Why is everyone else happy and you’re not? Maybe if you also post your lunch/ass/car on Insta you will feel better? Aah yes,…sweet dopamine, that was fun for the whole 42 likes! Now what? Maybe another picture?
If you think this strategy is working, you’re in for a big surprise.
By all means, keep looking at everybody else. Bent over your tiny screen, yup, don’t look up at life happening around you. Just keep on scrolling and scrolling. Look at how happy everybody is on your feed. How do they do that? Ow well, just post a happy selfie yourself! *CLICK* Now they know you are doing great as well!
But how do they keep smiling so much? They must be doing something right,… or not?
If you keep comparing yourself to the curated slideshows of thousands of e-celebrities, high school crushes, and vague acquaintances – you’re cruising head first into burnout. The finish line for chasing pixel dreams!
Listen kid, almost everyone is at a loss on what to do with their lives. We’re all fucking around, trying to find that magical key to happiness. But if you live your life on the currents of trending hashtags, you will fall for a million little blue lies.
So what does work? How can you manifest the real you? How can you live an interesting and fulfilled life?
Best bet? Be yourself! I know, I know, not this shit again… just be yourself and rainbows and unicorns will appear. As if with all societal norms and pressures it’s easy to fit in,… let alone be yourself and fit in.
Maybe being yourself is not the right phrase. Better yet is: Become yourself!
Even though I want to copyright the shit out of that idea, it’s not mine. Plenty of philosophers, psychologist, gurus and (thank god) life coaches have been blabbing about this concept for millennia. Brash summary: Don’t be a flimsy fuck of a person, let go of your superficial mask caught by the winds of contemporary hype: be your own (wo)man.
The point is, your feelings should not be a toy of providence or at the whim of public opinion. Take your faith in your own hand. You’re not a mere object in reality, your mind actually generates your reality.
You can choose to take more control.
You can choose to be strong, interesting and fulfilled!
So at the next house party, you actually can proudly tell: why and who you are! Talk about the deliberate choices you made in life. Not blab about your 6th original faux leather jacket or how amazing your boring ass office job is.
What? But,..uhm, becoming who I am,… Feeling good? How do you get there?
There are of course the staples of feeling more content in life: Healthy social life, eating well, sleeping well, spiritual balance, a calling. Just stroll around Thrive for 10 self-help articles. (Which I dare you to take enough action on.)
But we are talking about something that goes a bit deeper. About becoming more of a person, to develop character. Owning your paradigm on life, taking responsibility and action to become who you are.
Become who you are. Do what only you can do. Be the master and sculptor of yourself.
– Friedrich Nietsche
“So a how-to article?”
*Sigh* – sure why not,…
Where to start filling up
So how to grow into yourself. Whether you call it; personal development, inner game, individuation or whatever. It starts with something simple:
Taking responsibility; your life, your choices, your consequences. Stop blaming circumstances, others people and faith. Sure, you were born in a certain situation, but after that the choices soon became yours. There is a lot you can influence in the short and long term. (Don’t mind the things you truly can’t control.) You decide how you experience everything, you decide how to act. Don’t blame all around you, blame yourself, and claim the responsibility of making a better life out of it!
Secondly, analyze yourself so you know thyself. Find out what makes you tick!
First of all, you can go all out on psycho-analysis. Some go to options to better understanding your personality are models like MTBI, Big Five, or you know, which Disney princess you are. These tests are indicators, not perfect prophecies. It will explain what your natural tendencies are, so you can better understand your thoughts and behavior. But take it with a grain of salt,… because you know, no way I would be Belle (I would be Ariël!).
Read up on what your type is like, what are your strong suits and weak spots. Compare it to real life. What fits? Where do you need more development? See what you are good at! Use those insights.
The unexamined life is not worth living
You can deepen your self-knowledge by going a bit deeper. Use a journal. Monitor and document your thoughts to get a better grip on what and why you think. Just write down your thoughts in a journal. See how you feel and what you think every day. Let it out. Come back a while later. With a sober mindset and see how it all is expressed. Why all that drama about ice-cream? Why did you feel so hangry?
Do this consistently, and you have a great tool to better understand yourself in retrospect, so you can create a better future.
Those who understand others are clever, those who understand themselves are wise.
– Lao Tzu
On further inquiry, go a bit beyond yourself, take a good look at your (sub)culture and it’s status quo. Think about it on a macro and micro scale. For example, in Holland we eat (loads of) mayonnaise on our French fries, in The States, it is frowned upon.
Or on subculture level, in your investment banking firm, it is normal to snort jots of cocaine up your nose (do you guys have time to read this article?), at the local bakery it is somehow not done.
Is your world how it has to be? Really,… ketchup on your fries? What more ways are there to live? Think about it, life is lived in numerous ways, so don’t take your cultures way too serious.
Notice how cultural habits shape your thinking? The best way to be aware of and broaden your perspective is by traveling. If you have the opportunity, by all means, go see other countries! See how other people act and do, to see the limits and opportunities of your own little world. Not able to travel? Go watch some awesome documentaries or waste away your time reading books about the wide world!
What to fill yourself up with
As you get to know yourself, you create a framework on how to best design your life. Design and dedicate it to living a fun, interesting and worthwhile life. For yourself and others. But in dedication for people, not their likes. But where does one start?
Life is essentially meaningless. There, I answered the hardest philosophical question ever for you. This non-caring universe essentially dropped your consciousness here, now go figure it out. This actually the best thing ever: You, as stardust meaning-making machine, you can choose your own reason for living!
Sit down choose and define why and what you want to accomplish! Want to grow stinking rich? Sure! Save the rainforest? Go for i(s)t! Abolish international borders? Start a family? Invent the cure to hypochondria? Be crazy and go for it!
Give your meaning of life shape and make it yours!
My best suggestion: dedicate yourself to living a fun and worthwhile life for others and yourself. Real other people, you can touch, punch, hug and kiss. Not avatars on a screen. Which brings me neatly to the next step:
Start just doing nice shit for people, just for the sake of it. Just be nice! Bake a pie, let an old lady across the street, help your neighbor’s kid with homework, carpool, keep some spare change for homeless people. Just do a tiny bit extra, tell people it’s no big deal, walk out and never think anything of it again,… except remember that smile that made your day.
We are social beings, whether you like it or not, being emphatic or kind makes you feel good in the long end. It is one of your primary drivers.
Also, learn lots of new things; dance like it is 1999, go see Bollywood movies, hate it, go to another one, dance along & love the songs! Create a signature dish, write a poem, design an app, talk to 27 strangers, run a marathon. Try and fail, try more and enjoy the whole fucking process. Because you are living. With childlike abandon throw yourself at it!
And if you so happen to find some things you like, pick it up consistently, embrace it, make it yours. Go draw, build, write, work out, whatsoever. Keep it up, and do it for just yourself.
Want to be more interesting? Easy, just live another 1000 lives. Read! Grab a pile of books from the local library, sit in your favorite cozy corner and jump in. Read fiction to be amazed, embody more empathy, and find new perspectives. There are so many different amazing characters that can teach you tiny and big lessons.
Read non-fiction to understand people, the world and what the fuck is going on! Learn about politics, psychology or anything you like! I’ll bet you always have something interesting to tell people.
Need a hand? Take up the yearly book reading challenge at goodreads.com, and find awesome new books to read in the process!
Be unapologetically yourself. Don’t make any excuses for the positive choices you make…. to anyone! Not even your mom, and especially not yourself. Stay humble, but be who you are! Know what you choose is right, your mistakes, your successes, that you want to live your life,… despite the ideas of others!
As you set your own course and start taking responsibility, analyzing and build yourself, in service of others and becoming a better you,… anxiety doesn’t even have room to be within you.
You only live once, and plenty of people around need your gifts! For a better you and a better world. Use all available resources and strength around you to become that interesting, fulfilled you.
I’m looking forward to meeting and learning all about that original you! Maybe we will meet next time at a party, in the park or I’ll read about you in a book!