Clarity: Seeing Through Your Life Clearly
Clarity: Seeing Through Your Life Clearly
November 11, 2013
Winston Wayne Wilson
One of our greatest fears as human beings is uncertainty. Uncertainty is the absence of clarity about who we are today and who we will become tomorrow. Understandably, most of us are unwilling to accept the rejoinder in the well-known Doris Day song, “Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be.” What we crave instead is crystal clear clarity about the current and future states of our lives. Clarity is like a high powered pair of binoculars that allow us to slice through uncertainty and to gain assurance that everything will perfectly align with even our wildest dreams. However, attaining clarity can sometimes be like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. Moreover, there are no crystal ball-like binoculars through which we can clearly see through our lives or pry into our futures. However, here are some simple questions that we can periodically ask ourselves that will enable us to attain greater clarity in understanding ourselves and in alleviating our anxiety about uncertainty:
- Who am I, why am I here? If we don’t know who we are and why we are here our lives will be lived in a thick primordial fog that is completely devoid of clarity. Studies have shown that, for most of us, work is the primary source of our identity. Work is clearly a critical part of our lives because where we work and how much we make determine our social class and our sense of contentment about our ability to afford a good lifestyle. That said, it is dangerous to peg our entire identity, self-esteem and purpose primarily based on work. To attain clarity about who we really are and why we are here, it is therefore beneficial to understand who we are outside of our pursuit of the monetary and career benefits of work. In other words, are we being useful human beings who positively impact the lives of others or are we entirely self-serving? When we have clarity about who we are and why we are here then we will make more balanced decisions and do things that matter the most. This includes spending time with friends and family as well sharing our experiences and resources to help and empower others. Once we arrive at this kind of clarity it is only then that we will discover our most authentic legacy in life.
- What values motivate my decisions? We have to constantly make decisions in a world where the choices might be unclear and the repercussions invariably uncertain. However, our decisions are made infinitely easier when we first filter them through our value system. In fact, Walt Whitman states that “When our values are clear our decisions are easy.” That is because our values act as an effective filtering device that helps us to narrow down our decision choices. For example, if we value learning then the clear choice might be a job that teaches us versus one that pays a little more. If we value family time then the clear choice might be to give up a few extra overtime dollars to spend quality time with our families. If we value authenticity then the clear choice might be to live within our means rather than trying to keep up with the Joneses. If we value friendship then the clear choice might be to keep a secret rather than betray trust by gossiping. Ultimately, when in doubt the clear choice should be doing the things that we will least regret because they are most aligned with our value system.
- Is my life simple enough to attract clarity? Clarity thrives in empty spaces. Hence, if our minds are cluttered and our lives are too busy, then there won’t be any room for clarity. Instead, we will be in a constant state of overwhelm, thereby missing the wisdom and direction that clarity brings. Clarity is all about “addition by subtraction”. Hence, clarity will only emerge after we subtract the complexity and drama from our lives. Also, learning how to think in a clear and structured way will allow us to transport clarity to others in our communication and actions. The reality, however, is that we tend to be the biggest culprits in creating darkness and void in our lives because we clutter them with so many unfounded fears, concerns and drama that we block out all semblance of illuminating light. Until we do the hard work of subtracting the psycho-physio-emotional clutter, clarity will not appear in our lives. In other words, we must commit to keeping our lives as simple as possible in order to attract and retain clarity. The key things we need to carry with us are our values, a few good memories and motivating thoughts to get us through each day. Everything else is eligible to be kept in our past so that we are not navigating life with too much baggage. When clarity finally arrives to our streamlined lives we will be able to act with intention and lead more proactive lives. Ultimately, we will become the authors of our fate rather than reacting irrationally like a deer caught in the headlights.
- Am I looking and listening for clarity? Oftentimes, clarity does not come to us because we are neither looking nor listening for it. Our eyes are focused on some kind of prize or enviously looking at our neighbor’s bountiful lot. Our ears are hungry for gossip or obsessed with what people have to say about us. Other times we simply repel clarity by being dogmatic and stubborn. Clarity will not come to us if we are too blind to see it or too deaf to listen to its voice. Very little in life will be clear to us if we are not observant or are good listeners because we will not see or hear the clues that allow us to figure out our lives. Every day we are surrounded by lots of noise and distractions that only serve to augment our deafness and blindness. We have to make a deliberate effort to quiet our minds and to focus our eyes. We can accomplish this by isolating ourselves for even fifteen minutes so that we can meditate on our lives. We attend so many meetings at work but we rarely ever take fifteen minutes of quiet time to meet with ourselves to ponder and observe our own lives. The more think time we set aside to look out for and listen to clarity, the more we will find it. Also, we must ensure that we remain open-minded and warm hearted so that we can embrace clarity once it arrives.
My challenge for you is to press pause, slow things down, look around, listen more, and simplify your life. Once you do, I am sure you will start to see things more clearly. Remember, clarity is about addition by subtraction – sort of like trying to find a person in a crowded room. If everyone else leaves the room then we can spot the person immediately. Start the journey today by emptying your life so that it can be filled with clarity.