Id, ego, superego

The Id, the Ego, and the Superego Walk into a Bar

Like most people, my life is made up of a variety of competing forces. They often seem like a mishmash of drives, doubts, and compulsions, and it can be hard to get a handle on them and how much each is controlling my day-to-day thoughts and activities, my path in life, and my worldview. I try to be very intentional about my vision for my life, goals, and aspirations—I have a document that I update regularly describing all of these—but I still struggle with who’s in the driver’s seat. I do feel like I have a good, strong moral compass that helps me develop my evolving worldview and guides my interactions with people, but I can also be selfish. I try very hard to be healthy and spiritual, but many of my thoughts and actions are driven by compulsions related to basic urges. Sometimes I prioritize working toward an ideal, while at other times, I tell myself that I should just have fun. Life is, of course, a balance, and I try not to sweat these competing forces too much, but when I stay aware of these forces, it can actually be fun to watch them fight with each other.

I’ve been thinking about these forces in terms of Freud’s id, ego, and superego[1] (more here), which has been fun and instructive.

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Learn. Happy father and daughter learning from each other.

The Perpetual Student—Developing a Lifelong Culture of Learning

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Hmm . . . How unfortunate for the dog.This adage implies that as we become older, we become more set in our ways. We become less inclined to learn new things. And we become less likely to put ourselves in the position of being the “student.”Is it because we know more than most people? Is it because we’re afraid of things we might not be able to understand?Or is it because maybe we’re just a little bit arrogant? We think because we’re older that we’re wiser.It is true that as people get older, they pick up life experiences and learn a lot about many things. But it is also true that there will always be things that we can learn, even about those things we know very well.

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Fan. Performer with fans in the crowd.

Finding Inspiration in our Favorites: What it Means to be a Fan

I’m a big fan!

To some, this statement engenders a visceral negative reaction. Many people want to be admired for what they do, and some people, such as authors, musicians, and actors, depend on it for their livelihood. But there are different levels of fandom. Some are healthy and appropriate, and some are extreme, bordering on harassment.

The word “fan” is a shortened version of “fanatic,” meaning marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion. It comes from the Latin fanaticus, the definition of which I like even more: insanely but divinely inspired. The spectrum of fandom ranges from admiring and appreciating someone’s work, to being influenced by them, to trying to emulate them, to worshiping them, all the way to trying to become part of their lives.

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Looking to the future.

Future

What does the future hold for you?

What is around the next corner?

Do you feel like your life is predetermined and you’re trapped on a path from which there is no escape, or do you feel as free as a bird to go where life takes you?

Are responsibilities, expectations, and commitments limiting what you do, or is your life your own to do with as you wish?

For most people, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

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Play! A group of friends having fun.

Play

Do you want to go out and play?!

As adults, our time for playing is usually not as spontaneous as that. Our playtime is often highly scheduled, goal-oriented, competitive, or in many cases, non-existent. We may have hobbies, activities we do for relaxation, or things we do to pass the time, but how much of it is fun? How much of it is carefree? How often is it spontaneous?

As adults in Western society, we have many expectations placed on us. We’re expected to go to work, pay our bills, raise our children; more fundamentally, we’re expected to act “responsibly.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but for many, this sense of responsibility displaces any sense of fun we had. We may occasionally let our hair down in a card game with friends or at the beach on vacation, but is fun and playing an essential part of our lives? Is it part of who we are?

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