Are You Asleep – Or Are You Alive?

Are you happy with yourself? Like, honestly – truly happy? Even if you think you’re happy, read on and disregard the next sentence. It’s not your fault that you’re not happy. From the time that you have been born, you have been taught to be unhappy through a long, long process of social indoctrination. You have been taught by example from your peers, your teachers, your bosses, and your family that being happy is an impossibility in this world. Ask yourself another question: how many truly happy people do you know? Not many, right? That’s because they’ve been victims to the same conditioning process that you’ve gone through. Over time, society has – unintentionally, mind you – wiped all trace of happiness from the population at large. A lucky few have been able to find consistent happiness, but the majority of people have been programmed into living a dull existence of consumption and compliance. We need to wake up. We need to realize that we can be happy and break free of the paradigms and conditioning that’s turned us into shells of ourselves.

The World Is A Cage

Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. Neo: What truth? Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind. -The Matrix How has such a horriffic world been allowed to exist? Easy. We were born into it, and were never presented another alternative. You have always been a slave. It’s now time for you to realize it. When you were born, you lived under the care of your parents. They told you what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. They guided you through your early childhood, rewarding you for doing what they wanted (actions deemed ‘good’), and chastising you for going against their will (actions deemed ‘bad’). Eventually, you learned to fall into the patterns of behavior that they wanted, and began to be conditioned into following your parents’ every word. Your personal choices and demands were largely neglected because your parents knew best and they told you as much. They punished you and limited your choice for your own good, they said. You were on your way to being a compliant, subservient slave. Next came school. Instead of parents ordering you around, though, a teacher replaced them. They told you what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. They rewarded you with “A”s for doing well, and lower grades for doing poorly. They chastised you for being ‘bad’ and rewarded you for being ‘good’. Most people modified their behaviors so they could get the most rewards with the least effort, and, again, you started being conditioned into following what your teachers said to get rewarded. Again, your autonomy and personal wants were neglected – “for your own good”. After you got out of school, whether it was college or high school, you entered the working world. I bet you can guess how this plays out: your boss orders you around and rewards you depending how much you follow his whims, even though he has no regard for your personal desires. And it was all “for your own good”. What happens here? Everyone’s personal desires, their wants, their needs, their very individuality that makes them who they are gets crushed “for their own good”. When your wants and needs are ignored and stifled, what happens? You become deeply unhappy. However, The System has foreseen this. The System has decided to kill two birds with one stone: if makes you think your desires are in line with The System’s goals, then The System profits and you stay ignorant to what it’s doing to you. Thus, a consumer culture is born. The System’s marketers and, well, everyone else, develops a social paradigm where you base your identity and your self-esteem around your possessions. With the pervasive culture of marketing (ads are omnipresent in our lives: on the Internet, TV, billboards, in magazines, newspapers… Every form of media has advertising) that The System has developed, your real wants and needs get overshadowed by the fake needs created by The System. By buying your possessions, you help fuel The System and keep it alive. And you allow yourself to keep up with everyone else, who are all caught up in the same race to restore their broken self-esteem. Over time, as well, you begin to pick up on other social cues. Like the idea that you can only be happy if you have money, are married, have nice possessions, etc. Having those things means you are desirable in a consumer society. The logic is, if you are desirable, then you have the right to be happy. However, if you do not have those things, you are not “qualified” to be happy. All of this, when put together, has resulted in a society that has turned us into slaves. We act robotic, unhappy, expressionless, unless we’re in a situation where we’ve been taught it’s OK to be happy. Being happy at work, on the train, reading a book, or at school is simply unthinkable for most people. However, they begin to finally allow themselves to be happy on the weekend nights, out at bars and clubs, because they’ve been taught that they can be happy then.

Do You Even Know What You Want?

“Never ask people. Not about your work. Don’t you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?” – The Fountainhead The best way to break out of The System and its crushing ways is to ask yourself questions. Questions like:
  • Do I like the person I am?
  • What do I truly like in the world? What do I dislike?
  • What do I want to get out of life?
  • Can I live my life better than I’m living now?
  • Do I try to please myself, or do I spend all my time and energy pleasing others?
  • If today were the last day of my life, would I be happy with the life I’ve led?
The biggest thing that you want to do in order to stop being a slave to The System is to figure out what you really want out of life. Once you figure out what you truly want – not what your friends want, not what your boss wants, and definitely not what your mom wants (Hi mom!) – all you have to do is move towards that. When you’re doing what you want, you are no longer being a slave to The System. You are living life on your own terms. As stated above, the best way to cut to the core of who you are and what you want is to question everything. Don’t believe everything everyone tells you – hell, don’t even believe everything I’m telling you. Odds are good, though, that my description of The System resonated with you and described your experience of life. So I must know what I’m talking about, right? And that means that you need to take action to break free from the conditioning that has held you back for your entire life. Defy The System. Pursue what you want. Become the person you want to become, not the person The System – or anyone else, for that matter – wants you to become. Don’t worry whether The System likes what you like. If you honestly want a pair of Nikes for whatever reasons you may have – and, no, having them to impress others is not a good reason – then go for it. Who cares what everyone else likes? You just know what you like, and you should never feel guilty about wanting anything. As you start to live the life of your design more and more, you will soon realize that you are being far different from the people who are still held in the clutches of The System. You will seem to be more self-assured, more sharp, more confident, more in control. You’ll have a spring in your step that others don’t have. You’ll be smiling more in public and will begin to wonder why others don’t do the same. And, eventually, you’ll realize: it’s pretty lonely, being one of the few people you know that go against The System and have chose a life of happiness and fulfillment, rather than chasing what society has told you you want.

Becoming A Beacon

Once you’ve gotten to the point where you are comfortable going after what you want, you’re going to have to do something that’s even more scary: you’re going to have to serve as an example for others. As someone who has broken free from the confines of The System, you’ll eventually notice just how unhappy everyone is, how they keep their heads down all the time, and especially how they seem to be afraid of the world. It’s up to you to liberate them. But you don’t have to do it by preaching everything I’ve said in this post. All you have to do is lead my example – show them what’s possible. Have definition in your purpose, do what you want, and, above all – genuinely enjoy life. Have fun wherever you go – and, honestly, if you’re not having fun all the time, you’re not trying hard enough. It’s possible to have fun in almost any given situation. It’s just up to you to be creative enough to bring the fun out. As you get better and better at serving as an example of what being a free man looks like, others will begin to look to you for inspiration. That’s when you can tell them that anything’s possible – and they’ll begin to give you a list of reasons why they’re not capable of breaking free from the cage. Tell them all you’ve learned. Tell them that they’ve been held back their entire lives and have been conditioned into believing that they’re not good enough to make the leap. Tell them how free you feel. Hopefully, others will begin to follow your lead. Because a life lived as a free man is far better than a life in chains.

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