Recently I’ve been getting into self-help books. After being in a rut for so long, I wanted to actively try and change my mindset, and some of these self-help books have been reviewed as life-changing.
The first one I decided to read was The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer.
Although I haven’t finished the book yet, the concepts that have been introduced so far have already given me new perspectives of viewing myself and the world. However, while part of me appreciates this new content, another part of me scoffs at some of the ideas just because they seem so…happy-go-lucky, self-actualized hippie vibes.
For example, a chapter I recently read discussed the idea of energy and energy centers, such as the heart. We can “open” and “close” our heart to energy, but “when energy can’t flow in, there’s darkness.”
So how exactly do we keep our heart open? Singer’s answer: Don’t close.
When I first read that, I was honestly…annoyed. This spiritual self-help book that was supposedly life-changing told me to open my heart by not closing. What kind of BS advice was that? What was the point of reading this book?
As I was showering, I really started thinking about that message. I made counterarguments backing up Singer’s simple and obvious answer to such a seemingly complicated question. This is what counter-me came up with:
You’ve grown to be so comfortable with being pessimistic and doubtful and negative. You think that life is meaningless and that there’s no purpose in anything you do. So what if life is meaningless? In the scope of the universe, it probably is. SO MAKE MEANING OUT OF IT. So what if you feel like you have no purpose. THEN GIVE YOURSELF ONE. Maybe it really is just as simple as open your heart by not closing. It’s just like all those other cliche life quotes.
I’m sure you’ve probably heard of these quotes before, or at least some corny variation of them. Ultimately, they will all sound like cheesy “Live, laugh, love” quotes until you genuinely internalize them and realize just how true they are.
The thing is, no one can realize it for you. It’s hard for people to even influence the internalization. You’re probably reading this right now thinking that I’m also spewing a bunch of BS.
Here’s a personal analogy to help you put it into perspective:
When I was first starting high school, I got so much advice from older people telling me to really appreciate the time and not take it for granted, because it would be over sooner than I anticipated.
Of course, when I first heard that, my initial reactions were: Uh, okay? I knew that already. Can you give me some real advice?
Then, throughout high school, I really only focused on the negatives. The classes, the bad teachers, the annoying classmates, the workload. I kept telling myself that I was suffering now, but it would all be better later, specifically second-semester of senior year. It was bad now, but it would be good later. I didn’t like it now, but it would all be worth it later.
Then the pandemic hit, and the “fun” part of high school got stolen from me. Now, as a first-year college student grudging through online school amidst a pandemic, I wish I hadn’t taken high school and my youth for granted. I wish I had spent more time appreciating high school for what it was, instead of constantly hating the present I was in and idealizing the future.
Sometimes, things seem so easy and obvious, but it’s difficult to actually put them into practice when it comes to it.
There’s really not much of a significant lesson I’m trying to make with this post. It’s not anything that hasn’t been said by a million different people a million different ways. I’m only sharing my personal connection and revelation with an idea, in hopes that it may inspire a similar connection for you.
Life is what we make of it. How do we open our heart? We could brainstorm different strategies, analyze the pros and cons, eliminate the weaker ideas, and continue probing until we have a solid and actionable answer.