A little over a week ago I was spending some time with a friend in Washington D.C. He got a new job working for the Government that sounds like hell to me but he loves it and gets the chance to learn about different industries that the Department of Justice has to work with. He has to teach himself everything about the oil industry for an upcoming case. This stuff gets him going.
I couldn’t feel more different. But this is the kind of friend that seems to have his life figured out. Not in the knowing-what-you-want-to-do-for-the-rest-of-your-life kind of way. More like the totally-comfortable-with-uncertainty (and-always-down-to-have-a-good-time-and-work-and-learn-as much-as-he-can) type of way. I guess I’m saying that at any given time he seems to have some conscious direction without an end goal.
After we finished walking through an art gallery in DC (I forget which one…) we sat down and talked about this stuff. He said something that stuck with me. “I’ve been told this before, but how I look at it is that you have two wolves inside you, so which one do you feed?” While that may be one of the most ambiguous things ever said, it is a lot like the metaphor of you riding a chariot through the sky and being led by two horses to some promised land, one dark and one white. You have to whip the black one into shape to get where the white one wants to go.
Metaphors like this are cheesy as hell, but what I like about the wolf one is that it allows you to determine what is better for you. There is no good and no bad. You just have competing desires. It is up to your wise decision about which ones to satisfy.
Maybe it stuck with me because I feel like two, sometimes three people at any given second. We could split up people into behaviors pretty clearly right now. Unconscious, conscious, and superconscious (this one is not for this piece). Boom.
Most of the time the decisions that we make, how we respond to circumstances, social situations, what food we eat, is determined fairly unconsciously. I even started trying to learn too much about consciousness unconsciously. I read too many books that it impedes on meeting new people and learning how to salsa dance.
Conscious desires tend to have the quality of being good for you in the future as opposed to being immediately gratifying. They are something that you work towards. They are usually more difficult. I don’t know why things are this way, but we’re humans and we build things. It’s in our DNA.
So how do you live more consciously?
By choosing/knowing what is important to you and doing something about it.
Think about this: you are the only person in the world that gets to choose how you live. You may know that. But there’s a difference between knowing it and feeling it. To start feeling it, it helps to practice.
So what does this mean?
We must have strong cultural immune systems from the bullshit.
That gets thrown at us everyday. Societal pressures. Fear of talking to new people. Fearing judgment. Wearing clothes that blend in. Taking everything you hear and see as the word. Assuming you need five years of “experience” before trying to do your dream job. This means we must focus on living consciously.
Living consciously means different things to different people in the semantics, but ultimately it means focusing on what you want to and know you should be focusing on. A lot of people don’t know what to focus on.
If there is one thing I’ve learned about living by through unconsciously picking up every single book I could put my hands on this last year it’s that people should focus on things like growing. Growing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. People should focus on love. On gratitude. One human connection.
Not just human connection. Connection with nature.On helping others. Oh, and fun. You should really find something you think is fun. Make that your job. You have more fun by being more fun. More on that later.
These are the things that have been making people feel happy and fulfilled for thousands of years.
The things that we should undoubtedly spend less time focusing on are wanting to be loved by everyone (this is the worst), a six figure salary through un-stimulating work, or trying to look like the hulk while eating a chicken a day (really though, there are more interesting and fun things to do than go to the gym 5x per week). Usually the reasons for doing these things is so that people feel like they will be lovable, or more deserving of happiness.
Cut through the crap. Living consciously means being aware of why you are doing what you are doing. So why do you want the money, the beach body, and to be famous? Really, why? Your time here is pretty fleeting. Which wolf do you feed?