Do you remember playing the game Simon Says while you were growing up?
The rules were simple: follow Simon’s orders. Simon says “touch your head”. Simon says “touch your nose”. Simon says “raise your arms”. Simon says “get down and give me ten!”
But who was Simon? Why did we listen to a fictional figure who told us what to do?
The game we played was fun, for a while, because taking orders from anybody can pass the time — especially in the context of entertainment. But sure enough, we eventually grew tired of following Simon’s orders. We stopped playing as soon as it was no longer enjoyable.
Did you ever think you would play Simon Says forever? A back-and-forth order system where you’re graciously complying with someone else’s demands, whether you agree with them or not? Looking at it through that lens, the game sounds rather ridiculous, don’t you think?
Fast forward to now. Every one of us continues to play a version of this game everyday. The difference? It carries a slightly different name.
This game is called “Society Says”. It works just like Simon Says, except the stakes are much higher, and you’re obeying much bigger orders.
Society says work a 9-to-5 job, get a regular paycheck and earn security. Society says drive a family-friendly car. Society says live in the suburbs. Society says be clean-shaven and raise 2.5 kids. Society says “you need this”. Society says “you need that”. Does this sound familiar?
Now ask yourself this: Why are we playing this game?
A wise man once said that the first step to getting out of a trap is to realize you’re in a trap. If we can’t see the trap (in this case, Society’s orders), then we’re unable to stop the subliminal messages encrypted within.
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King. Perhaps we should try opening one eye, and destruct the auto-piloted compliance that has been instilled within us from such a young age.
I don’t think it’s as easy as becoming aware of this game of Society Says. I am an example: I’ve opened my eyes. I can now see society‘s brainwashing and its underlying hooks to get us to do what it says. But awareness does not mean it’s easy to break out of the routine, to stop playing Society Says.
Looking in from the outside, some may define me as successful. As someone they feel comfortable taking advice from. Someone who has achieved their goals and is living the life they want to live. But that’s only Society‘s perception of me. Sure, I’ve built multiple multi-million dollar brands at a young age, have an extensive network, and get in my fair share of traveling, but is that success? What if that doesn’t make me happy. I am merely being compared to my peers and the standards that Society has set, not my own personal goals.
Material wealth carries no real value, as there are plenty of rich men in the graveyard. The lessons (and regrets) we learn are what we carry with us when we leave this life.
So what makes me happy? Is it beating the game of life and fulfilling Society‘s dream? Only I can answer that question, the same way that only you can answer the question of whether or not you’re fulfilling your true dream.
But at the end of the day, it’s all for naught. It’s completely meaningless — unless your individual destiny is reflected in the ideal models of society. A stable relationship, happy kids, financial security, health insurance and other necessities; for some, these fulfill the elements of a personal goal, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We are all here to fulfill our individual destiny.
Now ask yourself: Are you fulfilling your individual destiny? Or are you just doing what society says?
At the risk of going Mr. Deeds on you, I pose this question: How does what you are doing now compare to what your inner child wanted when you were younger? Does your current life reflect your ideal vision from your childhood?
Now technologically governed in our adult lives, Generation X or Y didn’t even know what a computer was during their youth. While savvy users today, Millennials grew up in a time where technology was up and coming, and didn’t have a childhood consumed by such. Sadly, Generation Z were born with an iPhone in their crib, and some were insta-famous before exiting their mother’s womb.
Two very simple things are the basis of individual happiness: truth and love.
We don’t like being lied to. We like looking at what’s true. We innately know what’s true when we listen to our gut — unless we’re dealing with an unbalanced, societally busted gut, in which case, its’ wisdom whispers instead of shouting the clear cut answer, making it not so easy to hear.
Whether you’re quoting famous philosophers, or you’re Avicii lyricizing “life’s a game…. and love is a prize,” this intangible concept is what we’re all after. If you have experienced love in any form – love for creating art, for your significant other, for your family, a pet, or a dream – then this is something you’re already aware of.
If you don’t love every second of what you do every single day, you’re likely not fulfilling your individual destiny. You may instead be doing what Simon’s saying while simultaneously winning the game of Society Says… which isn’t your game. As long as Society says, it will rule you with its rules, and you will never be able to break out of the box. It’s a jail in which you are both the prisoner and the guard, stopping you from living the full life that you were meant to live.
Listen to “Society“ by Eddie Vedder — see if the words resonate with you:
When you want more than you have
You think you need
And when you think more than you want
Your thoughts begin to bleed
Have you ever been brave enough to THINK that you want to make a decision that would change your life, but the thought about executing that decision sparks new contingency plans within your thoughts? Understand that those thoughts for contingency plans are not set up by us. They act as someone else’s insurance plan, and thus become active when they stop you from making the brave decision which marked the beginning of this thought process. This convoluted flow is the paradox of Society.
Climbing the materialistic levels of Society do not become more enjoyable as you climb them. Just like everything else in life, we adapt to our surroundings until it feels familiar and normal.
When is enough considered enough?
If there is one short sentence to take away from this entire post, it’s this: Do what you want to do; do what makes you happy.