Yesterday while out for a run in the majestic north woods of scenic lake country, I came upon a gaggle of wild turkeys for the second or third time in a week. As I took notice of them, a friend’s recent comments about these wild birds flooded my mind; she said they were “both arrogant and stupid” all at the same time. I pondered this statement as I ran by them and thought to myself, they let their egos govern their behavior, not unlike human beings, myself included at times. The ego driven personality, we all know someone who behaves excessively in this manner, but what about the small things we all do that bind us and hold us back from reaching our full potential, it is usually our ego getting in the way.
What is ego? It is a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance; in general terms, it’s the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and unconscious, and here is where some of our real problems begin to occur! We become driven by our ego and are unable to rest in the moment, allowing the universe to unfold its profound messages. We think we know better or more, attempting to manipulate and control all situations.
This is of course, not unlike the description my friend provided about the wild turkeys, both arrogant and stupid. We are not altogether unlike these birds, and often times end up not being able (just like the birds) to get out of our own way and allow things to unfold according to universal laws. I am not advocating ignoring situations you know will cause harm to yourself or others. All to often we all tend to get over involved in situations and cause more damage than if we just let things unfold. You know what I am talking about here, your feelings get hurt by someone, you think they have done you wrong so you take the next step and overreact and say something in gossip about this person, or you lash out directly at them, all to protect your self-imposed ego. In time, you all to often find out this was simply your ego talking, the individual never said or did anything harmful to you, you created the entire situation. Wow, that is both arrogant and stupid!
What can you do to prevent your ego from taking over? There are many things, but here are a few simple steps you can take that with practice will help to create more balance and allow you to be able to live a little more in the moment.
- Learn to meditate! This is so simple, almost too simple for most of us. Quiet the mind, focus on your breathing in and out, and listen to the silence. There are many ways to practice meditation, I encourage you to find what works best for you and practice it every day.
- Don’t beat yourself up when you falter, get back up and begin again!
- Find a higher power; God, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, Confucius, whatever works for you, and give it up to the higher power.
- Exercise in some fashion, it is a great release for the soul!
- Learn new things! There is nothing better than being humbled by starting at the beginning.
- Learn to meditate! (Did I say this already?!)
- Travel! Be it to the next county . . . get a new experience and fresh perspective on life.
- Notice the little things and hold them in your heart.
- Take time to be gentle with all things, starting with you.
- Practice kindness.
This is no magic list, these things have been written about time and time again and there are many other things one can do to quiet the ego. There is no magic pill to take, no quick fix we all so often want to grab. However, the reality is that it is simple and costs nothing; it is a practice. What is important here is to not let the ego take control and certainly not to end up being described as “both arrogant and stupid”! ( I apologize to all the wild turkey’s for writing these words for I am truly not certain you are both arrogant and stupid!)
Lao Tzu says, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”