When there’s nothing to believe in

In recent years it seems as though extremes in human behaviour are emerging. We see a rise in the popularity of extreme political movements and growing membership of fundamental or even radical religious groups. Some people choose to fight for a form of anarchy, while others sink into nihilism which may lead to self-medication. Consumerism also dominates our culture along with celebrity, with one of the most popular dreams of youth today being to become a YouTube or Instagram personality. In his book Recapture the Rapture, Jamie Wheal points to many of these issues and attributes them to a loss of meaning that we used to find in religion and modern liberalism.

Understandably, some have lost faith in institutions when it seems that some corporations, governments and news media are on occasion lying to or exploiting the average person. Except that these organisations consist of many ordinary people as well. Have we stopped believing in each other? Or perhaps it is the overwhelming amount of information we all now have access to. It’s too much for any one person to make sense of, which has led some to see everything as a conspiracy. It also causes us to live in information silos with a narrow perspective based on the limited information we can process on any given topic. Within all this confusion, it can leave many of us to look for those who can make sense of things for us or provide meaningful answers.

For me, the one thing that all of this points to is an excessive external focus. When you feel like there is nothing left to believe in, then maybe try looking within. For thousands of years, Asian philosophies such as Buddhism and Taoism have encouraged introspection for guidance and clarity. This is not a call to become a follower of an Eastern religion. It is a reminder to look within. Without some sort of inner compass, the world is a difficult place to navigate.

More than twenty years ago, I began consciously piecing together my personal philosophy. This was a journey that began when all the solutions I looked for externally did not improve how I was feeling internally. When I consciously sorted out and organised my beliefs to ensure they supported my success and happiness, my life improved immensely. Naturally, I had the help of books, teachers, therapists, and coaches, but the focus was internal, not external, and I did all the work. No easy answers were provided. This personal philosophy helps me make sense of the world and gives me a solid foundation when life gets difficult.  When you can make sense of the inner world, you will be in a far better position to understand the outer world.