"To be yourself
in a world that is constantly trying
to make you something else
is the greatest accomplishment."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
New: Audio version
[Classic post from 9-18-15]
It is all too easy to lose ourselves, our unique selves, in a world that seems to so clearly delight in conformity. Some are small groups requiring conformity and others might be national or even multi-national.
It's funny to me to think of lawmakers sitting around making laws about this and that. Can you guess how many laws are on the books today? It's a stupid number, I'm sure, and most people don't even know about but a tiny fraction of them. Conform! Or pay the price!
Conforming just fifty years or so ago, was so different than today, but rest assured, there is plenty going on today. Each age has some adjustments, changes, new beliefs, new rituals, and the conformity goes on as it has throughout history.
It's also interesting that the people who seem to really stand out in life and in history are those who have expressed more of their individual spirit in spite of, and often in conflict with mainstream conformity.
I love these lines from Anita Moorjani's book, Dying To Be Me:
"Our purpose is to be our magnificent selves, and the external world is only a reflection of what's inside us. The breakdown in my life came from my focus outward, the comparisons I made, and the competition this creates."
Conformity is all about control--controlling behavior, and controlling outcomes.
Here's a little more from Anita:
"The external world mirrors what we feel about ourselves. By letting go of any negative self-judgment, we allow our world to transform; and as it does so, we'll be able to feel greater and greater trust. The more we're able to trust, the more we're able to let go of trying to control the outcome. When we try to move with this flow rather than adhere dogmatically to the doctrines of others or the beliefs we once had that no longer serve us, we more accurately reflect who and what we truly are.
I believe this is the most powerful idea for each of us: realizing that we're here to discover and honor our own individual path."
The past few days have been interesting in thinking about my life and having things that I watched, or listened to that mirrored what I was thinking. I guess for some reason I was feeling less than--less successful than some role models, less of a skilled musician than the musician's that I respect, financially less astute than the Wealthy Barber and dot com startups.
I don't know why, but even my dreams were reflecting my conflict and my conflict with conformity. And, yesterday, I allowed myself to re-experience some things from 30 years ago that caused me to see them in a more appreciative light.
Conflicted feelings can feel like a negative, but I have learned that any negative can be seen in a positive light. In my case, the conflicted feelings were leading me back to my own uniqueness and celebrating that rather than finding fault with it. As I was listening to some songs that I had written and recorded over 30 years ago, I found joy and gratitude for those that were instrumental in helping to have that come to be. As I thought of 15 years ago growing into leading worship at church, I found my uniqueness a benefit to myself and to others.
In each case, along with several others over that last few days, including jobs that I have had, how I handled things with other people, and more, I found that it was my uniqueness to be the perfect thing at the perfect time. Those weren't my thoughts before, so this internal conflict I was experiencing was also the perfect thing at the perfect time.
It's amazing--truly amazing--how a changed perspective of loving and accepting myself, and appreciating my uniqueness along with all others changes the outcome, past, present, and future.
"What Lies Behind Us And What Lies Before Us Are Tiny Matters Compared To What Lies Within Us." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Spread Some Joy Today--by loving that joy within you so much that you cannot help but share it with the world.