Staying off the Streets

In this metaphor, the “streets” are the behaviors you habitually engage that are unproductive, wasteful, and at their worst, destructive. These behaviors arise primarily when there is “nothing better” to do.

Whether media, food, or drug consumption, toxic relationships, meaningless conversations to fill the void, or aimless self-amusement, all of it is less than your potential. All of it pushes you into the streets.

By creating something to “keep you off the streets,” the tone and direction of your life can change as you give up less valuable activities in favor of those which push you toward actualization. The value of such a shift is well worth the effort.

We are all familiar with these tendencies within ourselves. They are the things you do that give you immediate pleasure or an escape from suffering (these are often the same thing). While engaging such behaviors is fine and healthy when kept in check, there is a common tendency to engage them too often. This is especially the case when we have nothing “keeping us off the streets.”

It is important to acknowledge the prevalence and impact of such behaviors, as they contribute to our life suffering and negative self-image. 

You know you are wasting your time, and you don’t feel good about it. These behaviors hinder our productivity and reduce our effectiveness. You aren’t building yourself or your empire but you are getting better and better at being mediocre. By creating a direction for your life, your free time will be occupied by constructive and beneficial activities, as opposed to random and meaningless routines.

The saying “idle hands are the devil’s plaything” is apt here.

Intentionally establish life routines, habits, set goals, create plans, and so on as a means of keeping you off the streets.

 It does not matter what they look like, or to what end they lead. What matters is that they keep you off the street. Of course, it is best if you do things that are of most value to you. Be aware that too much strain will cause you to hop back onto the streets, and before you know it, you’re living in a box and panhandling again.

What does this actually look like?

There are many forms this idea can take. What is important is the idea itself—doing something on purpose is better than allowing pleasure and suffering to direct your life. And that without conscious effort, suffering and pleasure will direct your life

Direct your life and occupy your time with a life purpose

The first and most powerful way to stay off the streets is to create/discover your life purpose. This purpose is what your life is about. 

It is what you stand for and strive to promote or create before you die. This can be anything. What’s important is that it is true to you and genuinely engages your attention. The topic of life purpose is deep and many teachers and teachings exist to cater to this endeavor, I suggest you look into it for yourself. Do the research and contemplate the matter.

The power of your purpose is that it creates meaning in your life. It also allows for long-range goals, plans, and structures to be created to direct your actions and attention. This serves to give you real self-sense and consequent feelings of fulfillment. 

It is in the creation and pursuit of the life purpose that you naturally self-actualize. As you take steps to create a life purpose, you will be forced to overcome challenges, learn new ways of being, and confront your weaknesses.

Do simple things every day. Habits matter

By engaging positive, simple habits every day you begin to develop a sense of self that you can trust. Integrity is built by doing the right thing day after day. Your ability to stay disciplined in life will be built by planning and adhering to a daily regimen of habits. This is the easiest and most immediate step you can take towards getting off the streets, as some of these habits are effortless to implement yet have strong effects on your experience and life structure.

Simple habits such as cold showers, meditation, journaling, exercise, stretching, and intermittent fasting can have profound effects on you as a person as well as the flavor of your life. 

Habits like these have effects such as health benefits, elevated happiness, improved cognition, reduced depression and anxiety, and increased self-awareness. There are of course many more such habits, it is up to you to find and implement the ones that fit yourself and life. They should naturally entice you, otherwise, you will likely give them up in short order.

Regular habits help you build a more powerful self-concept. This self-concept is the idea you have about what you are as an entity. It is what you think is true of your ability, intelligence, power, and so on. A powerful self-concept means a powerful experience and expression of you as a person. It is actually this concept that directs your life, so it is important to make sure it is as powerful and effective as possible. You are essentially showing yourself what you are, by doing so you become something different. 

In much the same way, every time you engage your “street” behavior, you provide evidence to yourself that you are a street dweller. Be mindful of what you show yourself about yourself, you never forget this kind of stuff. 

Consider the relationships you keep. Ask yourself who entices you onto the streets? 

You likely have friends that live on the streets. And it is likely that these friends want you to play in the streets with them. It is also likely that you will have a hard time saying no to these friends. 

Because these friends entice you onto the streets and away from your masterwork, you must be wary. It is hard for most people to say no when invited out onto the streets, If you are one of these people it is best to put some distance between yourself and your street buddies. 

The saying, “show me you who your friends are and I will tell you what you are” is apt here. It is worth considering the influence that your friends have on yourself and the trajectory of your life. The impact they have is often hard to see because you have so deeply embedded yourself in the relationship. But with a little distance and some earnest contemplation, you can begin to see that you are under heavy influence of the people surrounding you. 

Do these people support your vision? Do they intend to improve as you do? Is their effect positive? Or are they hoodlums? If you find that you have street kids in your midst and that they have the effect of making you a street kid too, it is your responsibility to do something about it.

It is not necessary to end a relationship or ghost anyone. The specific actions you take are up to you and depend on your situation. What is most important is that you are aware of the effects and take some steps toward mitigating them. Be prepared to suffer this process, as you are likely attached to both your street friends and the good ole days you spent on the streets. Rest assured that it is worth the effort- in the end, you will be able to help the street kids by teaching them that there is another way.

Take up learning as a standard part of life

Learning keeps you out of the gutter in a few important ways. 

  1. It gives you perspectives that transcend your current one. This allows you to see both the limitations of your position and the possibilities that lie beyond it.
  2. It gives you the power to understand and relate more effectively to the self, world, and others.
  3. It is inherently healthy for your mind to continuously grow.
  4. It occupies your time with positive beneficial activities.
  5. It helps you build a self-concept that you like, one to be proud of

We tend to think that learning is something done in school and that when school is done, learning is done. This is not the case. The most successful people are those who continue to learn at a rapid pace throughout their lives. There is an infinite amount of information to learn, connections to draw, and distinctions to make. It will always serve you well to learn more. 

Learning gives you the power to understand the world around you as well as the one within.  There are millions of books, videos, courses, and teachers for you to extract wisdom from. 

Intend to stay off the streets but be gentle with yourself if/when you end up back in the streets for a bit

It is important not to let your failure discourage you. Know that you will eventually falter. Simply resolve to accept these minor defeats as part of the process, and keep moving forward with the intention to stay on track, and off the streets.

Start now by assessing your life. Ask and find out…

‘What are the activities, relationships, and mindsets I can let go of?’

‘What are the activities, relationships, and mindsets, I can adopt?’

Then, start the elimination process. Be gentle! Don’t do more than you can handle, as this may cause you to backlash. Write down what you want to let go of and set out to let it go now. Assess every domain of your self and life, by open and creative with this process.

Start the acquisition process at the same time by finding/creating your life purpose, implementing new habits, reducing face time with negative influences, and engaging with new sources of wisdom. Be gentle with this too! Trying to do too much, and then failing may discourage you from the whole endeavor. Do as much as you can in this direction each day and be happy with what you’ve done.

Writing these things down can be helpful in creating both clarity and a sense of realness. 

Don’t assume that this is too easy or too difficult. Do what you can today and do more tomorrow.

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One Comment

  1. kat
    April 29, 2020

    awesome photo and i love the metaphor. a simple, yet profound message. accessible, grounded, and applicable wisdom. your writing is very personable and clear. might be my favorite post yet!

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