Fixing two things fixes everything
Mankind's two fundamental mistakes
We didn't err by failing to recognize what's important. Rather, our mistake lay in establishing improper priorities concerning the two most crucial aspects of life, and this has led to all the suffering and ineffectiveness.
Mankind's two cart-before-the-horse priorities are the source of all suffering, creating our lack of Now-Next Integrity and our lack of Oneself-Others Integrity. The lack of our integrities stems from the misalignment of our priorities, causing the four fundamental desires of our life—especially those related to our inner life—to work against each other rather than in mutual harmony and support.
Our messed-up priorities
Two key desires guide our lives: seeking happiness in the present and working toward an attractive future. However, the prevailing wisdom often teaches that a virtuous or "smart" person should forgo or postpone immediate happiness and satisfaction to secure a better future.
"Sacrifice your present to make your future better." -Tom Metcafe
Two other essential desires guide us: self-care and concern for others. Yet, conventional wisdom often teaches that a virtuous person will put themselves aside, sacrificing their own well-being, for the benefit of others.
“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” -John F. Kennedy
"Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness." -Napoleon Hill
These reversed priorities create all our internal conflicts and suffering
Sacrifice the present for the future. Sacrifice yourself for others. These are the paths we're told leads to being a "good" person. Yet, this approach creates internal conflict, leaving us in a perpetual state of struggle, with four parts of ourselves in an unending civil war.
How to reserve priorities
Reversing priorities so that we experience internal peace and we become best friends with ourselves cannot be done simplistically.
If we consistently indulge our present at the expense of the future, we are likely to be overweight, out-of-shape, an alcoholic, a ne'er-do-well, and/or unhealthy and unhappy.
If we consistently indulge our short-term selfishness at the expense of others, we are likely to be excluded, denied important opportunities, be resented, be distrusted, be unloved, and suffer from others' hostility.
Reversing priorities to include now and the future, thereby ending the civil war
They are on the same team and they're both going for happiness (and avoiding unhappiness). Their responsibilities just relate to different time frames (short-term cf. long-term).
When they fight and one (or both) get sacrificed for the other, they both lose, at least eventually, which means you lose.
Integrity between Now and Next requires a new prioritization, the prioritization of integrity, the prioritizing of focusing on an enjoyable and sustainable processes first with results fitting inside those processes.
See the NNI toolkit for creating Now-Next Integrity.
Reversing priorities to include taking care of yourself (selfishness) and caring for others (selfishly), thereby ending the civil war
Our Oneself is just trying to take care of his or her own interests regardless of them being related to the interests of others. Our Others is also trying to take care of our own interests when they include taking care of the interests of others as well as looking good to others.
They are on the same team and they're both trying to take care of our own interests, both when they may not include the interests of others and when they include the interests of others.
Integrity between Oneself and Others requires a new prioritization, the prioritization of integrity, the prioritization of focusing on a much more inclusive selfishness that comprises both short-term and long-term interests and the selfish joys of caring for others and looking good to others.
It also includes a fundamental recognition of the existential fact that in our desire to take care of others and look good to others, that our #1 job is to take care of ourselves. This is our business that we cannot give it away to anyone else.
The best of all possible worlds for you (and everyone else) is a world in which you have found ways that your selfishness (both short-term and long-term) is synergistic with the selfishness of all those you interact with and have relationships with.
See the OOI toolkit for creating Oneself-Others Integrity.
It's a life practice
Across different cultures and traditions, there exists a common practice of prioritizing future outcomes over the enjoyment of the present journey. Likewise, the collective wisdom of cultures has often emphasized the importance of putting the interests and perceptions of others before individual desires and self-expression. These cultural norms have led to widespread dissatisfaction, a compromise in personal integrity, and significant inefficacies in various aspects of life.
Despite the potential mastery over the principles of Now-Next Integrity and Oneself-Others Integrity, the journey of cultivating these virtues is a lifelong process. Mastery, in this context, implies not a final destination, but a continuous commitment to growth and self-improvement. It is about embracing this endless practice as a central part of personal development, understanding that the pursuit of integrity is an ongoing, ever-evolving process.