Your particular combinations of genetics are a once off phenomenon — they have never before occurred and will never be repeated. Embedded in your genetics is the seed of your uniqueness, that wants to grow and see itself expressed in its full, unique form. We experience our uniqueness in a force that drives us towards particular activities and sensations. The purpose of our life, in my opinion, is to align our day to day activities with that which we are genetically disposed to do, and so we can spend as much of our time as possible honing our craft and doing what we love.
The problem with this is that hardly anybody knows what the fuck they’re actually good at or want to do. Self-awareness is an incredibly elusive topic because every single one of us is dragged down and deluded by all the fucking baggage of our family, teachers and friends. We live our day to day lives in a violent cacophony of voices and opinions — faced with endless “shoulds” and “should nots”. All of this tears us from our path and buries our primal drives so deep that it becomes almost impossible to recover.
As we grow older we listen less to our own voice which pulled us towards building with lego, slamming keys on the piano, or running around and climb things we were younger. We’re told that you can’t make a career out of that, you should sit down and study this instead. This presents a problem because if we believe it we spend the rest of our lives with a deep incongruency, part of us wants to go one way, and the rest another.
The reason why I regard self-awareness as the most important personal quality is because doing what your genetically predisposed to do and tripling down on your strengths is in my opinion literally the most practical thing you can do. If your career isn’t your favourite thing in the world to do — if it isn’t your vocation — you will live your life riding with the brakes on. You’ll never achieve what you were capable of achieving and you will die regretful.
You need to find out what you love to do, and when you find it you need to have the guts to hunt it down. In my mind it is a matter of practicality. The narrative we’re told is “you can do what you love, but you won’t make as much money.” I think if you do what you love, you’ll be all the more fulfilled and you’ll make a metric fuck-ton more than you could have ever imagined.
That’s the end for me, but if you like it I’ve written a FREE eBook about life mastery, which includes 16 of what I consider life’s most valuable lessoms: http://jacksonnexhip.com/longformwriting/misguided.html
Go to a mirror. Lock eyes with that creature in front of you.
You’re a looker, there’s no doubt about it — but what’s within the fleshy vessel. What’s your shtick? Your value? Your most important personal quality?
Hold onto the first thing that comes to mind.
Now, imagine your friends and family next to you. And next to them, your idols — the people who inspire you, perhaps there are some high profile figures.
It’s quite a miraculous sight. I mean, let alone the sheer size of this big ass mirror — we’ve got a whole line of your life’s important people side by side.
Now ask yourself — what’s their shtick? What makes each one of them valuable?
Now, in light of their influence, generally speaking — what is the most important personal quality to have? You can only pick one.
I well and truly guarantee there’s no universal answer. I mean, fuck, it’s arguably the most subjective question I could ask.
To experiment, I ran a quick test on a few friends. I asked them the question, giving a few seconds to answer.
Their answers all differed: loyalty, integrity, confidence, communication.
But what makes those qualities the MOST important to each of them? What shapes their individual judgment?
Is it as simple as our pre-conceived notion of the ‘ideal person?’
You know what I mean, like our pre-rehearsed answers to the ‘best quality you have’ question in a job interview. The shit we spit out because we’re convinced it will make us the most desirable candidate.
Alternatively, it could be the key aspect of our personality that attracts friends and lovers. (Ideally, it would be the kind of quality to include in a tinder bio to maximise matches).
Or maybe it’s the key quality in people that we’re attracted to? That we value?
When it came to me sitting down trying to manifest my answer in words, to be honest, I was stumped.
I had my mirror, and my imagined line of personally influential people. I had keywords running around in my head — passion, confidence, compassion, self-awareness.
But I couldn’t locate the MOST important quality. I couldn’t find the ingredients to make the word to describe it.
So I did some research. Read and watched a bunch of stuff.
And I found it. I found the word that, for me, describes it.
Are you ready? It’s fuckin juicy.
Yes. That syllable tripping, marathon of a word is my choice.
And it’s a word used by Parker Palmer in a brilliant Commencement Address on, what he describes, are the pillars of the wholehearted life.
‘Be reckless when it comes to affairs of the heart.’
‘Fall madly in love with life. Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human worlds and take risks on its behalf, no matter how vulnerable they make you.’
His words resounded with me intensely.
It was a wonderful description that to me, highlighted what a fulfilling life was.
By offering ourselves — our gifts, our visions, and our heart — generously and fully to the world, we understand how little we know and how easily we can fail.
Wholeheartedness allows us to cultivate a beginner’s mind — to embraces all aspects of life; especially its unknowns, its not sures and its what ifs.
Wholeheartedness encourages inner-wholeness — to embrace our weaknesses. And it calls us to extend that courtesy to others through empathy.
Wholeheartedness imbues passion. And it’s a quality that alleviates suffering.
As Palmer ends — ‘daily, keep your death before your eyes.’
You’re not going to die saying ‘I’m sure glad for the self centered, self-serving and self-protective life I lived.’
Be reckless. Take life by the balls and own it. Love it with that whole big aortic pump of yours.
That’s what’s most important.
If you liked this piece, check out my blog at https://thecorpuscolumn.wordpress.com/.
My posts there are segments from a book to be released in the future. Cheers.
Look no further than someone who is reflective.
Why would I pick reflective when obvious answers like hard-working, passionate, purposeful, and honest exist? Because I believe no matter how hard you work, how much you love your life, or how set you are on fixing humanity, you’ll lack the insights necessary to make an impact if you fail to reflect.
Reflection entails giving yourself the time and space to think about the inner workings of life. Life is full of strange social dynamics, cultural influences, metaphysical mind-fucks, and beliefs about yourself, your family and your place in the world. Through reflection, you learn from past experiences and “add/subtract pieces from the puzzle”. Ultimately using your new understanding to more accurately navigate life and achieve what want. If you don’t take the time to reflect — see what’s effective/what’s worth your time — you’ll keep tripping over the same hurdles, making the same fundamental mistakes and misinterpretations.
If you’re not fulfilled, reflection will uncover the root of the issue and allow you to move forward.
Reflection for me has taken the form of writing stream-of-consciousness journals, where I constantly ask myself “wtf is going on, wtf am I doing, and why?”. If you never question yourself or your path, you’ll have a sore jaw when regret strikes you in your old age.
Most recently, reflection has lead me to re-prioritise what I feel is important in life. Stopping humanity from destroying the environment and thus destroying itself has become my main concern, and now I’ve structured my daily life around solving this problem. Without reflection, my focus would have been distracted by a milieu of other things like lifting weights, drinking alcohol, engaging in sport, TV, movies, sex… all of which lack importance to me now. The amount of time and energy that was once taken up by those tasks can now be channeled in the direction of what is most important to me.
I encourage you to actively question why you do things, why other people do things, what your goals are, what is important to you, what your beliefs are, and why you think the way you do? Start doing this, and your perception of life’s limitations will fall apart before your very eyes.
Follow my environmental journey here: https://www.facebook.com/EcoWarJoinUs/
– Thomas Fergusson
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Originally published at medium.com