If you’ve ever read Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why, or saw his TED talk about the same subject, you’ll have an idea where I’m going with this.
(While we’re on the subject, watch the TED talk. Don’t bother with the book, unless you need eighty-six examples written in 246 pages of small type and relentless Apple fanboying to get across the same point. All apologies to Simon, because it’s a good idea, but the book didn’t add much to the initial concept.)
My why, and indeed, I believe everyone’s why, is to be happy. Well, not just happy, but blissfully joyful.
In my opinion, literally everything we do revolves around that goal.
There’s a caveat, however.
Our methods tend to vary, and ultimately, most of us are pretty bad at it. All of us need to work at it.
It’s often said that human behaviour is the result of the twin urges to move away from pain and toward pleasure. To me, these seem like sides of the same coin, and though it’s also said that the pain portion tends to get higher shrift in our minds, in my opinion that’s a matter of culture and upbringing.
We live in societies that value obedience and prefer in-the-box thinking and fixed mindsets. We are expected to fit labels. We are conditioned to avoid conflict. To become subservient in the face of opposition (usually by those in power).
This conditions us to avoid pain before we embrace pleasure.
It’s my goal to create things that ask us to question those beliefs. I hate dogma, my own included, and I have a compulsive desire to always take an opposing stance. Not like an oppositional defiance disorder type of rebellion, but a “hey, here’s another perspective, and another, and another, that maybe might open this belief up a bit and cause some thought or conversation” style of rebellion.
I can’t help but play devil’s advocate.
As a result, I’ve always had issues with authority, been considered smart but self-destructive (and at times delusional), and the fact that people often don’t listen to any of these alternate perspectives is one of the primary drivers of frustration and depression in my life.
The hope in providing perspective is that it might open someone’s world or mind or maybe, cause them to think a little, or provide a different perspective, which might open my mind a little more.
Often, the disappointment with things not working out that way has led me to passive-aggression and allowed the avoidance of pain to become more important than the achievement of joy.
Things did take a turn for the better (and the worse) the moment I grew up enough to start turning this bullshit detector and dogma buster on myself and my own beliefs.
I’m still doing it.
It’s how I grow. It took me a long time to accept that this needed to happen, and that it meant I’ve been an unconscious idiot this whole time. It’s also allowed me to understand that I may still be one, and nowhere near as smart as I or anyone else has at times given me credit for.
And I’m okay with that.
We start as nothing and we become more. My choice now is to continue becoming more, to flip avoiding pain and embracing joy and become more open, take more action and expand my horizons. I need to open my own world, instead of wasting my time trying to open everyone else’s.
My world grows, and others may grow with it or they may not. Both of these are acceptable options.
Time is short.
I have books I need to write and stories I need to tell. I have characters to explore, worlds to open and theories to test and expand, discard and renew, strengthen and tear down.
Nothing is sacred.
Not my beliefs, not yours. Question everything.
The good beliefs will find their legs strengthened by debate. The bad ones? We’ll just let them go.
Like joy and pain, we need to find new ways to approach them. Every day, every moment, I must make a choice. Embrace the moment and the possibility of happiness, or let it scare me off.
It’s up to me not to choose the latter.
That’s my why.