Everyone is standing on the edge of a cliff.
Some people are closer to falling than others.
Some have already jumped.
But we all face the same uncertainty of jumping into the unknown.
I call this the choice of life.
Most people will never jump off the cliff, it’s too scary. The few who do will realize that once you jump, the grass is a lot greener, the air is more fresher and life becomes unfathomably sweet.
You took control of life and it’s given you freedom because in the process of taking that jump you shed everything that was expected of you and had faith in yourself to survive whatever was at the bottom.
You chose to jump even when most people told you not to. It’s a choice we all have to make for ourselves, time will continue passing but the question is, will you die on the cliff never have seen the other side?
The Slow Internalization of Mimetic Theory
The world is a scary place, or at least that’s what everyone else says.
- In school people tell you to get the best grades or your life will be miserable.
- In college people tell you to get the jobs with best pays or life will be miserable.
- When you have a family people tell you to have the biggest house, nicest car, lavish vacations, etc. or your life will be miserable.
The question to ask yourself is, is this really true?
The world is NOT a scary place, the only scary place we have is our own mind. The thoughts we have can distort reality to such an extent that we stop thinking and live on auto-pilot…we become zombies.
But life doesn’t give a sh*t about you or anyone else, if you breathe, you’re alive. But are you living?
(Tanisha’s definition of living: experiencing life as I choose to)
The idea I want to get across is that we live a life for others. We care about what other people think and let them decide what’s good for us.
Realization #1 : I let other people’s expectations of me dictate the actions I take/don’t take.
If everyone is telling you to stay on top of the cliff, it likely means you need to jump.
There is a huge gap between the life I want to live and the life I’m actually living. As you get older, people even start forgetting the life they actually wanted because they’re so used to a life chosen by others.
It’s YOUR life, no one will ever care about you as much you care about yourself, that’s just basic human nature.
There is a quote which sums up everything really well from Marcus Aurelius and the book Meditations:
“He does only what is his to do, and considers constantly what the world has in store for him — doing his best, and trusting that all is for the best. For we carry our fate with us — and it carries us.”
Mimetic theory will transform your thinking.
I mention the importance of living your own life but we can get deeper and ask ourselves, what life do I want to live?
Aristotle teaches us that everything has a purpose and to achieve happiness we must cultivate our potential and strive to achieve our purpose.
Where do we get purpose from?
This is the best transition to explaining mimetic theory, a breakdown of human desire.
For context, it’s an extremely insightful theory derived by Rene Girard who was a brilliant philosopher with acute understanding of the fundamentals of human nature.
My takeaways from mimetic theory:
- Imitation is a fundamental mechanism of human behaviour.
- People can desire anything if others desire it.
- We don’t know what we want so we look for others to decide what to desire.
- Desire itself is infinite but we can only desire the finite, the hard problem of choice is made easier by desiring what others want.
- Many of our desires are not autonomous, clinging to a mirage of originality we fail to recognize where our desires actually originate from.
Our wants and desires are mostly an imitation of the desires of people around us.
… At this point many of you should be questioning yourself and the statement above.
The implications of this are huge. Just meditate on this idea, a lot of your goals, wants, desires, and even purpose are mainly just an imitation of what other people want…
That’s absolutely crazy to me.
How can we ever be sure that “our purpose” which we put in hours of hard work, get stressed and lose sleep for is just something that we chose because others around us have the same “purpose.”
This breaks down the concept of autonomy for me and makes me re-think about a lot of the things I think I care about.
Common shared desires are:
- lots of money
- unnatural beauty expectations
- designer clothes
- big house
The list can go on and on but the important part is to ask ourselves, why do we want these things?
The likely answer for most people will be, because others have it.
We desire to stay on top of the cliff because everyone around us desires the same. However the people who actually find freedom and happiness are the ones who choose to jump.
By indulging in desires that aren’t meaningful and imitated from others, we join the herd-like mentality.
A body of people become one large entity with shared desires and can be easily herded into any direction. That’s what is happening now, there is significant growth in materialism and unhappiness.
The purpose we give ourselves is more shallow than we think.
The action item is figuring out where your desires come from and if they are things that you truly want?
Realization #2 : My desires are an imitation of the people around me, purpose becomes extremely hard to distinguish if I don’t know what I truly desire.
I think it’s key for everyone to be mindful of how mimetic theory effects our actions and in which ways we can change our behaviour for the better. We can’t change our basic mimetic nature as humans but we can choose to desire things that are more impactful and meaningful for the world as whole.
No one can predict life but we can choose the trajectory we want to follow.
Happiness is a state not the end goal, we should enjoy life like a really long rollercoaster by doing things that we truly love.
Realization #3 : Most people are still in herd-like mentality so I should question everything and figure out what I want to do and do that.
I’m building the courage and skills to jump of the cliff.
What are your next steps?
Here are 3 questions to ask yourself to figure out your next steps :)
- If you were to die tomorrow, how would your decisions change?
- What do you desire most, why do you desire it?
- If you were given all the freedom and resources in the world, what would you do?
Learning lessons from the article:
- Stop living a life that you didn’t choose.
- Figure out if your desires are your own.
- Don’t auto-pilot into herd mentality because it won’t bring you purpose.
I have a lot to work on personally to reach a point where I can create massive impact on this world because that’s my purpose. This article is a reminder for myself and everyone else who is afraid to take risks, worry about what others think and follow conventional wisdom.
Definitely reach out is this helped you think even a little bit more differently :)
Visit my personal website http://tanishabassan.ca for my contact info and other projects.
I’m so grateful to even be in a position where I can share this article.
I have to recognize that my experiences are limited and I live in the top 1% of the world. This means that for some people, this mindset is unrealistic.
Thank you ❤