6 Ways to Set the Bar a Little Lower
Self-help writers are always pushing their brilliant ideas on the insecure public, suggesting endless techniques to help us broken slobs achieve our “ultimate potential.” But none of these gurus ever consider formulating messages tailored to the less ambitious of us wandering around out there — the ones who aren’t interested in 6-pack abs, or the latest superfood that tastes like fresh rat-droppings, despite its wonderful balance of Omega 3’s… That’s where I come in. Sometimes people need more realistic goals.
Over-the-top enthusiasm gets annoying after a while. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the energy of a Tony Robbins speech and feel pumped to confront your dad for destroying your self-esteem by dressing you as a tampon one Halloween when he was drunk.
But when the $5,000 seminar ends, and Tony gets whisked away in his private ‘copter, reality quickly resurfaces. Before long, the artificial confidence he inspired in you slinks gracelessly back to its familiar position, hiding behind fear and self-loathing.
So let me share with you some realistic heights to set your bar at, and we’ll leave the Dr. Phils, Eckhart Tolles, and Wayne Dyers to float to their own heavens of know-it-all expertise.
Forget Purpose – It’s a Sham
We’re constantly being goaded into finding some overarching reason to declare our worth on this planet. We’re taught to feel guilty unless we develop some unique or meaningful contribution to declare to our fellow humans, “Look at me! I’m making a profound difference, all because of this wonderful calling of mine!”
You don’t need a rigid, personal label to be effective in your community. Your purpose is whatever you decide it to be at any given moment of the day, and I say change it as often as you see fit.
If your kids need clean clothes, doing laundry is a noble purpose. If some old guy drops his cane outside the local barber shop, putting a smile on his face while you pick it up brings meaning to the Universe. Whether it’s a small act of kindness, or something as mundane as making sure the tires get rotated, purpose is always buried within our intentions and actions. The meaning only becomes apparent when we stop filtering it through our “gotta-change-the-world” glasses.
Follow Your Heart, and Your Brilliance Will Be in Tow
You only ever really need one thing to be excited about at a time. The more items you have on your plate, the more indecision you’ll face contemplating which one need be munched first before getting cold. And truthfully, a single-minded focus is the fastest way to get anything done.
Forget trying to create a world imagined by other people. If a wife, house, and job don’t float your boat, find a new port — one that gives you reason to open your eyes in the morning to breathe in the sweet air of inspiration.
You don’t need to run yourself ragged to accomplish everything at once. All you need is a single destination point to begin a journey. The details of how to get there will follow when you stay true to what excites you. The more excited you are, the more options you’ll uncover along the path.
Forget Trying to Please Everyone
I guarantee you there are people out there who think Mother Theresa’s a self-serving hack. No matter how philanthropic your ambitions are, it’s impossible to be liked by everyone, so don’t bother.
What matters is learning to be true to yourself. And the best way to do that is by adopting some variation of the Golden Rule. That may seem cliche, but it’s the best guideline you’ll ever have to experiencing a contented life — by developing a genuine respect for yourself and others.
Basic moralities like not killing or stealing are a natural consequence of the “doing unto others…” tenet. Set the example for yourself, and others will follow when ready. If they don’t recognize your contributions to humanity, who cares.
What did the Matrix Lady tell Neo? Temet Nosce. Know Thyself…
Always the best place to start…
Learn to Chill
Let’s set the bar even lower now. What if you have no drive or ambition to do anything productive with your day, or even your life for that matter?
Simple. Do nothing.
Rest and recharge. If you want to suck back a bunch of beers while watching the Habs blow another 3-goal lead, I say go for it.
Rest is part of every natural cycle on this planet — for each day a night, for every spring a winter. You do not need to be in motion 24-7, riddling yourself with guilt for not having accomplished all 39 things on your day’s must-do list.
Burnout ruins far too many lives on this planet. The best strategy to uncovering an inner passion often involves taking a step back from the madness, and telling the world, “Screw off for a bit, I need a nap here.” If it takes 6 months to unwind, so be it.
Exhaustion will never serve you or anyone else.
New perspective is gleaned by a fresh mind. You’ll find the answers you seek once you give yourself full permission to chill the fuck out from time to time, without guilt or worry.
Learn to Enjoy Being Alone
You’d think this would be an easy one, yet so many people live in constant fear of never finding their “soul-mate.”
Heaven forbid anyone spends more than 5 minutes labeled “single.” Luckily we have endless dating services and alcohol-fueled club-scenes to help remedy this “unnatural” state…
So what’s wrong with being alone?
Nothing. In fact it’s much, much easier than any relationship you’ll ever be in. Choices will be simpler, decisions will be more straightforward, and less arguing over toilet seats will occur.
I’m not advocating solitude out of laziness, I’m only mentioning it because you need to get comfortable with yourself before you’ll be in a position to fully share your bubbly wonderfulness with anyone else. Relying on someone to “complete” you, is a sure-fire method of keeping your baggage-carrying demons energized to spill their contents at the worst possible moment.
Get cool with yourself first, and you’ll find a like-minded soul when you least suspect it. Forced effort leads to unwanted compromise. When you’re in your flow, the babes’ll know it, and be far more likely to swim up to you than when you’re struggling sadly against the current.
You don’t need to go out of your way to be different, but you don’t need to mirror every move the herd makes.
If people want to judge you for carrying an extra 20 pounds on your belly, let them. If people want to censor you for the vulgar language on your blog, they can go right ahead.
Drop the weight only if it feels right to you. Ease off on the f-bombs only if you find value in catering to a different audience. Succumbing to pressure from outside sources will always leave you feeling diminished on some level. Make a change in your life when you feel inspired, not a moment sooner, and forget what the “cool” kids are doing.
There are goals in this world that will take more time than others to accomplish, like learning to play guitar, or crocheting a butt-flapped onesie for gramma, but the only one dictating a schedule for those things is you.
Cut yourself a little slack, and learn to enjoy hopping over the small rocks and broken branches along the path again. A mountain will always loom in the distance. There’s no need to pack your climbing gear hastily.
Enjoy the view and fresh air at base-camp for as long as you see fit. A good guide with never rush you up a slope through chants and cheers, he’ll encourage a pace you’re safely capable of.
Let’s forget about pole-vaulting today. There’s a cute little creek behind my place we can easily hop over to get to my favorite cafe before lunch.