Take a moment right now to imagine your ideal self.
See that version of yourself sitting right next to you.
Seriously — pause for a moment right now and envision this person as vividly as you can.
Done? Good! You’ve just spent a few seconds with…
These days, most people call it your conscience. The Stoic philosophers called it ”the Other.”
Back in the day, another name for it was “Daimōn” — the inner soul and guiding spirit that exists inside of you.
And here’s the thing about your Daimōn — it’s deeply dedicated to its task. It’s constantly watching you and providing directions for the best path forward.
I admit that all sounds a bit hokey, but I bet you have a sense of what I’m talking about.
We all have that inner voice that’s trying to lead the way. But most of us rarely pay attention to it.
The #1 Way To Be Happy
According to the ancient philosophers, your relationship to your Daimōn is THE #1 most important thing in life.
To be happy, they believed you have to live in harmony with this inner soul and guiding spirit.
In fact, their word for happiness was “eudaimōn,” which translates into ”good soul.”
When you focus on making your Daimōn proud, something interesting happens.
All the obstacles that show up in your way cease being problems.
Instead, they present themselves as perfect opportunities to practice your ultimate goal: To be the best version of yourself.
It moves your focus from how you feel, to what you do.
That allows you to consistently step forward into growth, instead of back into safety.
And that, in turn, creates happiness and contentment.
Make Your Daimōn Proud
You know all those cheesy signs and posters that say stuff like ”Happiness is not destination — it’s a way of life”?
Well, there’s a lot of truth to that statement.
You can’t do something now to experience some constant state of happiness later.
Just as every other feeling, happiness is fleeting.
So, the wisest thing you can is to forget about the emotion itself and instead focus solely on making your Daimōn proud.
The Stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote:
“When you go to see some important personage, remember that there is an Other, watching what happens from above and that it is better to please this Other than that man.”
And that advice extends to every situation. Whatever you do, ALWAYS put the opinion of your Daimōn first.
Act to the Best of Your Ability
Here’s an exercise I’ve found very helpful for putting this idea into practice:
Imagine that your Daimōn is the cameraman and the director of your life.
Do your best to follow its instructions. Play your part to the best of your ability.
Focus all your energy on being an excellent actor in whatever scenes it puts you in.
And if you ever find yourself in a situation when your performance wasn’t your best, well, there’s always THIS moment to get right back on track.
Are you ready?
Lights… camera… ACTION! :)
Image by Grant McCurdy.
Thanks to Brian Johnson for inspiring this article.