Monday, April 25, 2022

Be present

"Do you ever think about what people are going to say after you die? Maybe you think about this a lot—that’s why you work so hard, why you chase success. Because you want a legacy.

The truth is, no matter what you accomplish or who you are, the conversation is mostly going to go like this: “Did you hear that _______ died?” “No,” they’ll say. “How?!” And then they’ll tell them...and that will be it. Because that’s how it goes. Always has, always will.

Your whole life, your whole struggle, the most painful thing you and your family will experience will ultimately be reduced to a trivial exchange between acquaintances. If you happen to go out in some unusual way—a freak accident, sitting on the toilet, whatever—they may even laugh! What can you do about it? Nothing.

The point of this message is to remind you of a critical virtue: Humility. You are not immortal. You are not special. You will not be around to relish your legacy. You will not be able to hang onto your grudges or your possessions. So just let go. Be present. Be good because it’s a good way to be. And be prepared for what happens to all of us, the best and the worst of us."


from the daily stoic

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Chose not to live lonely or narrowly

Of the Stoics, Seneca seems like the one who had the most fun. He’s the one who it’s easiest to picture spending time with friends or mingling at a dinner party (in fact, he was known for his legendary parties with hundreds of guests). Whereas almost all of Marcus’s writing is private and solitary, and Epictetus’s comes to us in the form of lecture notes from his students, a sizable chunk of what survives of Seneca are the letters he wrote to his dear friend Lucilius.


We don’t know too much about Lucilius, except that he was a governor of Sicily and possibly also a writer. Nor do we know much about who the guests at Seneca’s parties were. But from what we do know, we can gather Seneca was social and had a large circle of friends and acquaintances with whom he spent a lot of time.


Which begs the question: How did he choose these friends? We can hope—and expect—that Seneca’s many friendships adhered to the rule he put down to Lucilius in one of those famous letters:


“Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve.”

It’s an impossible thing to know really—even for ourselves—how we came to know most of the people in our lives. But how they stayed in our lives? How our acquaintances evolved into friendships, that should be easier to figure out. And Seneca’s rule is a wonderful guide, because what he’s describing is what friendship is about. A process of mutual improvement, benefit and enjoyment.


We become like the people we spend the most time with…so we should choose wisely. And we should choose widely, because life is too short to live lonely or narrowly.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

C'mon man.

 Like you’ve never cut in line, on purpose or on accident.

Like you’ve never done something selfish or spoken with an attitude.
Like you’ve never been jealous or petty or mean.

Of course you have. You’ve done all these things. We all have.

Yet when other people do them, it’s somehow different. It’s a transgression. A violation. That’s why we stew. We plot. We shower them with insults. Because when they do it, it’s intentional, it’s a sign of bad character, it must be stopped.

C’mon.

Remember when we butt up against someone else’s awfulness, to always remember when we ourselves have behaved like that. Marcus writes patiently about considering the motivations of the person responsible, of trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, of considering the crazy possibility that they aren’t irredeemable assholes. Who knows, they may even think they’re doing the right thing!

So whatever it is that’s pissing you off today, let it go. We are all plenty guilty of our own sins and stupidity. Which is why we need to forgive and forget other people’s. We need to give them the same clemency and patience we grant to ourselves (which is to say, basically, an unlimited amount). This is the essence of the Golden Rule. It’s easy to treat others the way you would like to be treated when everything is looking up. It’s when the chips are down that the Golden Rule is hardest to employ, which of course is when it is most important of all.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Live to the fullest

 By thinking, by imagining that we’ve just been given a few months to live, we can see immediately what we should stop doing. We realize we don’t have time to waste. And before you know it there is this urgent emergent need to do the things we love in place of the things we hate.


This is the positive side of the memento mori thought exercise: not “What would I stop doing?” but rather “What would I start doing?” How would I spend the limited time I had left? Where would I find meaning and purpose and joy?

The truth is that none of us know whether we will get to it later (of course, the tricky part is that we don’t know that we won’t either). So we must use this as a test. If you knew you were dying, what would you do more of? What would mortality prioritize for you?

Do more of it today. Because you are mortal. You are dying...fast or slow, nobody knows which.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Focusing on what we miss though, is that we also often miss the other things that we miss.

 Wish i was smart enough to think of all these postings I put up here, but to be honest, a lot of what I find is from various things I read.  I thought this was interesting.


It’s easy to complain when something goes wrong, it’s easy to notice what we’ve missed. Take the last two years, for example. So many of us have focused on what we’ve been deprived of. The people we haven’t been able to see. The places we haven’t been able to go. The opportunities lost.


The problem in focusing on what we miss, the Stoics say, is that it misses all the things we gain. Or could have gained had we decided to see the obstacle as the way, if we had seen the opportunities that each situation presented. The funny thing about focusing on what we miss though, is that we also often miss the other things that we miss. Which, if we fully understood the implications, would create an immense sense of gratitude.


As Cicero explains, “you may say that deaf men miss the pleasure of hearing a lyre-player’s songs. Yes, but they also miss the squeaking of a saw being sharpened, the noise a pig makes when its throat is being cut, the roaring thunder of the sea which prevents other people from sleeping.”


Seeing the light means you will also feel the darkness when the light is gone. That’s the deal. So instead of thinking about all the things you’ve lost during this pandemic, think of what you have gained instead. And once you’re done with that, also take a minute to think about all the painful things you missed too. There are upsides even to downsides. Deprivations, if considered properly, contain small mercies too.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Goes without saying

This should be the standard by which we judge all our endeavors, professions, relationships and indeed our lives themselves. Did we add value or extract it? Did we improve things or muddle them? Did we kick the can down the road on problems or did we solve them? Did we leave things in a better place than we found them?

We must leave things better than we found them. That’s our job.But what really matters is us. What kind of impact are we having on our industry? What kind of force are we in our neighborhood? Are we going to leave a broken, failing climate to our children? Are we going to run the economy hot for ourselves, knowing it will inevitably crash (and be some other generation’s problem?)

We must leave things better than we found them. That’s our job.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Live your dash.

 

What is the Dash?

 Most tombstones have engraved in the stone a person’s birthday and the day they passed away. In between these dates is a dash. All  that was ever accomplished and experienced by that person is  represented by that dash. Every thought , every word, every emotion,  every act, every pain, every joy, every everything all occurred while  living in that dash.
 

It has been said that you can’t control when or where you were born : or for the most part when and where you will die. However, you can determine your life in between. The in- between is the dash. The dash is a journey, your life.  Live your dash.

Friday, February 4, 2022

read the obituaries!

Obituaries are like near-death experiences for cowards. Reading them is a way for me to think about death while also keeping it at arm’s length. Obituaries aren’t really about death; they’re about life...Reading about people who are dead now and did things with their lives makes me want to get up and do something decent with mine. Thinking about death every morning makes me want to live.


Wednesday, February 2, 2022

What are you willing to give?

 And you? What are you willing to give? What are you serving? Who are you helping? If your life were a ransom, how many would it save?

Remember: acts of service don’t have to be grand or glamorous. It can be the decision to get a vaccine, to let your employees work from home. It can be a personal one, like the decision to adopt. Regardless, the obligation to service will always stare you in the face, and hold your gaze the more successful you become.

You are here for other people. Life is about what we can give to the many.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Absolute power not only didn’t corrupt, it made him better.

 Marcus Aurelius is one of the most incredible figures in all of history. As a young boy, he was chosen and groomed to be the emperor of most of the known world. Absolute power not only didn’t corrupt, it made him better.

Here are 12 rules he lived by...

1. Wake up early
“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work – as a human being...I’m going to do what I was born for...Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?’” up early

2.   Be strict only with yourself It must have been tempting to hold others to the same standards Marcus held himself to. "But here the rare goodness of the nature of Marcus Aurelius shone out in all its brilliancy," one biographer wrote. "His severity was confined only to himself.”

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help “Don’t be ashamed to need help. Like a soldier storming a wall, you have a mission to accomplish. And if you’ve been wounded and you need a comrade to pull you up? So what?”

4. Treat success and failure the same

Some days, Marcus wrote, the crowd cheers. Other days, they boo. Some days, you catch a break. Other days, nothing goes your way. The key is to assent to all of it: “To accept it without arrogance, to let it go with indifference.

5.Replace anger with love

“Not to display anger or other emotions. To be free of passion and yet full of love.”

6.Constantly ask, “is this necessary?”

“Because most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’

7. Never be overheard complaining…even to yourself

Marcus reminded himself over and over and over again: Look inward, not outward. Don’t complain. Don’t meddle in the affairs of others. Where does complaining get you? he asked. "No pointless actions."

8,  Help yourself by helping others

“Have I done something for the common good? Then I share in the benefits.”

9.  The best revenge is not to be like 

In 175, Marcus was betrayed by his most trusted general in an attempted coup. He could have demanded all the sadistic revenge possible to a man of his unlimited power. But, he reminded himself, "the best revenge is to not be like your enemy.”

10,  Always do the right thing

"If, at some point in your life, you should come across anything better than justice, truth, self-control, courage—it must be an extraordinary thing indeed.”

11,  Live as if you were a dying person “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”

12, The obstacle is the way Some think of hardship as failure, the end of the road. Others see it as grist for the mill, an opportunity to prove their mettle. Marcus believed in the latter approach: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”






Friday, January 21, 2022

Roughly two thousand years ago

 Roughly two thousand years ago, there was a woman who went into labor in a province of the Roman empire. Her son would go on to be one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived. He taught people about the importance of kindness, mercy, forgiveness, on doing one’s duty, on the corruptive influence of wealth and the redemptive power of poverty and adversity. Eventually, his wisdom became controversial, a threat to the state, and so he was painfully put to death by the Romans. As he experienced the agony and humiliation of a very public death sentence, he asked his loved ones and his followers to stay strong, to forgive the excesses of an emperor who did not know what he was doing. In those brave final moments, he immortalized himself forever.

Who are we talking about? Today is Christmas, you are thinking, that’s obviously the life of Jesus. Well, it’s also the life of Seneca. Remarkably, Seneca and Jesus lived nearly parallel lives. Not only that, but they were also born—according to many sources—in the same year. No one can confirm for certain the exact birth date for either, but it is indisputable that two of history’s greatest philosophers walked the earth at the same time.

More incredible is just how much their teachings overlap. And it’s worth taking some time this Christmas morning to consider those similarities:

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” — Jesus

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” — Seneca

“If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” — Jesus

“It is a petty and sorry person who will bite back when he is bitten.” — Seneca

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” — Jesus

“You look at the pimples of others when you yourselves are covered with a mass of sores.” — Seneca

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal…No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” — Jesus

If my wealth should melt away it would deprive me of nothing but itself, but if yours were to depart you would be stunned and feel you were deprived of what makes you yourself. With me, wealth has a certain place; in your case it has the highest place. In short, I own my wealth, your wealth owns you.” — Seneca

Now Seneca was obviously just a man—a flawed and contradictory man at that—while Jesus—depending on your beliefs—was both a man and God. But it is fascinating to think that they were both born in the same year, in the same empire, and died bravely facing evil. Both would be immensely popular in their own time, and long after. Both would run afoul of the powerful interests of their time. Both would be forced, in their final moments, to live their teachings—Jesus, on the cross, asking for forgiveness for the people who had wronged him. Seneca as he comforted his friends and family when Nero’s goons came to demand his suicide. Tacitus, who also tells us about the life of “Christus,” would note how Seneca had made plans for such an ordeal, writing that “even in the height of his wealth and power he was thinking of his life’s close.” So too, the Bible tells us, had Jesus.

Their words and their example lives on.

Especially here as we bring 2021 to a close, wondering how we’ll get through this, how we’ll survive. We’ll make it by clinging to these timeless principles from those timeless philosophers. We’ll get by on love, on wisdom, on courage, and self-discipline. We’ll find beauty in the ordinary. We’ll be of service to others. We’ll zoom out and look at the big picture. We’ll zoom in on what's immediately in front of us. We’ll find something to be grateful for—because there is always something to be grateful for.

Life is short, Seneca said. It was short for Jesus, too. What matters is what you do while you’re here. What matters is what you do with the year (and the days) you’ve been given. What matters is the example you leave behind you for others to follow.

Enjoy today. Don’t be afraid. Do what’s right.


Thursday, January 20, 2022

 thought I'd put some things I find interesting to me here.  have been really slacking in the past year.  


“Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.”

Be open to the idea that people are going to be fools or jerks or unreliable or anything else. Let them be. That’s their business. That’s not inside your control.

But you have to be disciplined with yourself, and your reactions. If someone acts ridiculous, let them. If you’re acting ridiculous, catch the problem, stop it and work on preventing it from happening in the future. What you do is in your control. That is your business. Be strict about it.

Leave other people to themselves. You have enough to worry about.