“Do not desire to be a general, or a senator, or a consul, but to be free; and the only way to this is a disregard of things which lie not within our own power.” – Epictetus, Enchiridion
A major liability of position is its reliance on others for power. In order to achieve higher positions of authority we end up sacrificing our personal power to the opinions and whims of others. Would it not be better to be free than to become both entwined and enslaved to the will of others?
I think we sometimes have dreams of position as something to be envied and desired. In reality these positions are rarely what they seem. We may have gained some power but we also lose our freedom to the thousand influences upon which we will rely to remain in our position.
So, be wary of sacrificing your freedom or power. It’s alway more difficult to regain than it is to surrender.
“Now, take what’s left [of your life] and live it properly. What doesn’t transmit light creates its own darkness.” –Marcus Aurelius
We lost a friend tonight unexpectedly. It’s never easy to lose someone, and it’s hard to accept and understand that loss when it comes so suddenly. We weren’t prepared today. Don’t let life catch you likewise unprepared.
Make sure you take the time to call and see your loved ones as often as possible. Thank them for their presence in your life. Appreciate them. Don’t let anything keep you from sharing our time on this earth companionship with our families and friends. Remember, politics, religion, opinions and beliefs don’t matter in the end. They are only a distraction.
If it separates you from others, abandon your position, or if you must, hold it silently. Companionship is more important than opinion—don’t forget that. If you believe in an afterlife, you will have an eternity to know you were right, but only this one life to share with the people and world around you. Don’t be a fool and waste it.
“A long life includes all these troubles, just as a long journey includes dust and mud and rain.” – Seneca
It’s funny how we can so easily forget that we can’t have a long and adventurous life without experiencing some troubles of our own. We’re going to have bad days, rough years and some terrible times.
It would be unrealistic to expect anything less. We need to become comfortable with the unpleasant truth that our lives won’t always be easy. That doesn’t mean we settle for less. Rather, we just need to get better at appreciating that the human experience isn’t just endless days of happiness and joy.
I find that we create value in our lives by overcoming obstacles. Without that challenge we would cease to grow and develop as individuals. Instead, we would remain unchanged and a prisoner to whatever circumstances we were thrown into. In this way we’re quite fortunate to experience hardships because those are the moments which shape and define us.
I can’t grow and change as a person if my experiences don’t change. We actually need the stressful, chaotic and painful moments in life in order to appreciate everything else. We may not always enjoy every step we take, but we can appreciate the journey.
“Hippocrates, after curing many diseases, himself fell sick and died.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
It’s important to remember that we all have limits. At some point we’re going to hit that point and that’s okay. The challenge is approaching that limit with both wisdom and grace.
Time seems to be the most pressing limit we face in this life. When we’re young we can’t wait for the future to arrive so we can change the world. When we’re older we would do anything to slow down, but we’re caught in a current that never ceases, and the best we can hope to achieve is to swim well and bravely while we still can.
We all have an expiration date. As we age, we can become more keenly aware of it. That doesn’t mean we give up. Time is an amazing gift, and it allows us to put everything into perspective. If we have to say goodbye tomorrow, then how do you feel about the day you just lived?
Did you share love or spread gossip?
Did you help a stranger or buy yourself a latte?
Did you make the world a better a place today? Did you even try?
Perspective can keep us both honest and focused on something other than ourselves. Accept that gift and use it to change the world—build bridges, tear down walls, heal the sick, feed the hungry, fix the broken—the point is you could have made a difference today. So, what are you going to do differently tomorrow?
“The pleasure connected with food is undoubtedly the most difficult of all pleasures to combat.” – Musonius Rufus
It’s a new year! So that mans many of us are trying to create healthier habits. Whether that means you’ve put yourself on a diet, or you’re just watching what you eat and drink, the challenge to tame your appetite is a difficult one.
It’s important to remember that food and drink serve a purpose. They exist as nourishment to your body. So, I find it helpful to frame my choices when I’m struggling with a sweet tooth or I’m craving a glass of wine.
I ask myself—what am I really craving? What purpose am I trying to fulfill with food and drink?
When I approach my appetite in this manner, I easily recognize that my sense of hunger is really just a sugar craving, and that my longing for wine is really a desire for stress release.
In this way I can better modify my actions. Since sugar doesn’t nourish my body, I can choose something more appropriate instead. I could opt for a piece of fruit. Similarly, since wine offers less than optimal nutrition, and my real desire is for stress reduction, I can choose to place the bottle aside and practice something more mindful like prayer or meditation.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat cake or have a drink. I love both. All I’m reminding you is to remember to direct your actions with purpose. The easiest way I know to build willpower, self discipline and resilience is to master your appetite.
“Nothing should be done without a purpose.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
One of the easiest ways to bring focus to your life is by taking the time every morning to assign a purpose to each of your actions for the coming day.
It’s really pretty shocking that so many of the choice that we make in our lives are driven by chance. How much better would your life be if you could reverse that trend?
If each action you take contributed to a specific end goal, would that not be more beneficial than just surviving each moment or just working that 9-5 shift?
Well, one way you can assert control over your life is by connecting the decisions you make each day to a goal.
Could you be spending time learning a new professional skill each night instead of watching TV?
Could you spend your morning commute learning a new language instead of listening to the radio?
Could you spend your Friday night volunteering or helping others instead of going to the bar with your coworkers?
The point is, all of our actions in life are based on choices. Often we simply follow the most convenient path in front of us, but the truth is that this is rarely the best path for us.
If you learn to challenge yourself, you can start to make more impactful decisions regarding how you spend your time.
So, what actions are you taking today to achieve your goals?
“For the only safe harbour in this life’s tossing, troubled sea is to refuse to be bothered about what the future will bring and to stand ready and confident, squaring the breast to take without skulking or flinching whatever fortune hurls at us.” -Seneca
I’m not sure you can find better life advice in a single sentence than this little bit from Seneca. Others have echoed these same feelings over the years and you’d do well to pay attention. Even my best friend’s mother held a similar opinion but shared her wisdom with her own powerful words.
“Life sucks. Then you die. Get over it.”
It may sound harsh, but the reality is that when we stop expecting the world to treat us like we’re special we’re given a beautiful gift in return. We’re given the opportunity to start living our lives instead of delaying them in search of a dream or in denial of our own limitations.
This doesn’t mean we should stop dreaming or that we should accept all of the limitations we find imposed upon us. The truth is that it takes a special form of wisdom to recognize that at any moment our journey and this life could end. So, instead of hoping for a better tomorrow, live fully today. Each day we let pass us by without purpose is a moment squandered.
It’s a hard lifestyle to master, but when you stop fighting fortune you become a mind at peace. It will be what it will be. All you can do is your best to succeed and enjoy the journey, by accepting and appreciating whatever chance sends your way.
Live well. It’s a choice.