Superman, the first globally published superhero and many published after him – is driven by his purpose, not his power. He can destroy his adopted planet Earth. He can misuse his powers for good and become a super criminal and access wealth, power, and respect. He doesn’t. He takes on a dual personality to ‘find himself’ and understand why he exists. He has a backstory, mission, and vision and this drives his reason for living. He controls his natural impulses or instinct, all for the common good. He also has to fight super villains who have chosen to ‘find’ their darker nature and believe that to be their purpose.
Purpose. Free-will. Destiny. Freedom.
Superman can misuse his powers for good and become a super criminal and access wealth, power and respect. He doesn’t. He takes on a dual personality to ‘find himself’ and understand why he exists.
What’s the fundamental difference between human beings and animals? What is the one thing that supposedly really sets us apart? The long-held general universal belief is FREE-WILL. This notion that, unlike animals, we can actually choose what to do, when to do it, with and to whom, and most importantly…...WHY. This incessant search for the ‘why’ behind our actions is the sole reason we cling to education, culture, and religion. It is why we dance on the fringes of curiosity – ever learning or ever waiting to be taught one truth or the other. It is also what gives rise to our PURPOSE.
Animals on the other hand have a much different experience, at least to our limited knowledge. Their migratory, mating, hunting, childbearing, and foraging patterns are a result of what we call INSTINCT. They do what they do without necessarily questioning the WHY. They just know that these patterns are crucial to the survival of the species and so are less focused on why they do what they do. They just do. It is literally a matter of life and death. A lion would never, ever think of ‘going off’ his mating pattern and becoming celibate so as to attain greater focus in his pursuit of spiritual growth. He does not get to that point. He lives to survive, not to evolve. Unless evolution comes in to again ensure his immediate survival.
This incessant search for the ‘why’ behind our actions is the sole reason we cling to education, culture and religion.
With human beings there is much more going on in our heads and as we develop the world around us at a rapid pace, we also encourage a collective cultural peer pressure that consistently pushes us to find our own purpose. When a child is born into a culture, it is brainwashed to fit into that culture and then taught to act beyond instinct and follow its ‘true path’. In the process, and admittedly supported by a fast advancing brain – the child ACTS out on a daily basis - subconsciously doing rituals that make it eventually become the person it is to become. Change the ritual and its frequency, change the person.
Some rituals are mundane but make us fit in nonetheless: brushing teeth, taking a shower, getting out of bed, following traffic signs, walking a certain way, talking in a certain tone, wearing clothes. Stop doing any of these and you will be gradually excluding yourself from the herd. You have the free-will to stop doing them of course, but the consequences of not doing any for an extended period of time are much too high for you to consider.
Other rituals are stressful to follow and less part of our ' learned culture' but done over time reap rewards that are not obvious to the average human: saving money, taking cold showers, working out at the gym, eating healthy, meditation, waking up before sunrise, being present in the moment and so on.
Having said all that, we also realise that having a free will is also a curse because humans tend to choose that which makes us happiest and this is not necessarily best for us. We tend to adopt destruction or atrophy over growth because admit it, what is forbidden is more exciting and fun. Partly because such activities tend to give us immediate pleasure and gratification.
Any child will tell you that sugar (the most dangerous ingredient in our foods) is the top-tier food component. Even if it can hurt you. Sugar beats vegetables hands down any day. But it kills. And it is highly addictive. But our brains love it all the same. So that is an example of how free will can lead us into enslavement.
Then what do we have to do to be free from additions? To be free from the consequences of free- will? Simple. We have to embrace the hard stuff, the boring stuff. And we have to do it with passion, commitment and discipline. It is how Superman, athletes, billionaires, soldiers or responsible parents do it.
Sugar beats vegetables hands down any day. But it kills. And it is highly addictive. But our brains love it all the same. So that is an example of how free-will can lead us into enslavement.
To be free from the self-destructive habits and addictions that free-will offers us, we have to become slaves to rituals that build body, mind and spirit and in turn offer us eventual peace of mind and true inner freedom. There is no other way. Discipline equals freedom.
You are either the animal (based on instincts), the bad guy (based on a poor choice of daily rituals) or Superman (based on a carefully selected set of daily rituals that average people do not want to do because the rituals are tiring, hard and have no immediate experience of pleasure). You could also be a combination of all, but follow that route and the bad guy always wins out.
By ‘the bad guy’ I mean that version of you that is living below their average potential. The guy who has settled for less because it is comfortable, and who has managed to convince himself or herself that compared to animals, they are at least much better.
My question to you is: what will you do with your gift of free will today:
Will you choose to be content to be led by mediocre, non-productive habits and rituals that keep you happy in the now, but hopelessly frustrated in the future? or
Will you choose to live a life based on ‘boring’, disciplined, repetitive rituals that the average person is not willing to do but which eventually help you find your purpose and live a more fulfilled and outstanding life in the future?
You have the free will. It really is your choice to make.
The ‘bad guy’ is that version of you that is living below their average potential. The guy who has settled for less because it is comfortable, and who has managed to convince himself or herself that compared to animals, they are at least much better.
The author, Jan Okonji is an entrepreneur, speaker, coach, and Founder of the Pan-African accelerator BGS – Business Growth Solutions.
Jan is passionate about helping employees transition safely into entrepreneurship whilst turning their great ideas into profitable businesses and has helped entrepreneurs collectively grow their revenue to over $ 10 Million in the course of running BGS.
Get in touch with him and book a personal session HERE
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