Life has become a bucket list, a list of things to do before you die, like skydiving, petting dolphins, climbing the Himalayas. Should we be happy with such a society that is not short of imagination when it comes to planning our next holiday?
We have definitely entered the era of the leisure society, at least for part of humanity. People have more time and better purchasing power. This allows them to challenge themselves in order to fill a void that looks like a serious loss of meaning.
We don’t have any more big collective narratives which, even if they crushed people a bit, had the advantage of conferring a little modesty. Today, we all need to be unique, we can’t stand to be like anyone else. Perhaps because we no longer feel fulfilled in our work, we need to find a differentiating identity in our free time. Social networks have made this quest for uniqueness possible by allowing us to put ourselves on stage in settings that are as breathtaking as they are repetitive. This thirst for uniqueness has made us lose our authenticity. Social networks have turned us into an army of clones with our pure consent.
Being special is not found in the frantic race to boost our ego but in going deep inside to find our authenticity.
Singularity is not cultivated by accumulating stickers on the body of one’s car or by looking for the best Instingrammables spots to take the best shots. True uniqueness results from a quest for authenticity. Narcissistic searches only lead to superficial discoveries of our true nature.
Nature has made you unique but you have forgotten your nature
Since we are social beings, our desire to please is also linked to our desire to be integrated into human groups. Joining society means forgetting a little of who you are in order to gain security and comfort, two of the many benefits of socialisation. Pushed to the extreme in this quest for social recognition, we can simply forget what we were made of and totally adhere to the social mould that is offered to us. However, at a time when we want to present ourselves to the world as a unique being, we need only look deep inside ourselves to find the true source of our uniqueness.
An army of extroverted clones
It is easier to buy a ticket to go around the world than to go around yourself. Real change takes time and it manifests itself internally long before it is visible externally. It is easier to take a picture of yourself next to a poor child during a ‘humanitarian’ week in a developing country to show off your greatness than it is to truly grow your compassion in intimacy and modesty.
The quest for extraverted pleasures and satisfactions only yields disappointing results in the end. To initiate the real change that drives a real quest for authenticity, we must face the test of time.
The path to real change
A holistic quest that takes time
There are 5 levels of change, each corresponding to a verb and a degree of transformation.
Have : When we focus on the verb “to have” for change, we really limit the scope of change. Imagine that you want to lose weight. Simply buying a gym membership will not make you lose any pounds.
Thinking: The beginning of any change starts with ideas. If you control your thoughts, you start the change to take control of your life.
Talking: Talking is normally a powerful action because it has the power to transform the people around us. One can formulate words of encouragement and comfort with speech, while having the ability to destroy with murderous words. The problem is that words are used more and more these days, in a way that makes them of little value.
Doing: Through action you can really access deep change. It is through action that a new person is born. It is through repeated action that one can become who one wishes to be.
To be: This is the consequence of all the previous verbs.
The real bucket list
The only bucket list worth having would be made up of adjectives corresponding to the verb “to be”. For example, you may decide to become a generous, benevolent, honourable person, etc. Then, from this list of adjectives, you will define a series of corresponding actions. These actions, which are related to the verb “to do”, you will define words of encouragement, or phrases that you will pronounce to imprint in your mind the actions you wish to carry out, for example “I act with integrity no matter what the situation”. Finally, you can think of other ideas that you want to embody. This is why thinking is both the beginning and the end of any personal transformation project. You are going to have to reflect from time to time on the identity you are building for yourself so that it evolves over time and goes beyond the levels you have defined beforehand.
So yes, it can be said that it may be necessary to have goals to be happy. However, the nature of these goals matters a lot. If you want to live with the verb “to be” (to “be happy”), you have to get rid of the verb “to have” and make the verbs “to think”, “to speak” and “to do” your servants.