On Becoming an Individual or How to Save the World by David Cain
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Overview: Human beings emulate the people around them because it makes them feel safe. This is a basic instinct and we’re usually not aware we’re doing it. Being unusual or abnormal makes a person feel exposed and nervous.
In the modern world, most of us live with very little true danger in our lives, yet we remain viscerally afraid of taking unusual approaches to work and personal fulfillment, even if they’re better approaches.
As we leave childhood, we unwittingly dial down our imagination and our ambition, because an ancient and out-of-touch part of our minds tells us they are dangerous. Creativity suffers, and so do our prospects for personal greatness and happiness.
That is the great cost of our ironclad survival instinct: we tend to get most of our values from others. While these values may suit the herd very well, they often don’t fit the individual. We are all in great danger of living lives conceived by others.
There is a small but growing proportion of the population that recognizes these pressures and their danger to the world. They are responsible for most of our moral and cultural progress, because they don’t gravitate towards norms. They find better ways to live and work, and often the norms begin to gravitate towards them.
They are freer and better at being happy, because they understand that the standard prescribed by the norm is very low compared to what is possible for a fully engaged human being. I’m convinced it is these people who will save the human world from its current trend of self-destruction.
The purpose of this book is to illustrate this great discrepancy — between what is normal and what is possible — and give you some stepping stones to begin crossing the rift. There are two sections, Knowing and Acting. Knowing exposes the playing field and the wealth of advantages available to the self-directed individual. Acting is about how to turn this insight into actual changes in your life.
Genre: Non-Fiction > Educational