I have a philosophical prejudice against motivational speakers, life coaches, gurus, and basically anyone who makes their living advising others on how to live. These days we are led to believe that we can buy almost anything, even spiritual guidance. But unfortunately, you cannot commodify enlightenment. Secular remedies are not sacraments, and life coaches are no substitute for real relationships.
Image crafting and self-branding have become a cultural pastime, leading to the emergence of a new pop psychology designed to help us become more ‘authentic’. The presumption is that we are all fake. Buzzwords like ‘my truth’ and ‘your truth’ implicitly suggest that truth is a function of someone’s perception and not reality. And ‘be yourself’ is code for – be noticed. Because if you are not being seen, how will your ‘audience’ know you exist in any real or meaningful way?
Our increasingly virtual world has not only led to a loss of creativity but it has also diluted our senses and desensitized our hearts and minds. It’s going to take more then ‘unplugging’ during a yoga class to vaccinate ourselves against the modern afflictions of depression and anxiety.
While there may not be any supplements or essential oils that can reintroduce meaning into our system, there are some guidelines we can follow that can positively influence the way we experience reality.
Here are a few personal pointers that I hope can point you in the direction of greater satisfaction and peace of mind.
Five Principles Towards Living a More Meaningful life
- Romanticize the mundane. Upgrade your routine by creating rituals that involve using your hands, not just your head. Some of our best thoughts are nourished when we are not thinking. Manual labor is a time when ideas have an opportunity to ripen and when our instincts are sharpened.
- There is no compulsion in socialization. If you are hyper socializing because you have a fear of missing out, I assure you that the only thing you are missing out is your life. Don’t waste time impressing people you do not like. Those with a solid identity have likes and dislikes that are based on their own personal sense of life and hierarchy of values. When it comes to relationships, trust in your newly sharpened instincts. Do not be afraid to be alone. In the words of Mark Twain, “The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.”
- Return to Nature. I am not just talking about going to the woods or walking along the beach or milking a cow, although all these activities do connect us to the rhythms of life in a way that is both meaningful and inspiring. But more importantly, embrace your true nature. Whatever you thought you wanted to be as a child, will usually give you clues to what that is. So, reconnect with your inner child, because that is where your true nature resides. Once you embrace your nature and work with it instead of against it, you will be better equipped to heed your calling.
- Observe your own boundaries. Boundaries give things shape, definition and by extension meaning. Boundaries are not about what you do but about what you will not do. Even if it has no rational justification, what you will not eat or wear or say, not only defines who you are but also gives you a sense of security and self-respect. When we observe religious boundaries, we are being defined by our faith.
- Lastly, guard your heart and mind, with the same Vigilance that you would your body. We are so keen on protecting ourselves from harmful substances and viruses but have no qualms about exposing our minds and hearts to toxic media or people. Our minds are like Kodachrome film; Overexposure leads to the chronic skepticism that plagues an “open mind.” Underexposure leads to the darkness that we associate with the close-minded. The best minds know when to open up, to what, and for how long. A mind open to everything projects nothing.