If you strip away all the extraneous stuff in your life, what would be left?
In modern society, it’s hard to connect to our true identity because of all the static. The expectations, the influences, the demands: all this external pressure makes it difficult to know our true selves.
It can be helpful to take a step back and think about your essential self. By essential self, I mean the person at your very heart, the person you have left after you strip away everything not essential to your being.
At every moment of every day, we have a choice. What should we do? Sometimes we feel productive. Sometimes we feel creative. Sometimes we feel like having fun. How do we decide what to do with this particular moment? What can we do to make this moment as meaningful and fulfilling as it can possibly be?
What about when we feel uninspired? Our time in this life is limited, but does that mean we have to make every second of every day count? If we’re just not feeling it, is it OK to become mindless and browse YouTube videos?
When I’m feeling uninspired or unproductive, I can’t force myself to create or produce. But that doesn’t mean I have to surrender, make myself a drink, and plop down on the couch. There’s a lot of space between not being productive and not doing anything. There’s nothing wrong with mindless entertainment, and we all need some downtime (see “Downtime”). But if nothing is the only thing we can imagine doing when we’re not feeling productive, then we’re missing out on a wealth of possibilities.
Is your life what you expected? Are you accomplishing what you set out to do?
These kinds of questions are related to a more fundamental question: What are the reasons and motivations behind our life goals?
We all want to live a “good life,” but what does that mean? Success can mean vastly different things to different people, but there are presumably some common reasons that we each take our respective paths.
Some of these might include subsistence, happiness, fulfillment, having a legacy, or making an impact on the world.
What are the reasons for your life goals? What would success look like?
How can I entertain myself? Where’s the next mindless stream of drivel I can distract myself with? What do I need to turn off my brain?
In this world of ever-present distractions, it can be challenging to live in the present moment—to exist and to be who we really are (see Exist).
The world seems designed to ensure that we always have sufficient distraction to never have to be alone with ourselves. Why is that? Have modern people become so lazy that they can’t bear the thought of reflection? Have we become so distracted that we’re not able to spend time with our own thoughts?