"The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity." - Rollo May
Have you ever wondered if the majority of people in society are happy with their lives?
Do you think you would be happy and satisfied in leading a life like the majority?
If your answer to the second question was a yes, then this article may not be of benefit to you. However, if you answered no, then I’d suggest you to carry on reading.
You see, if you go about making the same choices pretty much everyone else does, chances are you are bound to end up living a life no different than most people.
We all come into this world with our unique personalities, inclinations, talents and dreams.
Yet from the time we are born, we are raised to conform and fit into society — to think, act and be like everyone else. It started with our parents and later continued on in our schools. And within a few years of being "schooled", we become programmed to conform and follow instructions without asking why.
Now if we were raised to fit into a happy and peaceful society, conformity wouldn’t be such a bad thing. But surely that is not the kind of world we live in, is it?
A world that is inherently lost tries to tell us what life is all about. It provides a standardised message and blueprint for everyone to follow.
Go to school, study hard. Get good grades, go to college, get a degree, get a good job, marry when you reach a certain age, don’t take risks, play it safe and you will do just fine.
Since we hear this message repeatedly from a very young and impressionable age this conditioning gets embedded in our subconscious mind and starts to influence our thinking and behaviours. And soon enough most of us accept this as the normal and appropriate way to live our lives.
This message becomes so deeply embedded that most never even bother to seek or question if there is another way to live.
But if you ever decide to stray from the blueprint and do things differently, you are asked countless questions by fellow members of society who take it upon themselves to ensure that your life follows this blueprint. They somehow seem offended when you don’t buy into the same fear-based beliefs and thinking of society as they do.
But why should you take the advice of a dysfunctional and unfulfilled society on how you should live your life? How are they to know about the talents you may possess or what you may be capable of? Hell, even you may not have discovered what you are truly capable of yet.
There is tremendous pressure to act, behave and blindly follow the crowd in almost every area of our lives.
But if everybody lived their lives conforming to the society’s blueprint, what a dull place our planet would be. Many of the things that make our life easier wouldn’t exist, and the world would truly be a poorer place because of it.
In fact, many of the inventions, positive social changes and advancements we’ve made as a race came because there were always a few people willing to think and do things differently than follow the crowd.
Steve Jobs, who revolutionised six different industries, was one never fond of following conventions. He dropped out of college and shortly after went on to take a seven month trip to India before he started Apple. Here’s what he had to say about the “blueprint”:
“When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.
That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact.... Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it ... That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it. And once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.”
We are told to go after safety and security. Yet, contrary to popular belief, there is almost nothing safe and secure in this constantly fluctuating world. This was something Jim Carrey, the highly successful comedian and Hollywood actor, learned early in life, and this is what he said during a commencement address.....
“My father could have been a great comedian but he didn't believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father. Not the least of which was that: You can fail at what you don't want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
The Conversations With God (CWG) series of books is something that has had a tremendous influence on my life, and it emphasises the importance of listening to our feelings. It says our soul communicates with us through our feelings and intuition.
This was something I often ignored while I was younger, but ever since stumbling upon CWG, I have made it a point to do so and have been rewarded in ways I could have never imagined.
You see, our hearts are not muddled up with society’s fearful programming like our mind is.
So if you want to be fulfilled and stay true to yourself, you are going to have to move to the beat of your own drum and do things your way.
That may mean having the courage to make choices, adopt behaviours and habits (positive ones of course) different from your family members, friends, and be unconcerned about what others think or at least not let it stop you from doing what you want to do. Don't let the need for social acceptance and validation stand between being true to yourself.
I’d like to leave you with a couple of quotes to remind you it’s okay not to fit in, be unique and do things differently from the crowd. (After all you were never meant to be like everyone else)
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Everything else is secondary.”
Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Address (2005)
Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Apple marketing campaign 1997-2002
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