Are we really content with who we are? As we are?
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, author and poet. Known for his satirical wit, and a variety of adages, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Wilde once said, "Be yourself, because everyone else is already taken."
This phrase probably speaks to all of us on some level, but if you take a moment to think about it you'll come away wishing it were that easy, but we all know it isn't. It is our differences that drive us.
I want to begin with a few questions about your self-esteem and then I would like to explore some possible answers. The questions are simple, yet profound.
The first question I want to propose is how comfortable are you with yourself? And secondly, do you see yourself as a human-being content with who you are right now or are you more like a human-doing attempting to re-establish yourself in the your current world?
You might be pondering the difference between the two or maybe why I am asking the questions at all. It's a simple answer really, and although it carries with it some profound implications, I believe the differences between doing and being (in relationship to our being) can be summed up in one word ...
The dissimilarity between a human-being and a human-doing is literally, an intense personal satisfaction that reaches a level of serenity. I like to say it this way; human-beings are content—satisfied with who they are, as they are. Human-doings on the other hand, are not in this same position—they can only long for it. Usually unsatisfied with the way they feel about themselves inside, they live a life of constant self-help and radical insecurity masked by the walls of an Eros prison of performance.
Human-beings are distinctive in that they are free to explore their talents, their spirituality, their intelligence, and many other areas of their being—they're fluid. They unfold over time without the unreasonably hard lines and inconvenient boundaries we sometimes place on ourselves through religious tradition, insecurity, and need-based relationship experiments.
On the other hand, human-doings are fastened to life's stage as static performers—overly concerned about others opinions about who they are, what they do or their fear of displeasing the gods. They lack the fluidity and freedom to explore the boundaries of who they are in their present condition because they don't see themselves as good enough.
Before we discover the nuances surrounding the Eros prison, I want to define contentment in a way that might surprise you. Contentment is when one is completely comfortable to know nothing, do nothing, and to be known for absolutely nothing. It's what I call the death that counts.
It's when we finally have that long awaited funeral for everything that once defined us (or presently defines us) and made us feel important, useful, or worthy of existence or being loved. It's an intentional suicide of the soul-self that wore out its welcome for the last time. Suicides, homicides, pesticides, and genocides, all have one thing in common—they're all associated with killing and death.
The common thread in all these terms is what I call the "cide" effect. This is why decision-making is really about deciding (de-cide-ing) or killing off the objects and stuff in our lives that are harmful, hateful, hideous, and hindering.
Decisions are meant to do away with the harmful belongings while harnessing the health. The death that counts is a decision.
It's when we de-cide (undoing what causes potentially deadly outcomes) to stop the madness that accompanies competitive living, trumping, and both public and private performance initiatives aimed at others, ourselves and our perception of God. It's a surrendering to the world at large and a "giving up" on having to prove we matter.
It's when we sit up and say our final goodbyes to our self-image and the illusions we've created around this image in an attempt to impress others and ourselves and be okay with ourselves. Whether it is our job or the college degree we worked so hard to get or our new excitable girlfriend or boyfriend, whatever worth we've been attaching to these personal trophies is now and forever deceased—intentionally buried by the safe-self overseeing the death that counts.
It's when we finally close the chapter on everything that once shaped our identity and brought definition, meaning, and clarity to our lives. What we do, what we imagine others think about what we do, our titles, our gifts, our talents—all of it. All is buried beneath the need to appear whole and sophisticated (from sophist) among our peers.
Contentment is all about letting go of the need to perform or to be recognized for that performance. It's taking the Nest-Tea plunge into the beauty of who we are as we are in this present moment while nobody is paying attention to it and then caring less if they do.
That's all it is. I know; it's a tall order. But being utterly content with who we are, where we are, as we are, and why we are, with no need to perform for God or others or to extrapolate other people's opinions about something we might have accomplished, is life altering. That's what being content is all about.
No longer are we running the race, but rather we are watching it and enjoying it—it's when we are wise observers rather than needy performers. It's about not having to win or prove anything to anyone ever again, inclduing ourselves.
For instance, when we share our life with our partners, our co-workers, or our friends rather than receiving our life from these relationships, amazing things happen. A sense of absolute satisfaction is created between us and our true authentic-self. No facades. No masks. No competition. It's the beauty of being and it has no strings attached to it—none. Does this sound like you? I didn't think so.
This personal place of satisfaction does not in any way mean we are lazy or without a sense of personal responsibility or urgency; it's more like believing we are good enough—worthy enough—as we are instead of focusing our attention on what we believe we should be based upon the things we are convinced others expect.
Contentment is about being comfortable with ourselves in the sight of whatever we call God—in high spirits in relationship to our present-self and our associations. Although many times our present circumstances can be grueling or out of our control, we do not believe these environments are a direct expression or a reflection of who we are as a living soul.
They are nothing more than conditional steps to a greater plateau of being. Living in this most beautiful place means we understand the distinction between who we are as an individual entity and where we are in the space-time continuum. We understand the fluidity of movement between our surroundings and us—we recognize and appreciate that circumstances are always changing.
In other words, I know I'm worthy and wonderful even though I'm not currently working the job I initially wanted. Or I still believe in myself even though you don't believe in me. Since I understand the difference between the two I can afford to wait until the better job opens up, or until an opportunity arises that I can boldly take hold of in faith that it will work out for me. I can also wait until you figure out what you want in regards to a relationship—you not believing in me is your issue.
It's this mindset that enables me to make better and lasting decisions about my own work, relationships, destiny and purpose. It's the reason why I will better understand my purpose as opposed to a life of searching for it in comparative ways. You might be tempted to think I'm anti-self-improvement at this point, but that would be a mistake. It's not really a question of if we want to make improvements; the question is more about why we believe we need to make them—why we feel desperate to make them. Sure, we all make steady improvements of one kind or another throughout our life, that's normal as it's a part of living and growing.
But I'm talking about impulsive, irrepressible, and unnecessary improvements; when we believe the lie that says we're not good enough and we secretly preoccupy ourselves with thoughts of how we can modify ourselves to better fit the opinions of others or the god we think we're displeasing—when we have an unhealthy interest in who we are not and feel we must change it right now or suffer the supposed consequences.
For instance, let's say I want to make a few improvements to my physical body because I want to be in better health or I want to be more conscientious regarding my food intake or have more energy to do the things I really enjoy, then by all means we should go for it! But if our innate desire to improve our self is because we don't believe we are lovable or worthy as we are—as our true self, we will only be rearranging the deck chairs on our emotional Titanic.
Unfortunately this manner of thinking doesn't fix what's wrong with us. It fundamentally ends up being another stay of emotional execution. A short-term drug that lasts only until I'm reminded of how off the mark I am. Whether it's our human relationships or our religion, both will inadvertently produce the need to perform if we don't harness our true worth and believe in it first. When our happiness merely depends on favorable circumstances our results are short lived.
It's for this reason that we must make a clear distinction between what we believe we want and what we believe we need. Needs are instinctively insatiable—they're a black hole in our space-time that eventually extorts all our natural ambition and self respect by sucking it into itself. Think about it... have you died the death that counts?