Discover more from The Rewilded Soul
Don't Settle for an Extraordinary Life
We're told to aspire to an Extraordinary life, but what we really desire is an Exceptional one. Start here.
Thanks for reading The Rewilded Soul! If you enjoy my work, please click ❤️ or 🔄 on this post so even more people can join us.
Listen to this article, or read it below.
What do you really want?
I recently talked to a friend who is frustrated with the momentum of his life. Everywhere he looks, other people are crushing it—everyone, but him.
The most annoying part is that the people “hustling and crushing it the most” are younger than him. He feels like he should be farther along than he is and is being left behind.
“What do you really want?” I asked him.
Without hesitation he said, “That’s easy. I want an extraordinary life.”
I listened as he painted a picture of this extraordinary life he desires. He described the successful business he wants, the dream car (a Bentley), a beachfront property, and the growing influence he would enjoy along the way.
“That’s what I want,” he said. “Extraordinary.”
I thought for a second or two and then said, “No. I don’t think that’s what you want. Not really.”
We were on the phone so I couldn’t see his facial expression, but I didn’t need to. The long beat of silence on the other end said enough.
He cleared his throat and, slightly annoyed, said, “Kaiser, I think I know what I want more than you do.”
“Fair enough,” I said. “But, hear me out. Let me tell you why I think an extraordinary life isn’t what you want, because I think you’ll agree with me.”
Five minutes later, he did agree with me.
Here’s what I told him…
Did someone share this article with you? If so, subscribe (it’s free!) to The Rewilded Soul and get new essays and insights weekly.
Playing the Game
Right now, we’re all playing a Game. No one is sitting on the sidelines. If you’re breathing, you’re in the Game.
This is the Game of Life.
Those who came before us designed it, taught us what the object of the Game is, and how playing, winning, and losing would be measured. We started learning about the Game the moment we could understand language.
If you want to know what people think the object of The Game is, ask them about their life’s aspirations, because it will reveal what they have been told to want.
Pause right here.
Most of what we want is what we have been told to want, because the measurements that signal to us and others (mostly others) whether we’re winning or losing The Game are a collective agreement.
For a long time now, we’ve all measured progress in the Game the way we’ve been told:
A successful career
A high income
Popularity and influence
This is the status quo, what we collectively accept as the ordinary view of The Game, and how we score ourselves and others. But, this is just the baseline. If you want your life to matter, we’re told, being ordinary isn’t enough.
We need to be extraordinary.
The Trap of Extra-Ordinary
Getting back to my friend. Notice how he defined what an extraordinary life looks like. He listed the very things people aspire to and put on their vision boards every January, the ordinary things we use to keep score.
That’s all extraordinary is—ordinary, but extra:
Instead of a place in the suburbs, it’s an oceanfront mansion.
Instead of a BMW, it’s a Bentley.
Instead of a Timex watch, it’s a Rolex.
Instead of earning $100,000 per year, it’s $1,000,000.
Same game, same scoring system, just different sized trophies.
Still ordinary, but extra.
Extraordinary is different only in size, not in kind. It is just a bigger, shinier version of the status quo, which is why it’s ultimately unfulfilling.
There is nothing wrong with any of this, by the way. I like money, nice cars, and appreciate the finer things in life. Playing the Game of Extra-Ordinary can be fun, but I’ve lived long enough to see that we’re all in search of something deeper.
When you become conscious of it, like my friend, you will begin to live differently. You’ll stop focusing on living an extra-ordinary life and, instead, shift your focus to living an Exceptional one.
The Way of the Exceptional Life
What is an Exceptional life?
It is a way of being that isn’t limited or measured by society’s dictates, scoring system, or rules. In fact, it is the Exception to the rules.
What is the greatest exception to the rules of all? You are—the one time only, unique expression of life that is you.
An extra-ordinary life is too small for you because there is nothing ordinary about you. Math is on my side on this one. The odds of you being born at all are so astronomically unlikely that you qualify as a miracle.
Why waste that on squeezing into a mold that, at its core, is meant to keep you and everyone else predictable, productive, and controllable?
An Extra-Ordinary life is someone else’s ideas of what your life should be.
An Exceptional Life is the truest expression of your Self. It is your life lived as a kind of performance art like the Tibetan sand mandalas, which monks spend weeks intricately crafting by hand only to sweep the whole masterpiece away in a tribute to the impermanence of life.
No one can tell you how to live an Exceptional Life, or what to do with the time you’ve been given. Only you can decide Who you are.
The best anyone can say is to trust yourself absolutely, and point out what gets in the way of that.
Find out why you want what you want. To do that, you might need to embrace the wisdom of dis-illusionment.
Find out who and what you are.
As you begin to see through this lens, you can both be in the world and of it at the same time. You’ll see that you’re free to play your own Game within the Game, enjoying the ordinary or extra-ordinary bits without letting them limit you. Like someone who is lucid dreaming, you’ll learn how pliable the physics of modern life are.
Most important of all, you’ll hopefully see that an extraordinary life is much too small for you and, seeing that, you’ll never settle for extra-ordinary ever again.
• We’ve all inherited rules for The Game of Life—what the object of the Game is, how winning and losing is measured, and what is considered “ordinary”.
• But, we’re told being “ordinary” isn’t enough, so we should aspire to an Extraordinary life.
• An Extraordinary Life, however, is still defined by what society considers ordinary. It’s just extra, a bigger and shinier version of ordinary.
• An Exceptional Life, on the other hand, is the exception to the rule. It’s a life true to ourselves and doesn’t fit the status quo of “ordinary”. That’s what we truly want.
Thanks for reading The Rewilded Soul! If you enjoy my work, please consider clicking ❤️ or 🔄 on this post so others can join us.
The Rewilded Soul is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.