At some point or other, we have all had outside circumstances spiral out of our control and create havoc in our lives. This reality can be crushing and infuriating because when something is taken from us, or happens without our desire, we are much more likely to fight it, as opposed to us making that choice to withdraw or disengage ourselves. When we fight or resist the changes that choose us, we engage in an emotional, and even physical warfare with the problem — and that drains us completely, and we have nothing left to give, to others and to ourselves. Too much chaos can disrupt the systemic routine we terribly attempt to create in our lives — not just literally, but the mental routine too, the routine that keeps our thoughts aligned and at peace.
How then, can we confront that chaos and create some form of order that serves as the antidote to all the free-floating chaos that seem to be holding us hostage?
Jordan Peterson puts it best:
To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability and accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood…It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive and meaningful reality.
To stand up straight with your shoulders back is just as metaphorical as it is literal. It creates an aura of personal responsibility — an axiom with a door that says you are the creator of your destiny. Sure, in theory, all this sounds very attractive. In practice, it is a challenging feat to stand up straight with your shoulders back. But there are ways we can put this lucrative idea into practice.
Firstly, start small.
When you engage in small acts of creating habitable order in the midst of chaos, you feel like there is some control of your life. In fact, when everything is changing, you need that portable stability, for your own sanity. A way I create order in my life is that I start my day every morning with a podcast. I listen to it while I’m brushing my teeth, in the shower, and while I’m getting ready. Sometimes it’s a podcast about politics, sometimes relationships, personal development. And it is a podcast/video carried out by people I’m inspired by — Esther Perel, Jordan Peterson, Candace Owens, Dave Rubin, Joe Rogan, Jocko Willink, Lewis Howes, Priya Parker, etc. Not only does this feed my intellectual curiosity, it helps me start my day with new information that I can use to educate myself and engage in conversations with others.
Next, even if I don’t have time for breakfast, I boil hot water, mix it with honey and lemon, and drink it first thing in the morning. As someone who suffers from digestive and problems — starting my day with something as simple as a warm glass of water with honey and lemon has alleviated so many of problems. And I genuinely love drinking it because it tastes quite good.
You may, think, podcast and a warm glass of honey-lemon water — how in the world does that combat the avalanche of problems that life throws at you? Well, it doesn’t. But it makes you stronger to combat them.
It helps me stand up straight with my shoulders back — it helps me build a stronger backbone, because I think, if I can control my morning, if I can control the activities that I choose to start my day with, I am already winning. And If I can create these small acts of order and win, I can use the positive energy I receive from these small victories and translate it into bigger victories in the next hour, the day, and the week.
When we invest in stocks, most of us start small and take incremental, measured risks overtime to invest more over time. And the prerequisite to invest more is usually the amount of success we receive from that initial investment.
The same applies to our own lives.
Our future wins are dependent on the wins we make today. We won’t be propelled to take healthy risks and be encouraged if we are slouching — physically and metaphorically.
At the core of classical liberalism, rests the idea of the individual power in the grand scheme of the state. Peterson says that “It’s the attentive and truthful individual who serves as the force that revitalizes the state when it becomes archaic and corrupt. And so the reason that the individual has to be regarded as sovereign is that without the sovereign individual, the state becomes corrupt and static.”
It is the individual who is responsible for taking care of themselves. And by taking care of themselves, they can take care of the world.
Chaos is the unknown, the unpredictable, the pain in our back, the fear, the anxiety, it is everything that we fear when we are in the dark. And order is the familiar, the light, the routine, the to-do-list, the friend who is always there for you, the sunlight in the morning. It’s all the things that we know and welcome, and thus we know how to react to them. We don’t know how to react to chaos — that’s why self-help books are flooding the market, and that’s why I’m partly even writing this article.
Losing two of my family members in the span of two days this summer threw my entire life into chaos — grief circled me in and I found myself feeling a plethora of emotions in any given day. Fast forward two months, I’m in a much better place — but I still hurt. As soon as one issue enters my life, I find myself the chaos that existed two months ago grip me even stronger, and I get into what I like to call, a funk. My thoughts become decentralized, I lose focus, I feel sad without a direct reason, I start questioning everything. And most of all, I find it tempting to call myself the victim.
And that’s when I use order to combat the chaos I feel in my heart. I look to the things that are familiar, stable, the known variable. As my entire life was dictated by relocating, I quickly realized the importance of creating meaningful relationships and bonds with people — they help stabilize me into order during chaos. They are, in a way, my portable home. I’m eternally grateful for my friends and family who have been through the ups and downs in life with me — they have kept me in check.
I also write when I’m feeling chaotic — well, I write either way, but writing down my thoughts helps me find a solution to them, or at least understand the problem at a greater length.
And at the heart of everything I’m trying to convey in this article — is the role of personal responsibility — of the individual. Playing the victim card is very tempting, society sells it to us today, and that’s why the personal has become the political in 2019. And that’s not the person I want to be.
Who we are is first and foremost determined by who we are not.
I was raised by my parents, teachers, and role models to always be the writer of my own story. To manifest my own success and upliftment in my life — and that’s the thought I use to create the order in my life. It’s okay to rely on people, I’m not saying depending on someone is a crime, but it’s vital to be independent — out of the pure necessity of societal survival. At the end of the day, other’s ideas, actions, and heart are out of our control, thus dependency is strongly attached to the other and their emotional welfare— it’s asking, are they having a good day? Will they help me out? Are they upset with me? But relying on yourself is saying “No, screw it. Bad day or not, I’m going to take charge and fix it now.” To be able to function independent of what is going on in your life outside your control is a feat in and of itself.
There is no more of a liberating feeling than knowing that you have made yourself the judge of your own story — created your own standards and committed towards meeting that standard. Nobody can get from 0 to 100, so it’s also vital to balance and create a judge that meets you halfway — so you can reach your goal in a realistic time frame with realistic standards.
Chaos is a malignant force that multiplies when we blame the world for our problem, when we choose to indulge in our misery, when we can’t resource our goals because we are too damn lost within the web of our own pain. I truly believe there will never be a time in our life that chaos completely disappears — maybe the intensity will reduce, but some form of the virus will always be lingering, thus it is that much more important we create a stronger immunity — a stronger order to fight the virus that wants to sicken us.
So, the solution? Find sources of habitable order that create some stability in your life — start small. Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Engage in the constants in your life — talk to the people that you trust, and most of all, commit yourself to battling the chaos, day in and out — and the antidote to this chaos begins with personal responsibility.