Don Miguel Ruiz gave us a great life philosophy through the four agreements derived from the ancient Toltec culture. He told us that we need to be impeccable with the word, never make assumptions, never take anything personally, and always do our best.
I’m very interested in the second agreement about never making assumptions. Because here we are roaming the world with plenty of preloaded assumptions, handed down to us through the prevailing culture of our society.
In a previous blog post I wrote about reality and how we as humans perceive it through a set of preset filters. The thing that I’m not sure I emphasized hard enough was our main advantage as human beings to adapt to the changes in our environment. It’s quite literally our species’ superpower. And yet, we wield even greater power in our imagination which grants us the potential to create a different world within our minds through dreams, goals, and aspirations. We can use our imagination and work towards making it manifest in real life.
Successful plans, however, require that we’re able to see the world clearly. We need to make sure we’re using crystal clear lenses that are not tainted by propaganda, fake narratives, misleading convictions, outdated information, and outright lies about how the world works.
This is exactly why this article is a part of “The Clear Thinking Project” series of posts because I want to send all the phantoms of delusional thinking to exile and perhaps help you do the same.
We need to understand that the world as it stands today is not just simply the environment with its trees, sand, soil, mountain, plants, and rivers under a big blue sky. We also have to navigate the complex environment of human society with its hierarchies, power players, and layers of interdependencies.
The modern-day person is categorically different from a hunter-gatherer ancestor because we no longer have to just simply fend against mother nature, but we have to fight daily battles with human nature, as well, both with other people and within ourselves.
So in between the rock of our preconceptions and the hard place of the barrage of conflicting aims of other people we find ourselves lost in a world that doesn’t have time to show us the ropes and tell us what we need to know to find our footing in the digital maelstrom of the 21st century.
There is a number of things that I’d wished someone would tell me as I was stepping out into the world fresh out of college with all of my inexperienced naïveté.
For instance, I would have appreciated someone telling me that career decisions based on the desire for money and attention may lead to emotional burnout, disenchantment, and dead ends.
The world is riddled with political games that no one prepares you for, and some things that used to make the difference between success and failure in one’s career do not matter as much now. Things like where you went to school, who you know, and your connections, are no longer ironclad means to achieving stellar success.
We need not be in a hurry to make money, gain attention, or rise to the top. It all takes effort, time, and plenty of perseverance and patience.
Do not listen to what some idiots might tell you. Work is not necessarily supposed to be fun. Even doing the very thing that you love to do in life can be exhausting and consuming. Boredom is not an indication that you need to seek entertainment and kill time, it could just mean that you’re not doing enough useful things with your time. Hard work for a very long time is unavoidable and taking shortcuts in life doesn’t get you anywhere worthwhile and it doesn’t make you good at anything. For all the explanation you’ll ever need simply watch the “Karate Kid” movie.
Making mistakes, stumbling upon failure, experimenting with career choices, professional interests, seeking adventure, or even getting mixed up in some sort of conflict are not things to be avoided at all costs, but rather what should be sought after by all means necessary.
Creativity is not a natural gift that you’re born with. It’s a muscle that you need to train and nurture by giving it room to exercise, feeding it high-quality ideas, and letting it go unrestricted wherever it may lead you. With creativity, quantity is the only path that leads to quality
The social hierarchy is real and is an integral component of every human society. And aside from what your social-warrior friends might tell you, people are not, as a matter of fact, born equal. Some win the birthday lottery being born at the right time in the right place and others draw the short straw and get the big ‘Fuck You’ from life. With that said, we’re each unique in our very own special way because otherwise, we’d be clones, and you’d be putting yourself at a serious disadvantage if you underestimate anyone.
We somehow disregard the fact that we are not the descendants of angels but of primates. We are carrying both angels and demons within our souls.
No matter how high you think of yourself, the simple truth remains that not everyone likes you. Not even your family and friends, and plenty of your colleagues. Not everyone wants the best for you. And people who care for you can hurt you intentionally and deliberately out of nowhere.
No matter how much we like to think only the best about ourselves, and other people we care about, we all carry some narcissism, aggressiveness, envy, grandiosity, entitlement, and manipulative behavior. Sometimes, we act upon them as well.
Those who have been consistently observing a certain behavior should not be able to convince you that they’ve changed their ways with words and promises; you’d be a fool to believe them. If you have half a brain you should only start to trust them after redeeming themselves through their actions, proving, and supporting their case over a generously long period of time.
Beware of people who are full of conviction and who carry an air of outrage everywhere they go because they’re not necessarily telling the truth. Those who espouse progressive ideas do not necessarily have a virtuous character. People who are extremely nice and accommodating can potentially mask a dark and devious nature.
When it comes to how we carry ourselves through life, we are somehow under the impression that it’s vital to be completely honest and tell others what’s exactly is on our minds which is a clear recipe for complete disaster.
Being yourself and saying what you think can land you in a heap of trouble. And not everyone will be grateful for any favor you do for them. It’s not always smart to show off all of your best qualities and it’s actually dangerous at times to advertise your intelligence and industriousness.
Out in the real world, people have fragile Egos, people are devious, and no one is what they seem. Those in power, including our bosses, can be insecure. You can almost always guarantee being blindsided by people’s indifference and sudden acts of betrayal.
There’s this false notion that if bad things are happening to us we’re always passive recipients and a victim and we completely disregard any hint of our culpability, responsibility, or accountability for the situation.
If we’re not savvy about the one workings of the real world and stay trapped in our delusions of what should be, the fairytales of what is fair, the sad adherence to what is righteous, and if we do not manage our existence properly, we will be always at a disadvantage, running in circles in patterns of repeated self-destructive behavior and incessant self-sabotage that are beyond our control.
As time goes by and the accumulating effects of years of damage take their toll on us, it poisons our souls, pours acid into our hearts, causes a vile bitter taste in our mouths that never goes away, and anger becomes a permanent resident in our lives. The damage can be quite severe I’m afraid, but it’s never too late to try to work through it all and figure out how to get things working properly from that point on.
The best time to get started was maybe years ago, but most importantly, the next best time is always right now.
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