novel experiences wanes away. You ground yourself in values, responsibilities, love, and faith. Ethical considerations that never disturbed you before now dominate your conversations and thoughts. You are interested in developing a relationship with God, and question the meaning of your life. You learn to make time for only what’s important, and become more patient and understanding of yourself and of others. You are less self-critical, but you are calmer, more rational and realistic.

Some people are slow to change their values – while others are not. But in general, the trend is ubiquitous. Time will update the what you care about. This is a natural consequence of the evolving demands of life, and the changes in your own knowledge structures. But not all of your values change, only some do.

Gradually, you will transform into a different human being. And yet, a part of you stays the same – and that is what Jung identified as the Self. Other psychologists such as Freud and Adler believed that your personality develops at a very early stage in your life. They noted that individuals maintained a stable predisposition throughout their lives despite the incessant changes they’ve experienced.

It is important to realize this limitation – that your personality is unlikely to have changed very much. You are capable of transformation, but only to a certain degree – beyond which you will find uncomfortable. The introvert is capable of teaching herself to be a better public speaker, and project a more assertive, and confident image in public – but she will find it impossible to become a salesperson. Similarly, an extrovert can learn to spend more time reading, and researching, but a career as an academic or librarian is unlikely.

Your ideas about the purpose of life may never change. Perhaps you will learn to adjust some details, and develop a more coherent, sophisticated version of your views – but your fundamental opinion about what’s most important often remains stubbornly rooted to the same ideals. Perhaps your concern was and always will be to nurture your relationships, or maybe it was to tend to the urgent need for creative expression. As you get older, the values that change teach you – by keeping your other values the same – about who you are. Your rare, unchanging core define how the people closest to you recognize you.

Your high level of openness feeds your book reading obsession. Similarly, your value (attaining new knowledge) increases your level of openness. Your extroversion pushes you to meet new people. And as you meet new people, and develop more relationships – you become more extroverted.  Your traits and values don’t exist in isolation. Instead, a dynamic interplay between them creates a self-reinforcing loop. Your traits inform your behavior, and your behaviors inform your values, and then your values inform your traits.

When the habitual reactions are determined, we can feel fairly certain of having hit the mark, because they govern external behaviour on the one hand, and on the other mould specific experience. A certain kind of behavior brings corresponding results, and the subjective understanding of these results gives rise to the experiences which in turn influence behaviour, and thus close the circle of an individual’s destiny. – (Jung, Modern Man’s Search for a Soul P.86)

Your personality informs you attention, and what you pay attention shapes who you will become.

“Attention is shaped by the self, which in turn is shaped by attention” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

When the Time is Right

You will be unable to recognize certain truths about the nature of reality – and of yourself – until the time is right. Usually, it is a time of crisis. Jordan Peterson talks about the idea of chaos and order. To get a better idea of this framework, see his Maps of Meaning Lectures. 

Put simply, order is everything that is known – it is explored territory. Chaos is everything that is unknown – it is unexplored territory. The subjects you have mastered and the people you know well represent order – while alien subjects and unfamiliar people represent chaos. When your expectations meet reality, you’re in a state of order. And when your expectations do not meet reality, you’re thrown into chaos. But differentiating between order and chaos can be challenging – as chaos can sometimes be disguised as order. Your presuppositions, values, and behaviors might be wrong, but if the end result is order, then you will feel content. You will not try to change anything. You are experiencing a period of short-term order before the inevitable chaos.

Imagine being at university when you don’t know why things haven’t spiraled out of control yet. Like a toddler who depends on his parents to rescue him from his irresponsible (and incompetent) behavior, you are protected by the structure imposed on you by your university – in the form of rules, deadlines, irritable professors, and semi-articulated, inaccurate, comforting ideas about the future. In university, you are given a reality check when you act undesirably. You only adjust your behavior to silence the authority and go back to living half-consciously, semi-autonomously, and responsibility free – until the next time reality slaps you in the face. You are not at all interested in any major systematic overhauls – because there is nothing in the system to fix.

But you’re not acting irrational. For the most part, your life is predictable. The rules are clearly stated, and you understand roughly what needs to be done in order to meet your own (and the university’s) expectations. If you are not performing well enough in your courses – you know you need to spend more time studying to compensate. But when you do what you think you ought to be doing, and the end result is not what you expected – you enter into that dreaded state of chaos –  where things no longer make sense.

The structure of reality is called into question. Suddenly, you find yourself expecting fair compensation for your efforts. But when no such thing happens, the ground crumbles underneath your feet. You start to doubt even your most basic assumptions. You do not know who to trust – least of all yourself. You have led yourself into a hellish maze, and have no idea how to get out.

So you clutch at whatever sense of order you can find – as tyrannical as it may be. You go back to a previous state of existence where things were more stable. The chaos is confronted, but only temporarily. The ground is still crumbling and your past foundations can only serve you for so long. You realize that you can’t find the right answers anywhere obvious. Eventually, after wallowing in self-pity and nihilism – you determine to valiantly confront the chaos and re-establish your value system. But this time – you promise yourself that you will be more deliberate and thoughtful in doing so. You will be reluctant to listen to passing, half-ass advice, socially accepted slogans, and lazy, poorly informed, and badly articulated theories about how to operate in the world by the numerous unthinking, predatory charlatans – who excitedly grasp for your attention – when you’re down.

The time is now right for you to wake up, and see things differently. But you didn’t ask for it. The truth imposed itself on you by revealing the inefficiencies of your previous ideas. You are now ready to stop lying to yourself, and you become intolerant of anyone who tries to lie to you. You are on high alert, and instead of relishing a more serene existence – you are a relentless investigator – and defender – of the truth. Not because you are more nobly inclined than most people – but because living in self-deceit and illusion is intolerable.

Playing By the Rules 

A peculiar thing about ideas is that the extent to which they capture your attention depends on your previous experiences. In other words, your past affects the nature of new information that is presented. When you first encounter a profound quote, for example, you might be intrigued, and think about it for a little while. You may tell some friends about it. But sooner or later, it will fade away almost completely from memory.

But at some point – you will see that same quote again – or get exposed to the same idea that you did years ago, and will get a different kind of feeling. Something grips you this time. It is as if the idea itself comes to life. It imposes upon you a divine truth that you finally earned the right to understand. It’s when the idea perfectly matches your own reality that you can see the truth in it.

When I used to hear the overused, cliched prescription that you’re likely to find in movies, books, commercials, and songs of ‘finding your passion’, I would cringe. And I would pity whoever fell for such unintelligible fluff. When an idea is exhausted, I reasoned, it must lack truth.

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain

What’s the point in following your passion when the market doesn’t care about your passion? What’s the use in living according to your values, when no one seems to have any? It’s hard to believe that your individual, arbitrary predispositions to certain activities and not others should have any bearing on your future – or more pressingly, on your present reality. Who but the most naive and ignorant among us believes that the world runs on the fuel of principles?

After-all, you don’t build a successful business on the back of your values – ethical or otherwise – but on how well the market receives your product. Authors write best sellers because other people accept their ideas, politicians get elected to office because people relate to their slogans, employees get promoted because their superiors recognize their competence, academics gain recognition because other academics cite their work, athletes are recruited because scouts spot their potential

You are as valuable as other people’s opinions of you. The rule holds for every profession. It’s not a hallmark of capitalism or of the human species. Hierarchies of competence exist across species, cultures, historical time periods, economic systems. Like all universal laws, this too would be imprudent to overlook.

How can you choose to live according to your values when your fate depends on social compliance – on adjusting your values, or even replacing your values with those of the group?

Building Your Narrative

What are your personal values anyway? Are they not, after-all, an offshoot or cheap imitation of ideas that have been prepackaged, packaged, re-packaged under the guise of “original work” by people who have come before you? Most “modern” ideas are slight variations of old ones – redesigned to be better digested by a different audience. But that’s not a cause for tragedy. Having to constantly reinvent the wheel is a more arduous task than adopting the established ideas of the past. You simply don’t have enough time, energy, and ability to re-create the foundations on which to rest your decisions on from scratch.

Knowing this, you make a genuine effort to adopt the values that both appeal to you – and are socially acceptable. You try to be clever about it too. Instead of wasting your time on following a passion or calling, you think about what you want and try to find the fastest, safest way to get there. Some people become lawyers to be able to afford a mansion – some try to become entrepreneurs to be able to take spontaneous vacations, while others become politicians to gain power.

You, as hopeful spectator, discern the different intentions people have. And you notice the varying levels of ability across the population, and how much different people are willing to sacrifice. You are then left to choose your own path, but need to first define your end goal. That’s a difficult task, and when it daunts you for long enough – you resort to something safe and conventional. Money looks like a good goal to pursue, most people seem to value it, and it can fulfill you in several ways, and so you move on to the next question after flippantly taking for granted that truth number one has already been established.

What are you capable of? You will tend to oscillate between overestimating and underestimating your own abilities. Of course, how open, extroverted, conscientious, agreeable, and neurotic you are lends your answer a provisional contextual basis. How well you did in school, the feedback you’ve collected from people over the years, whether or not you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset, what your current circumstances are (financial, relational) are all subconscious (and conscious) considerations.

And then you calculate how much you’re willing to sacrifice and for how long. You haven’t had enough experience; you’re making an incompletely informed guess at best. But your pattern recognition software (your brain) looks for consistent cause and effect mechanisms in your immediate environment. You seek out advice from older pattern recognition software that have a wider base experiences to draw from. Or you choose to embody the evidently correct behavioral patterns of a role model. And perhaps you spend some time reading about other people’s opinions, and maybe you devote a minimal amount of time consulting your own opinions.

And then you embark on your journey, with half-baked ideas on where you want to be, who you are, and what you’re capable of, and you hope that somewhere along the road, you find happiness, contentment, and fulfillment. Obtaining a specialized law degree seems like a good bet. By doing so, you would have minimized some of your future risks – by attaching your personal security to an established organization that can provide you with a socially beneficial, financially compensatory, sheltered position.

But if you’re honest with yourself, you don’t really see the thrill in hyper-specialization. You find it more fun to be more cross-disciplinary. A well-rounded, infinitely curious disposition characterizes you well – but you understand that it is impractical to be that way. After-all, the proper functioning of modern society depends on individual specialization. What good is it to have a world of impractical generalists? Who’s going to install your new toilet or fix your engine? Who’s going to do all the accounting, and financial projections? How else are more buildings going to be designed, and built? What use is there in favoring Goethe’s predilection for generality when society will only guarantee its accolades to the champions of specificity?

You view your pragmatism as a virtue, and exert an exceptional amount of energy into building a resume that is good enough to rank higher than that of most of your peers. To do so, you persevere against your natural inclinations to be lazy and procrastinate. After initial success, you grow prideful in your newly acquired elevated social standing. You become totally engulfed by your status, and mostly associate with people who share your arbitrary world view. Incidentally, they may share your contempt for people who choose to spend their time on impractical things. It doesn’t much matter whether the artist is interested in the pursuit of what they find personally meaningful. You have transcended such childish thinking and understand what is required to be a functional, well-respected adult.

You hold a resentment towards those people for being so simple-minded. Could they not see how irresponsible their behavior is? Do they not know how harsh the world is? And how, unless they conform, they will be incapable of raising a family or integrating properly into society?

It baffles you why so many people procrastinate. You are bewildered by their incessant and wasteful pursuit of a passion that they’re unlikely to make money from. But those you hold most in contempt are those who take detours (sometimes permanent) towards spiritual fulfillment. At least the artist stands a snowball’s chance of becoming famous.

They all seem to you like naive characters in a tragic plot. Victims of their own ignorance – and of their own vain attempt to fulfill their sense of inflated individualistic importance. You scoff and pity them. Perhaps you feel a little bit of sympathy, but not for very long. After-all, you know what it’s like to have a passion. But you didn’t jeopardize your future to pursue it. You grew up. You became responsible.

And yet, you can’t seem to shake an incessant feeling of regret. You are undeniably resentful towards those who are seamlessly free. Under your breath, you wonder why they were allowed to cheat and you weren’t. Secretly, you wonder why they don’t value fast cars, expensive jewelry, and status symbols? Do they not know that a blind pursuit of passions would rob them of extravagant meals, five star vacations, and exclusive nightclubs?

And yet, the stories of people who have taken your path and regretted it will fall on your deaf ears. They too, followed a practical goal, but then they looked back on the days that have passed them by while they were busily putting out fires and single-mindedly focusing on molding their behavior to maximize the chances of their next promotion. While they meticulously crafted their social image to be likable and slaved for long hours to polish and expand the glory lines of their latest impressionable CV. That despite the journey, and the success, they felt empty.

They had wealth, security, luxury, admiration and envy from those around them. They gained their freedom, and have many accomplishments to show off, and yet – something is missing. It’s not a story that always happens – but it does play out this way often enough. And if you don’t stop to wonder why –even for a moment – while you incessantly march forward, you risk being another short-sighted victim.

It’s worth remembering that there is a difference between being intelligent and wise.

Misalignment 

Why is it that you manage to go through so much of life filled with regret and not do anything about it?

Maybe you are afraid so you subordinate your values to other people, and relinquish personal responsibility for your own fate by outsourcing your decisions to a more established authority. You do not dare walk alone, discover the unknown, or risk your personal reputation. You want to succeed, and look good – because social image (you have been taught) counts more than personal truth.

You inherit your group’s values and fail to cultivate your own. And you obsessively compare yourself to other people. Your self-worth, competence, and value are determined not by your principles or beliefs, but by numbers – whether on a report card or check. And you have decided to pay little attention to the game you have chosen to play – assuming that it is the only game available to play. You content yourself with one notion – that if you are wrong so is everyone else. This staves off feelings of guilt – at least temporarily.

When your values and actions are disconnected from each other – you do great harm to yourself.  Misalignment happens when you drown out your inner voice – through alcohol and desperate, conscious repression. And it happens when you become proficient in nodding to the monotonous, collectivist, deafening chorus instead of cultivating the ability to decipher the unique but barely audible reverberations of your individual identity.

The Irrational Self

Curiously, you believe that most people know what they’re doing – and yet the flaws of the masses psychologically, socially, economically, and spiritually are diligently showcased to you through your regular interactions with them. You take for granted that people are rational and yet numerous studies have shown that people make irrational decisions every day. And you base your career on social trends – despite the stark evidence that most people are not engaged at work – and are living unfulfilling lives.

“The individual is increasingly deprived of the moral decision as to how he should live his own life, and instead is ruled, fed, clothed and educated as a social unit, accommodated in the appropriate housing unit, and amused in accordance with the standards that give pleasure and satisfaction to the masses.” (Jung, The Undiscovered Self P.13)

But you march on – hoping that one day – you will reap the rewards only to realize that the rewards aren’t worth it and the real treasures were hidden in plain sight. That life has played a sneaky trick on you. That it was the journey uphill that gave your life meaning – and that the accumulation of wealth, social status, and social responsibility were unwelcome, unexpected burdens that robbed you of the delight of striving for a worthy goal.

But now it’s too late, you have already invested too much. You can no longer cut your losses.

You are capable of self-destruction. And comically enough, you will brush off this fact- ironically acting doubly irrational in the process. You think that you can control the ways in which you destroy yourself. You think that if you avoid alcoholism, drug addiction, cigarettes, gambling – and a handful of other vices – you are home free. But those are just the obvious ones. The formidable forces of destruction are not written on pamphlets or presented to you in infomercials. They exist deep inside you. They are your false beliefs. And they are your shadow.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

A simple algorithm in the form of a virtual game can grab hold of you. It can suspend your ability to reason and distort your sense of time, shuffle your priorities and create a painful, long-term, addiction that will harm your psychological and physical health, destroy your relationships and rob you of your autonomy. A simple game – can ruin your life. And your sense of awareness leaves much to be desired.

But algorithms are also an intrinsic part of your brain’s software. You embody the predetermined patterns of your life – instead of actively creating new ones. Hence the sunk costs effect.

You study engineering because of external pressure, and realize after half a decade that you’ve made the wrong choice, but again, you march on – head first – into the abyss.

Taking Responsibility

The people who manage to formulate their own values properly, critically, and intelligently are the exception to the norm. To base your life choices on your vulnerable and imperfectly conceived intimations of insight is dangerous. It is safer to follow a predictable and established route.

To think critically about the choices you make means to take total responsibility for your life. This is a perilous position to be in. Should you fail, you will have no one to blame but yourself.

But you don’t want that. You prefer to have a scapegoat ready if you fail. It wouldn’t be your fault if you did everything you were supposed to do and didn’t experience success. At least you played your part, and paid your dues. Who wants to risk living dangerously?

The Musician at the Bank

Consider the archetypal tale of a musician who is forced to abandon his talent, for a safe, stable career as a banker. He will first realize what it’s like to act against his values, only after he has already been doing so for a while. It doesn’t happen suddenly, directly. Time passes, and his body grows more uncomfortable with every passing day, but he finds ways to distract himself. He makes a concerted effort to rid himself of any internal discomfort until there is nothing but silence. But he doesn’t succeed, because his quiet, rebellious voice has a life of its own. Some call it a daemon, others call it a sub-personality.

It manifests itself randomly and unexpectedly – and sometimes strongly after a subtle transgression. Perhaps through a snide comment, a pretentious warning, or an overly intrusive question. Whatever the cause – it was enough to trigger internal rage. Suddenly, the musician feels physically disintegrated but lucid. He can no longer continue deceiving himself. So he quits, and chooses to deal with a different kind of chaos for the remaining days of his life. He struggles to find stability and security. But he prefers to heed the call to authentic, dangerous adventure than to succumb to the totalitarianism of self-deceit, and the imprisonment of his consciousness.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path” Buddha

The Most Common Fears 

There are factors in life that serve as either headwinds or tailwinds. Family and societal pressure, for one thing, can act as a deterrent to accepting your deepest values. Financial pressure is another one. If you feel that doing something sub-optimal now will earn you more money, it’s hard to give that up for the often-riskier path of doing what you want. The short-term satisfaction of a steady income is enough to sedate your incoherent, inarticulate fascination with adventure. You also have a fear of not appearing competent enough (image), failing, going broke, losing the respect of your loved ones, not being selected by the opposite sex, and breaking with authority.

The problem is that these fears inevitably lead you to a path that is far worse than what you feared at first. The hidden trap in life is that by trying to side-step short-term turbulence, you end up positioning yourself quite nicely – in a tragic way – for the inevitable, long-term crash.

False Stability

You are not one dimensional. You have many unconscious desires that are as much a part of who you are as your conscious desires – if not more so. But in order to maintain a consistent self image, you eliminate contradictory details about your self. It’s practical. At least, it seems that way.  You build a persona – a social mask – in order to identify with people around you.

To become anything at all, you need to eliminate everything you’re not. You can’t simultaneously hold many titles – especially if they were contradictory. You have to bind yourself to a specific category. Otherwise, people would not know how to interact with you – and you would be incapable of forging any kind of coherent path forward. But as a consequence, you eventually find yourself bounded too strongly to your persona – of which you have many. Your identification with it becomes so powerful that you fail to recognize yourself as anything else. You will attach your self-worth to the extent to which you have consistently and successfully acted out your expected part.

You become addicted to receiving recognition for this surrogate self. This addiction devours your thoughts. You struggle to find meaning and value outside of this context. In that way, you become trapped in a game that you’re forced to play. And your future plans are now based on nourishing and protecting your persona.

But, as a result, you forfeit your freedom to change. To deviate away from the self-image you have created means abandoning all the hard work and sacrifice you’ve had to make (again, sunk costs!). It will confuse your future plans, and confound your loved ones. It’s safer to instead preserve your persona – even at the expense of your own individuality.

Through the meticulous maintenance of your persona, you develop a false sense of security. You trick yourself into believing that things are going according to plan. But who’s plan? Yours? And yours at what point in time? And for how long did you intend to stick to that plan when you made it? And how much did you know when you made that plan? And how much has changed since?

When your plans are buttressed by illusions of safety and security rather than meaning and purpose, your bout of existential doubt is only delayed. It may appear to you that you have gained social applause and adulation, material wealth, and cemented yourself as a paragon of sanctimonious living – but what you have lost will distill itself into a shadow that will lurk at safe distance from you. It will haunt you secretly until one day you are forced to reckon with it – it will manifest itself in ways you cannot anticipate, and it will disrupt your goals against your conscious will.

“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” – Matthew 16:26

How to Live According to Your Values?

Start an honest internal dialogue with yourself. Ask yourself what you believe in. It’s remarkable how much time you manage to go through life without ever bothering to ask yourself a question and then have the patience (and decency) to wait for an answer. You’re in a rush to seek the opinions of other people, but never that of yourself. If the answer is not waiting, on the tip of your tongue, then it must not exist – you reason.

The clues can be found in your immediate surroundings, memories where you’ve experienced a peak level of excitement, and the times where you have performed at your best. Instead of listening to your own words, it’s more telling to remember your past. Recall the conversations you automatically found yourself drawn to have with people. Note which section of the book store you seem to naturally gravitate towards, which subjects you got the highest grades in, when you had the most fun in your life, and when you felt most engaged.

Your true values don’t hide from you, they manifest themselves into your life consistently across time. Everything else you do is just a cover-up – a product of the persona. Find the common theme in your life, that’s survived your many phases, friendships, and experiences, and you’ll find where your true values are.

Don’t Avoid Pain

Pain is a necessary part of life. You understand that on some level. But you do everything you can to avoid it. Knowing how to deal with pain with your eyes wide open is a lot better than trying to ignore or suppress it. Without pain there is no growth – and it is for that reason, one of nature’s greatest tricks. You are tempted to avoid pain – in all of its forms, but nature will make sure there will be a higher price to pay for your cowardice in the future. You will pay for avoiding the pain of pushing your body beyond it’s limits, and of pushing your mind to think more deeply. The consequences are not immediate but they are inescapable.

“Man needs difficulties, they are essential for health” – Carl Jung

Distractions will help you fight boredom and pain. But when you are bored and idle, you are forced to deal with things that are bothering you – painful thoughts of insecurity, futility, and meaninglessness. When you try to avoid being bored, you are really trying to avoid feeling pain, and as a result – you’re turning yourself away from your own salvation. Your pain can alert you to bad behavior, toxic friends, and misaligned goals.

Venture capitalists like to frame business ideas as either being vitamin pills or pain killers. Vitamin pills are products people take – sometimes regularly-  but are not urgent and do not meet a pressing need. Products that are vitamin pills are not attractive to investors. Instead, they are looking for painkillers. These are the products that people use to get rid of extremely unpleasant feelings. Their powers of sedation ensure a return on investment. Social media companies such as Facebook started out as a vitamin pill but evolved into pain killers. One of the most effective ways of silencing your inner voice is scrolling through social media.

It is easy to become great at sedating yourself. You can learn to professionally consume endless hours of useless entertainment that rob you of everything that you value. You will busy yourself with the frivolous details that each new product owner has determined is important for you to learn. And you will become proficient at many useless things, but you never find the time to learn about yourself. And if do not become sufficiently aware of your limitations and desires, you won’t improve and will not feel satisfied. You will fall in love with dreams, fantasies and illusions, and you’ll be stuck there, for too long.

“Every time you confront something painful, you are at a potentially important juncture in your life—you have the opportunity to choose healthy and painful truth or unhealthy but comfortable delusion. The irony is that if you choose the healthy route, the pain will soon turn into pleasure. The pain is the signal! Like switching from not exercising to exercising, developing the habit of embracing the pain and learning from it will “get you to the other side.””- (Ray Dalio, Principles, P.153)

Don’t Live a Lie  

When you set goals that aren’t aligned with what you value, you have a smaller probability of accomplishing them, and even when you do accomplish them, you won’t feel satisfied. When they are aligned, and you’re pursuing something meaningful, you become completely immersed, and engaged. You lose track of time, and your insecurity fades.

That’s what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “Flow. It’s an optimal psychological state of mind that you experience you’re doing something that’s truly engaging. When in Flow, you’re not distracted by negative emotion. But that’s not enough. Meaning is not only found in the activity, it’s more than that. The activity needs to serve your personal values. You can become engaged in a mindless game and completely lose yourself, but when you’re done, you may feel foolish for having wasted so much time. You may feel foolish for avoiding your real responsibilities. But when you engage in an activity that puts you in a state of flow while helping you achieve meaningful goals – you’ll feel empowered and time will pass properly. Feelings of guilt will not pass over you. It feels like a neat psychological trick, but it works, and once you discover it, you’ll be incapable of doing anything else.

Be who you are unapologetically – not childishly or rebelliously, but with a higher sense of truth, awareness, purposefulness, and confidence.

References:

  • 12 Rules For Life – Peterson
  • Maps of Meaning – Peterson
  • Flow – Csikszentmihalyi
  • The Undiscovered Self – Jung

 

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