Self-Reliance. What does it mean?

Self-reliance what is it? What does it mean? Is it a good thing or a not-so-good thing?

A school of thought says man is to live in community, therefore all must contribute to the community, and all must rely on the community. This contribute-and-rely relationship forms a bond between the individual and the community. This may sound like a great concept, but it has a major flaw: It overlooks individuality!

Humans are born as individuals and this is a biological fact. A child is born as its own individual. Yes, it carries jeans – I know it’s “genes,” but I’m trying to lighten up this heavy, but important subject – from each parent so there are direct similarities, but the child is also uniquely different. This unique difference and its importance to life is huge.

How does this relate to self-reliance? Bear with me for a few more sentences. We are all unique, thus we are all, to use a well-meaning metaphor, meant to be the “black sheep.” For some, this uniqueness is obvious and for others it is much subtler.

Discovering our uniqueness is key to finding happiness because it defines us as an individual. When we know who we are as individuals, we can be ourselves, comfortably, without having to try and prove to others who we are.

Although this may sound simple and straight forward, discovering this uniqueness is complicated by the fact that most of us spend the first eighteen years of our lives living is close relationship (community-family) with people whom we share similarities (genes), and perhaps not much else. As we start out as infants, we rely totally on our parents and sometimes even older siblings. As we grow older, this family attempts to mold us into a shape that fits the family. This is not necessarily a good or bad thing – it just is. This process is where rebellion comes into play as individuals seek individuality apart from their family. Whereas rebellion is a natural part of maturing into an individual, it can often linger for a lifetime. This occurs when the individual is rebelling for rebellion sake and not rebelling as a natural process of becoming their own self.

To complicate matters even further is that our lives incorporate more than just our family. Our community grows to include all the people that we live and interact with daily. As we get older, especially in the teen years, this larger community begins to influence us as individuals to conform to the shape or norms of the community.

Okay, a little deep, I understand, especially for a layman and not an accredited psychologist, so let me move on; however, seeing it for what it is helps us understand the magnitude and relevance our community plays in our lives. Breaking away from the conformity of the community can be difficult.

The breaking of this bond with the community is called becoming self-reliant. Ok, so why is this so important? Because self-reliance equals freedom. Let me explain:

Think of your unique individuality as a bird in a series of cages: The first cage is your heart, the second is your mind, and the third is just this big cumbersome cage that sort of holds the other two cages in place, call it the body. It is somewhat easy to let the bird out of the first cage because it is our true desire our yearning. The second cage is a real bother because family, friends, and society all have their hands on all the cage doors. “You don’t want to do that! You would be better off doing this!” Once we are able – if we are able – to break out of second cage, the third becomes somewhat easier. This is the cage of the “self.” Represented by the body because of the physical nature, as our bird leaves this final cage it will be exposed to the world. It will be shot at, it will be laughed at, and it may be ridiculed: “what an ugly duckling”. Yet out of all three cages, out past the blazing guns and laughing hyenas, lies happiness.

Although getting out of all three cages is difficult, there is one key that works on all three cages – that key is self-reliance!

Once you become self-reliant, you can live a fulfilling and purposeful life by sharing your unique gift, your talents with the community. This is Happiness!

Pinocchio and what he tells you about discipline

One of the literary tragedies of this century is the take-away message from Pinocchio:

If you lie your nose will grow longer! And we all know that won’t happen! The real message? When you live a life without discipline and follow others, you become an ass, excuse me, a donkey! And this, unlike the nose thing, does happen!

Just to refresh your memory, Pinocchio is the story of a wooden puppet that comes to life. The wooden puppet wants to become a real boy and carries the viewer along on his journey to do just that. The boy is told by the fairy who gave him life that if he lied his nose would grow longer. And, sure enough, each time he told a fib his nose grew. Along this journey the boy is told about going to this wonderful island where boys could go and be boys. There were no rules on this island, just drinking, smoking and whatever else you wanted to do. The boys who had been on the island the longest started becoming very hairy and started growing donkey tails and donkey ears, thus making the slow conversion into a donkey (or ass, as I think most appropriate in this case!).

For most of my childhood, it was always said that if you told a lie your nose would grow longer just like Pinocchio’s. It wasn’t until I watched the film as an adult that I discovered the real take-away message from the story: If you live a life without discipline, unsightly things will happen to you.

Yes, I do realize that the true tragedy might be that I would take away a message of any sort from this childhood Disney film; however, I have always felt that Disney made things fun, yet somewhat meaningful (and thus his tremendous success). In any event, the important thing is to understand the importance of discipline and the role of it in our lives. Because without it, we will lead the life that is set by others and not ourselves. The American author William Feather once wrote, “If we do not discipline ourselves, the world will do it for us.”

This is an integral part of being who you are and not being a cow. Living a disciplined life doesn’t have to be as miserable as it might sound and it is easy to get started … just turn to Day 5. Oh, you mean you haven’t ordered your copy of “Don’t Be A Cow” yet? Please do so today, so you can live your life and not the life established by others. And please continue to come to dontbeacow.com to read our blogs and hopefully share a comment. And follow us on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram.

Discipline will provide the perfect lead in to next week’s blog! See ya’ next week.

Easter!

Christmas – a time of giving and receiving. With Christmas we hear things such as: “Christmas in July,” and “I wish everyday could be Christmas.” Christmas, the holiday where often materialism and commercialism seem to be center stage. But what about Easter? Yes, commercialism has played its part, too, but not nearly to the extent of Christmas. So, what about Easter? When I think of Easter, I think about all the Sunrise services held throughout the world. Everyone awaiting the dawn of a new day.

Easter is more than a day. It is the marking of the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. Whether you are a Christian or not, the significance of this day throughout the past 2000 years of human history cannot be overstated.

Each day, the sun rises and a new day begins. New adventures, new quests, new mountains to climb, new lions to tame. Unless, of course, you choose to relish in the past and dwell on missed opportunities, past failures or successes, and past grievances.

Our hope on this Easter is that you make every day Easter. A day where you start with anticipation. A day to start anew, a day full of adventure, a day you will conquer, a day you will forgive, a day where you leave the past in the past. We believe this is the message delivered by the one whom which this holiday is celebrated for.

Key to Happiness: Live every day as if it were Easter! To find other keys to happiness please read our book, “Don’t Be A Cow”. And share your own story at www.dontbeacow.com

Keys to Happiness – Lessons from a Giraffe

The whole world, or at least it seems, has been captivated awaiting the arrival of a baby giraffe. It is so nice to see such anticipation, such thrill and excitement created over such a simple act of nature. This is but one example of the beauty of nature. Read more

Offended

Oh to be offended,
when at last I thought
my mind was all mended.

Politicians come, politicians go.
Oh to be offended,
when at last I thought
my mind was all mended.

Conflicts arise out of differing points of view.
While one heart simmers, the other stews.
Oh to be offended,
when at last I thought
my mind was all mended.

Out of religions arise
a boasting that is uncompromised.
Oh to be offended,
when at last I thought
my mind was all mended.

Unsightly things and aromas
that make my nostrils sting
my fellow man ungraciously sings.
Oh to be offended,
when at last I thought
my mind was all mended.

Oh when at first I think my eyes have deceived,
truths rain down all through the eve.
Oh to be offended,
when at last I thought
my mind was all mended.

To relinquish control
to some other soul.
Oh to be offended,
when at last I thought
my mind was all mended.

Influences come, influences go.
Oh to be offended,
when at last I thought
my mind was all mended.

At last I come to rest
seldom offering my best.
For allowing others thoughts, I guess
to lay heavy within my chest.
Oh to be offended,
when at last I thought
my mind was all mended.

Certainly there is more to me
That, oh, I must let others see!