“Whenever I climb I am followed by a dog called ‘ego’.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
The unrestrained ego is the biggest obstacle to achievement and peace of mind, the two things people most want in life. Not only is the unrestrained ego bigger than most obstacles one encounters in life, the unrestrained ego often creates obstacles that would not exist if one had control over it.
Any one can be ‘successful’ in life; the issue with success is that everyone has a different definition of what success is. Moreover, success in contemporary society — and I would argue this is a universal truth applicable to past, present and future human societies — is that it is often dependent on perceived status and the symbols associated with it: the car you drive, the clothes you wear, one’s external appearance, the number of Instagram followers you have, your job title at work, your yearly salary. The problem with these metrics of success is that they are entirely determined by the opinions of others. These hierarchies are not only externally determined but they have no limitations: one can always be more rich, more beautiful, have more followers. The ego in every human feeds off such external validations, using it as a measure of where one stands in society. I reckon most people would not be as nearly as enthusiastic in conversation when being approached by a beggar on the subway as they would a supermodel.
The ego prevents you from making objective decisions, from seeing past all the metrics of external validation we are conditioned to employ on others, from being the bigger man. It becomes much harder to forgive someone when you have built your identity and self-worth on such a foundation. It takes great strength to forgive others: you must see the perpetrator as kin, not any higher or lower in worth than yourself. To be the bigger man, to forgive continually and unconditionally, is a muscle that must be practiced every day, in every situation. Your reward for domestication of the ego and continual practice of unconditional forgiveness is a lifetime free from anger, resentment and bitterness.
Being the bigger man requires you cast aside your ego and take the high road in every situation — the moment you decide to retaliate you are no longer the bigger man.
“Destroy your illusions so you can see reality. Destroy your fears so you can take risks. Destroy your ego so you can see life.”
~ Maxime Lagacé