There’s a reason why many feel unhappy. It’s because we’ve been taught we are imperfect. Whether it’s how we were raised, the social customs we follow, or the influences of our belief systems; it’s important to isolate the primary sources of our discontent.
When you think about it, from the day you were born external forces in your life have been conspiring to turn you into a certain kind of person. Your parents and family members have certainly played a key role in defining who you are. The education system you attended also helped chart your destiny. And social and cultural norms also influenced the person you became. Yet, there are other forces at play – more intrusive – that have laid the foundation of inadequacy within us all.
Look within yourself to the ideas that are holding you back
Look around. Everywhere you turn there are institutions and systems offering to lead you down a path to find a better you. Take religion for example. What’s its primary role? To lay down a foundation of inadequacy by teaching people to believe they were born bad – or worse, evil.
Philosophies can also have a heavy influence on our psyche, because they attempt to show us hidden forms of esoteric wisdom that invite us to escape our own humanity. There are also many schools of meditation, yoga and other ancient paths to enlightenment that vie for our devotion. But these paths also seek to purge individuals of their own natural human characteristics. I.e., they teach us that the very qualities that make us human represent a lower form of existence, and we must escape our humanity in order to reach a higher level of being.
And not to be left out are the many other paths to perfection we can find at the local strip mall. From cannabis stores to pharmacies, liquor vendors to athletic clubs, and fashion boutiques to franchises offering the latest materialistic diversions; these all promise their own brand of perfection. The only reason we buy into what the conglomerates are selling us, is because their marketing campaigns have successfully convinced us of our own inadequacies.
What all of this sets up is what I call an attitude of escapism. Escapism represents a false premise about life that we’ve been nurtured on since birth. Which is to say, that the goal of humanity is – ironically – to escape being human. Whether by joining religions, learning philosophies, following gurus, or fixating over our physical appearance; we have come to mistakenly believe that happiness is acquired by achieving perfection.
I’d like to suggest an alternative. True well-being is available to everyone who is willing to accept that they are human and they are fraught with imperfection. (In fact, I’d argue that it’s our imperfections that make us all uniquely original.) Yet, we must learn to value and accept our own humanity — both the good qualities and the not so beneficial ones that might be detrimental to our well-being. And, we must also learn to be tolerant and permit others to be human as well.
NOTE: This post is part of new series offering insights on Meditation for Freethinkers, which will be posted each Meditation Mondays.