Is that all there is?
Without access to a true self, the surprising discomfort of material and social well-being is often explained away by our well-meaning egos’ mistaken belief that these things must not have been attained at all.
From this mistaken premise, we come to the erroneous conclusion that we do not actually have enough power, money, status or accomplishment to feel secure and fulfilled. Sensing a job to do, our well-meaning egos then drive us on to the next chapter of our unending quest for more, better and bigger… and we go round one more time in pursuit of a deeper fulfillment that never comes.
What do I mean when I say well-meaning egos? I mean those parts of ourselves that are constantly on the lookout for something wrong, so that they can be useful and protect us from harm. Despite the well-publicized dangers of our time, we live in an era of unprecedented well-being and security, but these survival obsessed aspects of ourselves are not equipped to deal with that.
To make matters worse, this human vulnerability is exploited by the conversations that surround us. By designing messages to convince us that something actually is wrong, politicians, advertisers and the media compel our well-meaning egos to “do” something (usually involving money or votes) and experience the primal satisfaction that comes when we protect ourselves from misfortune.
But after a while, if we are lucky, the true self tires of this repetitive game and awakens. By awakening, it begins to perceive that acquisitions and accomplishments which once seemed urgent were just excuses for staying busy. In other words, the well-meaning ego can satisfy basic needs and assure basic safety, but once it’s done that, it can’t fulfill our deepest desires.
This moment of awakening to one’s true self and the emptiness of ego-driven pursuits is different for all people. For some, it is addiction’s rock bottom, severe illness or proximity to death. For others, a confrontation with injustice highlights the selfishness of personal goals. Still others awaken for no discernible reason at all. But regardless of the particulars, such life passages trigger the realization that our one life is too precious to waste pursuing goals that are ultimately unfulfilling and hollow.
Where are you on your journey of awakening? Are you sensing that your ego’s got you on a hamster wheel? Are you aware of your ego and hating it? Have you awakened to a higher purpose but have no idea how to execute it without falling pray to the same old fears and habits?
Questions such as these are the foundation of my work. By addressing them and working to put your well-meaning ego in its proper place, you can awaken further to a life driven not by survival but by the impulse to create something new and valuable. Something inspired by your true self and executed with joy, rather than fear.
As Howard Thurman once said: Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.