Tunnel Vision

Everyone wants to achieve happiness. Everyone wants to find a goal to set their lives to, and work towards that happiness. But what if happiness isn’t achieved through a goal? That perfect job you wanted or the exact house you dreamed of living in, these end goals may give short term happiness but will not fulfill you for the rest of your life. And yet, for most people that is the question they base their life on: “What is my goal?” This seemingly essential question is one most people ask themselves at some time, but what if we’re starting it wrong? Looking for one thing to base your life on leads to tunnel vision. Tunnel vision is when you can only see something when it is in the exact center of your visual field. When someone has a goal, it is similar to hyperfocusing on something through tunnel vision and they miss everything in their peripheral. Everything that life has to offer passes them by, and they were too busy focusing on their one goal.

Humans are far more complex than one goal, one purpose in life. Having a goal in life leads to constantly seeking one goal. Seeking for one thing will make someone lose sight of what they may be finding. A lack of a goal makes someone more receptive and free to life, and what it has to offer. Instead of searching in life for something to appreciate, appreciating what is already surrounding you will bring long term happiness. … And life may offer friends, goods, and opportunities. 

For example, according to Dr. Stuart Brown a psychiatrist, life is so caught up in work, schedules, and goals that the adult person has not made enough time for the appreciation of simple play. “Nothing lights up the brain like play. Three dimensional play lights up the cerebellum, puts a lot of impulses into the frontal lobe. The execution portion — helps contextual memory be developed, and, and, and” (Serious Play 2008). There are so many benefits to playing, mainly focused on the brain and motor skills. These benefits have been slowly decreasing, as the older folks get they are taken over by the adult ideas of strict work, careers, and goals. To be free from a life goal allows for a wider view of the world, and the freedom to continue the healthy and inclusive play.  

Finally, if we shouldn’t be asking “What is my goal in life?”, what should we be asking ourselves? From the book ‘Siddhartha’, the path to happiness is discovered through bettering ourselves. The protagonist Siddhartha experiences many different trials and tribulations life hurdles his way, but finds his path back to happiness through bettering himself as a person. So instead of asking ourselves “What is my goal?”, we should rather ask “How can we better ourselves?”.

To quote Siddhartha, “Above all he learned from it how to listen, to listen with a still heart, with a waiting, open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgment, without opinions… As time went on his smile began to resemble they ferryman’s, was almost equally radiant, almost equally full of happiness, equally lighting up through a thousand little wrinkles, equally childish, equally senile” (Siddhartha 87-88). For example, this sample of text shows Siddhartha learning how to better listen. This attribute he learned taught him more about himself and slowly brought about his new found happiness. 

To better oneself is not something only found in religious texts either. Philosophy also heavily deals with the ideas of bettering oneself with literature on this subject dating back to hundreds of years before Christ. An extremely well known philosopher from 384 BC – 322 BC was Aristotle. Aristotle loved studying human nature and the meaning of life for everyone. He believed that this ‘end happiness’ was a feeling of nirvana he named ‘eudaimonia’. “The ultimate end of human acts is eudaimonia, happiness in the sense of living well” (Aristotle). Aristotle taught that the way to achieve this happiness was through self betterment, and habitual living. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle believed that bettering oneself was the path to happiness, and making it a habit allowed for a happy and joyous life. When was the last time you asked yourself this question? “What can I do to better myself?”

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