Humans are hardwired to avoid and escape pain.
As such, we seek the fastest, most efficient route to avoid and escape.
We seek short-term fixes in lieu of long-term solutions and inner peace.
When our lives are unfulfilling, when we know we’re not filling our full potential, when we ask, “Is this all there is?” or “Aren’t I meant for more?”, we’re experiencing pain.
Our soul’s deepest desire is to create meaning; it’s intrinsic to us.
One of the ways we create meaning is to pursue our life’s calling, fueled by our mission.
I delineate the two as:
A Life’s Calling is the task (writing, speaking, teaching, composing, sculpting, etc.).
The mission is the why (serving something more significant than ourselves).
Combined, they are the energy that shoots us out of bed each morning and that we’re willing to put it all on the line for.
The pain we experience, the angst, the frustration, the disillusionment, the sense of betrayal (I did all the things I was supposed to do, WTF?), and the emptiness are products of not having a calling and mission or having a calling and mission – but being paralyzed by fear and unable to take action.
Because our life’s calling, the reason we’re here is terrifying.
It flies in the face of how our brains are wired. Our brains don’t give a crap about purpose, meaning, and fulfillment.
They care about keeping us alive and do a damn good job of it.
Unfortunately, this is to the detriment of our souls and the overall quality of our lives.
So we chase short-term fixes, which are nothing more than short-term escapes:
We escape through the superficiality of social media, alcohol, drugs, affairs, porn, and binging on Netflix.
Something, anything, so we don’t have to confront the one person we can’t run from, the one person we can’t escape – but we try our damndest to escape:
Because no matter how fast we run, we will never outrun ourselves.
Here are 3 reasons why:
- The short-term high from the short-term escape is, guess what? Short-term. When the high fades, when the escape fails, we’ll find ourselves facing ourselves and the truth we don’t want to confront, and we’re back to the chase. It’s the Golden Treadmill of endless escapism.
- Every short-term escape creates long-term, painful consequences. Think that scrolling social media is innocuous and harmless? When we waste our precious time scrolling, we will never be grateful we did when it’s time to breathe our last breath. We will die with regret.
- When we habitually attempt to escape our reality and ourselves through the superficial, we ignore the deepest expression of ourselves. We’re living out of alignment.
We create a gap between who we are and who we know we want to be.
The more significant the gap, the greater the need to escape.
So the questions become:
- How do we stop chasing short-term escapes and begin creating long-term solutions so we can be the person we desire to be and live the lives that call to us?
- How do we let go of the superficial and rise to our full potential?
- How do we decrease the gap?
We begin with these 3 simple first steps:
Remember how our brains are wired to avoid and escape pain?
Most people don’t know what they actually want in their lives. They don’t know how they want to feel, and they don’t know what they want to create.
We don’t like not knowing; it’s painful.
Achieving clarity makes the unknown known and eliminates the pain of not knowing.
What really matters most to you? What do you want?
Pro-tip: Be mindful not to list everything you don’t want. Be clear on what you do want.
Break the Pattern:
Back to our brains wiring; we’ve survival machines.
Living life on autopilot is the model of efficiency and survival, but do you believe you’re here to live an efficient life?
When you do the same thing day after day, you become an unconscious passenger in your life.
You’re existing, not living.
A life set to autopilot is the enemy of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment.
Break your pattern, change your life.
Experience Awe and Wonder:
You need to remind yourself of what meaning feels like in your body and mind.
You can cultivate meaning through the experiences you choose to have.
When those experiences are novel, when they ignite awe and wonder, when they’re moments of truth and beauty, you will create meaning.
Immerse yourself in nature, museums, or concerts.
Try doing the thing that you say you’d never do.
When you experience novelty, awe, wonder, truth, and beauty, you experience meaning.
You’ll ignite something inside of you.
You’ll remind yourself what it feels like to be alive.
Bonus: By experiencing awe and wonder, you’ll break patterns and facilitate clarity.
Just because our brains are wired a certain way doesn’t mean we’re locked into that wiring forever.
Even knowing that we’re wired this way is a step towards creating the lives we want to live.
A friendly reminder:
The moment you decide to change the course of your life, the course of your life changes.