Naval gazing, is related to, but should not be confused with, “navel gazing”…1
More broadly, the term can refer to the unproductive behavior of a self-help junkie.
Naval gazing may actually be a symptom of pathological navel gazing.
Naval Gazing vs. Navel Gazing
Navel gazing is a commonly used term to refer to someone involved in self-absorbed, unproductive behaviors.
However the root of navel gazing is outdated and it’s somewhat disingenuous.
As such, I believe the newer meaning of the term “naval gazing” should eventually replace the term “navel gazing”…
This is because most people who seek self-help today will probably turn to a podcast, such as Jocko’s, for guidance on how to improve themselves. They could also turn to a podcast, such as The Waking Up Podcast by Sam Harris, which is an excellent source of new perspectives on many things, not the least of which is the usefulness of meditation.
The Jocko Podcast and Waking Up Podcast are both excellent resources for people seeking unvarnished, objective self-help advice from experts in the fields of war and neuroscience, respectively.
The Origin Of Navel Gazing Is Rooted In Meditation
It’s a little known fact that the origin of the term “navel gazing” is rooted in the practice of staring at ones navel as a point of focus during meditation.
The term goes back to the Ancient Greek term “omphaloskepsis“.
Omphaloskepsis is a portmanteau of two Greek words, omphalolós (navel) and sképsis (examination).
While navel gazing is considered unproductive, meditation has most assuredly proven to be a productive use of one’s time.
As such, a naval gazer (a self-help junkie who is naval gazing) would not even do the work to meditate… They would just talk about the usefulness of it.
Indeed, self-help junkies are like any junkie… They derive short-term pleasure, but no inherent long-term benefits, from their behavior.
In this case listening to good advice while not doing anything.
Thus “naval gazing” captures the habit of listening to practical and useful advice (such as that of a bad-ass Jiu Jitsu master and decorated Navy SEAL) but not putting any of his advice into practice.
- It should also not be confused with other meanings of naval gazing, such as the look a boat owner may get while wishing one was out on the ocean instead of at work… Nor in blowhard references to Twitter posts by Naval Ravikant.
- Getting on the path means doing what needs to be done in order to accomplish the mission, your mission, whatever that may be.