It feels like decades ago that a man walked onto a stage and told us that we all need to Find our Why. One decade can feel like a lifetime. Even then, it took me a minute to jump onto all the hype. Being the incredibly educated, self-realized man that I was in 2010, knowing full well where my life was going, I didn’t see a need for something so arbitrary to consume my thoughts. Little did I know, this hardcore, on fire, in-it-to-win-it for Jesus, exorcist would one decade later, publicly renounce his faith in a blog post that would receive more views, and go-out-to-coffee offers than any other seemingly important news I’d shared to that point. It began something in me that marked a turning point in my life.
I have very little regrets in life; as a former Calvinist, I wasn’t allowed to have regrets, though there are a few that sunk their deadly teeth into me despite my devotion to a sovereign, omnipotent god. In 2006, I allowed my mom to talk me into a Canon Powershot instead of the new DSLR Canon Rebel I had my eye on. I don’t hold this regret against my mother. Her argument was entirely pragmatic. She saw photography as a fresh hobby, and didn’t want me to spend my money on something I may not be entirely committed to. I hold this against myself. I knew what I wanted, and this was the tool to let me chase that dream. I should have had the courage to go forward anyway.
In 2009, I chose another man over Chris Patterson to be in my wedding party. I don’t see him or the other guy anymore, but Chris was the better choice by a long shot, and that fact still haunts me to this day. My reasoning led me to choose another man as my groomsman because I’d known him longer. Now, every time I look at a wedding party photo, I think to myself, Chris Patterson should have been the one to spend more money than he had to be in my wedding.
Before these, in 2005, my best friend was going through an identity crisis. He wanted to know who he was, and what his purpose was on this earth. I, being the wiser, older (by a year and a half) friend told him that he was wasting his time. I told him that outside of Jesus, his identity didn’t matter. He was a child of god, and his identity was in Christ, our lord and savior. Telling my best friend that his identity didn’t matter haunts me more than anything I’ve said or done in my life… Our identity means something. Who we are, and why we do what we do, is extremely important. Had I not been so self-righteously ignorant, I could have taken the time to hear him out and maybe point him in the right direction, as someone who knew him better than most.
Throughout history, the question of identity has been sought after as deeply as the identity of god, if not more. Astrology dates back to the 2nd millennium BC, with birth charts that give us in-depth looks into how we approach things, the habits we are prone to, talents and joys, and our emotional needs and reactions. The Tao Te Ching, dated to the 6th century BC, says “Knowing others is wisdom, knowing the self is enlightenment.” and for Socrates, the goal of philosophy was to Know Thyself, a phrase that was inscribed as one of the 147 maxims in Delphi in 300 BC.
I’ve found the journey of Knowing Myself to be of crucial importance in my own life. This has led me down the path of astrology, the Enneagram, Eastern and Western philosophy, consciousness, and the power of positive thinking. All of this began with Simon Sinek’s TedTalk, and the take-aways in my own life have been extraordinary. I know who I am. I know what I want out of life, and I have a plan to get there. The latter came through studying the work of Napoleon Hill.
I am a firm believer that knowing yourself is of vital importance for any man or woman looking to accomplish anything in life. I came to this realization while talking to a friend and helping him discover his definite chief aim. We found ourselves on the Enneagram and I realized how important that process was for my own journey. I’d come from a mindset that identity outside of religion didn’t matter. My god was everything to me and about me that needed to be understood. I believe this mindset was preached to me from a young age, but also acknowledge that not all evangelicals may think like this. Somewhere down the line, I bought into a fucked up message that I didn’t matter, it was only Christ in me that mattered. That said, I may be preaching a message that a lot of other people are already in on, and it just took me a lot longer to catch up.
If you’re reading this and realize that you’re in the same boat I was, or if you’ve simply not given much thought to the subject, what’s holding you back from beginning this journey? I now believe that paradigms should be constantly challenged and dogma avoided. When we make up our minds about how things work, we become rigid, limiting our knowledge to things that only fit inside our paradigms.
To be clear, I am not entirely anti-religion. I do believe that there are people in this world who religion is good for. I also believe that the number of people who would be better without it is significantly greater. I believe that some religions have a place and should still be studied and used as a guide in life. Some religions provide value for seekers and give them a code of conduct to live by and encouragement to live their lives. However, if your religion says that you’re less than worthy, or that you have no good in you outside of what it offers, I would call it a money-grabbing cult and encourage you to leave it behind. Know that you are enough. You have power inside of you that should not be limited by those who seek to control you.
At the risk of stating too much of the obvious, we have access to so much information that used to be very difficult to access. Certain subjects that used to be considered esoteric or occult, are now used in science and philosophy. During the Satanic Panic of the 80’s, christian fundamentalist Phil Phillips used his platform to spread a large net over anything outside of his religion as “occultic” and “satanic”. From martial arts to meditation, and GI Joe to the Smurfs, this man and his religion told the world that the Devil was behind everything that didn’t directly preach the name of their god. The unfortunate truth is that a lot of people believed him, and still do today. We now have the ability to look into things for ourselves. Ignorance has become a choice. If your paradigms or fear of hell-fire are holding you back, question the validity of your beliefs. Research and find your truth.
If you’re looking for a place to start, but aren’t quite ready to jump into the satanic art of astrology, check out the Enneagram. Rumored to have been created by a Catholic mystic, this occultic looking symbol may seem a little daunting at first, but with the right charts and information, you’ll find that it’s an incredible tool that not only shows you your highest self, and your individuality, but also a drawn out guide to the things that influence you and have the potential to push you away from or towards your greater goals in life. This has become incredibly popular in the past few years. There are so many resources that can be found online with a quick google search. Find the information that resonates with you and start on your journey to self discovery through the Enneagram.
I want to encourage you to begin the journey to self discovery. There are many paths to this. Find the one that works for you. I believe in betterment. In order to improve yourself, you have to know thyself. In his book, The Miracle of a Definite Chief Aim, Mitch Horowitz said “I consider self-help a noble pursuit. Authentic self-help demands personal excellence; the overcoming of addiction or crippling habits; and striving to make life a little better for those who come near you.”
Self-Help, betterment, or improvement (whatever you want to call it), all require you to know the thing that you’re trying to make better. Start here and pursue a greater you. This is for the benefit of self, and the world around you.