In a world that claims vices will get you ahead in life, I beg to differ. Last week I talked about the five questions to ask yourself when you’re faced with a person whom or a situation that you’re not sure you should trust.
Today, I wanted to talk a bit more about the last question: What is it about this person or situation that appeals to you – does it appeal to your ego, or your soul?
Many times, something – a person, a proposition, business opportunity, event, a date, etc – sounds good; that is, it appeals to our ego because it offers wealth, fame, power, prestige, validation, the appearance of love, or any other form of material and/or superficial gain. And so, because we so desperately want these things for ourselves and we want to believe that we will get them, we put our trust into the person or situation offering them.
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to certain material or superficial gain. We are, after all, living firmly in the physical realm, and so material comforts and validation from our peers are necessary not only to leading a fulfilling life but also to our very survival as a species. Just like we shouldn’t aim to be money-grabbing misers or tabloid-loving famewhores, we also shouldn’t aim to be homeless monks meditating all day.
The beauty of life depends on the golden medium; on the balance between the physical and the spiritual.
However, it is when we place our egos and our physical desires in a position where we have to pay for them with our souls and our integrity, that we open ourselves up to dysfunction, pain, and being taken advantage of by others.
There are some people who – with a wistful and faraway look in their eyes and a slight smile playing on their lips – will urge you to jump at any opportunity, any opportunity at all. One must be open to the force of life, after all. We can’t control or foresee everything that can happen to us, so take a chance!
Now, this is all well and good (and definitely applicable in some situations), but it certainly has the potential to veer quite disastrously off the train tracks, doesn’t it? We can’t just all be jumping at any opportunity any Joe Schmoe throws at us.
Sometimes, this is obvious. Everyone knows what is at stake when confronted with a hitman gig, or example. Most people will not see the value in killing another person, no matter the financial reward. Those who agree to such a job are aware of the choice involved.
Other times, it’s really not so obvious at all. In fact, sometimes it may even seem that there are no possible negative consequence. However, just because there is a lack of a perceivable negative consequence does not mean a situation is actively positive.
just because there is a lack of a perceivable negative consequence does not mean a situation is actively positive.
You have no idea what the other person is REALLY thinking or planning. Even if they have good intentions, you also don’t know what those intentions are, and whether they’re misguided or not. All you know are the “facts” and propositions laid out to you, and your own reaction to them. If the situation appeals to you on a egotistical, superficial level, it’s either because A) it is a fundamentally egotistical, superficial situation, or B) it is a worthwhile situation but your connection to it is superficial. In either case, the results will be egotistical and superficial.
My mother always told me that you can’t cheat an honest person, simply because he or she will be too honest to do anything dishonest or illegal.
Three reasons why doing something for the wrong reasons is bound to eventually fail:
Because if it’s self-serving, it will not be sustainable. This is true for both of the A and B situations mentioned earlier. If the person/endeavor/opportunity is fundamentally egotistical and superficial, it won’t last. If the focus of any endeavor is ME, there is nowhere else to go. Likewise, if the person/endeavor/opportunity is worthwhile, but your connection to it is superficial, you will not be a part of it for long because either they will reject you for being selfish, or you’ll reject them for not pandering to your ego.
Because if it’s already based on negative, base, and selfish principles, it will be susceptible to other negative, base, and selfish principles. There is always a possibility that the person/endeavor/opportunity may – in the future – involve something so against your values that you absolutely want no part of it; or even turn on you. They say of cheaters: “If he/she cheats with you, he/she will cheat on you.” It’s the same principle.
Because we humans are highly susceptible beings. We are influenced by our environment far more than we realize. Do you want to allow this negative person/endeavor/opportunity to influence you, your character, your thoughts, and your actions? Do you want others to see you that way?
A pile of crap is and will always be a pile of crap. The fact that a pile of crap takes a liking to you bears no difference on the fact that a pile crap is still, in fact, a pile of crap.
If you play with crap, you’ll be covered with crap. While you are certainly free to play and be covered with whatever substance you choose, you won’t be greeted very warmly at Tiffany’s in that state.
This is why it is SO important to surround yourself only with people with whom you share similar values. This is also why you should judge people and situations based on their character instead of their outward appearance. Once you determine a person’s character, you won’t have to worry whether this story was true or that story was false. You won’t have to worry if they’ll scam you, stab your back, or put you in the midst of some shady or half-baked idea.
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