Embracing the Chaos & Finding Your Mission in the Midst of our Society’s Spiritual Crisis
12 Reasons to Embrace the Chaos and Move Forward in Life
“What’s the point?”, I sometimes ask myself. It’s such an uncertain world out there. I mean, “It all looks so bleak. Why should I even bother to try to move forward in life or my career? Why should I try to improve my circumstances when I don’t think it will lead anywhere? Why should I try anything in this crazy, uncertain, unpredictable and difficult environment?”
Over the last few years, as I have worked through trying to deal with the uncertainty of life, the unpredictability of a career, chaos at work and the complex nature of things, I have come to some realizations that have helped me to keep going and move forward in life.
For me, EMBRACE THE CHAOS means: To ACCEPT the uncertainty of life and move forward anyway! Take action despite not knowing how things will turn out.
To stop overthinking, stop over analyzing, stop trying to predict. To go ahead, take action, move forward in life, move forward in a new career, take new action, start a new business, get into a new relationship and stop overthinking whether or not it will work.
But self-doubt arises in all of us. No matter how strong we might be, the question of WHY always comes up:
“Why should I embrace the chaos?”
Here are my own reasons to get unstuck and move forward in life…
12 Reasons to Embrace the Chaos!
Accept, don’t overthink, and move forward because…
1. Accepting the Chaos of Life is Better Than Trying to Fight it
Life has always been unpredictable and full of uncertainty. We just didn’t realize it. Accept it. Don’t fight it. Accepting the reality of our world today is the most important way to learn to live in it. Let go of your ego. Let go of trying to force order and perfection to an imperfect life full of ups and downs and uncertainty. Often, stress, anxiety and tension occurs when you fight hard to change something you cannot change. You can’t control the chaos. You can only change you…your thoughts and your actions. And that’s really good news…to focus on what you CAN control..you!
2. You Cannot Predict the Future
Uncertainty about how things will turn out tomorrow holds a lot of us back from pursuing our life ambitions, relationships or business ideas. We waste so much time trying to make sure the path we take is the ‘right one’, when the reality is that THERE IS NO RIGHT PATH…JUST THE ONE YOU’RE ON! No one knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. That’s a GOOD THING in some respects because the walls around us are malleable and move constantly. You and I have just as good a shot as anyone at success and happiness. Stop trying to figure out the future and CREATE moments by working towards your purpose in the here and now. This moment right now is the only one you can be certain of.
3. You Will Feel Better DOING Than NOT DOING
Taking a step forward in any direction makes you feel like you have some level of control of your life. When you take action, you stop overthinking and get less anxious because in some sense, you are creating your own future in the here and now. You get a rush when you’re consumed with activity geared towards pursuing a goal, irrespective of how tough the goal. You feel like you’re in charge again because you are….of your thoughts and your actions. The positive energy generated by movement of hands and body in forward motion towards the pursuit of a higher purpose, a life long trip, a business goal or to raise a child, is often what keeps us energetic, youthful and feeling alive.
4. One Thing Always Leads to Another
Like a stone thrown into a pond of water, somehow one tiny little step forward puts in motion other pieces, rippling away, leading you to places, people and opportunities that you can never have imagined. You didn’t get to where you are right now by your perfectly laid out plans years ago. So many of us arrived where we are through the zig zag motion of life, through stepping stones that were laid out all over the place. Some of the greatest things in your life right now, came to you by chance, randomness and luck.
5. You Will Become a Better Person…Faster, Stronger, Leaner and Sharper
The mind is a muscle and like any muscle sometimes the mind needs resistance and tension to grow and develop as much as it needs nourishment and positive energy. Use the chaos of life to learn and develop. Adversity forces you to dig down deep inside to make you rediscover your inner strength or to fire synapsis in your brain that create new learnings. Moving forward in uncertainty forces the potential energy that is already within you to come out.
6. You are Resilient and Know How to Adapt
You don’t know what real strength lies within unless you’re put in a situation that forces you to bring it out. You have an innate ability deep within to adapt and improvise to our new environment. You can handle it because your DNA has gone through a history of difficult times and has progressed ever since. As human beings, we have this awesome ability to persevere in really difficult times with nothing more than what you’ve been given: an able body and a strong mind. The resiliency inside all of us is dormant but kicks in when you move forward in life.
7. You Are Meant for Bigger Things
Within each of us lies a potential for great things. Think about the possibility of becoming who you really want to become…a better parent, a more successful business person who creates jobs for many, a better spouse or partner or simply contribute more to society. This great person will never be realized unless you take steps to move forward in life and do something different…to accept the chaos and move forward anyway. All of us are meant to create positive impact to all those around us, in our own unique way.
8. Chaos Forces us to Clarify What’s Really Important…and What’s Not
When you embrace the chaos and move forward in life, you get crystal clear as to what makes you more fulfilled, more satisfied and ultimately, more happy. Self discovery and self realizations happen during moments of confusion, clutter and consistent complexity when you’re feeling lost, headed for trouble. That’s when your mind gets really clear as to what’s the most important thing you want out of life. Because the mind cannot focus on all of those things, your mind suddenly awakens and hones in. For some of us, a big challenge or adversity that seems insurmountable at the time, jolts us to recognize what we really want. And for some people, it becomes less about the money…and more about the relationships, the family, the kids and good health.
9. It Will Make you GRATEFUL
Humility is a wonderful thing and for some of us, it only comes when you’re forced to deal with something life changing. Life is so unpredictable, fast and really, really short. When you accept the ups and downs and the uncertainty of life, you begin to be grateful for what you have and not dwell on what you don’t. The joy and happiness that comes from appreciating what you have adds fuel to the fire already burning inside to achieve your lifelong goals. You’ll only realize how great of a life you have when your wake up and see the realities of our existence. Being grateful makes you so much happier for the smallest things.
10. Chaos Can Be Transformative
Sometimes difficult, unpredictable and terrible experiences awaken us to the realities of our existence often encouraging us to get on with work we have been waiting to do. Whether we like it or not, it forces us to make difficult choices and take bold steps forward in life. And we might have to go through these difficult times in order to truly transform into the kind of person we want to become. Once you actually embrace uncertainty and go ahead with a life goal or a relationship, you begin to change, discovering new things about yourself. You begin to value different things in life…to have deeper, richer conversations with friends, colleagues and family. To find real meaning and joy in the smallest things. Like a caterpillar, you transform into a butterfly.
11. Things Have a Way of Working Out in the End
People say, “things have a way of working out in the end” because it is often so true. Perhaps not always, but there’s a reason why it is a commonly used phrase. For me, in a strange way, you have to have some level of faith perhaps a belief that the accidents that happen in life are there to teach us something. To shape our life, to shape our core beliefs, to make us who we are. When you’re in the thick of uncertainty and chaos at work or in your personal life, it’s hard to see but think of all the times in your past, when you thought it was really, really bad…and maybe it really was…but often it isn’t as bad as we think and things work out.
12. Going With the Flow is a Lot of Fun
I used to be this Type A, order loving, always hyper-stressed guy. Still am…sort of. By learning to take action, let go and see what happens, I’ve had a lot less stress and a lot more fun. Life is good…sure it’s hard…but it’s still good and can be so much more fun if you go with the flow. Some of the most fun I have ever had occurred when I was working hard on creating a new business with my wife, while performing at a high level in my corporate career. Moments came up where I realized that – wow…this is so cool. It was a lot better than sitting around in anxiety and stress waiting for the shoe to drop. Ten years from now, you may remember the difficult times but you’ll have more significant memories of the times where you joined in, moved forward, embraced spontaneity and said, why not!
Bob Miglani is the author of The Washington Post Bestseller, Embrace the Chaos, which is about learning to move forward in times of change and uncertainty. He grew up helping his family run their Dairy Queen store, which was the subject of his first book, Treat Your Customers. He has worked in a Fortune 50 Company for the last 23 years, helping his spouse run her small business and raising their three kids. Traveled around the world. He lives outside of New York City.
WHY OUR POLITICAL INSTABILITY WILL CONTINUE, AND CRISIS IS OK
RECENT EVENTS SEEM TO SHOW OUR WORLD BEING TURNED UPSIDE DOWN. WITH POLITICAL, ECOLOGICAL, ECONOMICAL AND RELIGIOUS STRESS EVERYWHERE, WE ‘VE BEEN EXPERIENCING ONE CRISIS AFTER ANOTHER, WITH NO END IN SIGHT.
Can anything good come out of this?
Although there is currently a wave of change occurring at a global scale, the natural state of human beings is one of crisis.
We are the only living beings (that we know of) that are aware of our own existence, of the changes we go through internally and externally, and how we expect the world should be.
We are constantly in the process of going from the known toward the unknown, the familiar towards the unexpected. It’s no surprise that we are constantly in crisis, the crisis of being alive. We feel this crisis in our perpetual states of existential anxiety, tension, and anguish.
WHY IS CRISIS NECESSARY?
Our basic spiritual desire to answer the questions “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” are born from the crisis of being alive and not knowing what on earth to do with ourselves.
At a fundamental level, we’re wired to dislike change because it is something we (the ego) can’t control. But our resistance to growth keeps us stranded in a state of stagnation. As a result of this inner stagnation, many of us try to fill this void with all kinds of distractions: work, material consumption, travel, food, socializing, movies, video games, and much more.
The truth is that this abyss within us is always here. But many of us refuse to face this void until we’re forced to, usually through a crisis of sorts.
Every great change in history has occurred in a period of crisis. From Martin Luther King’s revolution and Gandhi’s movement to the French Revolution, the most effective changes have come from the most intense periods of dissatisfaction.
And we’re in such a period right now.
With political and social instability on the rise, we’re starting to see the wide-reaching impacts of chaos and the way it breaks apart our old patterns and paradigms.
Have you ever noticed that when everything is static, we as a collective feel socially indifferent to any particular view? As a result, not much change is possible. But when chaos arises, change is not only inevitable, it is destined.
This is why crisis is actually a necessary force. Without it, we would be stuck rotting away in our ingrained habits, beliefs, and structures.
Rethinking our system and structures is expensive, and there are a whole bunch of people who are invested in preserving the status quo. This system is protected by wealthy elites armed with the power of law, privately owned media, large multinational companies, propaganda, the police force, and the army.
The only way that we, as the other “99%” can make a real, soulful change, is through the force of crisis. Crisis is the only thing that can motivate us enough to change the way we think, feel, and behave.
We have come to a point where a new vision is needed. It has never been needed as much as it is now. Not only is our Earth in an ecological crisis due to our abuse of it, we’re also experiencing a severe political crisis with untold future repercussions.
For these old foundations to dissolve, we must lay new foundations. But for the new to be born, there must be some birth pains. That’s what the crisis we currently face really is.
WHY OUR POLITICAL LEADERS ARE IMMATURE
The history of politics in Western civilization is full of stories featuring power grabbing or, at best, well-intentioned but psycho-spiritually immature leaders.
Genuinely wise, balanced, whole, and mature politicians are rare. Too many leadership choices are motivated by greed and fear and enabled by immaturity, paranoia, and lack of moral development.
Perhaps our political system is a reflection of our society and education systems that teach us to contribute to the “common good” through self-interest. In our society there is little consideration or exploration of what the “good of the whole” might mean or exploring the primordial questions: “How should I live?” and “How should we all live together?”
Yet when we trace back to the origins of politics we realize how divorced it is from its original Socratic intention as the search for the ideal “good life.”
The good life for Socrates had two primary aspects: what he called “the improvement of one’s soul,” and on the other hand, there is the improvement of one’s society. This sort of Socratic knowledge was what he called wisdom.
This pursuit of wisdom cannot be simply legislated or bureaucratically enforced. The government is only an institution, human-made, and cannot provide the wise society that we seek.
Instead at the center of such a cultural and consciousness revolution must be a spiritual, intellectual and moral rebirth of ourselves as individuals; what Socrates disciple Plato referred to as “Periagoge,” or “a turning around of the soul” toward truth, beauty and good.
WHY WE DESPERATELY NEED MATURE ACTION RIGHT NOW
The Platonic ideal of finding wise mature leaders and state heads that are lovers of truth and righteousness rather than wealth and power can be exemplified in cultural leaders such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela.
These men were great not so much because they were “special” and unlike us, but precisely the opposite: they exemplified, in concentrated form, what is most human about us. They were aware that the highest form of personal self-actualization comes through serving the growth of the community.
These matured and whole individuals acted almost like crystals of light that were dropped into a toxically charged political system, causing everything to crystallize into a more ordered and harmonious state.
The politicians we have today are spiritually stunted and immature, yet despite this, they continue to get elected. In the end, our leaders are a reflection of us as a society, and as a planet at large. Therefore, our social and ecological health are entirely dependent on our capacity as voters to do some intense soulwork, and go through a genuine process of human maturation.
Only once we have more matured Souls on this planet will we realize that “self-interest” actually includes the concern for other people because we are all interconnected.
The current state of our world brings great despair and anguish to all of us, this is especially true for the old souls with mature hearts among us who feel the rape of society and torture of the earth more intensely.
Mature action involves preserving and protecting all that is left while simultaneously exploring our inner selves and reconnecting to our Souls.
Whether it be political or charitable action, mature action must come from an inner place of humbleness, rather than from a place of “needing to do good” which can easily be tainted with all kinds of needs, such as self-gratification, power, and control – as is the case with so many politicians today.
True change cannot come from an external system, from an institution or a dogma, it must be born from a deep inner freedom, a matured sensitivity, and wise perception within each and every one of us.
Caring for the soul of the world today is a daunting task, but our earth and very lives depend on it.
IS YOUR LIFE CRISIS REALLY A SPIRITUAL CALLING IN DISGUISE?
So many are alive who don’t seem to care. Casual, easy, they move in the world as though untouched. But you take pleasure in the faces of those who know they thirst. You cherish those who grip you for survival. You are not dead yet, it’s not too late to open your depths by plunging into them and drink in the life that reveals itself quietly there. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
In our journey towards “civilization” we’ve found more and more ways to numb and disconnect ourselves from Spirit. We live and work in gated communities, shopping centers, and office buildings, with air conditioned houses and cars, fences, landscapers, animal controllers, and we spend our leisure time immersed in complex and absorbing technological worlds.
In order to deal with our soul starvation we drown ourselves in prescription medications, alcohol, recreational drugs, consumerism and other soul-numbing forms of escapism. We even suffocate ourselves in rigid belief systems that moralize and judge others, promising to alleviate our sense of alienation from life and existential turmoil.
But our souls are wiser than all of this. There comes a moment in our lives where we grow out of the collective values and ways of living common to our societies. At a certain point in our lives, we realize that the values, attitudes, relationships and beliefs we’ve held no longer contribute to the development of who we truly are: our authentic selves.
This life crisis, although painful, provides a vital opportunity for us to begin our spiritual journeys towards wholeness.
QUARTER-LIFE, MIDDLE-LIFE AND DEATHBED CRISIS
In our Western soul-suppressing societies, many of us experience our “true callings” towards the spiritual journey throughout life, but most of us never truly “hear” or answer to them.
This spiritual calling presents itself in many ways throughout our lives such as the death of loved ones, suicidal depressions, illnesses, near death experiences, divorce, and so forth. But there are three main milestones that call to us the most loudly.
The first calling is what we modernly refer to as the “quarter-life crisis.” The quarter-life crisis happens in the first quarter of life: generally after we finish high school or university. At this time in our lives, we intuitively know that we need to “find” ourselves by leaving behind our family, friends and home towns. These people and places formed our juvenile identities as children and teenagers.
When I answered this calling, I remembered feeling intense fear and uncertainty. Saying good-bye to everyone and everything you love is a very hard task.
The second great calling presents itself as a “midlife crisis.” This crisis may come in the form of an affair, a divorce, severe job unhappiness, an empty nest, lifeless relationships, endless life dissatisfaction, or disappointment with the way life has gone. Ultimately, in my opinion, the midlife crisis comes at a moment where you’ve gathered enough wisdom to know that you’re not going to live forever.
Most people who experience midlife crises have spent their entire lives raising a family, or working in a career. They haven’t had the time, or capacity, to ask the important questions in life. Eventually, something triggers the question, “Is this all there is?”
The third and final calling often comes as a deathbed crisis if we didn’t answer the previous two callings. The inevitability of an imminent death creates such immense turmoil and ego distress, that the light of consciousness is finally permitted to shine through us. Many hospice workers have confirmed this with me.
Although it’s better late than never, what a shame that so many people wait until their last moments to taste truth, deep insight and peace. Some never even experience it.
We all have to accept our imminent death someday in order to live life more fully. The sooner we come to terms with this, the better. But even if we receive this calling late in life, we are still blessed to receive it.
SURRENDERING TO THE HURRICANE
Listening to your calling and accepting your spiritual awakening comes like a great hurricane.
Suddenly everything you’ve ever known is ripped away from you and lost in the tempest. The more you struggle, the more you get thrown around mercilessly. But the moment you surrender, you stand in the eye of the hurricane peacefully allowing everything that doesn’t serve you to be swept away.
Surrendering is extremely important in two ways. Firstly, it allows you to let go of your former limiting self, e.g. all of your beliefs, ambitions, roles, and perceptions of how you were suppose to be. And secondly surrendering allows you to embody your Soul, that is, all of your deepest longings, dreams and wildest passions.
It’s natural to experience fear and resistance in the face of the hurricane. You’ll need to deeply explore what parts of you are creating resistance. There are several ways to do this but the simplest way (in my opinion) is to write down how the fear feels in your body. What images and memories arise during your process of surrendering? Writing down what happened when you were “called” to the spiritual journey is also a great exercize, for example: where you were when it happened, what catalyzed it, how your body felt, what emotions arose within you, and other significant life events connected to it.
As you walk into the heart of your life crisis, you will need to confide in others who are going through similar experiences. This can bring a great sense of emotional alleviation and kinship, and you can find many online and local groups dedicated to inner awakenings. (For example, you’ll find a lot of kindred spirits on this website!)
Be prepared to experience immense loneliness as well. After all, surrendering your former worldview essentially separates you from your habitual way of life, including your old anchors, comforts and even friends or family members. Here are some ways to handle this temporary loneliness.
Unfortunately some people that go through life crises handle their previous responsibilities and commitments in unhealthy ways. You don’t necessarily need to quit your job, get divorced, sell your house, abandon your children, and leave your friends to embark on the spiritual path. Instead, starting your journey means becoming more in-tune with your soul, and exploring what is no longer supporting your growth and self-exploration.
I like to think of this period in life as “spiritual simplification.” In other words, what roles, relationships, activities, and possessions are in the way of Spirit flowing through you?
4 SIGNS YOU’VE HAD A SPIRITUAL CALLING
So how do we know if we’re experiencing a deep calling towards spiritual awakening, or just a momentary mood swing or desire to escape from our life responsibilities?
Mythologist Joseph Campbell notes four qualities that accompany the spiritual calling. I’ve found them to be quite accurate and useful:
1) It’s not an avoidance of responsibility. Rather than providing you an opportunity to escape from your problems or burdens, a spiritual calling feels almost ominous. We all have problems we’d rather not face in our daily lives, but if you’re experiencing a spiritual calling, you’ll somehow sense that a difficult and overwhelming journey lies ahead of you. Despite this, there is a profound desire to embark on it.
2) It’s familiar yet frightening. Many describe the sensation as déjà vu or familiarity when listening to the voice of their souls.
3) You feel as though you’ve reached the end of your current journey. Whether you want to realize it or not, you feel as though your current path has reached a dead end. What once made you happy and excited now feels empty.
4) You weren’t looking for your true calling, it found you. Your calling was unexpected and unwanted. But now you face the fork in the road that demands your decision.
Other signs include feeling intensely powerful emotions, and even altered states or mystical experiences during spiritual awakenings.
Ask yourself, what would happen if you ignored this calling? What emotions arise within you at the thought, and what do they reveal? You might also like to listen to whatever you feel drawn towards, pursue it, and pay attention to whether it feels intuitively right, or has undertones of fear beneath. When it’s a spiritual awakening, a true calling, you’ll feel closer to home with every step.