Don’t read this if you’re sitting in your car, going at snails pace through traffic, on your way to work in a corporate job that deep down you really hate but just can’t give up. Mainly because using your phone while driving is illegal and stupid, but also because you won’t enjoy what is written next.
Our entire lives are bound by rules. Rules that mostly go unsaid but are inherently ‘known’. You learn these rules through growing up, watching your parents, listening to your teachers and observing the world around you.
Go to school, go to uni, get a job, find a partner and get married, have children and your they then continue that cycle. We learn to be sociable; to enjoy the company of others; and show the outside society that we are living ‘fulfilled’ lives. The ‘rules’ are then magnified by the modern-day addition of social media. Not only do we feel the need to live in a certain way, we broadcast to it a community of people much wider than just our closest family and friends.
If you’re not happy, you don’t actually show it. If you’re questioning what you’re doing with your life, you don’t publicly announce it, you fork out hundreds of dollars to see a specialist, because something must be wrong with you, right?
But why do we act like that? When you break it down and question why we act the way we do, so dictated by those around us and the appearances we uphold, doesn’t it all seem somewhat irrelevant?
At the end of the day…who actually cares?
“Society has tricked us into the belief that our minds are inside our heads and act independently from it, at the same time that it is also telling us who we are and what we should be doing”
Whenever I return to the city, I am welcomed by a tidal wave of people living each day completely governed by the rules. To them, it’s just what you’ve got to do, to live the luxurious life everyone so badly craves.
Break those rules. What is luxury? When you turn off your phone, forget about work and escape from the sea of people surrounding you, what is it that you actually enjoy? Do that.
“We have been convinced that we are free and independent agents and yet, the very agent referred to is actually a social role that is defined by other people and has no real freedom to act at all”
We need to act independently. Break down all the aspects of our lives and consider them. Are all the puzzle pieces that define you as an individual there because you put them there, or because someone else’s influence did. Think twice about things, think three or four times about them. Are all these pieces what you want or what you think you’re supposed to want?
There are consequences for breaking the rules.
You learn to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. The feelings that we are trained to avoid and fix, feelings of loneliness, uncertainty and frustration, become ok. The seemingly negative feelings, become positive ones.
Loneliness, leads to self-reflection and eventually comfort in your own solitude.
Uncertainty, drives motivation, and becomes a catalyst for taking risks that will better yourself, regardless of outcome.
Frustration signifies the need for change, to distance yourself from the source.
“We live supposedly in a world of opposites, of white against black, or here versus here. But beneath this level of opposition lies a sea of tranquillity, in which all things are complementary rather than contradictory”
I by no means live completely free of societal influences. It would be impossible to confidently say you do. However being aware of the influences society is playing on your life and choosing which of these are positive and which are negative and best avoided, is important.
Stop acting on auto-pilot. Stop following for the sake of following.
Observe, reflect, act on your intuition. Pick and choose what you take from society, and don’t let it take any more from you.
all quotes comes from ‘Games Zen Masters Play, Writings of R.H. Blyth”