Why flirting with wrong questions might bring chaos into our lives.
Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.
First, we define a goal, then we take steps towards that goal, but at some point we encounter some form of failure or backlash. It’s something we didn’t foresee, the plan failed, we got sick, the difficulty is overwhelming, you name it.
It’s a few steps back, but because we take lessons from our failures, we recover and progress further than we’ve gotten before. In Principles, Ray Dalio portrays this cycle as a curve that goes up & up, but loops back at some point due to failure. Because lessons are learned in the path downwards, we can get up higher next time when we work further towards our goal.
A goal or an action item on your to-do list is usually triggered by some form of vision or question. We ask ourselves questions when looking in the mirror: “Should I lose some weight?”. When writing we ask ourselves: “Is this good enough to put out?” or “Should I describe this and this topic in more details?”. When working for a capitalistic company, you might ask yourself “What can I do to make the company grow and increase my salary?”.
All these questions, if we accept their call, lead us to a potential questioning of the status quo. To propose that something can change, and for the better good at that, implies inherently that “What Is Now” is not good enough as it can be improved.
It brings us towards the realm of uncertainty because we don’t actually know how a decision will pan out in the long term. Such uncertainty could lead to the collapse of what was before known as “structure” or the “known”. The collapse of a structure or hierarchy brings us to the chaotic side of the once established order.
It’s for this reason why uncertainty is closely tide to taking risks. Risks are potential and unwanted outcomes as a result of uncertainty.
But without taking risks and asking the hard questions, while responding to them with honesty and action, we stale & stay behind. We become irrelevant in the long term, we lose our jobs, we stop creating our best works, we go bankrupt or … lose a dear partner in life.
Every time work is put into the cycle of trying, failing and learning, we come closer and closer towards the thing that we envision as success. Overnight success doesn’t exist and anybody successful will tell you that. The only that thing that is required is putting in the work, failing a lot, and learning a lot.
This makes for the lifelong climb of up-&-down cycles that seems to be inherent to nature & Being itself.
YIN & YANG
Jordan Peterson’s explanation of the Yin-Yang symbol beautifully articulates this progress-and-failure, up-and-down phenomenon.
The Yin-Yang symbol contains two black and white whirly drops circulating each other. White represents Order, black represents Chaos. Both Chaos and Order circulate each other and essentially exist at the same time because you can’t define the unknown without the known, and you can’t define the known without the unknown.
The idea of the Yin & Yang symbol closely resembles the up-&-down cycle we described above: by continuous balancing work (doing something we know, or Order) and failure (encountering something we didn’t know, or Chaos), we learn as a being and essentially may experience our role as a Human Being in its fullest potential.
Interestingly enough, the distance between Order & Chaos is indeed very very small. It takes a very small unforeseen engineering error to conjure a plane crash. It takes a very small unforeseen security leak to experience a full-blown data breach.
This is the reason why everything that’s ever been produced or put into production, has been tested rigorously by a special team of professional pessimists called “Testers” that try to break the product themselves before the market or Nature breaks their product for them.
Recapitulating in terms of symbolism: Chaos is lurking in the Order, just as Order can come out of pending Chaos.
I want you to give a few examples of both as this may sound a bit esoteric.
Think of any rigid company with strict rules, that’s dismissing current market trends & customer feedback. If they won’t accept the risk that comes with growing, listening to the market & their customers and thus exploring uncertainty, they might get kicked out of the market and go bankrupt (Eg: The bankruptcy of Toys “R” Us).
Think of the many revolutions we’ve had in our Human History, where the established Order (eg: British Rule In India, Russian Occupation In Poland, Daens vs The Catholic Party in Belgium) has been overthrown many times by a group of rebels that sew Chaos in the state. But the moment the revolution came to an end, The Order was overthrown, the chaotic mess crystalized in the new Order. It’s a very intricate condition of the human experience.
This dynamic is symbolized by the opposite color dots within Yin-Yang’s black and white whirly waves.
The core idea being that growth & success come from standing with one foot in Order, in the things that are known to you and with the other foot in Chaos, the new and uncertain things in life. Yin-Yang’s lesson is to balancing both Chaos & Order, to find growth and success in our lives.
Just like in Ray Dalio’s model, tackling the unknown and risks may lead to minor or major failures, giving us lessons which we integrate into our Order. Since our established Order is now richer, we get to tackle riskier problems posed by Chaos. By balancing exploration, failure and progress of both domains, we get to experience the fulfillment of growth, success and ultimately being.
Questions & Answers
In the garden of Eden, the snake asked Eve “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”.
This powerful question caused Eve to doubt God’s honesty & agenda. It sowed Chaos in Eve’s mind and seduced her to take a bite from the forbidden fruit, make her fall into sin & ultimately get kicked out of the Garden.
Briefly, Eve answered the call of a sneaky question, bringing Chaos into her world.
It seems like questions always originate in some shape or form out of Chaos, and almost always addresses Order. If the question is answered, it might either bring Order or Chaos into our lives.
Questions and Answers work hand in hand. If we don’t have an answer to a question, we can either do one of two things: ignore the question, or try to answer it by exploring the opened door to Chaos, with one foot still in our known ‘Order’.
However, I think that we have to be careful about what questions we are answering in our lives.
Questions like “Am I happy?”, “I feel tired, maybe I’ll go tomorrow to the gym?”, “I don’t wanna do my current tasks at my job, should I switch jobs?” or “Just one more hit?” are questions that all lead to potential chaos just by exploring their possibilities.
Flirting for a prolonged time with chaos usually manifests as stress, uncertainty and misdirection in our lives.
Being healthy starts with shutting the fuck up, and then repeatedly putting healthy food in your mouth & making your muscles in your body churn out work. It’s not gonna happen by thinking about the possibility of eating something shitty.
Happiness comes from zero complaining, staying in the moment & working (and thus hoping) for a better future. Certainly not by contemplating all that’s bad happening in the world, or asking yourself if you’re a victim of the world’s dynamics.
I think that some questions that pop into our minds are just not worth tackling, nor answering. Could be, but which ones?
Personally, my biggest problem is starting doing anything, including my day. For years I’ve been struggling with this issue, as no matter what ‘positive thoughts’ I had, no matter what morning routine I’ve been creating for myself or how healthy I’ve been eating or enough I sleep I’ve had… I just couldn’t force myself to stand up from my bed and start that day with a passionate vision and vigour to work on my goals. And why? Because I flirted with the question: “Maybe I should stay a little longer in my delicious warm bed?”.
What about this: “This is not fun to do. Are you sure this is your passion? Working for your passion should be fun, no?”.
This line of thought spiraled my hobbies, identity and everything that I stood for out of control into a deep lingering depression until I discovered that to get anything done, one requires to work, failures & lessons. In other words, this shit hurts & it’s hard to do.
The omni-connected information wonder that the internet is, made me believe that real work would be as rewarding as its most popular instant-dopamine-vending-machines like Reddit, a twitter-mention notification or a like on a Facebook post.
I can’t help but notice that it lies in one’s best interest to align his questions with his goals.
If you want to save money to do whatever you may desire, asking yourself “Should I buy a new phone?” is not a legitimate question in alignment with your goal.
If you want to get fit and sexy for the summer, asking yourself “I’m too tired to cook, should I order a pizza tonight?” is not a question in alignment with your goal.
If you want to leave a big impact in the world, asking yourself “Should I skip meditation and my journaling time today?” is not a question that will align you with your goal of being equipped with a calm and structured mindset to conquer the world.
Say for example that you’ve encountered a failure in your life. Asking yourself “Oh fuck… Maybe I should quit?” is just terrible and brings you in a wrong state of mind. It’s a question straight from the pits of Chaos. Instead, ask yourself “Can I learn something from this?”
Stop fondling the wrong questions in your head, because you will for certain fall to their seductive nature, just like Eve did in Paradise. This is especially true if your will-power or decision-making-energy supply in your brain is getting depleted as the day progresses into the evening.
MONITORING YOUR THOUGHTS
There is a ton of power in the phrase #justdoit. There is also a ton of power in the phrase #liveinthemoment. But with all the questions popping into one’s mind, I just couldn’t bring myself into a state of mind of just doing or being in the moment, because I’ve been busy contemplating irrelevant questions that were (and still are) popping into my mind.
To notice that you’re asking yourself questions in alignment or not with your goals, you have to become self-aware of your thoughts. One way to do this is by meditating daily before sleep or right after waking up.
Experienced meditation practitioners will tell you that meditation allows you to become the observer of your own mind and being.
In essence, meditation calms down the mind, it deprives it of the information-laden world we’re currently living in, allowing you to look at your operating system in a calm state, removing the bullshit and installing the good parts. Nobody wants to work with a computer that crashes because of some program focusing on the wrong problem or input signal.
In the same breath, nobody wants to work (not even you with yourself) with someone who’s busy overthinking and getting stuck in mental thought loops, because he’s bombarded with a tsunami of self-deprecating questions.
Another way to become aware of your thoughts is by doing uncomfortable things and closely monitoring how your body is reacting to new events. Taking an ice cold shower is a good exercise for shutting up that little uncomfortable program that is screaming at your nervous system to get the fuck out of the shower. It’s also how Yoga might help you in taking control of your mind, getting out what’s not needed and putting in what you want.
After you’ve become self-aware, don’t rush it. Ground yourself with work. Ground yourself by doing, creating and talking with other people. Walking on Earth while being #awaken and self-aware is a chaotic experience in itself. Allow it to settle into the known.
Then, monitor closely the questions that pop into your head. Are they even your questions? Are they questions asked by marketers to seduce you into buying their glamorous products? Are they questions asked by your narcissistic parents, their voice reverberating in your head, making you feel insecure about yourself & your being? Are they questions asked by a system that’s been put in place to increase capital, instead of furthering a worthy vison?
You might learn a or two things about yourself & the world by doing this exercice!
Remember, not all questions deserve an exploration nor an answer. One indicator is to assess a question’s importance, as not all questions asked are important.
Jordan Peterson’s Razor for determining what’s important might come handy:
If it’s not important tomorrow, it’s not that important
Another indicator is to have set rules about certain genres of questions. Negative and insecure questions are popping into your head? Take a pen, paper and write that shit out. If you won’t enact or express what’s in you, it will stay in you. What you resist, persists.
The most important indicator is to check if the questions you are asking yourself are actually in alignment with your long-term goals. If that’s not the case, it might be useful to known where this question came from in the first place.
REFORGING THE MIND
Notice how all things discussed above are a result of forgeries in our mind. Our mind is for sure the biggest problem and obstacles to overcome in our lifetimes. If we want to change our results and how we perform in life, we have to start by changing our thoughts:
- Are they nice and supporting of yourself, Or are they self-hating and self-doubting
- Are you asking yourself questions not in alignment with your goals and vision?
- Are you grateful for your mere existence in this big harmonious mess that is life on a small blue marble orbiting the sun in an average galaxy?
- Are they supporting your believes that you have the capacities & capabilities of tackling your goals?
Bob Proctor thought me that thoughts lead to emotions, emotions lead to behaviors & habits, behaviors & habits lead to actions, and actions lead to results.
Your thoughts about yourself and the world is what you make of it. If you belief that the government is bad and rips you off, than that’s being manifested in your actions. If all that you belief is that you can do whatever you want & you can improve, in your own unique way, the greater good of humanity, than that will manifest itself in your actions.
I think that a lot of what we’ve discussed comes down to a fundamental principle: how you perceive the world is what you make of the world, but don’t underestimate the influence the world has on your perceptions!
Clean up your thoughts, structure your beliefs & don’t get inspired by the wrong questions. And if there will come a time when you ask the wrong question… Just remember to learn your lessons & progress further towards your goal & vision.
I want you to walk away with a few key thoughts, summarizing this post:
- Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.
- Realizing a goal is impossible without lessons. Failures are lessons.
- The Yin & Yang symbolizes, Chaos & Order, and the cycle of growth in our lives.
- Questions provoke Chaos, whereas answers establish Order.
- Not all questions deserve our attention.
- What’s the origin of the questions in our heads?
Hope this post gave you some insights, if so @ me on Twitter!
Go get yours!
Originally published at ADAM BLVCK.