Jan. 15 – Just because we have it doesn’t mean we need it.

“Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We’ve been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.” -Seneca

We live in a world based on consumerism. This means that our entire model of society is based on the economics behind someone selling “something” to everyone at any given moment. There are so many objects of convenience and distraction in existence today that did not exist 10 years ago that we truly are being overwhelmed.

How do we come to terms with acknowledging what’s possible while abstaining from spending our time in non-productive ways?

The danger of convenience is that it too easily distracts us from the labor necessary to grow, expand and create more complex solutions to life’s difficulties. In a nutshell, instead of taking the time to explore and develop solutions to problems, like ending homelessness in our communities, we find ourselves spending our time playing Candy Crush, watching the latest season of Game of Thrones, or scrolling our Facebook feeds.

Just because we have the option to spend our days in idle leisure doesn’t mean we should. We have to start critically asking ourselves how are we benefiting ourselves with the million distractions that are now available to us. How else could we be spending our time? What are we accomplishing by spending our time in such unproductive ways?

Jan. 14 – An offer to help can be just easily withdrawn.

“The boon that could be given can be withdrawn.” – Seneca

Don’t forget that an offer to help can be just as easily taken away. This means we must learn to be self-sufficient and not rely on others for success. Help in any form whether it be advice, labor or a physical gift should be treated the same. Any gift can be a blessing. Just don’t come to rely on the goodwill of others or luck to pave your path for you.

Seneca’s quote is just another reminder of the timeless message that “All things change.” We must remember that at any moment our circumstances can be altered without notice. The best we can do is plan our decisions, as best we can with the information available, and prepare for those plans to at some point fail us. Accept that unfortunate truth and plan for those failures. Preparing the right backup plan can make all the difference when your world comes crashing down.

Jan. 12 – Don’t let life catch you unprepared.

“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.

Jan. 11 – You can’t have a long life without some rough times.

“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.

Jan. 7 – Just accept it and deal with it.

“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.

Jan. 6 – Your actions matter.

“This is the kernel of my advice: treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your betters.” – Seneca

There are a thousand different versions of this same golden rule, but the message is always clear. We should treat others as we wish to be treated.

There are good reasons to adopt this practice in your life. It’s important to remember that people are social and tribal creatures. This means that our actions toward others matter in the community.

As social animals we can’t help judging ourselves and our peers based on how we interact, adopt and follow the cultural rules of the communities and tribes we belong to in this world.

We should not only treat others well because it’s the right thing to do, but it also has positive impacts on your reputation in the community.

If others think well of you, they will be more willing to do business with you and even assist you in your time of need should it arise. However, there are no benefits to treating others poorly. In fact, treating others rudely or cruelly can only create obstacles by creating an enemy who will have no motivation to cooperate or assist you in the future.

Jan. 2 – is the day we realized we bit off more than we could chew.

“Always stand as it were on guard, and mark the attacks and charges of Fortune long before she delivers them; she is only terrible to those whom she catches unawares; he who is always looking out for her assault, easily sustains it.” -Seneca

So, today is the day we often realize that the one thousand good habits we resolved to uphold on New Year’s Eve can become quite unsustainable without some careful planning.

On that last night of glee and vice you pledged to make yourself a better, stronger, healthier (fill in the blank) person. It doesn’t really matter what your resolution was that night. Today is often the day we will realize that what we hoped to achieve is far more difficult than we realized.

In this way Fortune—that strange and coincidental luck that spontaneously assists and hinders us—appears to slowly sneak up on us and steal our zeal for change until we give up the struggle to become something new and settle on remaining broken, unfulfilled or indifferent.

The truth is that Fortune isn’t involved in your success or failure. You alone hold that power. Careful preparation, resolve, patience and endurance are some of the virtues you can choose to embrace to overcome the obstacles in your path.

Yes, life at times will give you some unexpected grief and pain—if it hasn’t yet, it will—so we need to accept that truth. Pain and discomfort are part of our lives and are not to be avoided, but accepted as natural and right. Making plans to reduce that pain is all we can really do. The amazing truth is that by making those plans and by sticking to our goals, we actually can force ourselves to become more aware and better connected to our surroundings.

This means we not only become more aware of the dangers slowly approaching on the horizon, but we equally begin to notice the unseen opportunities in the chaos.

Remember, those who fail to plan tend blame their misfortunes on luck. That’s a shame. If you fail to take responsibility for holding yourself accountable to achieving greatness, you’re missing out on the real secret of success.

No one becomes great without planning, practice and pain.