…because yoga can’t give you everything.

August 31, 2010 at 1:50 pm (Uncategorized)

We have created the world we live in.  The choices we made yesterday have created who we are today. Blah, blah, blah, self-help secret Dr.Phil, blah, blah.  We all know this, it’s nothing new.  There are thousands of books that have been published on the vastly explored topic of self-help.  So what have you learned? 

Think about this for just a moment.  How are you a different, better person now that you have read all the books, gone to all the seminars, and listened to all the speeches and audiobooks?  Have you absorbed enough of how important you are, and put into practice your me, me, ME philosophy? Are you happier, and more fulfilled?  How much self-exploring have you really done? Now think about your friends, lover, family, coworkers, and the world around you.  How do you treat them and how are your relationships? 

dr_phil.jpg image by THEDAYIWENTMADdotcom (thedayiwentmad.com)

Because the truth is, you aren’t much by yourself.  Yes, I know that one person can make a difference (hey, I vote), but you have to look outside yourself to see what kind of difference is needed, and to understand your own place in the world, it is necessary to include other human beings in your life and in your thoughts. 

I discovered an interesting book in Chapters a few weeks ago.  I have yet to read the whole thing (The Narcissism Epidemic – next on my book list), but I just read the first chapter or so and it reinforced my discomfort with our 2010 time of extreme self-entitlement.  I have a lot of respect for my father, and when I was younger, I didn’t always agree with him, but I learned the value of hard work, the value of a dollar, and respect for myself and others.  He was always kind, always fair, and he has a great sense of humour, but would NEVER have let me get away with bad manners, cheating, slacking off, disrespect, etc.  Lucky kid, he cared enough to try to influence me to be a kind, well-mannered, gracious, self-sufficient woman.  He told me that I could do whatever I wanted in life, and that I should be able to take care of myself. 

All of that being said, I was spoiled with attention and affection, but not with unnecessary frivolous things.  I was privileged enough to attend dance classes, soccer camps, and my education in NYC was paid for by my parents.  But no mountains of presents on holidays.  No begging and pleading for the latest gadgets and toys and clothes. Not a chance.  I could save my allowance and work for what I wanted.  Thank Buddha, because I am fully capable of taking care of myself at 23.  And damn it, I work hard for what I have.  I may go back to school in a year, I may not.  I am going to Brazil in February, because I worked for hours and hours to save for the trip.  But I do not believe that I am entitled to these things because I simply “think positive”.  The universe does not owe me anything.  Hard work and passion = success.  It is a timeless formula.

I am all about the power of positive thinking.  But, holy shit.  At some point, action will be necessary.  To sit around and believe that you deserve a million dollars by the time you turn 35 because you think REALLY hard about it, looking for every get-rich-quick scheme you can find, trying to take the easy way out because you feel that you are too important and special to work hard like the rest of us… is an utterly ridiculous and foolish way of thinking.  I’m a firm believer in action.  If you want something, MAKE IT HAPPEN.  Don’t wait and think that the universe owes you something because you had an extra-sweaty yoga class. 

Eat, pray, love = me, me, me.  Grow up.  It’s not your 5th birthday party every day. I knew I disliked that book for a reason. What a nice, unrealistic fairytale it would be to pleasure your poor soul because you had a relationship problem.  Boo hoo. We ALL hurt sometimes.

I agree that everyone should love him/herself unconditionally.  But in all honesty, self-love has grown into complete narcissism these days.  There is a huge difference between the two.  Self-love means having confidence, self-respect, and the desire to succeed and be happy, and to give love to others and be a positive influence.  In The Narcissism Epidemic, it states quite accurately that “narcissists believe they are better than others, lack emotionally warm and caring relationships, constantly seek attention, and treasure material wealth and physical appearance.”  Narcissists are actually very destructive to our society.  “A narcissist might brag, turn all conversations back to himself, try to associate only with important people, want to have the best and newest of everything, or steal credit from others. When things don’t go his way, the narcissist might get angry or even violent.”

Now this is an interesting self-help book!  It seems for once to be concerned with the actual self-HELP, not just self-importance and ego-inflation.  They discuss a multitude of reasons why this is an actual epidemic, like the increase in materialism, credit card debts, plastic surgeries on the rise, the use of the words “me, my, myself”, music, media (reality TV especially), etc.  Just look at how many people Photoshop their Facebook pictures and enhance their appearance in strange and painful and expensive ways…

“You have to love yourself first”.  Agreed.  But make sure you can share some around, too.  The veil of narcissism is very thin, and if you can not care about the world around you, it will be very obvious to others in short time.

You CAN have whatever you want in life.  But stop shooting your mouth off to everyone how important and unique you are.  Because so is everyone else.  You are not a delicate snowflake.  You deserve just as much happiness as the next person.  You are not more important than another human being.  Take some action; go out into the real world and sweat a little. You may not sleep some nights, and you may cry and rage and eat too many M&M’s because you are stressed out.  But hard work is rewarding.  When you achieve something great, doesn’t it feel amazing to know that you deserve it because you are getting back what you gave?

It is a dangerously selfish world we live in.   Many students in my generation are entering law school, med school, university in general and politicians too, are incredibly narcissistic and have no work ethic.  These people will run our society and be responsible for our health, safety, civil rights… we had better hope the future doctors, lawyers, senators, directors, etc value hard work and don’t slack off because they think they are smarter than everyone else. 

I am worried.  Our society’s intellectual standards are being lowered at an alarming rate, and our tolerance for bad behavior (crime included) is too high.  (sexual assault tried as a summary conviction offence: 6 months in prison or a $2000 fine.  A woman’s dignity for about the same price as a new laptop.  What a deal!)  How many people see a movie or read a book for education?  Speak another language? Read the news? “The news makes ME sad. I don’t want to know about OTHER people’s problems, because it has nothing to do with ME, ME, GLORIOUS ME!” This is pathetic and ignorant.  You live in Canada (or the U.S.A.)?  You are privileged enough to be able to read and have some information about the outside world.  It is our global responsibility to be educated about the world around us.  And it is a slap in the face to the less-privileged people in our world if you are a narcissistic, ungrateful little twat. 

In summary, love yourself.  Think about yourself, think positive.  But save room in your giant head for others, and be careful you don’t cross the line from beautiful self-love into being self-absorbed.  Even in our highly competitive world, nice people always finish first.


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