What are you becoming?

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“The big question is not what am I getting paid here. The big question is, what am i becoming? Here. Because true happiness is not contained in what you get, happiness is contained in what you become.”

The question I have asked myself the most recently is What are you becoming? You name it, whether it is a relationship, hobby, passion, association, affiliation, acquaintance, or priority. We all have a choice in life, which makes us different from other animals: the ability to introspect and course correct. Before 2018, I used to watch almost every game of the premier league team – Manchester United. I started supporting Man U when they won the European champions league in 1998; I fell in love with the team and have been a die-hard fan ever since. In 2013, when I lost my closest cousin, I started drifting away from watching too much soccer as I started questioning the meaning of life itself.

In 2018, I stopped watching 90 minutes of soccer and started watching more of the highlights. Right now, I only watch the highlight if the team wins and do not watch them if they draw or lose. It took me a while to get to this stage of detachment with the team, but I have gone through many trials and tribulations in life, and what I optimize for now is joy. I used to be so sad when the team lost or drew, and it greatly affected my mood after a defeat. Circa 2018, I made a decision based on the question, “What are you becoming?” due to my deep attachment to this soccer team. Deciding to stop watching 90 minutes of soccer, especially the ones involving my favourite soccer team, was not easy, but I have instead tried to use my free time optimally.

Our time here on earth is minimal, but most of us suffer from the illusion that we will be here for a long time. We spend our time with toxic friends, engage in family drama, caretaking people, waste our precious time on social media, live a life of quiet desperation and live in a trance all of our life. As author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn often said, “The big question is not what am I getting paid here. The big question is, what am i becoming? Here. Because true happiness is not contained in what you get, happiness is contained in what you become.

“You can have more than you have got because you can become more than you are”


In her book, In Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN 1, American psychologist and mindfulness teacher Tara Brach writes about how we live in trance and autopilot all our life. She writes:

We all get lost in the dense forest of our lives, entangled in incessant worry and planning, in judgments of others, and in our busy striving to meet demands and solve problems. When we’re caught in that thicket, it’s easy to lose sight of what matters most. We forget how much we long to be kind and openhearted. We forget our ties to this sacred earth and to all living beings. And in a deep way, we forget who we are.

This forgetting is a part of being in trance—a partially unconscious state that, like a dream, is disconnected from the whole of reality. When we’re in trance, our minds are narrowed, fixated, and usually immersed in thought. Our hearts are often defended, anxious, or numb. Once you recognize the signs of trance, you will begin to see it everywhere, in yourself and others.

You are in trance when you are living on autopilot, when you feel walled off and separate from those around you, when you are caught up in feeling fearful, angry, victimized, or deficient.

Only by purposefully bringing attention to our inner experience can we move from trance toward healing. We need to become aware of the circling anxious thoughts, the habitual tightness in our shoulders, the pressure from being in a rush. Then we can begin to turn from our stories—about someone else’s wrongness, about our own deficiencies, about trouble around the corner—to directly feel our fears, hurts, and vulnerability, and ultimately the tender wakefulness of our heart.

Most of us live our lives in autopilot/trance, not questioning our way of living as we have been domesticated, indoctrinated and programmed just like the way they tame a baby elephant.

Domestication of the Human Mind 2

There is a story about a man who was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free. 2

Like the elephant in the above story, we stay stuck in toxic relationships, helpless in family dramatics, play the victim, Debilitated by fear and lead a life of quiet desperation, as Henry David Thoreau noted in Civil Disobedience and other essays:

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things..”

In the Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom 3, Don Miguel Ruiz shares the following insights on the Domestication of the Human Mind, which explains why we act the way we do, just like the elephant in the above story:

Children are domesticated the same way that we domesticate a dog, a cat, or any other animal. In order to teach a dog we punish the dog and we give it rewards. We train our children whom we love so much the same way that we train any domesticated animal: with a system of punishment and reward. We are told, “You’re a good boy,” or “You’re a good girl,” when we do what Mom and Dad want us to do. When we don’t, we are “a bad girl” or “a bad boy.”

When we went against the rules we were punished; when we went along with the rules we got a reward. We were punished many times a day, and we were also rewarded many times a day. Soon we became afraid of being punished and also afraid of not receiving the reward. The reward is the attention that we got from our parents or from other people like siblings, teachers, and friends. We soon develop a need to hook other people’s attention in order to get the reward

All our normal tendencies are lost in the process of domestication. And when we are old enough for our mind to understand, we learn the word no. The adults say, “Don’t do this and don’t do that.” We rebel and say, “No!” We rebel because we are defending our freedom. We want to be ourselves, but we are very little, and the adults are big and strong. After a certain time we are afraid because we know that every time we do something wrong we are going to be punished

We don’t question our belief system and philosophy of life as a result of this domestication and autopilot-trance-inclined living. We don’t ask ourselves, Is this thing or relationship still serving me? What are you becoming? Is this elevating me or making me become a better version of myself? I made a decision to never do anything just for its sake; it has to go through the “What am I becoming” framework. If it takes me closer to my purpose and pursuit of joy, I optimize and amplify it. If it is not making me a better version or taking me away from my purpose and pursuit of joy, I reduce my involvement and engagement.


  • Sixty-One: Life Lessons from Papa, On and Off the Court by Chris Paul
  • Sports has taught me everything in life: Sacrifice, hard work and pain.
  • Coach: The hardest thing is going to be playing with people that don’t care as much as you do
  • Staking the days – Reps remove doubt – Hard work is my preferred language and, I try to speak it fluently/.

All the Best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile |

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