When those four are met, however, two more beautiful opportunities present themselves to give life more meaning
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” — Confucius
Underneath all the complexity, we’re rather simple beings.
To live a happy life, all we need is love and a sense of security. That can take many different forms, of course, but with love and security as the foundation of life, many great adventures can ensue.
For Tony Robbins, he went one step further. And after 50 years in the game, he knows a thing or two about what makes people tick. So, his take on life carries weight.
It carries more weight than his ginormous form!
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So, here’s how he defines human’s four basic needs:
What do I know? What can I control? Who is with me? Am I safe?
Do I have enough certainty to eradicate my survival instincts?
Paradoxically, an element of the unknown is needed in life to keep the mind alert, sharp, focused, engaged, and excited. Just enough not to worry about our need for certainty.
We all need to take risks sometimes, after all.
Otherwise, too much certainty or familiarity can make us stagnant.
How important am I to others? How seen am I?
How connected/loved am I? Who’s my support network?
Every single person goes through these early childhood developmental stages.
Hopefully one emerges from the first 7 years, in particular, with each one covered. However, not everyone is so lucky.
I say the first seven years because it’s been said that love or lack of often shapes our lives from there on in.
It’s what led Aristotle to say: “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.”
For some people, this can continue throughout their adult lives, especially through more challenging circumstances. Addictions can then form as a coping mechanism.
Unfortunately, some people will never receive the love or security they need and as a result, they may suffer as a consequence.
Not all, of course. Some people use their pain as fuel to light up their lives. They alchemise it into wisdom and then serve others as a way to ensure that others don’t have to go through similar situations.
Others less fortunate, on the other hand, can take lifetimes to change their luck around.
When they do, however, Tony Robbins says there are two more opportunities that then take priority. They are:
Where I am heading? What’s my growth trajectory? How do I become the best version of myself?
What’s my contribution to the world?
Where can I serve?
Notice how the questions go from self to other_and from _survival to creation.
One sits in the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) while the other resides in the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). And there’s a big difference between the two.
If you don’t believe Tony Robbins though, what about the Buddha?
After becoming the enlightened one, the Buddha noticed that there are four groups of people in the world. They are:
- People running from darkness to darkness
- People running from light to darkness
- People running from darkness to light
- People running from light to lightness
Not wanting to cause any doubt or confusion on the matter, he went on to explain his thought process.
1. People running from darkness to darkness
These are people that are born into difficult situations — family dynamics, health concerns, financial woes, political unrest, a country at war, etc… but importantly, they let this define who they are.
They feel victimised and/or bereaved by their circumstances so they send anger, hatred, and animosity out into the world.
It’s understandable but it does keep them moving from darkness to more darkness.
2. People running from light to darkness
These are people who start with more prosperous and hopeful beginnings — a loving family perhaps, or plenty of opportunities in a country at ease surrounded by beautiful nature, etc…
However, these people then start running toward darkness as they begin to think they’re entitled to life’s riches.
They might think that everyone else is poor because they’re not as smart as they are, for example, or begin to think that their particular religion or philosophy is better than the next person’s so they judge, belittle, criticise, and/or try and convert others to their way of thinking.
This, unfortunately, begins to move them from light to darkness.
3. People running from darkness to light
Things begin to change with this third group because these people start running from darkness to light. They might be born into similar beginnings as those in the first group, but there’s not a trace of victimhood, anger, hatred, or animosity.
They don’t feel characterised or defined by their circumstances. Instead, they recognise that every thought is a seed for the future and the quality of fruits that each seed produces is determined by the quality of thought that makes it.
So, even though their current circumstances are difficult (even dreadful at times), they trust that things will ultimately change sooner rather than later.
4. People running from light to lightness
The fourth group is a combination of groups two and three. They’re born into prosperous beginnings full of opportunities, love, and a nurturing environment, but importantly they don’t take it for granted.
They realise that things don’t last forever so instead of feeling entitled, they continue to plant seeds of love, kindness, compassion, and humility. This then helps them to continue giving and receiving love for many years/decades.
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Which group do you most reside in?
Whatever your answer might be, the good news is that it’s not fixed or stuck. It’s ever-changing. So, always remember that light lives within, as does darkness, so both can be enhanced, nurtured, and cultivated at any moment.
Which one you choose, though, ultimately determines your entire existence.
This led Tony Robbins to say:
“It’s not what we get. But who we become, what we contribute… that gives meaning to our lives”
It’s also what led Robin Sharma to add:
“What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny”
So, be mindful of what you think because your thoughts become your words. Be mindful of what you say because your words become your actions. Be mindful of how you act because your actions become your daily habits. Be mindful of your habits because they become your character. And be mindful of your character because it quickly becomes your destiny.
Be the creator of your future by planting seeds that you want to see fruit. If you want bitter fruits, plant seeds of anger, jealously, and hatred. If you want sweet delicious mangoes, plant seeds of gratitude, joy, love, and happiness.
In the end, it’s really that simple.
I know what I’m gonna choose — are you with me?
Contributed by Andy Murphy
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