There’s more to life than going through the motions undead. Not Alive, but still breathing.
To be alive, truly Alive, you’ve got to Become a Hero of your own story.
The only way to get out of default mode is to start taking ownership over your life. You have to imagine yourself as the main character of your story.
What makes a great story? Heroes and adventures.
It doesn’t even matter where you’re starting from - the best stories are the rags-to-riches (bad to good) or the Cinderella story (bad to good to really bad to really good).
So how can you steer your life in such a way that is interesting - one that keeps you engaged regardless of the chapter, setting, or context?
By intentionally making choices that are in alignment with Becoming a Hero of your own story, you will no longer suffer from your defaulted fate.
You will have a say in the matter. You undoubtedly can’t control everything, this is certain, but you can become highly aware of what is within your control and act within that realm of influence.
You may wonder, why not live life on default? Is there anything wrong with that? That’s a good question, because who knows, you may not be any smarter than what the default prescribes, but it’s guaranteed to be duller than what’s otherwise possible with your imagination applied.
There’s much more life to be experienced through conquering challenges.
Taking ownership of how your life unfolds, to the degree that you can, is your best shot at having an interesting life.
People talk about ‘waking up’, ‘turning things around’, and plot twists. What they really mean, zooming out, is when things become interesting.
Many of us have already had these moments. We are now aware enough to look back and recognize when things changed for us. When we realized we had a say in the matter. When we decided the direction of our futures.
When you turn off autopilot, you become much more engaged with the day-to-day of your life. You feel more empowered. You pay more attention because you know that your decisions produce a change, for better or for worse. And that’s why the more awareness you can bring into the decision-making process as your life progresses, the better.
But how do we know what to want?
Most of what we want is based on what other people want.
Which means it’s crucial to be painstakingly aware of how you’re socially influenced. If a simple scrolling session on your phone can cause you, consciously or not, to alter the course of your life - you best damn curate your feeds for what’s best for you. Don’t let it just happen to you.
If you take the time to trace back your overarching desires, there’s a good chance you’ll land on a specific person or group of people that influenced you into having that desire.
It’s important to do this desire tracing, otherwise, you will continue on thinking these are the things you want when in fact they are what someone told you to want.
It’s not inherently bad to want what someone else wants. It could be for the better, but the key is being aware and not blindly falling prey to desires that won’t serve you.
The real sneaky part about the social aspect of desires is that they can play the long game. Meaning, you might see an ad, hear a podcast, or have a conversation with someone, and not realize until weeks or months later that you now have the sudden desire to want something that was actually mentioned during that conversation, ad, or podcast.
Desires work in mysterious ways, but they direct our life, so the more intention we can give to the quality of our inputs, the better.
From an early age, we are taught to pay more attention to certain parts of the day than others, certain aspects of life than others.
But if we zoom out enough and get in tune with the present moment, we are able to see more of the subtle details that are just as mysterious and magical as the big stuff.
The tiny details hold within them so much of the unknown, yet we skip right over them as if we have all of it figured out and it’s no big deal.
Think: lighters, mailboxes, cooking food, speaking to one another and understanding, the volume of nature at different times, the way the color of the sky changes as the day goes on.
So much we overlook, don’t consider, or are too busy to attend to.
We’d be happier if we did. If we were to really allow ourselves to drop into a state of awe and wonder at all the awesome and wonderful details of life that we’re surrounded with - we’d be happier.
Anytime you hear the word should - know that it’s the voice of culture, the voice that’s 100% not yours.
Maybe you do entertain a few shoulds from time to time. It’s probably for the better but beware of a mind that is so poor all it has is shoulds floating around.
The problem with the outside world is that it will inevitably creep into your head in the form of these shoulds and it’s up to you to decide to what degree they will have power over you.
Do you let them steer your life? Do you let them dictate how your experience will unfold?
The more shoulds, the less authentic you will become. The more hollow and manikin-like you’ll be.
Play by the rules to a debilitating degree and you’ll lose.
Realize that you can co-create your own game and you’re headed to the podium.
It’s those decisions and things you do with your life that stretch across large chunks of time that have the most influence on your life: your commitments.
When we’re speaking of commitments, there’s inherently sacrifice that’s a part of any commitment. When you commit to one thing, you sacrifice another.
I’m highly interested in experimenting with personal projects, side hustles, and business creation. What gets sacrificed because of my commitment to these experiments is my health & sleep. This is because I’m not willing to sacrifice family time.
Anything at all that we choose to do requires varying levels of sacrifice. What’s crazy is that you’re committed to this life regardless. You are here until you die and you might as well go all-in. You might as well commit.
Act as if everything matters - it does.
The beautiful thing about commitment is that many things (sports, hobbies, crafts, etc.) can be chapters/seasons of your life. It’s not like when you commit to becoming a painter, you have to for the rest of your life. Just commit for a year and see what happens.
Likely this will lead to some other curiosity that’s a little outside (or very) your skillset and realm of expertise. Something like learning how to make paintbrushes. Then you learn that for 6 months. Then you want to learn more about woodworking. There’s another 8 months.
Give it 5-6 years of following your curiosities and committing to developing yourself and you’ll Become Somebody.
You can reflect back on that chunk of time and know that you were in control. You chose those directions, those learning paths.
Or instead, imagine reflecting back on those 5-6 years and seeing that not much had really changed and you still had thoughts of “Hey, maybe I should commit to learning something, picking up a skill or craft.”
That’s just a miserable way to live. To remain nothing, no one, and waste away.
Either go through life on autopilot, accepting what comes, what’s given, and letting the wind of society & culture take you wherever it pleases OR…
You can wake up to the amazing fact that you CAN have a say in how your story unfolds.
Turns out there can be a lot of overlap between building design and building a life. John Ruskin (unknowingly perhaps) tells us how to live life better.
It's never too late to stumble upon an underlying principle of reality. (Especially one that can be put to use immediately)