I often feel I know what I should do to live my life to its full potential. Or, at least, to get the fundamental right that can allow me to do so. But, and I don’t think I am alone in this, I watch myself time and time again not doing the very things that I should do.
I can ask GPT4 for tips on living a good life:
- Cultivate a positive mindset: Focus on the good aspects of your life and practice gratitude. Surround yourself with positive people, and strive to see challenges as opportunities for growth and learning.
- Prioritize self-care: Take care of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Engage in regular exercise, eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and manage stress through relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga.
- Set clear goals: Identify your values and passions, and set achievable goals that align with them. Break down your goals into smaller, manageable steps and track your progress. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small.
- Foster strong relationships: Build and maintain meaningful connections with family, friends, and colleagues. Offer support and encouragement, and seek the same in return. Communicate openly and honestly, and be willing to listen and empathize.
- Continue learning and growing: Embrace lifelong learning by seeking out new experiences, acquiring new skills, and expanding your knowledge. This can lead to personal growth, improved self-esteem, and increased adaptability to change.
We don’t need an advanced AI model to tell us this stuff — we already know it. But, it is not knowledge that is the problem; it is putting the knowledge into practice.
I don’t know if there is a self-sabotaging mechanism at play here, or perhaps that deep down we ar all scared of that which we could be if we only tried.
Or, perhaps, we scared of trying because if we tried, and then subsequently failed, we would have to admit that we have failed, that we have hit our limits. By not trying, we can keep our limits and failure in the hypothetical world of “what if”.
This, perhaps, does make sense. The student who fails the exam because she didn’t study does not feel as bad as the student who fails the exam and worked her ass off revising for it. That second student has hit, at least on an initial observation, a deeper level of failure. But, of course, it is actually the first student who has failed more, because she will never discover her true potential, but instead languish in mediocraty, always wondering if she could have made something of her life if she had only applied herself.
How do we combat this? I’ve written previously about the concept of resistance and how to overcome it, and i think the key piece of advice in that essay still holds true:
> Think of the things you don’t want to do right now, and start doing them immediately.
I think the best historical example I can think of this is of Alexander the Great and his journey through the Gedrosian Desert. In 325 BC, after his conquest of the Indian subcontinent, Alexander decided to lead his army through the Gedrosian Desert (now part of modern-day Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan) instead of taking the easier coastal route.
This decision was made partly to punish his troops for their reluctance to continue further east and partly to emulate the legendary journey of Cyrus the Great, who had taken a similar route. The journey through the desert was treacherous and difficult, with scorching temperatures, scarce water supplies, and harsh terrain. Many soldiers and camp followers perished during the march, and the survivors were left exhausted and demoralized. Despite the hardships, Alexander’s army emerged from the desert and continued their march westward.
Time and time again, there are examples of Alexander the Great choosing the most difficult path, purely to see if he could. While this can be taken to an extreme and become self-destructive, I think most of us in the modern world do not run this risk.
The far bigger risk for us is that we are paralized with all the choices that life has to offer, and so we default to completly inaction.
So dare to imagine who could be if you could do everything you think you can, and then start taking actions to become that person.