One of the #predictableformulas of trendy blogging is some spin on how you can be special. How to treat your life like a startup, or hack your genome to stardom, or be like [enter latest venture-backed entrepreneur here], or whatever. The hidden subtext is always some version of this:
If you only would be as amazing as everyone else around you obviously is — people who are leading these incredibly interesting, smart, connected and on-the-edge lives — you would be invited to TED, to speak at Summit, have a million followers and basically be worth writing about, too.
Don’t believe it. Here’s the life you’ll lead if you read any of these posts too closely, because by reading them — unless you’re very aware of how to deconstruct the effect another person’s values have on your emotional system and self-identity, and you can perform that deconstruction in real-time — you will be influenced by them in a few predictable ways:
You’ll want to be special.
And you’ll be unhappy because of that desire. You are unique. You are intrinsically valuable and worthy of love. And you don’t need to be special, or stand out, for that to be true. Egolessness is grounded in a deep, permanent and unassailable sense of intrinsic significance.
You’ll never learn how to listen to yourself.
You’ve been trained not to listen quietly to yourself. Neither was I. Quietude, mindfulness, deep introspection of one’s defining virtues… these things are not the hallmarks of an always-on, adrenaline-addicted generation that is immersed in a sea of perspectives delivered over smartphones every instant.
You’ll value the wrong things.
Your social standing is a poor value system to live one’s life by. Don’t trust me, look at the data. Happy people don’t compare themselves with others, they invest in mindfulness, they don’t need a lot of money, they put energy into a few close relationships, they simplify their lives and they get unaddicted to constant stimulation. Interestingly, the reverse is often also true: unhappy, stressed people feel like they don't measure up on the social hierarchy. Don't play a losing game.
You’ll have the wrong heroes.
Once you stop trying to be special, start learning to listen to yourself, and start valuing things that make you genuinely happy, you’ll see how the real heroes are the ones you’re often not hearing about. And when you do, don’t be surprised if you wake up one day only to find out you’ve become the real hero to someone else along the way.