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Monday, July 1, 2013

You Should Never "Make the Best of All Things"

Sometimes, "making the best of things" is simply impossible. When "things" have no substance and, thus, no redeeming value, you can devote a lifetime to remodeling them and completely waste your time. Simply put, all your efforts for improvement will produce nothing because the work lacks a substantial foundation.

The word foundation is derived from Greek word themelios, which refers to a substructure – something put down as an under girding for what would be built. Themelios actually comes from a root word that means to put or place something down, to establish something and fix it firmly. Anything that has not been established with a firm foundation will perish. To choose to build a life or a dream on things without a nub of reason is folly.

Following a dream or a vision demands a realistic look at solid foundations. Hope and inspiration are wonderful concepts that help lend great meaning to life. As a child, you were likely fascinated by magic and prone to great, fantastic dreams. Then, you often fueled your young thoughts with creative, inspiring play and innocent reverie – all of which helped form a healthy, hopeful character. Your parents sheltered and lovingly protected you from the threats and dangers of unsubstantial deceit.

So, as you grew and gained some independence, you tested your basic understandings of the adult world from an honest but pristine perspective. If you were like most adolescents, you soon found many gaps between the Disney World and Main Street. You quickly discovered your rainbows and childhood dreams confronted by storm clouds and stark actuality. In time, more and more threatening forces began to enter your life and cause you to re-evaluate “things,” even to rethink your hopes and dreams.

Good plans with solid foundations most often grow as you gain independence. Your dreams may distract you from any negative events in your life and lead you to the greatest accomplishments; however, if you become trapped in the chimera of thin, shadowy illusions, the quest for your dreams can become nothing but continuing, fruitless drama.

Today, it seems to me, so many must act out the dramatic, unfulfillable roles they create. They insist on “making the best of things” when those “things” they have chosen lead to nowhere. You need something to “base” you life upon, and not just anything that appears attractive and simple to attain, but something that has bedrock -- an unshakable, worthy foundation. And, you must keep in mind that the best foundations usually require the most effort to attain.

Growing older demands that you continue to search for the truth of your convictions. You must build "up" from the well-grounded foundation of your life. Gaining wisdom is a job that requires your constant attention, change, and reflection. The wisdom and manner in which you interpret the knowledge is unique to the dream that you have begun upon that firm ground.

Admittedly, you may not follow the exacting blueprints drafted by another to build upon your good foundation. In fact, after digesting advice, you may build your own organic, elemental vision unlike any others before. Yet even the most wonderful production will be a front, a phony structure that will fall, if you continue to build it upon wavering footings. “Making the best” implies that you started with something “good” and now you intend to “better” it to the fullest.

Insincere relationships, fraudulent dealings, and poor moral actions may anchor a facade of splendid accomplishment, but, soon, the truth surfaces, and inevitable transparency occurs. Then, others realize the horrible reality that you have no base, no core -- no substance whatsoever. At best, people see the “real you” as a fool who has been grossly over-dependent on sheer speculation and lies.

I contend that is much better for you to cut ties than to attempt to “make the best” of something that has no substance. As painful as it is for you to severe friendly but unsavory contacts, I believe the clean break will best serve you as you dedicate your efforts to construct a new life on unspoiled foundations.

I strongly believe in the power of the human will as it operates with tried-and-true, concrete, positive intentions. You should dedicate undying efforts to the justification of good works. These are the undertakings you must endeavor to give “your best.” Toiling within a “crowd” of ardent people who do not lose sight of the stronger elements of human kindness leads to realizing a sustainable, realistic dream, one built on the seat of love and compassion. By doing so, as a devotee of compassion, you may never gain a fortune or control a huge corporation, yet you are more apt to gain the ascendency of your very own soul.

Don't try to make the best of things? I say: “No, not if you are trying to make the best of 'things' that are doomed to be meaningless and detrimental to your heart and soul.” Finding the bedrock of your own satisfaction within your own needs requires that you set sail on a perilous, solo journey of discovery through the snares of modern society. Many of those who employ these snags wear the trappings of shimmering dreams to conceal their deadly appetites for human consumption.

The real beauty and power in “your dream” stems from your ability to find honest and humble, solid ground; plant your feet deep in a stable foundation; then work unselfishly toward a better tomorrow that enriches your being and the lives of others around you. Then, you will value your achievements, but more importantly, you will give others an initial blueprint for their own dreams so that they, too, find something of substance.

If, however, you insist on making the most out of nothing, you must be satisfied with constant drama and never-ending frustrations. To continue trying to make something out of nothing, you will always blame others for your poor choices and never accept responsibility for being a rebel without a cause dwelling in a land of urgent demands, incessant complaints, and boundary violations – a land where you are continually ambushed by those wishing to appeal to your skewed sense of sympathy.

You may want to weight what is more important: your dreams or your baseless drama. Drama seems obsolete when you are passionate about following your dreams based in a more reliable, solid reality that offers the best opportunity of coming true. 

From Psych 101, you remember Maslow’s pyramid of motives. Maslow proposed this hierarchy of motives, with those at the bottom taking precedence over those higher up. Once you’re well-fed, you begin to worry about safety, and once you’re safe, you begin to worry about getting affection. At the top of Maslow’s pyramid was self-actualization—the desire to fulfill your unique creative potential (if you are a musician, and you’ve satisfied all your lower biological needs, you can move on to playing music for its own sake; if you’re a poet, you can dedicate yourself to your poetry).

But the modern integration of ideas from neuroscience, developmental biology, and evolutionary psychology suggests that Maslow had a few things wrong. Here is new pyramid that represents Maslow revisited.

Self-actualization does not even appear in the new pyramid, not because it’s not interesting and important, but because it is not fundamental. Research suggests that creative performances are hardly detached from other social motives. I hope you might get some insight from viewing the new idea.

(Douglas T. Kenrick, Ph.D. “Rebuilding Maslow's Pyramid on an Evolutionary Foundation.” Psychology Today. May 19 2010)

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