How would we get anywhere anymore without our precious GPS systems?
How would we cook anything without a recipe?
Then again, directions can hold you back. They can hinder you, confuse you, and leave you downright stressed out.
Think of the directions you get in a piece of IKEA furniture. Now that’s a good way to spend a Saturday frustrated and bordering on divorce with your partner.
Recently I played an app game with my 3 year old son, Ari.
Or at least we tried to play.
There were no instructions. We did not know the mission of the game. Nor did we know how to get the most points to achieve whatever this mysterious mission might be. Where were we supposed to aim our avatar? At that flashing green thing? Or should we avoid it? Did the blue blobs earn more points than the red blobs – or vice versa? What was the point of earning points? What could we even get with them?
Not knowing any of these answers made my son and I feel stressed and unhappy.We did not enjoy playing this app game. At. All.
I’m a philosophical gal. I even named my son Ari as a “wink” to Aristotle the philosopher – who I have a platonic crush on. So I wound up thinking about my app unhappiness in a philosophical way. In particular, in an Aristotelian way.
I remembered how Aristotle was a big believer that you must begin all projects with the “final ends” in mind. You must know exactly what it is you want to achieve – your mission – before you start any project. This applies to everything from writing a book, to making dinner – or even when it comes to approaching that gigantic project called Your Life.
Aristotle said: “Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what is right?”
When it comes to knowing your mission for life, Aristotle believed your final ends for life are the same as my final ends. In fact, everyone on this planet shares the same final ends for life:
Become your best possible self!
Plus, Aristotle believed becoming your best self was not only your mission for life – but also what leads to true happiness.
Now, a lot of you right now might be wondering what the heck all of this has to do with that app game.
Aristotle was right. You must know exactly what you want to achieve – your final ends – your mission – before you begin any project – from playing app games, to playing at that gigantic Game of Life.
I thought about how unhappy my son and I were when we did not know the final ends for that app game – then I thought about what it takes to create happiness in life – then a realization emerged….
Once you fully and clearly understand your mission for Your Life, then life becomes less stressful – and it becomes far easier to score those glorious life happiness points – and become a winner at life!
Aristotle had some particular suggestions for scoring life happiness points. He recommended aiming yourself at “Best Self” habits – including things like: high integrity, kindness, mindfulness, patience, discipline, courage, altruism, generosity of spirit, love of learning, love of doing your innate passions, etc.
Plus Aristotle suggested you avoid doing “Lowest Self” habits – because they’ll simply get you whacked, kicked and fire-bombed. “Lowest Self” habits are pretty much all the opposites of the items shared on the “Best Self” habits list. Plus, “Lowest Self” habits also tend to be anything impulse-directed, ego-directed, and/or body-directed – like cheating, lying, stealing, pigging out, sleeping around.
Basically Aristotle suggested you aim yourself at doing soul-directed habits – behaviors your soul can be proud about.
Unfortunately, nobody ever sits us down to so succinctly explain that this is our life’s mission. As a result many of us wind up with highly incorrect “life missions” playing in an ongoing loop in our heads.
SOME EXAMPLES OF FAULTY LIFE MISSIONS:
To become the richest person on the planet!
To become the thinnest/prettiest girl on this planet!
To have the best wardrobe on this planet!
To be the most famous person on this planet!
To party and have fun, fun, fun!
To have the most orgasms as possible!
To have the most power as possible!
To get lots and lots of people to fall in love with you!
These are all ego-directed missions and body-directed missions – instead of missions which the soul can be proud about.
According to Aristotle, all of these missions, which are purely ego-directed and/or body-directed, lead to “pleasure” – a form of “fake happiness.” Pleasure is a temporary hit and run joy. It’s fleeting. According to Aristotle, if you want to be a winner at life you have to do stuff which helps you become your best you – and this happens when you aim yourself at habits your soul can be proud about.
I believe it’s wildly helpful to have a mindful awareness that becoming your “best self” is what leads to winning at the game of life. I believe this so much, I’m now raising my 3 year old son with this “life mission” awareness.
Now whenever I catch my son making a less than wise choice, I relate it back to his “life mission.” I don’t say, “No, don’t do that.” Or, “No don’t eat that.” Or, “No, don’t talk to someone that way.” Instead I remind him of his mission for life – and how doing these things won’t help him snag being a winner at becoming his best self. Because my son loves app games, I’m talking to him in language he understands. I’ve witnessed a true improvement in his behavior. He now, on his own, loves to brush his teeth, eat healthy, read books, be kind and generous. He even told me that his favorite red Power Ranger’s power is “studying.” He explained, “When you study you become your best most powerful you – and you can do anything.”
We must teach kids to understand the “why not” behind a “no” or a “stop.” We must raise kids to become good choice makers on their own – even when parents and teachers are not around. I believe an effective way to do this is to take the time to talk with kids about their mission for life – and the importance of doing habits which help you become your best you!
And speaking of YOU….
I also believe that whoever YOU are – however old YOU might be – it’s helpful to think of life in this way – as being like a gigantic app game – and if you want to rise up to higher and higher levels – you’ve got to aim yourself at actions your soul can be proud of!
So take all the directions you want in life, but without an idea of what the end should look like, you’ll find it a lot harder to succeed at becoming your best self.
Think of your life as a puzzle. You may know how to put it together, but without an idea of the big picture, you’ll sure have a hard time achieving your goals!
**Edited for repurpose by Taylor Brown, Associate Editor of Goddess Connections publicationWomen Who Run It.