301: The Courage to Live Fully & Deeply: 7 Ideas to Put into Practice for a Life of True Contentment
"People can change and be happy from this moment onward . . . the problem is not one of ability, but of courage." —from the book The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
"As long as one keeps searching, the answers come." American folk singer Joan Baez certainly narrows down succinctly and accurately the practice of finding our way; however, along the way toward the revelation of the answers, we must be courageous enough to feel uncomfortable for portions of the journey as well as capable of homing in on the gems of wisdom and letting go of needing to be agile when trying something new in our lives.
The answers come to those who accept moments of clumsiness, frequent stumbles, nights and days of ambiquity and confusion because embracing anything new, trying anything new which speaks to what we are seeking and trying to understanding will require a beginner's mind. Learning to walk required of each of us even though we don't remember (but I truly think it would help if we could) numerous stumbles, falls forward and backward, sometimes temporarily causing pain to our face, knees and bottoms. But we don't remember this because we needed to learn how to walk to participate fully in the life we had no clue awaited us.
Keep such an analogy in mind as you choose to continue to search for your answers. I too have to remind myself of the toddler parallel, and as I grow older and hopefully not only in age, but in wisdom, I become more and more grateful for each challenge. One of the most valuable development skills the book argues a parent can teach their child is how to overcome challenges, and that can only happen by letting them navigate through tasks which appear difficult to them, but easy for us - tying shoes for example. While appearing easy to the adult, the child must start with such challenges in order to be confident enough to navigate through more difficult challenges as their life unfolds.
Again another axiom comes to mind, "Life doesn't get easier, we just become better equipped to handle well the challenges when presented." However, the caveat is we must keep stepping through the challenges and not settling and unconsciously ignoring them. Life will always present dilemmas, quandaries and moments of difficulty; it is our choice to try to understand how to navigate through such situations. We are the director of our lives, and it is up to us to direct ourselves to the wisdom necessary, learn said wisdom and apply it.
Today, I am excited to share with you a handful of insights the book The Courage to Be Disliked taught me (there are soooooo many more - I highly recommend reading the book). On the surface, each is easy to comprehend, but the first time we put the practice into use, it may be difficult. With time and consistent effort however, the practice will become habituated and before we realize it, our lives, our everyday lives and the longview of our lives, will change for the better. Let's take a look at the list.
1.Let go of competing with the world
Seeking to be superior in comparison with other people is a denial of our own journey and our true selves. As I will share in #5 below, we each have a unique something to contribute positively to the larger world, but when we consume ourselves with 'proving' ourselves in competition of any sort, we step away from self-growth and discovery of our unique talents and gifts. The only healthy form of competition "comes from one's comparison with one's ideal self". Refrain from 'gaining status or honor', in other words, approval from the outside world. Instead, invest in being yourself. Invest in self-growth and discovery and let go of competition - anything preoccupied with winning and losing as "it will invitably get in the way".
2. The meaning we give the events in our life journey determines its quality
"We determine our own lives according to the meaning we give to those past experiences. Your life is not something that someone gives you, but something you choose yourself, and you are the one who decides how you live."
The life truth I have seen again and again and more vividly as I grasped its true meaning is if we argue enough for our limitations, we get to keep them and they become our reality. Not because the limitations are truth, but because we made them true by accepting them.
3. Know your tasks and let others tend to theirs
Described as Separation of Tasks, knowing what is our individual responsibility and what are the responsibilities of others not only will alleviate and remove much stress and worry, it will also improve our interpersonal relationships. In The Courage to Be Disliked, they use the example of a romantic partnership:
"You believe in your partner; that is your task. But how that person acts with regard to your expectations and trust is other people's tasks . . . intervening in other people's tasks and taking on other people's tasks turns one's life into something heavy and full of hardship."
In other words, knowing the boundaries of what is your task and what is the task of others will eliminate unnecessary worry and suffering, and it will also make life, as the book describes, far more simple and enjoyable to live.
4. Let go of the outcome
The Alderian psychology way is to not cure the symptoms regarding when one exhibits a lack of self-confidence - what happened in the past, not dwelling on what brought you to this point - but rather accept yourself as you are now and find the courage to step forward letting go of the outcome which is what causes the fear. We are fearful because we don't know how it will all work out.
5. Find what you can positively contribute to the greater world and the need to be 'accepted' or 'liked' subsides
"If you change your lifestyle—the way of giving meaning to the world and yourself—then both your way of interacting with the world and your behavior will have to change as well. Do not forget this point: One will have to change. You, just as you are, have to choose your lifestyle. It might seem hard, but it is really quite simple."
"A way of living in which one is constantly troubled by how one is seen by others is a self-centered lifestyle in which one's sole concern is with the 'I'." The paradoxical truth reveals the freedom we can each attain when we let go of worrying about others liking us and instead focus on how to contribute well to the world. True contentment is found not by applause and approval from the outside world, but when we begin to look within and discover what we can uniquely give to the world which is a positive contribution. A positive contribution can be as simple as being a civil citizen of the world - obliging the city ordinance to shovel your sidewalk when it snows or stopping for pedestrians to cross the road. More grandly, it could be to dedicate your expertise and knowledge to develop a vaccine to curb the rise of a deadly virus.
All along the spectrum, each of us hold gifts in which we can contribute positively to the community outside of us which leads us away from being solely concerned with the "I".
6. Reflect on your comments and/or judgments of others to discover your own truth
"An adult, who has chosen an unfree way to live [i.e. living for the approval of the outside world], on seeing a young person [or any person for that matter] living freely here and now in this moment, criticizes the young as being hedonistic. Of course, this is a life-lie that comes out so that the adult can accept his own unfree life. An adult who has chosen real freedom himself will not make such comments and will instead cheer on the will to be free."
A quick refresher, if we are judging, we are taking on someone else's task, so to begin with, let go of the judging; however, for the sake of this lesson which the book includes to further the need to separate tasks, I find it helpful to remind us when others' words or opinions sting or wound us, what they are sharing has nothing to do w…