Why we so often seek external validation

Much as the individualists may deny it, we are all connected. No man is an island, and without other people, we would not even exist. Who do you think named you? Taught you how to dress and speak? Our culture is an unavoidable presence in all of our lives. We are social animals and our society and peer group matter a lot to us. So why should we spend our limited time and energy on those things that are of no value to the people around us?

How would we ever get things done as groups if the group could bring no influence to bear on the individual?

As children, we could not choose our groups. Your family was family, and it was nearly impossible to escape them. But as adults, the final responsibility always lies with us. If you do not like the influence that your groups exert on you, you have to change them.

Choosing your groups is one of the most important meta-skills in life. Equally as important as choosing your definition of success. Choose a bad definition of success, and you will be unhappy your whole life. Choose the wrong friends and acquaintances and you could end up in jail, or worse.

We all know that we sometimes want to achieve things that require action that is not pleasant right now. This frequently leads to procrastination and putting things off to the morrow. If you have good social systems in place then they carry you through the temporary pain of getting started or improving your skill. Then the intrinsic rewards of the task kick in and your action lead to motivation in a virtuous cycle. External motivation gets you to show up. Showing up is the hardest part and the part that gives most of the results.

If you only do things as a result of external motivation, when your heart isn’t in it, what was a helpful tool to keep you moving becomes a ball-and-shackle that makes you feel heavy and dread the day. This is what makes people hate Mondays.

The sweet spot:

There is a wonderful place where all these factors and a few more come together and everything is wonderful. Where your heart calls you to action and your friends help you stay moving. Where you have a very useful definition of success and you are moving towards it daily. Where you take action but it feels effortless. This enfolds the experience of flow but surpasses it.

A question to all readers: Are you moving towards your sweet spot or away from it?

To happiness, and beyond!

 

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8 thoughts on “Why we so often seek external validation

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