photo © 2007 Edward Simpson | more info (via: Wylio)
Do you question everything that you have ever been told?… including the idea of the best job, marriage, God, religion etc. Or do you mostly follow the rules society asks you to? Have you always done what you are told?
You started off as a child, looking up to your parents to guide you. You did what you were told and it was all good in the beginning. You didn’t like everything they said but you would not think too much, you would forget everything quickly.
Then you grew up. You had your own experiences and sometimes, they made you doubt certain things. You had questions, they pointed to different truths from what you had been told. So did you grow out of the ‘follower mould’? Did you raise those questions? Did you seek answers?
A lot of people never totally grow out of following what they are told. They still have at least some remnants of that childhood conditioning. If you are one of them, here are 4 reasons to contemplate a shift.
1. Do the ones you listen to, have the exact life you dream? Maybe you listen to and follow what your parents say, or what the collective of your relatives, or friends, or all of them say. Do any of these people have the life you dream? Have they got what really interests you? If this is so, go ahead and listen to them. But if it is not, or if you later find that your path lies somewhere else(which you invariably would, some day), you are not going to get there by following these people. These people, though they may wish the best for you, don’t know how to get there.
There is no fun in recreating what has already been done. What do you think they mean by ‘reinventing the wheel’? Each heart has it’s own calling. You cannot feel you have truly realized your potential by being like someone else. It is for each one of us to listen to our inner guide for our unique path and go on our own journeys. Only then can we feel we have truly accomplished something of value, only then do we find our unique identity.
2. For growth. Growth has always come from questioning things, trying something new. Look at the history of humans if you have any doubts. All discoveries are a result of questioning things. If Galileo Galilei had not questioned the Christian idea of the Earth being the center of the Universe, we might not have known about the Universe as we know it today. All inventions were a result of trying new things, looking for better ways to do things. If people were always content with what they had been given, they would never have moved out of the Stone Age.
Look at great personalities. Greatness invariably involves questioning established rules, breaking them. Great people follow their hearts, even against the advice of the whole world. Gandhi could have continued on the safe path and followed his profession in Law, but then we wouldn’t have known the ideas of non violence, personal discipline and humility as we know them today.
3. Humans are not perfect. This society is not divine. We are humans and we make mistakes, individual and collective, small and big. Not everything that the majority follows is right. If you feel otherwise, here is some food for thought – If you were born in India 2 centuries ago, would you pressurize the women in your family to burn themselves alive with their husbands, because Sati practice was glorified? If you were born in the Christian world in middle ages, would you kill members of your own family accused of being witches who cast evil spells on other people? It all sounds so wrong today. Maybe, some of what the society believes today, will be found wrong by later generations. Use your brains, don’t follow blindly, not even the majority.
4. Why do we have these brains. You have been born a human. Your mental faculties are highly developed. Did you ever think what Nature(or God) gave you this brain for? Brains in animals are not so developed. They follow the herd, do whatever others in the group do. There is the famous quote of a sheep following other sheep and falling off the cliff. But we are not made that way. We can reason, we can see when something is right and when it isn’t. I like to believe nature has no folly. If we have been given a brain, it is supposed to be used. If it raises questions, I think we ought to look for answers. If it consistently seeks out a different path than that which it has been told, we should consider that path seriously.
Civilization had too many rules for me, so I did my best to rewrite them. — Bill Cosby