Unboxed Life

Boldly existing outside the box through conscious living and constant learning.

10 Ways To Ensure An Average Life

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through the experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

-Helen Keller

Extraordinary lives come in an assortment as varied as human beings themselves. People dedicate themselves to a plethora of amazing and world-changing endeavors and we are all lifted up because of it. Whether it’s through service, a positive legacy, or by pursuing constant learning and expansion of the mind, extraordinary living elevates us to enlightened places within our existence. The key is that there is no right or wrong way to live an extraordinary life, the victory comes in the pursuit of greatness and the consciousness of living out dreams and goals for oneself and for others.

As with most things in the world though there is another side to living extraordinarily. It is called many different things; mediocrity, ordinariness, complacency, settling. These are effective descriptions but I prefer a simple but powerful idea, the idea of being average. To me, and I am guessing to many of you, being average, middle, or common is something that sounds about as unappealing as a dirt sandwich. It is key in this discussion to explore what living an average life really means so as not to have confusion. At its core average means not being true to yourself and your passions. It is the systematic rationalization of ignoring what your destiny really is and replacing it with what others would have you do. Being extraordinary is about passionate, joyful living and the pursuit of your personal legacy whatever it may be.

By deviating from what stirs your soul you can be guaranteed an average, uneventful life where at its end you will find regret, mediocrity, and wishful thinking. We have talked before here about legacy work and the pursuit of our personal destiny and how we can achieve those things. I feel it is equally as important to discuss the components that can lead us down the path of passivity and the capacity for average so as to avoid said pitfalls. It is human nature to fear change and discomfort, to unconsciously distance ourselves from a path that might resist our efforts to achieve the impossible. By confronting these snares we will remove their power and clear the road of their traps. In essence we must become comfortable with being uncomfortable. If we do not actively fight against these things our destiny will be lost and our true self will never realize its rightful place at the front of our life.

Though this list is not complete my hope is to provide some points by which we can all begin to think more about our own habits and our choices in our daily life. We are all destined for greatness; the extent to which we achieve it is the product of the choices we make and the manifestations of our hearts desires. By confronting these challenges we can more readily see our destiny manifest.

Seek Approval from Others

To garner input from trusted sources is not at all a bad idea when pursuing big dreams. The negative impact comes when we place too much weight on the opinions of others. There will be few people who understand your vision or see the dreams you see and how you see them happening. Do not rely too much on the approval of others as the end-all of your decision making. Advice is great, input is valuable, but in the end you are the keeper of your dreams.

Rationalize mediocrity

We as humans have an uncanny ability to convince ourselves of almost anything. The ability to lie and deceive others as well as we do can also be used to trick ourselves into a false happiness. Why do you think people stay at jobs they hate for their whole lives or in relationships that are unhealthy? Do not settle for mediocre and do not accept average.

Wait for later

Ah procrastination, the companion of an average life. There are a multitude of reasons we should wait on our dreams, reasons that are often false and always crippling. The key to achieving any goal, especially the goal of an extraordinary life, is to take action, any action. Taking the first step will lead to the realization of our dreams.

Not seek self-awareness

Moving through life in pursuit of our own personal destiny is hard enough. Throw in a lack of self-awareness and it is exponentially more difficult. To truly find the extraordinary path we are meant to walk we must first decide this: how can I be me?

Ignore the passage of time

Multiple times a day I come across things that remind me how fast time moves. It is easy to ignore when our daily, busy lives are filled with responsibility and tasks we must complete. If we want to end our lives having skirted the extraordinary and succumb to the average we will ignore the continual flow of time and space. Our end will not wait for us to decide now is the time; only through daily action and conscious pursuit will we realize our hearts desires.

Ignore inspiration

Just as the passage of time can be placed in a nice little box in the back of our minds, so can we achieve average by not seeing the inspiration that lies around us each day. When we fix our eyes to the ground as we plow ahead to the next arbitrary marker on the path of life we miss the beauty that exists just outside our periphery. Take time to look up once in a while and let inspiration seep into your mind and soul. In that, extraordinary is born.

Dwell on the past

Far too often we seek validation for future choices with the evidence from past experience. Learning from our mistakes and the mistakes of others is a valuable thing, but those hiccups can become hindrances if we let them dictate our choices. Nothing extraordinary has ever come from the faint of heart.

Avoid failure

The view of failure in our society is flawed. It is seen as an ending, a place where the path stops and our dreams die; good reasons to avoid it at all costs. What failure should be seen as is part of a circular continuum where it marks a learning opportunity on the way to success. With this point of view it makes sense to seek out failure as an opportunity to refine and hone the legacy we have chosen on the way to an extraordinary life.

Succumb to fear

Coupled with the traditional view of failure, fear is the most powerful agent in leading us to an average life. We fear failure, hardship, ridicule, humiliation. These are all healthy emotions and ones we can never fully remove from our psyche. The key to overcoming them is to fear average more. Fear the lost realization of your passions more than the chance for missteps.

Look for signs

Much like seeking approval from others can debilitate our true path, the need for signs and confirmations can become a much maligned deterrent. This is not to say that we cannot collect the happenings around us to look critically at the choices we make. The negative aspect comes when we defer action for the giving of that sign or when we move forward with hesitation and half-assedness waiting for that confirmation. Extraordinary people do not wait for signs; they create the emblems and move forward to their destiny.

Dream photo: here


12 comments on “10 Ways To Ensure An Average Life

  1. Angel B
    August 2, 2012

    Whoa!!! Amazing post Tanner! I love all these things and you just completely nailed it on the head again! Very inspiring! Thank you so much! May I once again have permission to repost on my site? This goes very hand in hand with the “Throne Of Dreams” project!

    • Tanner Colton
      August 2, 2012

      Thanks AngelB as always! Please feel free to repost any of my writing any time you feel it fits with what you are doing. I am glad you find it useful and informative. I have been listening to “Throne of Dreams” on my bike ride to and from work lately and it really gets me going in the mornings. Just wanted you to know I really enjoy the project and have been passing it on to everyone I know! Talk to you soon AngelB.

      • Angel B
        August 2, 2012

        Thanks Tanner! I’m so glad you enjoy the project and that you’ve been listening, sharing, and dreaming. Hope to read and hear more from you soon!

  2. Mary
    August 2, 2012

    I really enjoyed the comment about fearing mediocre more than fearing failure, rejection, etc. Great article, Tanner

    • Tanner Colton
      August 3, 2012

      Thank you so much, I think that idea is not nutured enough in our society. If we continually let the fear of failing dictate our decisions we will forever be boxed into a life of average. I am glad you found a connection with that part, take care.

  3. The Professor
    August 3, 2012

    Great post, Tanner! All these things are very harmful if we want to carve out a unique space for ourselves. Keep up the great work!

    Mark Blasini

    • Tanner Colton
      August 3, 2012

      Thanks Mark, I know you talk a lot about what living in a creative space is all about and how we can nuture our creativity in our lives. Do you think that every person has creative abilities within themselves, or do you feel that some people are born creative thinkers and others are not as much? Would love to hear your insights on this as it pertains to living a life that matters. Thanks again!

      • The Professor
        August 3, 2012

        I think that life is creativity — that creativity is in our DNA. I think the processes by which we breathe, digest, circulate blood, excrete waste, interpret sensual information from our environment, dream, daydream, etc. are all creative processes of nature. I believe that much of the “creativity” that we express consciously on a day to day basis is nothing compared to the creativity of nature. It was Richard Feynman who said, “Nature’s imagination is so much greater than man’s, she’s never going to let us relax.”

        So no, I don’t think creativity is something that only a few people are born with. I believe that creativity IS life, is living at all — i.e. we are creative just for the fact of living. The trick is realizing this creativity and bringing out the beauty of it through art.

        Mark Blasini

      • Tanner Colton
        August 3, 2012

        Man, that is so awesome! I totally agree and that is a big reason by I started this project. That practice of tapping into the awesome potential inside all of us is what Unboxed Life is all about, finding a way to take the creative powers in our daily movements, like you said, and doing something extraordinary with it.

        If you had to, what would you say is the number one thing we can do to tap into the natrually existing creativity within us?

        Thats a pretty cool idea that “just for the act of living” we are all creative beings. That is why I love you work so much man, so awesome. Thanks again for the comment and for your support. Take care.

      • The Professor
        August 3, 2012

        “Simplify, simplify, simplify!”
        — Henry David Thoreau

        Art and creativity is more about subtraction than it is about adding something. Always work towards simplifying your life until you’re able to get a better grasp of your purpose, your skills, your interests. If you took away all your external resources, what resources would you have not only to survive, but thrive?

        Constant simplification, I believe, is the key.

      • Tanner Colton
        August 3, 2012

        Great man, something I think most people don’t think about, me included! Thanks.

  4. The Professor
    August 3, 2012

    And thank you very much Tanner, for your comment! I really appreciate your support and your insight!

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