Throughout your life you’ve had some and will continue to have some moments of tranquility. When all the basic stuff was coming along according to plan and you could think about the next steps on your path.
You’ve always known deep in your heart that you’re not meant to struggle to get by, you’re not meant to impress anyone to become friends with them, you’re not meant to postpone your dreams for somebody else’s sake. Those a-ha moments, awakenings, sparks of clarity, or however you like to call them, should not be random. They can be achieved consciously and are not some unicorn in another galaxy.
- This chapter is about getting back up there and maximizing your “flight time” without endangering life as you know it.
Abraham Maslow was the psychologist who coined the pyramid on the next page. The base of the pyramid is made out of our most primal needs, whilst the top culminates with self-actualization.
99% percent of the time we find ourselves stuck in the various activities from the bottom of the pyramid. But if we train our minds, we can overcome all those needs and think outside the box, think on top of what’s missing.
That’s right, even if we’re lacking a lot of what’s down at the bottom (and the middle), we can still have our minds reach the top. As a rule of thumb, the more you actually have (and don’t have to imagine) from the bottom, the longer you can stay on top.
Remember that old saying, act as if? It doesn’t mean that if you want to be rich you should act carelessly with the little you have. It doesn’t mean that if you’d like to be smarter you should act condescending to others. It means act as if you didn’t need all those missing puzzle pieces that keep you away from the top of the pyramid.
- Remember, your target is the top, not the middle. The middle won’t get you further in life.
Act as if you just had a great meal and aren’t hungry right now. Act as if you don’t need that job. Act as if you weren’t afraid of anything. Act as if your family was always there for you. Act as if everyone liked you and respected you for who you are. Act as if you didn’t need to explain anything, because you’re always well rested and can always get your message through. Act as if you can really draw, you can really sing, you can really keep that rhythm and really can dance. Act as if you’re in a beautiful, clean and simply relaxing place. Act as if you’re already on top.
- What will you do now?
Motivation is the effect of success, not the cause. We’re not motivated by finishing off projects, we’re motivated by what we imagine our end results would be. If we can’t imagine the outcome, or can only see the downsides of doing something, we won’t be motivated to do it .
What would be the reason to work if the result is bad? No reason. You should always improve your image on what you want to achieve, otherwise your task might not see the light of day.
You see, Maslow’s always been right. The reason you can think your way out is that you CAN THINK. You can think what if, you can imagine what would be. You don’t need all those things at the bottom of the pyramid to reach the top. But you need the whole pyramid to stay on top.
- The good news is that once you reach the top, you always find solutions to fill in the blanks.
Once you realize this, you are free. You don’t need that new car, you don’t need that unfit relationship, you don’t need your parents’ approval to move halfway around the world.
Your best bet is to find a way to the top without compromising too much of the bottom. You’ll never have the entire pyramid worked out for too long. But you won’t stumble on the base of the pyramid as much when you’re on top as you would when you’re at the bottom of it.
- Know yourself.
Take eating for example. More often than not, people tend to binge-eat. We’re not really hungry but we could always find room for some delicious comfort food, right? Chocolate releases dopamine and hugs us from the inside.
We might even go for a run before munching on that chocolate bar, to work up the serotonin levels as well. Jogging evens out some of the negative effects of the chocolate and empowers us by delaying instant gratification. But neither solves the underlying problem, they just makes it easier to cope with.
Depending on what your base of the pyramid is made of, it will be easier for you to do some things on the top rather than others. Reaching the top at all is a huge win, sure. But believe me, there’s more…
Doing what you’ve always loved doing, something you’re really good at, that’s also insanely profitable and is helping save the world – all at the same time – that’s perfection. The Japanese people call it ikigai and is literally the best place to be.
- You should build your pyramid in such a way as to maximize your ikigai.
That Ikigai sure looks awesome, doesn’t it? But it comes at a cost. Depending on the type of personality you’ve developed along the years, you’ll be more or less prone to feel some of the needs from the pyramid. Some people meditate to get their minds away from their worrying lives. Others rely on the balance and harmony they’ve built around them.
There are many ways to reach the top of the pyramid and make a statement in the world, and you should definitely pursue it as a life goal. Ikigai makes every bit of effort worthwhile. When you’re happy, proud, helpful, appreciated and successful at what you do, everything else follows