diversity - self

  conformity

  home - contents - obstacles contents

There is a definite need for conformity in any society.  I conform to social norms every time that I get in my car and drive on the correct side of the road, obeying the speed limits and using my turn signals.  I conform when I pay the taxes that our government uses to provide services that benefit me and other members of my community, be it on the city, state, or national level.  I conform when I wear clothing outside, when I pay my utility bill, when I keep my yard neat, when I say "Excuse me" when I pass in front of another person.

But there are also many ways in which I don't conform.  My shoelaces never match, and they're never the same ones that came in the box with the shoes.  I don't wear suits and ties, for I find them constricting and uncomfortable.  I don't buy the latest fashions, and I don't buy books or see movies or watch television shows just because they're popular.  I don't adopt patterns of speech just because everyone around me talks a certain way, and I have a car that's functional and comfortable and inexpensive, not impressive.

Conformity at its root is not a negative thing.  Our conformity helps others to be able to depend upon us, which is a great gift to give them.  When our actions are somewhat predictable, others can feel more at ease around us.  This type of conformity is the result of conscious decisions on our part, decisions that we will be helpful, contributing members of our communities.

On the other hand, there is what I call "blind conformity," and that's the type of conforming that is not the result of any thought or desire for the greater good.  This is the type of conformity that causes us to make decisions based on what we think other people will think of us.  We buy certain brand names because the people we want to impress will be impressed with our taste if we do.  We do certain things because we believe that we're doing what we're "supposed" to do based on the ideas and reactions of other people.  We engage in a great deal of destructive behavior, be it smoking, drinking, casual sex, drug use, vandalism, or any of a number of such behaviors because we want others to approve of us.

The simple fact is, though, that if others approve of us only because of our willingness to conform to what they think is right or proper, then those people very obviously aren't worth it.  Their approval should mean nothing to us if it's conditional, based upon only our conformity.

Conformity is strongest when we're in our teens and trying to fit into our own place in the world.  But it's not limited to the teen years, and almost all of us continue to make blind decisions based upon what we believe others will think of us.  The man in debt who pays $40,000 for a new car or the woman who has a closet full of expensive dresses or shoes that she almost never wears, but which she bought because she knows that her friends or associates approve of the brand names are deciding to buy not based upon realistic criteria, but upon a need to conform.

They need to be seen being "right."  Doing the "right" thing, buying the "right" car or clothes.

But we don't need to be right.  There are tons of people out there who will accept us just as we are in just what we're wearing.

When we conform blindly, we sacrifice our individual authenticity, our unique personalities.  We don't allow people to know us as we are, but as we think they want us to be.  We'll never be doing more than playing a role, though, as if we were actors in a play or a movie.

Breaking away from conformity takes courage, and it takes complete honesty at the moment of making a decision.  We must be honest with ourselves and ask "Am I doing or buying this because I want to, or because I think others will approve of me if I do?"  And then we must be brutally honest with the answer, for only then can we start to make decisions based upon who we truly are and what we truly want and like.

   
Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.

Malcolm Muggeridge
   

Superficial people are those who simply go along without a question in
the world--asking nothing, troubled by nothing, examining nothing.
Whatever people around them do, they do, too.  That's a sad and
plastic life--routine and comfortable, maybe, but still sad.

Joan Chittister
Seeing with Our Souls

  

  

Each one of us, as long as life stirs is us, may play a part in extricating ourselves
from the power system by asserting our primacy as people in quiet acts of mental
or physical withdrawal—in gestures of non-conformity, in abstentions, restrictions,
inhibitions, which will liberate us from the domination of the pentagon of power.

Lewis Mumford

 
 

Patterning your life around others' opinions is nothing more than slavery.

Lawana Blackwell

  

When I was four years old they tried to test my IQ;
they showed me this picture of three oranges and
a pear.  They asked me which one is different and
does not belong; they taught me different was wrong.

Ani DiFranco

  

You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note.

Doug Floyd

   

welcome page - contents - gallery - obstacles - quotations - the people behind the words
our current e-zine - articles and excerpts - Daily Meditations, Year Two - Year Three
     

Sign up for your free daily spiritual or general quotation
~ ~ Sign up for your free daily meditation

   

 

Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords
of the modern world where everyone seems to crave the
anesthetizing security of being identified with the majority.


Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

If I try to be like him, who will try to be like me?

unattributed

 

If you stand up and are counted, you may get yourself knocked down.
But remember this:  A person flattened by an opponent can get up again.
A person flattened by conformity stays down for good.

Thomas J. Watson, Jr.

 

Nature made us individuals,
as she did the flowers and the
pebbles; but we are afraid to
be peculiar, and so our society
resembles a bag of marbles, or
a string of mold candles.  Why
should we all dress after the
same fashion?  The frost never
paints my windows twice alike.

Lydia Maria Child

 

We are half ruined by conformity;
but we should be wholly ruined without it.

Charles Dudley Warner

  
We will discover the nature of our particular genius
when we stop trying to conform to our own or to other
people’s models, learn to be ourselves,
and allow our natural channel to open.

Shakti Gawain
  

I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending
their lives doing things they detest to make money they don't want
to buy things they don't need to impress people they dislike.

Emile Henry Gauvreau

  

Isn't it ironic that in places where individualism and uniqueness are celebrated and considered to be of primary importance, we tend to lead our lives looking for conformity and "fitting in"?  I can't tell you how many times I hear students tell me "I can't do that because society says I can't."  And not once has any of these people been able to tell me just who "society" is, and just who says they can't.  The truth is, we're much more afraid of what we think "society" will say than what other people actually will say.  We tend to repress our own wants and needs because we fear that others will see us as selfish or self-absorbed.  But when am I more effective in helping other people?  It's when my needs are being met, and I'm taking care of myself.  It's when I listen to my inner self and actually heed its message, taking time for myself or reading what I need to read or not overwhelming myself with obligations.  We're taught to listen to our parents, to our elders, to our teachers, to our bosses, to our leaders, but we're rarely taught to listen to ourselves.  It's time that we learn that lesson ourselves, for it's a very important one whether it's taught widely or not.

tom walsh

   
   

We get trapped and configured in patterns of consumption, patterns
of social organization, of education and value systems that don't seem
to be feeding that sense of our original being.  We fight ourselves, repeating
other people's games and being fed their appetites and their amusements.

James O'Dea

   

If one does not keep pace with one's companions, perhaps it is because
he or she hears a different drummer.  Let that person step to the music
which he or she hears, however measured or far away.  It is not important
that we should mature as soon as an apple-tree or an oak.
Shall we turn our spring into summer?

Henry David Thoreau
Walden

   

We laugh at sheep because sheep just follow the one in front.  We humans
have out-sheeped the sheep, because at least the sheep need a sheep dog
to keep them in line.  Humans keep each other in line.  And they do it by
ridiculing or condemning anyone who commits the crime--and
that’s what it’s become--of being different.

David Icke

   

 HOME - contents - Daily Meditations - abundance - acceptance - achievement - action - adversity - advertising - aging - ambition
anger - anticipation - anxiety - apathy - appreciation - arrogance - art - attitude - authenticity - awakening - awareness - awe
balance - beauty - being yourself - beliefs - body - brooding - busyness - caring - celebration - challenges -
change - character
charity - children - choices - Christianity - coincidence - commitment - common sense - community - comparison - compassion
competition - complaining - compliments - compromise - confidence - conformity - conscience - contentment - control - cooperation
courage - covetousness - creativity - crisis - criticism - cruelty -  death - decisions - desire - determination - disappointment
discipline - discouragement - diversity - doubt - dreams - earth - education - ego - emotions - encouragement - enlightenment
enthusiasm - envy - eternity - ethics - example - exercise - experience - failure - faith - fame - family - fate - fathers - fault-finding
fear - feelings - finances - flowers - forgiveness - freedom - friendship - frustration - fun - the future - garden of life - gardening
generosity - gentleness - giving - goals - God - goodness - grace - gratitude - greatness - greed - grief - growing up - guilt - habit
happiness - hatred - healing - health - heart - helpfulness - home - honesty - hope - hospitality - humility - hurry - ideals - identity
idleness  - idolatry - ignorance - illusion - imagination - impatience - individuality - the inner child - inspiration - integrity - intimacy
introspection - intuition - jealousy - journey of life - joy - judgment - karma - kindness - knowledge - language - laughter - laziness
leadership - learning - letting go - life - listening - loneliness - love - lying - magic - marriage - materialism - meanness - meditation
mindfulness - miracles - mistakes - mistrust - moderation - money - mothers - motivation - music - mystery - nature - negative attitude
now - oneness - open-mindedness - opportunity - optimism - pain - parenting - passion - the past - patience - peace - perfectionism
perseverance - perspective - pessimism - play - poetry - positive thoughts - possessions - potential - poverty - power - praise
prayer
- prejudice - pride - principle - problems - progress - prosperity - purpose - reading -recreation - reflection - relationships
religion - reputation - resentment - respect - responsibility - rest - revenge - risk - role models - running - ruts - sadness - safety
seasons of life - self - self-love - self-pity - self-reliance - self-respect selfishness - serving others - shame - silence - simplicity
slowing down - smiles -solitude - sorrow - spirit - stories - strength - stress - stupidity - success - suffering - talent
the tapestry of life - teachers - thoughts - time - today - tolerance - traditions - trees - trust - truth - unfulfilled dreams - values
vanity - virtue - vulnerability - walking - war - wealth - weight issues - wisdom - women - wonder - work - worry - worship
youth - spring - summer - fall - winter - Christmas - Thanksgiving - New Year - America - Zen sayings - articles & excerpts
Native American wisdom - The Law of Attraction - obstacles to living life fully - e-zine archives - quotations contents
our most recent e-zine - Great Thinkers - the people behind the words

   
As for conforming outwardly, and living your own life inwardly,
I do not think much of that.

Henry David Thoreau
    

What would people think about if they were not taught what to think about?

Arthur Morgan

    

How far should one accept the rules of the society in which one lives?
To put it another way:  at what point does conformity become corruption?
Only by answering such questions does the conscience truly define itself.

Kenneth Tynan

   







The expanded edition of Just for Today from Living Life Fully Publications:
Over a year of "Just for Today" passages from our popular e-mail daily quotations, and our expanded edition includes over 180 reflections on those thoughts.  Full of ideas and focal points that you can use to help to make your day brighter and more fulfilling as you focus on different ways of giving and awareness of the blessings in your life!  Click on the image to the left for the print version.    
Kindle Version

   
Also available, the print version of Daily Meditations, Year One
One full year's worth of our daily meditations that until now have been available only on our site or through e-mail.  Now you can have the entire first year's worth of daily meditations for just $2.99 on your Kindle.  (Print edition available here.)
  
  
  
Nogglz--A novel of terror sure to keep you turning the pages!  The residents of Canyon Bluff have been teasing their kids for years with stories of the Nogglz, the town's own version of the Bogeyman.  But now their worst fears are being realized when the Nogglz actually show up and start taking their revenge on the townspeople.  What would you do if your worst nightmare was suddenly roaming the streets of your town?  And what kind of lessons will the young law officers learn in a dying town filled with older people?  Click the image for the print version, or here for your Kindle.  To read more about the novel, click here.
   
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you
something else is the greatest accomplishment.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
   

I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.

Rita Mae Brown

   

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

diversity - self

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.

John F. Kennedy
  

But human beings are not machines, and however powerful the pressure
to conform, they sometimes are so moved by what they see as injustice
that they dare to declare their independence.  In that
historical possibility lies hope.

Howard Zinn
You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

  

The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of people;
and so with the paths which the mind travels.  How worn and dusty,
then, must be the highways of the world, how deep
the ruts of tradition and conformity!

Henry David Thoreau
Walden

  

   

When you're a child, to stop you from following the crowd you're
assaulted with the line, "If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?"
But when you're an adult and to be different is suddenly a crime,
people seem to be saying,  "Hey.  Everyone else is
jumping off a bridge.  Why aren't you?

Steve Toltz
A Fraction of the Whole

  

Be neither a conformist nor a rebel, for they are really the same thing.
Find your own path, and stay on it.

Paul Vixie

  

Conform and be dull.

J. Frank Dobie

  

  
Each of our voices has something unique to say.  Not only should I
not mold my life to the demands of external conformity; I can't even
find the model by which to live outside myself.  I can only find it within.

Charles Taylor
Multiculturalism
  

We must beware of yielding to the pressure of a spirit of cowardly
conformity which proclaims itself everybody's friend in the hope
that everybody will obligingly return the compliment.

Antonin Sertillanges
The Intellectual Life

  

The great safeguard of society and of domestic life was, that opinions
were not acted on.  Sane people did what their neighbors did, so that
if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.

George Eliot
Middlemarch

  



In partnership with Amazon, a whole host of inspirational books and films,
along with relaxing music, Kindle books, and more!

welcome page - contents - gallery - obstacles - quotations - the people behind the words
our current e-zine - articles and excerpts - Daily Meditations, Year Two - Year Three
     

Sign up for your free daily spiritual or general quotation
~ ~ Sign up for your free daily meditation

New for you!
What does it mean to live a full life? How do we stay happy and content in a world that often seems to be throwing more at us than we can handle?  Thirty years in the making, Universal Principles of Living Life Fully explores different aspects of our selves as human beings, aspects that we are able to develop and expand when we need to in order to make ourselves more comfortable in the world we live in. It explores 57 different elements of who we are, from love to mindfulness to adversity to prayer, in an effort to help you to figure out just where to focus your energy and attention when life is being difficult for you.  Use the link to the left for the Kindle edition, or click here for the print edition.
Read more about the book here.

Quotations for Living Life Fully
If you want to have many of the quotations that you find here on our pages to take with you wherever you go, whenever you go there, our collection of quotations is available for the Kindle for just 99 cents!  (It's available only on the Kindle because the price would end up being far too high for a print copy.)  Some of the wisest words that you will ever read, all organized by topic and ready to provide you with encouragement, motivation, and reinforcement.  This may be the best dollar you ever spend!

  
If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.

Maya Angelou
  

The plague of humankind is the fear and rejection of diversity:  monotheism,
monarchy, monogamy and, in our age, monomedicine.  The belief that there is
only one right way to live, only one right way to regulate religious, political,
sexual, medical affairs is the root cause of the greatest threat to people: members
of our own species, bent on ensuring our salvation, security, and sanity.

Thomas Stephen Szasz

  

We lie if we say we do not see color and culture and difference.  We fool
ourselves and cheat ourselves when we say that all of us are the same.  We
should not want to be the same as others and we should not want others to
be the same as us.  Rather, we ought to glory and shine in all of our differences,
flaunting them fabulously for all to see!  It is never a conformity that we need!
We need not to conform!  What we need is to burst out into all these beautiful colors!

C. JoyBell C.

   

   

  

Just for Today, the Fire Edition--scores of photos and uplifting thoughts to help you to make your day a great one!
Now available in an expanded edition.