In the series finale of AMC's popular TV show, "Mad Men," we see our protagonist ad man Don Draper in a meditation group at an Esalen-style retreat on the California coast. It is morning and the sun is shining brightly in the background. The beginning of a new day, of new hope.As the instructor chants "om," Draper closes his eyes and follows. The camera pulls in as he curls his lips into a subtle smile.
We all grow up wanting to feel special. We are taught to desire specialness by our culture, especially media. And there are some common ways we’re taught to see specialness. Little girls see it in romantic movies where a man makes a woman feel like she’s the only creature in the universe. Little boys see it in games in which winning is the only goal. In general, we are taught to find specialness by comparing ourselves to others.
Personal growth is a life long process in which you can delight in the joys of self-discovery, tell your own story, and establish goals that are both self-fulfilling and socially conscious. At the core of personal growth is both an increase in self and social awareness. You ask questions about yourself and the world we live in. And likely, you never stop asking those questions.
Mainstream society does not teach the importance of personal growth, let alone educate us about the challenges involved. In fact, the "powers that be" see it as in their interest that we stay asleep. But having a better understanding of self and society will lead you to a more conscious, intentional existence.
The book "The Master Game" by Robert S. de Ropp (originally published in 1969) discusses nine life games that people choose to play. He argues that having a game one feels is worth playing takes precedence over even wealth, comfort, and esteem. Not having a worthy game often results in accidie, which is characterized by paralyzed will, a lack of healthy appetite, disenchantment, and boredom.
What's interesting about the life game model is that it reminds us that we have the power to consciously choose the game we want to play. Growing up, we're taught by the media, our parents, corporations, school, etc that there is only one life game, and it consists of the following elements: go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, and in between all those steps don't forget the most important part STUFF! STUFF! STUFF! MORE STUFF! DID I MENTION STUFF?