top of page

The Stress of the Orthodox Paths -- How Deviation Is Beneficial

Updated: Mar 11

a skyscraper.

"Yes, you must be successful, obey authorities, go to school, college, get degrees, have a high-paying career, be professional, drive a nice expensive car, have a fat bank account, high credit, acquire vapid friends, co-workers, a mate, 2.5 kids, a luxurious house, retire, and finally die. I've always wondering how/why does Any of this seem appealing to the common masses. Seems not only tedious to me, but an unnatural way to live, and kinda a sort of Hell to me. How about you?" -- John Duran

Can Achieving Our Potential Cost Us Our Wellbeing?

The contemporary world's definition of success and respect often comes at a steep cost: stress. This stress is spread throughout the journey towards these goals and, and may even last after their attainment, making you ask: was it all worth it in the end?. It's not just a temporary issue relating to a specific era; it's a potential shadow lurking over our lives as long as we navigate the complexities of society, and fail to optimally understand the weight of our actions on others, and on ourselves. As successful as they may be, it matters not, for a cost is involved either way. It can merely intensify, once one becomes more and more successful.

For the greater the success, the greater the cost may be. And I quote: "Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness.”― Napoleon Hill

While stress can be harnessed as a motivator for achieving or maintaining success, its negative impact on mental health is undeniable. This can manifest in various ways, from mental illness to physical pain and even a shortened lifespan. And yet, the path to success, especially the ones that are expected of you, more than genuine desire, may leave you stressed out more, as you attempt to live to others' expectations.

In essence, if we accept the inherent stressfulness of conventional paths society, along with the long-term consequences of stress, we must acknowledge the indirect, negative influence of our culture on our well-being. This impact extends beyond our mental and physical health, shaping the very way we experience life. All in the name of achieving either what we want, or what others want of us.

However, it's worth noting that the societal pressure to achieve our potential visions, in part, is from the features of the modern world. Fierce competition, the ever-present possibility of failure, and the fragility of success (vulnerable to public scandals, "being canceled" or shifting social norms with the development of PC culture, etc.) all contribute to the stress inherent in striving for what society deems "successful" and "respected."

And the purpose for doing that is to be validated. To be respected, saluted, and be seen for the alleged wonder that we are. The contemporary world is based on internal voids we are not taught to fulfill ourselves. And this leads to a decline in altruism and a rise in egoism. And becoming an altruist is a true testament that you do not feel obliged, deep inside of you, that you need to please others for their approval of you.

But as long as you'll feel compelled to do so, you will suffer, for you lack the strength to deviate from being successful for the sake of others, in the name of being successful for your own, authentic self. That is, assuming these two contradict, which they often are, but not necessarily.

This doesn't mean we have to surrender to the external world's definition of success, whatever it may be in our cultural context. We have the power to resist its toxic effects, even if it means sacrificing some societal expectations or enduring labels like "wasted potential.", "good-for-nothing", or "deadbeat" ("Klumnik", as I call it). Alternative paths, prioritized by personal well-being and peace, can offer a healthier and more fulfilling life.

How to Try to Break Free

Even if the external world operates on stressful principles, that doesn't mean we must subscribe to them. We hold the power to resist the toxic effects of stress. After all, alternative paths prioritizing personal well-being can offer a healthier and more fulfilling life, free from the excessive burden of much negative stress. That's because doing what we really want in life, can reduce stress.

And other people, no matter how close, might not want you to truly pursuit after your deepest dreams. They might tell you that they want the best for you, but what they fail to realize is that they simply want what they think is the best for you. Not considering one is wrong is one of the many reasons philosophy remains underrated: We might often fail in making the difference between reality and our perception of it.

So, while people who care for you may indeed care about you, their understanding can easily be crushed by an understanding they see as proper (AKA, in line with the truth). Society might want you to be happy and succeed, but it is only you who can be the highest authority on knowing what is good for you. Hence, it could be often that the orthodox paths of success can be very stressful, for they are not in line with what you want to do, and what you want to become.

I personally chose to stop getting my philosophy degree, despite enjoying the coursework and having the means to afford it. My desire to reduce stress ultimately took the higher priority, leading me to step away from the stressful life of academia. While my high school teachers, who saw my academic potential, expressed disappointment, this choice allowed me to prioritize my well-being.

For I need my well-being to be as good as possible so I would be able to philosophize better, and thus, think more clearly and thus deliver better results to my readership.

My time at the university led me to question: do external validations, achieved through stressful means, truly outweigh the pursuit of inner peace? Why embrace a world so stressful when healthier alternatives exist? These concerns highlight the effects of orthodox paths to success in today's world, particularly for those who struggle under pressure. Seeking alternatives rewards the ability to better thrive stress, not just in academia but across various professions.

Ultimately, regardless of individual resilience to pressure, its negative effects on both ourselves and those around us cannot be ignored. The long-term toll on health and lifespan compels us to critically examine the stressful norms we accept in such a submissive attitude.

And remember: Walking your own path in life could be in synergy, and not necessarily in opposition, to society. It is done when you pursue a craft or job you are really interested in, and manage to prove its worth to society at large, by contribute to it, using it. In other words, in some situations it's possible to accomplish both your desires without going against those who are dear to you.

Beyond the Orthodox

If you have the freedom and means to chart your own course and find fulfillment in life, then consider abandoning the orthodox, stress-inducing paths. This might mean sacrificing some societal expectations and the approval of those who hold high standards for you, but it's a worthwhile trade-off for your well-being. Understand that there may be people who are more interested in you accomplishing their version of success, rather than your owne well-being. Consider asking yourself (or them) if they know what they're talking about, when they aim to support you according to their own interests.

The existence of movements like MGTOWs, minimalists, and hikikomoris speaks to this very possibility. Each group, in its own way, seeks a different alternative path, driven by the belief that there's a better way to navigate life's complexities. It challenges the notion that achieving "A" requires exclusively going through "B," a concept often reinforced by social conditioning.

Particularly in our times, with greater individual freedom than ever before thanks to values like tolerance, pluralism, and democracy, we have the opportunity to explore alternative ways of living. We can choose to reduce or even eliminate the aspects of the "orthodox" world that don't align with our values, even if they're presented as the "right" way to live.

And since following our own paths in life can reduce stress significantly, it is the moral thing, for our body, to deviate from the orthodox ways of life, should they threat to crush our mental and/or physical health.

128 views0 comments


Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

צילום מסך 2023-11-02 202752.png
bottom of page