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  • Writer's pictureAntti Vanhanen


Take a look at nature.

Look at birds, trees, flowers, and animals.

Look at rain, wind, and storms.

Do you see self-discipline there?

Do you see animals consciously forcing themselves to do something or be in a way that isn’t a natural expression of them?

You don’t, do you?

Flowers flower. Birds sing. Trees grow.

Even when faced with the freezing harshness of winter or a life-threatening attack by a predator, the actions taken by nature are all natural and effortless.

No matter how hard you look, you cannot find the idea of self-discipline anywhere but in man.

So why is man different?

For one thing, we see self-discipline as a useful means to an end.

Having more discipline looks like it will help us get where we want to go more quickly and efficiently.

If only we had more discipline, we could have the perfect body, the perfect career, and the perfect life.

Second, we do not see that going against our own nature and innate wisdom is generally a bad idea.

When we operate from the intellect, we only have access to our old thoughts, concepts and beliefs. That hardly seems like a very useful way of navigating our lives toward the future.

One of the reason we are so reluctant to rely on our inner wisdom is that it seems other people know so much more than we do.

Others could walk and talk before we did.

Other people dated, had sex, learned to drive, made music, started businesses, and built houses and bridges way before we did.

Everything we look to do, someone else already has a ton of experience doing exactly that thing.

School only reinforces this notion. Math, history, economics, foreign languages… there is always more to learn and master.

So we naturally assume that others know better, that the best strategy for our lives is to follow the lead of those who know.

As a result, we follow teachers, gurus, bosses, icons, and mentors to tell us how to think and what to do.

What we have missed, however, is that other people can’t guide us in what we want and what is right for us.

Other people can tell you how to do things in the outside world, and aid us in mastering particular techniques and skills.

We live in a culture that worships the intellect and sees “analytical thinking” as THE valuable resource of the human mind, while everything else - creativity and intuition - are viewed as commodities.

But the intellect can’t tell us what we want. The answer to what we want and should do cannot be found in a spreadsheet or by asking others.

The only place we can find it is within.

Only you can know what you should do, and how you feel about it often changes from one moment to the next.

But because we don’t understand the value of our inner guidance (or, indeed, realize to look within), we continue to adopt and chase dreams and goals that are not our own.

We want to become doctors, lawyers, rockstars and CEOs because the world around us has convinced us that that’s what happiness and security look like.

So we chase all these outcomes - jobs, promotions, fame, pleasure, and success - in an effort to find happiness and peace, all the while ignoring the fact that this isn’t what we truly, naturally want to do.

We keep trying to do the “right thing” and apply the “right strategy” and work on the “right goals”.

But right for who?

You see, when we do things for their outcomes expecting that it will make us happy and secure, we often go against ourselves and ignore the things that make us feel curious and alive.

That’s why life through discipline is so hard:

We are trying to walk someone's path and not our own.

This is where much of dogma and self improvement come from: they are frustrated attempts to force ourselves into doing what isn’t natural or right for us, to force our dynamic and formless selves into the rigid mold of another.

But that isn’t what a happy, natural life looks like to me, and I’m guessing it doesn’t really look like that to you, either.

When we reduce life to nothing but outcomes, we end up missing most of it, because the majority of life consists of the journey between outcomes (over which we don't have true control).

Fortunately, there’s a simpler and easier "way" to live life:

To live every day as a natural and full expression of who you really are.

If you have the courage to live life according to what comes naturally to you and what innately fascinates you, you can live a life that is effortlessly productive and fulfilling.

When the path is your path, your step will be light and effortless.

You will deal with whatever problems and obstacles show up in your way with the natural ease and grace of an evening breeze wind gently blowing through a forest.

From this place, you can drop the self-discipline strategies and asking other people what to do, and you can just live each day as only you know how.

Just like nature all around you.

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2 comentarios

23 abr 2021

Wow.. An amazing answer. The inward self journey and trusting it is necessary. For that we need to get rid of Ego. Otherwise we get trapped and go on Ego ride.

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26 oct 2020

Hi Antti, this is a great read! Could you, however, please elaborate on how does one lives every day as naturally and as expressively as you described?

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