The beautiful art of storytelling has enabled us a glimpse into the lives of those who have preceded us. Our human history is woven into the stories told generation after generation, passing on the knowledge and wisdom we collect over the centuries.
And now that we live in the era of unlimited connectedness, we seem to have lost the single thread of our own stories that makes us so wonderfully human – our humility.
The social media hype has led to a world of falsehood, of stories that are pure figments of imagination, representing ourselves through the mask of fake perfection, wanting to impress, impact and attract.
But all we do as a consequence of this chase after fame and recognition, is that we inevitably lose what makes us authentic.
In the hunt for false perfection, we lose our true self – the one untarnished by ego-driven choices that only care about the mirror image, instead of the substance that hides beyond the realm of visible. And that is why it’s time to let go of these augmented, filtered realities that have become our only way to truly exist. It’s time to re-learn what it means to be.
Abandon the ego-centric mindset
If there’s a single quality that our children should be taught from the earliest stages of their lives, it’s how to empathize. This often-underestimated quality is the single most important one that can help us shift our perspective even in the times when our ego feels threatened.
We have become accustomed to using pronouns that represent ourselves, as the epicenter of not just our language, but our perception. We view and form our beliefs about the world through this single lens. How does it affect me? What is my role in this story?
The simple, most profound truth is that we are all, as Carl Sagan brilliantly put it, “Just butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.” Some day, we will all reunite under a single blanket of soil, and feed the grass we tread today.
And it will no longer matter if you are an owner of a multi-million-dollar corporation, a beggar, or a thief, or how many times someone has liked your Instagram post.
There will come a time when you and I alike will need a helping hand, perhaps even for the simplest of tasks like changing our clothes. Going to the movies, boasting a six-pack or shopping for the latest pair of jeans will no longer be the center of the universe.
So, with that in mind, wouldn’t we all benefit from a less self-centered viewpoint, and from filling our lives with meaning beyond ego-pleasing drivel?
Let go of labels
In the need to define ourselves, to have an identity, we resort to using name-tags and placing ourselves in confined boxes. As a result, you become and are reduced to the notion of your occupation, your gender, your preference. But these labels are of little help when it comes to recognizing your own value, as well as the value of others, that goes much deeper that these superficial terms.
Even as we go through life trying to “earn” a new label, cherishing it like a trophy, another way to distinguish ourselves from others or belong to a group, we spend more time crafting another story of our existence.
It doesn’t take into account the fact that you alone are not the sole creator of your tale, as those who have brought you into this world and those you meet along the way have an impact you will never be able to fathom completely.
The very inception of your story was told by someone other than you. You made your first steps into this world with their help and guidance. All of their stories along with yours are intertwined, and you have the responsibility to recognize and honor their legacy, their stories and their existence through your own.
And some day, these creators of your beginning might be a glimpse into your own future – your own struggle with walking, talking or eating. Their own need for professional in-home care and support may just be the lesson you need to grasp your own fragility, and the intricate nature of life that will never be just your own.
It’s a frightening truth, that we as singular entities are not as relevant as we’d like to think we are. And it’s perfectly human to want to ascribe more meaning and purpose to our lives than nature has intended.
But if you stop to rethink your story as merely a sentence in the existence of humankind, you will be humbled by your brief presence and perhaps inspired to do something meaningful with it, something of more substance than selfish gratification.
Perhaps you will embrace the fact that your fleeting life, and its story, is in the hands of others as much as your own, and its ending will be told by someone other than yourself.
And finally, maybe this very notion will encourage you to listen more, give more, and create more, because your true story will best be told by your choices, and its meaning will only exist hand-in-hand with the stories of others.
About Olivia Jones
Olivia is psychologist and entrepreneur from Brisbane. Mother of two beautiful children and proud owner of two silly boxer dogs. She is passionate writer, a traveler and conscious consumer, seeking healthy and sustainable products to incorporate into the lives of her family. Her motto is “Be the change you want to see in the world”.