Welcome to 2024! And since it’s that time of resolutions – and a time of soul-wrenching loneliness for some of us, something that is hopefully going to end soon – some lines about making choices might be appropriate.
How do you choose? Most of us seek a strategy in the cultural tradition we belong to. We ask ourselves what an individual like us might do in such a situation, in this or that circumstance. Or we ask our family. Our parents. Our wife. Our… mother… And here come the lyrics of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, namely the verses of Mother, whose video is also interesting to see:
Mother, do you think they’ll drop the bomb?
Mother, do you think they’ll like this song?
Mother, do you think they’ll try to break my balls?
Mother, should I build the wall?
Mother, should I run for president?
Mother, should I trust the government?
Mother, will they put me in the firing line?
Mother, am I really dying?
Pink Floyd was a subtle band and both the words and the visual symbols are really deep. We often let the others choose for us because we cannot bear the responsibility of deciding ourselves what is the best pathway to the future. So we ask our relatives for advice or help… and then we often thoroughly adopt their opinion as being ours… Just ponder for a moment on this before moving on!…
Another way of choosing I discovered years ago comes from the NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). If all choices are equal, choose that option that increases the number of available options in the present and the future. In other words, that choice that offers maximum of flexibility and potential, that opens you up to new experiences, new people, the Unknown, that gets you out of the comfort zone and prevents you from being locked in various mental or social prisons. For instance, it’s better to position yourself as an international professional rather than staying confined to your country. Or, it’s better to know to do many things instead of doing only one; in case the reality on the field changes, you can easily switch to something else (and that’s why it’s a good idea to keep learning throughout your life: you keep your options open).
Yet another way of choosing might be the one following the simple rule of choosing from several seemingly equal options the one that you never tried before. Of course, I’m talking about situations of doubt, when you are stuck among several apparently equal choices with equal or comparable outcomes. Choosing novelty is actually the same thing as above: choosing freedom and exiting a rigid or closed system, no matter what this system might be (job, family, peer pressure to conform, addictive behavior of any kind, etc.). It involves a certain amount of risk but also making yourself available for public blame for not living up to the standards of a particular community. This blame might or might not come, but when daring to do something new, chances are you too might blame yourself at some point in the future (What was I thinking when I chose this?!). Well, this is the price of doing something that you never did before.
A third and final way of choosing something new – again, since it’s the beginning of the year – is to take a spiritual and a heroic archetypal attitude. I will quote here Jordan Peterson, a rational mind that is focused on really big things regarding life in general and the world of today, as confused as it currently is. We will start with a first quote:
You’re not everything you could be, and you know it.
This line triggers the fundamental inferiority complex each of us has in their psyche: since we aren’t God, we are always defective in some sort, we are always lacking something. We are never complete, never satisfied and never… God(ly). The statement is sufficiently general so that each of us can think about the part they lack, which is different from individual to individual. Have you thought about this? If not, would you kindly think now?! What is that piece that is missing? Or what is the most important one? And if there are many, can you make a list and keep it somewhere hidden, for your eyes only? Where are you stupid? What is that area in your life where you’re constantly failing? Take again some time to ponder, it’s no hurry, it’s still holiday today, right? Then, let’s move to the next quote:
The secret to your existence is right in front of you. And it manifests itself as all those things you know you should do but you’re avoiding.
If you wonder about your meaning in life, or the direction that you should be following, perhaps a good clue is that thing that you avoid. Sometimes, the negative points out to the positive, and we are generally better at identifying the negative in our lives. What you don’t do, for good reasons, of course? Speaking metaphorically, hidden treasures (resources) lie often where you refuse to look or enter. And possibly, you need those resources so as to go on with your life, they are the missing piece needed for your personal evolution or for your journey through life. Avoiding, in my opinion, is a very bad strategy; the price to be paid will be paid nevertheless. Now, you can avoid and see for yourself that I am right, or you can be wiser and learn from my mistakes; you are free either way! But, one way or another, it’s a good idea to at least identify what you keep circumventing; it’s going to be easier next time when you’ll finally be ready to stop evading. And now, on to the last quote:
Aim at the highest possible good that you can conceive of.
If you find it hard to identify your weaknesses (quote 1) or your avoidances (quote 2), you might be able to imagine how does “good” looks like, the ideal that you want to reach (this 3rd quote). What is the paramount thing you want to achieve in life? Here there is a subtlety: you might be willing to have a lot of power or money or a great network of friends – and these are indeed good targets – but the quote runs deeper: for what would you like to be remembered in this life or after your physical death? What is that great good that you want to leave behind? (I also respect that some people do not want to leave anything behind them, it’s their freedom to do so and I will not judge them) What is going to be your personal story for which you’ll be remembered after you pass away? This third quote is not about choosing an option but about generating a trajectory for your entire life, it’s the background music on which all other choices and events happen. I let you ponder on this as the article ends: what can you begin to do this year so as to make your life worthwhile?
I made the choice to offer the possibility of donations on my blogs (findable on the About pages). On WordPress and Substack I intend to experiment with subscriber-only articles. At this point in my life I realized that our time is limited and has value. After 20 years of blogging I finally understood that I am not everything I could be and there is a thing called monetization. I avoided this quite a lot of time. The greatest good I can do remains the possibility to pass my insights and trigger questions in other people’s minds through my articles; therefore – rest assured – what is important will always be free.