NOTE: This is an article I originally wrote for Oprah’s site!
You know that expression, “The more things change, the more they stay the same?” Well, Aristotle said it first. In his own particular words and way. Aristotle(one of my personal favorite philosophers)believed that the universe is in a state of constant motion – always changing, always evolving. However, at the same time, there is one thing that always remains a constant in everything – what Aristotle called “entelechy” – which he defined as your “unique-to-you highest potential.”
Aristotle believed that everything on this planet possesses its own“entelechy” – or as he explained it, “having the ability to grow into one’s highest potential stored within it.”
Entelechy is a vital force that motivates and guides an organism toward its highest self-fulfillment.
Consider the mighty oak tree. Its journey to mighty greatness begins with a small acorn seed. Of course, the seed has to go through certain changes and stages of development in order to reach its full potential. But the potential is a constant: to become an oak tree.
You will never see an acorn become a petunia plant, an umbrella or a pizza.
According to Aristotle, there is always a reason for everything that happens. Your experiences are designed to shape you, define you and, hopefully, grow you into the mightiest you possible.
Again, let’s consider the might oak tree. When a storm hits it, the mighty oak is meant to grow into an even mightier oak – that is if the mighty oak intuitively bends to endure those stormy winds – and thereby grows stronger trunks and stronger branches. Yep – the storm is actually in the long run the best thing to happen to a mighty oak – because it helps the mighty oak to grow into its highest possible mightiest potential.
You too can use adversity to grow into your mightiest self.
You can tap into what Aristotle called nous poetikos – which roughly translates as“conscious insight” – a unique-to-humans awesome perk – which if you choose to consciously tap into it will empower you to grow into your mightiest self.
Basically, with “conscious insight” you will find that you’re able to see why and how to bend with stormy winds – instead of angrily resisting the things that life is blowing at you!
You know that nasty break up you endured? You can choose to lovingly rename the experience “The break up that led to the breakdown that led to the breakthrough!”
In other words, what may have at first seemed deflating, frustrating or painful can be experienced with conscious insight as an empowering growth opportunity breakthrough. According to Aristotle, there is a reason for everything which happens to you on your journey. It is to offer you special miracle-grow-insights to help you rise up stronger and higher as your mightiest self.
So here’s the great news: You are on your way to a happier life if you consistently choose to tap into “conscious insight” – and keep your purpose for being on this planet in mind — which is to tap into your “entelechy” – and become your mightiest potential.
Of course, when things are going badly, there is always a tempting urge to shut down and shut off, to give in and give up, to get bitter, resentful, angry, spiteful, depressed, self-destructive and antisocial – all before breakfast!
When I’m tempted to shut down, I think of a horror movie I once saw with unconscious, soulless zombies – all miserably going around taking bites out of all the happy, alive, soulful people. One bite – and the conscious, soulful people would become unconscious, soulless zombies too! I think about this – then make a conscious choice not to become an unconscious soulless zombie just because I’ve been bitten by an unconscious soulless zombie!
Basically… the only way to survive becoming an unconscious soulless zombie after being bitten by one is to use “conscious insight” to resist this happening – and emphatically look for the gain in your pain – your empowering growth opportunity! Yes, to become your highest, mightiest self, you must choose “conscious insight” and steadfastly choose to focus on the lessons being taught to you about how to grow into your mightiest most-loving, true-to-your-soul’s-highest-potential self.
Fact: Bad things—and bad people—happen to everyone on this planet.
Fact: You cannot control much of what happens in life. Life is a lively fusion of free will merged with destiny.
Fact: Free will gives you the choice to tap into conscious insight and become your mightiest self. With it, you can choose to morph all your pain into all your gain and make your tormentors your mentors—turning all your struggles into valuable lessons that help you grow strong.
So when times get tough, think of Aristotle. And don’t forget those zombies too! “Conscious insight” is the most powerful miracle growth formula you have to nurture your inner seed for your highest potential growth. Believe in your inner entelechy—and believe in your soul’s unique path—and you will find yourself growing into your mightiest, most awesome self!