“If you don’t live up to your potential, you leave a hole in the fabric of being.”Jordan Peterson
When Carl Rogers, the founder of humanistic psychology, wanted to gather his research and essays into a book, he was uncertain about who his audience was going to be.
He knew he wanted a suitable one, but he didn’t know where to find it. “For more than a decade this problem has puzzled me,” he said when describing his situation.
In one of his essays, however, he tells about how his clients seemed to show a pattern of increasing trust and value upon themselves once they entered the therapeutic environment. Elaborating on this tendency, he said,
“Ernest Hemingway was surely aware that ‘good writers do not write like this.’ But fortunately he moved toward being Hemingway, being himself, rather than toward someone else’s conception of a good writer”
It seems that Rogers tackled his problem by learning from his clients, because he concluded in the introduction of his book On Becoming a Person, that, “I wish to put [my] thoughts out in book form so that they can find their own audience.”
And it dit; he found his audience, selling over a million copies worldwide. But more importantly, he was able to trust himself and put value on his writing. He wrote like himself, like Carl Rogers.
The Overall Purpose of Life
This trust of self was a way of realizing what Rogers believed to be the overall purpose of life: “to be that self which one truly is.”
And although he believed there were other ways as well, I would like to propose a way I’ve discovered in my own life: clarity.
Without clarity, life is uncertain and filled with incomprehensibility. With it, you can be that self which you truly are. Or in other words, you can move towards your highest potential.
An Ancient Principle
Although I’ve made good use of it in my own life, clarity isn’t something new I’ve come up with. It’s an ancient principle which is found all over the world: in Greek mythology, in Christian religion, and in eastern philosophy.
“Clarity is power. It produces positive emotions and a sense of order. A lack of clarity leads to chaos and frustration.”
Indeed, clarity is power; it has the power to unlock your highest potential. But how?
Unlocking Your Potential
In my book, Nine Notes: A Discovery of Undying Lessons, I proposed some ways of gaining more clarity: and reading, writing, conversing and meditation were some of them.
In doing research for my second book, I’ve discovered there are other ways to gain clarity as well: such as establishing a routine and building trusting and stable relationships.
More specifically, you can have clarity of your personal self, but you can also have clarity of your objective environment and social relationships.
Here are some suggestion to increase your clarity:
Clarity of your personal self:
- Reading. When you read, you gather information and expand your understanding of a topic. And with an increased understanding of a topic — e.g., psychology, history, economics — you expand your clarity of the world and your relation to it.
- Writing. Writing helps you articulate vagueness into words. If you’re struggling to think something through, then writing can help you express yourself clearly.
- Conversing. In order to hold a conversation, you need to make what you say understandable to the other person. This forces you to articulate your words clearly, and can thus sharpen your understanding of the things you’re saying out loud.
- Meditation. Meditation provides a good insight into your mind. It lets you observe and better understand how it operates. This in turn provides clarity of your mind and yourself.
Clarity of your objective environment:
- Establish a routine. A routine is a predictable structure to your life. It provides clarity of how to spend a portion of your day —both now and in the future — and removes a substantial amount of uncertainty.
Clarity of your social relationships:
- Building trust and stability. Trusting the people around you allows you to conduct yourself in their presence without too much uncertainty. When your relationships are trusting and stable, you gain clarity through honest conversations and moments of love.
Your Highest Potential
So with all this clarity, what do you do with it?
Well, as I’ve already alluded to, you can use it to move towards your highest potential; you can be that self which you truly are.
Because when you increase your clarity, you might start to see how and why that’s possible.
To my understanding, there are two steps you can follow towards your highest potential:
- Internal peace.
- External Good.
As illustrated above, these categories build on each other.
- First, you can use your clarity to achieve internal peace. This is your own happiness; the experience that what you have now is enough. (Rogers’ trust of self falls within this category).
- Second, when you’ve gained a fair bit of internal peace, you can use your clarity to do external good. This is the happiness of others; the service you can provide to make a meaningful impact in the world.
If you choose to pursue these goals, your highest potential will likely flow from it. How you specifically choose to achieve them, however, is up to you. That’s what the clarity is for.
With all this said, it’s important to note that your highest potential requires you to work on it continually.
Internal peace isn’t a one-time achievement — it’s an ongoing process. External good isn’t a one-time thing either —because there are always people who need your service.
But in this continual work — in the everlasting pursuit — you move towards your highest potential. As Carl Rogers said,
“This is not an easy direction to move, nor one which is ever completed. It is a continuing way of life.”
But it’s worth it. Moving towards your highest potential is a meaningful path in life.
So get clear, unlock your potential, and live your best life possible.
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