Fear's Most Dangerous Disguise: Practicality
We've all been there: trying to rationalize to a friend why exactly we're sticking with that thing we've been complaining about for months (or even years). The thing that brings more pain than joy, that's not serving us, and sucks our life energy. We say things like, “it's the smart move” or “I should see where it goes.” We throw in a couple of “have to's” and “need to's” alongside a few financial and long-term benefits and BAM! Suddenly we've got ourselves a downright practical argument for why we're going to continue suffering. We stop living passionately because we're afraid of what we might lose in the process. And worst of all? It looks like we're being smart.
Fear-based decisions are dangerous because they sound so good. “I'm not really happy here, but I don't want to move because it's so expensive and what if I don't find anything better?” Seems like a good point. But our reasoning is problem-focused. We're organizing our lives around avoiding suffering that hasn't even happened yet. And the crazy part is, we're already unhappy. Responding to fear is like choosing to abdicate your own power. You surrender agency over your own life. What if we stop organizing our lives around avoiding possible challenges, and instead take responsibility for our own happiness? What if we do things because we want to, not because we have to?
Yes, living a life ruled by desire and passion comes with its own set of questions. How much do we focus on the long-term? The short-term? Do we delay gratification? If so, for how long? Think about the life you feel excited to wake up and live each morning. Not the person you think you should be, but the person you are. Consider your values - integrity, consistency, playfulness, bravery, knowledge, accountability or others. When in your life did you feel like everything was aligned, going smoothly, on track? In those moments, what were your priorities? Use this information as a guideline. And despite how cliché it may sound, picking a direction and changing your mind is just as good as knowing what you want from the get-go.
And don't get me wrong - it's not about always having fun or escaping duty. It's about stepping up and acknowledging the control you have in the creation of your life. Sometimes we suffer through an activity because, while it may not be enjoyable, we're prioritizing something we truly care about, like financial stability, health, family, or service. But we must own our role in the process. This is something we've chosen, and therefore want, to do.
So in the decision-making moment, you've got two options: move toward the things that bring you happiness or change your perspective and acknowledge what you're prioritizing in those difficult moments.
Why? Because feeling powerless will never serve you. And the longer you wallow, the harder it becomes to take action. When you live intentionally, you become a force of nature. You begin to create instead of react. Your energy shifts. Suddenly, there's not only momentum in your life, but it's moving in the direction you wanted to go. That doesn't just serve you, it serves everyone around you. When you create a fulfilling life for yourself, you raise the bar on what success should look like - you demonstrate that it's not just about functioning, it's about thriving.
Some of this feels cheesy, even to me. But our society is so often driven by fear. We're terrified of the unknown and riddled with anxiety about outcomes that aren't even close to happening. We avoid pain at all costs, even our own wellbeing. Our “practical” excuses are just that. Excuses. But every day we make decisions and have the opportunity to start living more intentionally. And each time we do, the world becomes a little bit better, and a lot happier.
Two quotes that I feel like sum it up fairly well?
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” - Haruki Murakami
“Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you in better living conditions.” -Hafiz