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OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time

OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson features the best Big Ideas from the best optimal living books. More wisdom in less time to help you live your greatest life. (Learn more at optimize.me.)
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OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time
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Oct 12, 2018
In our last +1, we continued our chat about the fact that your perfection is already there. It’s just waiting for you to follow Rule #1 and quit doing yourself harm. 
 
I said that that just requires a little more discipline from you. (And me.)
 
Which makes me think about the connection between our ego and the divine within.
 
This is part of a much longer discussion. But here’s the quick take.
 
Most people think we need to “get rid of” our ego or subdue it or tame it or otherwise maim it if we want to tap into the most divinely spiritual within us.
 
I don’t agree with that approach.
 
I prefer to think of it more like Joseph Campbell. And Ken Wilber. And Nathaniel Brandon.
 
Campbell tells us that he doesn’t understand why there’s all this talk about annihilating the ego when, in fact, it’s our egos that keep us in the game. 
 
Then Wilber tells us that it’s not “ego-minus” but “ego-plus.” We need a strong ego that’s plugged into something bigger than ourselves. THAT’s when the magic happens. 
 
Then we have Nathaniel Brandon who tells us that even if we think “letting go of” the ego is either desirable or possible (he and I don’t think it’s either), successfully letting go of your ego would, by definition, require you to have a firm grip on your ego before you could let it go. (Think about it for a second: How can you let go of something you never had hold of?)
 
All of which leads me to how I think we should think about our ego.
 
Of course, there are so many different definitions of what the “ego” is that we can get dizzy trying to keep up. I prefer to think of the ego in a classic Western psychoanalytic frame a la Freud.
 
In that model we have three components: our id,” our “superego” and our “ego.” 
 
Our id is that impulsive part of us that wants everything right.this.second. Doesn’t matter whether it’s good for us or not. Just give it to us. NOW. Say hello to all your addictions—be they digital (“Hi, smartphone!”) or chemical (“Hi sugar and flour and alcohol and…”).
 
Our superego is basically the conditioned part of us that’s constantly judging all those things your id did and wondering what in the world you were thinking. (It also really really really wants people to like us and can lock us into conformity.)
 
Then we have our ego. Our ego is that part of us that keeps our id and superego in check. We NEED a STRONG ego to make sure we don’t spin out of control alternating between a hyper-impulsive/addictive version of ourselves and a hyper-conforming/ashamed version of ourselves.
 
All of which brings us back to where we started: DISCIPLINE.
 
How do you get your ego to be strong enough to deal with the pulls of the id and the superego? You dominate your environment. You cultivate a heightened level of self-awareness to know how to make yourself proud and then you match that self-awareness with an equally high level of self-mastery such that you consciously, joyfully do the right thing moment to moment to moment.
 
You know what happens then?
 
Your golden light shines through. 
 
Your divine spiritual essence (however you want to define it) finally has a stable home in which to hang out and shine forth. 
 
So…
 
Here’s to your ego. Get it strong. 
 
Then plug it into something MUCH bigger than yourself and shine with the radiant enthusiasm only discovered when we live in integrity with what we know to be true.
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