7 Simple Ways to Live Your Own Destiny
“If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.” ~Terry Pratchett
Destiny is a peculiar animal. It’s a Gordian Knot of fate, luck, and chance with a Möbius strip of choice wrapped around it to give you a sense of agency. But how can you get better at negotiating the knot? How can you better navigate the strip? How can you get your sense of destiny in alignment with both reality and your sense of agency?
Practicing heroism is a powerful way to do this. What does it mean to practice heroism? It means making a daily habit of being heroic. This typically comes in the form of a personal Hero’s Journey, which can be as unique as your own fingerprint. But it can also come in the form of heroic daily allowances. Simply “allow” yourself to be heroic. Allow yourself to come alive despite a world that’s trying to keep you half dead.
As Marcus Aurelius said, “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
Begin to live by practicing heroic action. Living on purpose, with purpose, will change your destiny from a thing managed by culture to a thing managed by you.
Allow yourself to be imperfect, curious, courageous, creative, eccentric, humorous, and paradoxical. These are the staples of heroic action that will help you get out of your own way and begin living your own destiny. Let’s break them down.
1.) Be imperfect:
“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” ~Bhagavad Gita
Cultural conditioning is the first beast that must fall at the sword of your heroism. It either breaks against your courage or it will break your ability to be courageous. This is because cultural conditioning is a phantom. It’s a cartoon in the brain. It’s the illusion of comfort, security, and truth. It’s a blinding light that is magnified and mirrored by the status quo.
It is your heroic duty to refract this saturation bombing. Otherwise, you will never see anything more than what society wants you to see. Otherwise, the “Plato’s Cave” of culture will have you constantly mesmerized by its shadows.
Just as no human is infallible, no culture is infallible. The only “perfect” system is an imperfect system that is in a constant state of healthy change and progressive improvement. This requires “imperfect” individuals to brutally question any and all so-called “perfect” systems.
Allowing yourself to be imperfect is admitting that you are a fallible creature. It’s recognizing your comfort zone for what it really is—the false ideal of perfection, a feedback loop of culturally conditioned illusions. When you allow yourself to be imperfect you finally allow yourself to grow beyond your comfort zone.
Be imperfect. Be unique. Be unconditional. Recondition your cultural conditioning.
2.) Be courageous:
“Courage is risking the known for the unknown, the familiar for the unfamiliar, the comfortable for the uncomfortable, arduous pilgrimage to some unknown destination. One never knows whether one will be able to make it or not. It is gambling, but only the gamblers know what life is.” ~Osho
Nobody is coming to save you. This life is entirely your responsibility. This destiny is yours to mold. It’s time to become your own hero. Heroism is forged in the crucible of risk. Don’t be risk averse. Seek out challenging experiences. These experiences will make you come alive. And coming alive is what it’s all about.
As Nietzsche said, “The good life is ever changing, challenging, devoid of regret, intense, creative, and risky.”
Risk is a whetstone. You are the blade. Sharpen yourself.
Don’t give in to the homogenization of your soul. Do not kowtow to a killjoy culture. Choose a life well-lived. Choose to be the hero of your life’s story. Choose adventure over comfort.
Be vulnerable. Be authentic. Be courageous. Compel yourself to take a leap of courage into the unknown. Adopt freedom as your failsafe. Stretch your (easy yet complex, domesticated yet boring) comfort zone into a challenging adventure. Turn the tables. Flip the script. Push the envelope. Dare yourself to transform boundaries into horizons.
3.) Be curious:
“The very desire to be certain, to be secure, is the beginning of bondage. It’s only when the mind is not caught in the net of certainty, and is not seeking certainty, that it is in a state of discovery.” ~Jiddu Krishnamurti
How can curiosity be heroic? In an inherently uncertain universe, being curious is a superpower. It will keep you both interested and interesting. It will keep you ahead of the curve. In a world of “answers” your curiosity will be a double-edged question mark cutting through all the bullshit.
When you’re curious, the world opens up. You’re on the edge of your seat as you gaze childlike into its deep mysteries. And as the world opens up, so do you. Your mind opens. Your heart swells. Your soul unlocks. You become a sponge for higher knowledge, hungry and hopeful for novelty. Adaptable and improvisational, you become a dancing Wu Li Master spearheading change.
Being curious will also prevent you from becoming a victim to boredom and certainty. When you’re curious, you go from small-picture believing to big-picture thinking. You transcend the ego and its trivial attachments. You stay above black and white thinking and instead embrace wonder and awe. You’re able to think in color. You’re able to manifest awe and channel fascination. You become so utterly curious that no amount of petty certainty could ever hold you down.
4.) Be creative:
“We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.” ~Iris Murdoch
The best way to “find reality” is to create it. Indeed. The best way to live your own destiny rather than simply go along with the destiny prescribed to you by culture is to be creative. This way, you are a catalyst for change rather than merely a cog caught up in the clockwork. And an added benefit is that you expand the culture.
Left alone, culture is a house of mirrors that will trap you in its illusions unless you are able to escape. Art is an escape. Music is an escape. Poetry is an escape. Cinema is an escape. When you are able to create these, you build bridges out of the so-called “real world” into Reality.
Ironically, you will be adding to the culture that traps people in its illusions. But you will also be adding escape hatches. The best you can do is become a beacon of creativity that will show others how to both create and escape culture by creating their own destiny out of the outdated humus of cultural conscription.
5.) Be eccentric:
“Almost all capable people are terribly afraid of being ridiculous and are miserable because of it.” ~Fyodor Dostoevsky
When you allow yourself to be eccentric, you free yourself to be whatever you want to be. Fear of the unknown dissipates because you literally become the unknown. You become the unfamiliar, the strange, the quixotic. All fetters fall away. Boundaries dissolve. The world unlocks. The horizon beckons. Suddenly everything is permitted, and both your curiosity and your creativity is heightened.
Destiny becomes a plaything. The Infinite Game reveals itself, and you are the gamemaster.
So, be unconventional. Be anomalous. Be the glitch. Be Neo in the Matrix dodging bullets. Practice the ability to embrace paradox and to hold the tension between opposites. Learn how to live with uncertainty. Learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Reimagine imagination itself. Reinvent God!
Being eccentric allows you off the hook for being so damn serious all the time. It teaches you how to laugh at the cosmic joke. How to play with it. How to tease it. How to dance with it. And how to reimagine it in ways that will shock your soul, heighten your awareness, and create your own destiny.
6.) Be humorous:
“A good philosopher is one who does not take ideas seriously.” ~Edward Abbey
Cultivate the “skyhook” of a good sense of humor lest the “deadweight” of hubris hold you down.
Nothing is better at keeping you ahead of the curve than a good sense of humor. A humorous detachment from what you think you know is important because otherwise pride will creep in and cloud your perspective.
Humor will keep your compass sharp, playful, and lighthearted on the unforgiving path of creating your own destiny. It will keep you even keeled as your boat gets tossed about the uneven waters of chance and vicissitude.
Life can’t always be blue skies, smiley faces, and scented roses. Sometimes it’s blackholes, roadblocks, and clogged toilets. And that’s okay. It takes courage to choose a humorous disposition over a rigid expectation. It takes courage to choose humorous humility over sentimental pride. It takes courage to choose uncomfortable nonattachment over comfortable attachment.
A good sense of humor is a hero’s saving grace. Without it, a hero is likely to fall out of heroic grace. They are more likely to take themselves too seriously. The heroism that takes itself too seriously can no longer be considered heroism. For it becomes rigid. It becomes dogmatic. It becomes limited. It becomes stuck. It becomes a golden idol.
Heroism has only one deadly sin: giving up the truth quest (creating your own destiny) for “the truth” (succumbing to a prescribed destiny). A good sense of humor prevents this most deadly sin.
7.) Be the paradox:
“Security is a false God. Begin to make sacrifices to it and you are lost.” ~Paul Bowles
You must be capable of both playing within, and transcending, all the arbitrary finite games in your life. These games range from board games such as chess, Risk, and poker; to broader games such as marriage, paying taxes, and having a career. The trial and error of moving in an out of your finite games will sharpen and hone your ability to play the Infinite Game of life. The blood, sweat, and tears spilled will mark the path, revealing that the journey was always the thing.
But you must also be capable of seeing how it is all a song and dance shitshow played to the tune of Absurdity. You must become a torn thing—torn between discipline and humor, courage and humility, passion and indifference, connection and nonattachment.
The paradoxical tearing is the thing. It is in the tearing where you are the most human. Torn between flesh and spirit. Torn between living life to fullest while knowing you’re going to die. Torn between the comfort of cultural conditioning and the adventure of creating your own destiny.
The tearing is your sacred space. It’s the place where you navigate crossroads, confront threshold guardians, and integrate shadows. It’s where you hone your soul, sharpen your character, and perfect your rebellion. It’s where you develop a master strategy for creating your own destiny.
At the end of the day, nobody is coming to save you. Nobody else is responsible for your life. You must become the hero of your own story in order to create your own destiny.
About the Author:
Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide-awake view of the modern world.
This article (7 Simple Ways to Live Your Own Destiny) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and self-inflictedphilosophy.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.