I’m pretty sure we all have at least 1 of these friends (if you don't have one of these friends, you’re probably that friend).
This is the friend who has done it all the exact way it’s supposed to be done (in terms of fulfilling the dominant cultural narrative of: develop financial independence, procreate, maintain security until death and beyond). This is the friend whose life could not be given a better script if Hollywood’s finest locked themselves in a room.
This is the friend whose life of bullet points looks like this:
- Meet High school sweetheart
- Go to a good university
- Get a great job
- Marry high school sweetheart
- Buy incredible house
- Have first child
- Become little league coach
- Have second child
- Voted World’s Nicest Guy
- Another .5 child arrives
- More Perfection
- More Perfection
There are some who simply seem to play the game of life to a T. This is that friend.
I bring this up not as a slight to that friend (and their spectacular list of bullet points), but rather to simply say this: Life is equally perfect with a set of bullet points that resembles the following:
- Struggle through high school while remaining a social outsider
- Barely complete community college
- Wallow in a shitty job without a relationship for a really long time
- Still the situation
- And still
- Meet someone (who happens to be reading Light on Yoga)
- Take a yoga class with this someone
- Become a yoga teacher
- Do pretty well in high school (slightly popular)
- Travel for a year
- Decide to go to college (but don’t really get inspired by any of what’s being offered)
- Bounce around various jobs for a decade
- Have 2 kids out of wedlock
- Get in a serious car accident
- Spend 5 years recovering
- Happen to run into an old friend who inspires a whimsical trip to west Africa, which turns into 3 years of constant travel, which turns into a book about your journey from a horrific accident to climbing Mt. Everest (which you did)
Let’s call these three people Person A, B, and C. One thing is immediately clear about these lists. Society tells us to do what Person A did. This is the script offered up on TV, in school, through our economic model—this is the script of modern society.
Yet, what the script doesn’t say—and where the irrelevance occurs whether you’re most like Person A, B, or C—is that our life of achievements, our life of accomplishments, our life of “things,”…doesn’t guarantee happiness. It doesn’t matter if you have $1 million or $1 dollar in the bank. It doesn’t matter if you had a perfectly vertical career culminating in acclaim and eventual retirement or if you collect tolls your entire life.
What Matters Is How You Perceive It All.
Do you attach to the things? Do you think the idea of you is really you—your personality and job and interests? Do you struggle with being comfortable with what’s right in front of you? Do you compare yourself to others, wishing this or that for yourself?
Chances are…if you answered yes to any (or all) of those questions, you’re not really happy.
Research shows us that Person A is guaranteed no more happiness than Person B or C. And s/he isn’t even guaranteed more happiness than Person D, whose life bullet point list looks like this:
- Born into poverty
- Work incredibly hard everyday of your life
- Raise 5 kids in a one-bedroom house
- Work until death
- Earn $4,000 during your entire life
We all intuitively know this, yet here we remain—striving and desiring, and comparing ourselves to one another. Person A wishes he had the simple freedom of Person B or the sense of adventure like Person C. Person B wishes she had the stability of Person A. Person B or C can’t believe Person A could find anything to complain about.
Meanwhile, Person D is completely happy and sees life as it truly is—a tapestry of moments.
Why Does All This Matter?
This awareness matters. It matters because it is the key to our freedom. If we have the confidence to be comfortable with who we are, we have the confidence to flip the script—to make the script into whatever we want.
Life is not supposed to be 5 billion people trying to get ahead in life, 5 billion people searching for financial security, and 2.5 kids, and a white picket fence. Life is supposed to be all the colors of the rainbow.
You are one of those colors. Paint your world however the hell you want, without worry about what anyone else is doing. Go make your world the world of Person E. Or Person EFJGBEGGAGEREFKIOKL.
This is the Yoga of You.