Which is the Essence of Life?


If you want to redeem yourself, the question should be your traveling companion!”

Orthodox advice

I wish to write an article that would capture the essence of life. An article that would somehow have all the possible answers to the best questions that any reader could imagine. The type of experience that the readers would say about: ”That’s it! This article has opened my eyes and changed my life!”.

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The Horace Wilkinson Bridge in Baton Rouge by Sewtex. License CC-By SA 3.0

There must be (at least) one solution, whichever the matter may be, right?

I have always been preoccupied with functionality. People have little time, they like to think that they are pragmatic (whether they really are, or are forced to be), and that’s why I’d better deliver the content as quickly, as well, and as directly as possible.

I haven’t thought too hard about the issue ”why don’t people have time?”. Well, because they don’t manage their resources right. No problem! The time master in me has come up with a few cool articles on how to do more in less time. Here, here, here. Doesn’t it work? I know why! I have written a series of articles before. Read here. Well, and what if that doesn’t work either? Well… because of ”personality. And ”personality” because of ”education” and ”defective models”. “Great!” I said to myself. I’ll find solutions for that, as well! I have written and published a book on education. And one on models. And something more about how to learn. Aww, still not working? Maybe the motivation is to blame. Maybe you don’t ask the right questions? I know, I know! Emotional intelligence, that’s the solution! Yeah but it’s not enough! Well, maybe this works! Or, for God’s sake, if you have really tried all these solutions and you still think that it’s not working, go to a consultant!

In life, there are a lot of situations where the solutions and resources are almost over, and you are heading for an unbearable disaster. And then it seems as if nothing is working anymore. You feel as if you want to throw out the window everything you know if you could only get out of that situation. You cannot not succeed in solving this! Damn, and you tried so hard, you couldn’t have reached this point and have everything go to waste!

The failure

You sometimes lose. You dare, you fight, you search, and … you fail. You thought you could, you used smart solutions, you worked… and so what? You failed. It is a terrible feeling. We have all lived it. It has also happened to me, and I know what it’s like. Look, for instance, I have started writing this article without knowing where I want to get, which is quite rare for me. And my intuition tells me that, as I know myself, it won’t be short either. If you, dear reader, don’t read it through, I have failed, I have lost you as a reader today. Maybe that is why it is easier to take failure as an author: you never know how each reader will interact with what you are writing, maybe even after you die.

Regarding this, I find the ”Kobayashi Maru” test from the ”Star Trek” series to be relevant; here is one excerpt in this respect.

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What often seems to be the end is actually a new beginning. And to make this transition, you must realize that you don’t find a solution for each problem. Why? Maybe because it hasn’t been found yet. Maybe because you have searched for it where you shouldn’t have. Maybe because you don’t have the resources (anymore) to implement the solution. Maybe because it is not a problem but a necessary step in your growth, which must be accepted.

Has it ever happened to you to think about something from the past which you have then considered to be a problem, and say to yourself smiling or even laughing: ”I can’t believe that I was so preoccupied with that stupid thing!”? This has also happened to me – not having a solution or an answer for anything. Then I have studied, searched for, learned, tried, and now I have a broader horizon. Not as broad as others, for sure. However, my horizon seems broad enough for me to come up with a lot of creative solutions in consultancy and training, so that certain clients would ask me: ”where do you come up with these things?”, and I answer: ”I don’t know, from my subconscious!”.

Of course, it happens that some people’s solutions sometimes come to an end faster than mine, and stumble upon restrictive convictions, as they say to themselves: ”This is it! That’s the end of the line for me”. Until a few years ago, I would have had the tendency to come, as a rescuer, and say: ”NO! You can do this, and this, and that!”. But what I know now and many of us subconsciously prefer to forget is that acceptance can be a blessing, not a curse. To accept does not necessarily mean to surrender. Acceptance is different from abandonment. Acceptance is different from resignation. Acceptance is different from desperation. Acceptance is different from agreement. Acceptance is different from surrender. Acceptance is different from consoling yourself with the idea that you have done everything you could. Acceptance simply means looking at an inconvenient truth that exists in reality instead of fighting with it and with you.


The map and the territory

After they have largely agreed upon the fact that Earth is some sort of a sphere (rotating ellipsoid), scientists have thought: no more pyre burning, no more exiling the non-believers, no more old maps. And still, they are the ones who find themselves in the great difficulty of having a correct map of the Earth, according to this theory. How so?

I have discovered this simple brilliant little toy. If you also think that Earth is a sort of sphere, this toy shows you how different countries located in one part or another of the known map would appear on the conventional map, looking larger or smaller, depending on their distance to the Equator. Russia, for instance, which is the largest country in the world, seems much larger as compared to the African continent. And still, in this projection, half of the Russian Federation, overlapping with Africa, barely fits. The Mercator projection, which we have got used to in school, is different from the Gall-Peters projection. According to the spherical Earth theory, the Gall-Peters projection contains a more compliant representation of the real size of the countries and continents, but “sacrifices’ certain distances and straight lines which the sea and ocean navigators need.

Well, if, with all his millenary science, the man can’t even produce a clear map of the planet on which he believes he lives, how can we expect to have a clear and precise representation of our minds? Or a solution for all that we consider being a ”problem”? This article is not about the shape of the Earth and maps, although maybe, at some point, I would be delighted to write one or more articles on this topic. I have used this as an example for you to see the difficulties in representing a territory on a certain map.



What changes when you accept? First of all, your general state changes. You leave your expectations (I have also published a series of articles on this), standards and rules aside. You look at the truth, evaluated using the best instruments that we have. You realize that maybe you don’t have a solution and it is OK. You allow yourself to feel all that you need to feel. And then, somehow, existence goes on. You allow yourself to change your perspective.

If the problem regards the past, you can’t change it – you can only change your perception of it. In fact, all problems regard the past, because, in the present, we only face those situations that we fight, and for which we haven’t developed solving skills yet. That is why the journey of each of us through life’s problems is different.

Acceptance can help you discover new meaning in life. It can help you become aware of the fact that you don’t have control over what is happening to you. It can help you change your perspective and discover a solution or, on the contrary, discover that what you thought to be a problem is, in fact, not a problem, but a starting point. Maybe it is about accepting others, who knows?

Discernment, the keystone…

Hmmm, could acceptance be the universal solution, the keystone for all life’s problems to which one cannot find an answer? No, one also needs understanding. And forgiveness. And peace. And love. And learning. And trust. And faith. And commitment. And models. And courage. And perspectives. And strategic vision. And creativity. And systems. And procedures. And rules. And opportunities. And modesty. And, and, and, and…

Carl Gustav Jung, who has contributed to the basis of personality psychology, considered that the purpose of man is to somehow become balanced in all aspects of life. The irony is that for such a man his personality categories would be completely irrelevant. I was very amused the other day while taking a 16PF type test which showed that, according to the results, about 4 types of personality suited me.

Saint Spiridon argued that discernment is the greatest Christian virtue because it can never be exaggerated in its right reckoning.

In our rush for getting quality or a resource, we have the tendency to unbalance others. And this is normal. It is not right but it is normal.

I am afraid that my journey into writing a perfect article on the essence of life is restricted, for the time being, to the solutions that I have found, and I don’t intend to offer them all here because it makes no sense for the readers. I truly believe that this journey does not stop in this life.

The difference that makes the difference

I have tried to answer the following question: ”what explains the difference between the clients who get fast results and the clients who get results after many, many sessions?”. Maybe changing the metaprograms is not really the strongest strategic solution that can be used, I said to myself, even though I have managed to double my income by applying one of the techniques involved by this solution in my life. Of course, such a technique can have revolutionary results for the clients that are result-oriented and are motivated in their personal development, which happened to my client who came for consultancy to get a job and got a company instead.

But it’s not just that. Then I discovered Spiral Dynamics and I said to myself ”Yes! Finally, something that successfully combines sociology with psychology”, satisfied with obtaining a profound and fine map of human development, and I also wrote an article on this. And still, this hasn’t answered my question: ”how do I assist clients to develop fast?”

At some point, I got to the structural model of schema-focused therapy and I said to myself: ”Yes! This also covers the spectrum of all human psychological problems, and can be applied to almost anybody!”. Happy with the fact that I supported a client with whom I have worked on 2 problems, and 7 of which (whereof an initial one) have been solved, I have moved further and combined schema therapy with Spiral Dynamics and neuro-linguistic programming at an even more advanced level. What I left behind is a series of small successes that some start to reap and study, asking themselves: ”I wonder how this man managed to do this”.


Essential” conclusions

So what? I still haven’t got a satisfactory (for anybody) answer to my initial question: ”what explains the difference between the clients who get fast results and the clients who get results after many, many sessions?”. I’m still searching. Probably, if I get an answer that is satisfying for me, I will write and publish another book :).

If I were to go by what some people have told me, now I should be dead, sick, alone, or in a ”mental institution” (see also the series “How to Live a Fulfilling Life”). I haven’t ended up like that but I don’t have the solution for any problem, either (although I have solutions for many, many problems: most of the common ones). Failure is also part of my work, as it happens for anybody, even though it is more difficult to accept. I haven’t obtained everything that I have intended to, but at least I have found out why. If somebody had told me 15 years ago that I will know and I will be able to do some of the things that I managed to do until now or those that I am doing now weekly, this would have seemed inconceivable, unimaginable. I have discovered something more powerful than anything I have ever dreamed of or planned, much more and more beautiful than anything I have discovered in a seminar, or a training session, or a certain book. What about what we haven’t accomplished (yet)? Some of them weren’t even worth being accomplished. For others, it is already too late. However, the most precious ones can be accomplished in the future – those that matter the most!

That’s all about the essence of life for the time being. There is not one single right answer because each person has different questions, problems, and maps of reality. At least I have accomplished some of them that others still believe to be impossible and I have discovered the meaning of life (if you don’t agree, then you can also select from here). The essence of life? Well, I’m still looking for the essence. Do you want us to search for it together?

Cum să trăiești o viață împllinită./ How to Live A Fulfilling Life

Marcus Victor Grant

Text Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2016-present. Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article ”Care este esența vieții?“ published in Romanian on the 2nd of December 2016 on Discerne. Text Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved.

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