All of my adult life I’ve been a fan of the thinking and writing of Carl Jung. His work has been a constant in my search for what matters most in life. Jung was a leading thinker and observer in the newly-emerging field of psychology. He was an early follower of Freud but split with him over differences about the role of sexuality in human behavior. Jung also objected to the cult-like following that arose around Freud, a cult that Freud seemingly enjoyed and encouraged.
For most of us, the work of Jung is so dense and deep that it’s virtually indecipherable. Fortunately for us, however, there are some great original thinkers who do the grunt work and dig out the gems we’d otherwise never find. In his recent book, What Matters Most, James Hollis, the best of the best of these diggers, takes us on a journey in search for what matters most in life.
Hollis’s conclusion, based on his years of in-depth reseach and experience as a psychoanalyst, says that what matters most in life is being authentically who we are. Only the authentic me will venture out and explore outside of my comfort zone. Only my true self is willing to upset my complacency and live a larger, more engaged life. The willingness to journey out, despite the trepidation and discomfort, is what matters most. Without it, we wither and neglect the fuller life we are here to live.
Unfortunately for most of us, we will act much more quickly and purposefully to avoid a bad outcome than we will to help insure a good outcome. When the chips are down and the former path has run it’s course, we are much more likely to get very motivated very quickly. But, life is always showing us another door to open, another path to take, if only we are able to look and see. What matters most is learning to recognize the alternatives and then act on them.
We can only do this when we become aware of our true feelings and emotions. We know when something feels old and outmoded, and yet, if it offers comfort and a sense of security, we’re likely to stay in that repetitive pattern. What matters most is doing whatever it takes to find that connection of self to Self and to summon the courage to step out of the comfortable and expand to the greater possibility we are offered.