The Greatest Obstacle in life is…

Every day is a good day for philosophy, especially the Classics, and the Stoics are the best of the lot.

Some days you are flying high and haven’t a care in the world. Those are good days for philosophy.

But, some days you aren’t. Some days you have your world turned on its head. On those days…you need a heavy dose of philosophy.

What is this philosophy, you ask?

People have been doing this life living thing for a while now. Somebody out there in the world, living or dead (if they wrote stuff down, or told stories) has a piece of wisdom to meet your need right now. If I can offer some incredibly empowering ‘friends’ to listen to, try Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, Viktor Frankl. These guys are straight shooters and won’t sugar coat anything, but they might give you the nugget that saves your life. Tonight, I took some deep breaths, a long soak, and read some Seneca, “On the Shortness of Life” and pretty much wanted to plagiarize every word for you here. Read the book, it’s less than 100 pages and will absolutely change your life. That said, here’s some advice from the ages:

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that is has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life, but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it. Just as when ample and princely wealth falls to a bad owner it is squandered to a moment, but wealth however modest, if entrusted to a good custodian, increases with use, so our lifetime extends amply if you managed it properly.”

 

He continues later:

You are living as if you are destined to live forever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don’t notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and over-flowing supply- though all the while that very day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last. You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire. You will hear many people saying, ‘When I am fifty I shall retire into leisure; When I am sixty I shall give up public duties.’ And what guarantee do you have of a longer life?”

Later, this pearl:

“…They spend their lives in organizing their lives. They direct their purposes with an eye to a distant future. But putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty, live immediately.”

Nothing is promised to you, nothing is owed. You have this moment, so do something with it so that when you are looking back on your days, you can count this as one of the moments that you did something.

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Take.The.Stairs

PSA from my FitBit

People.

Take.The.Stairs.

If you have little ones, take them with you.

SHOW them how to live a healthier life.

Take them for a walk to the park rather than driving. Get some steps in

Your heart needs you to go first, make the effort, be the one that chooses to do something a little weird.

Make everyone standing around waiting for the elevator squint their eyes as you head for the stairs.

Take an extra minute or so to get your heart rate up because some day you may not be able to…you may not always be able to bound up the stairs like you can today.

Today you can, so please do.

Fitness is a series of small decisions. Life is about choices.

Take. The. Stairs.

Listen folks. I care about you, and I want you to live a better life. I want you to be free from the myriad diseases that accompany metabolic syndrome. I want you to have the energy and capacity to play with your kids, to run if a coyote sets his rabid eye on you one night. You have the power to change your life and it starts by making the tiniest, seemingly inconsequential changes in life. Today you can park a little further from the store, let the other guy have that spot he’s been circling for and you get a couple extra steps in. Your heart will thank you. Your kids will thank you. Future you will thank you.

Ever try to schedule something?

Ever try to schedule something? You know, like set a date for something where more than one person has to show up at the same time? Why is this such a nightmare? Recently, I’ve been trying to de-conflict a few appointments against a few parties and work, and nothing seems to work. I move one appointment or trade a work day and in invariably interferes with at least one other interested party. If I get somebody to cover a work shift, the appointment that was scheduled for that day suddenly no longer works for the doctor or other agency. It seems to me there MUST be a better way to program my life? My gut says this is not unique to me, and that there MUST be a solution to this that could revolutionize people’s lives. There is something deeper here than the need for a planner, or a Google calendar, or app… or maybe the solution is one of those things? I’m at a loss, what do you think? Have you found a reliable way to coordinate with people and de-conflict the myriad events and tasks that (plague?) fill our calendars? I’m sold on bulletjournal as a means to keep organized in the face of endless tasks, but how can we make that system work on a more global scale?

GroundHog Day

In honor of GroundHog Day, let’s ask the obvious questions… “Really? 6 more weeks of winter? Isn’t that already a given? Who are we trying to fool Punxsutawney Phil?” Why does a rodent’s fear have any influence on the weather? How superstitious are we? Speaking of #BFM, how awesome was that 80’s exploration of the fantasy of second, third, millionth chances? Jump into that reality for a second and consider what it would be like to revisit a powerful moment in your life and try to change the outcome. Fate? Who needs it? Ran across a very interesting web video on this topic by Anna Akana on youtube. Her short is called Riley Rewind. In that little video Akana explores the opportunity to be a hero via time travel, to go back and save a suicidal girl in need of friendship. Not unlike the plot of GroundHog Day, this theme of attempting to correct regret is interesting, but brings up the more important question. How can we maximize our potential for making the CORRECT decisions given imperfect information? Funny how things connect, I’ve been listening to a great book on audible that addresses this and a number of other amazing topics. Algorithms to live by sounds very nerdy when you read the synopsis, but topics like “Stopping Theory” have so many applications to your daily life inside and outside of the Las Vegas casinos. Ok, if you’re following along, we’ve nerded out a bit, considered some heavy philosophical topics, and get to do it all over again tomorrow… that said, let’s take a deep breath and remember “Don’t Worry, Bill Murray.”

Keep Moving

This “dawned” on me in the still dark hours of one of the first few days shifts in a long time. As I’m pushing into a new month with new goals for fitness and early wakeups, I realized an important truth. It’s easy to build up courage to take the first step. Maybe “easy” is an overstatement. It’s tough, sure, but the real toughness has to do with gritting it out day-in and day-out even after the excitement of the “new” process wears off. This has to do with the New Year’s Resolution phenomenon whereby people start strong and fade as soon as ANYTHING gets in the way. This weakness can be trained out of you says the Navy SEALS, says the STOICS, says me. Jocko Willink, in Extreme Ownership, makes the case that “winning the day” involves not letting the little excuses like wanting to hit the snooze button, ruin your momentum. This means “keep moving” with your plan, with your direction, with your motivation. Don’t let the Devil see that you are up. Saw a related meme the other day, “Be the kind of man that when your feet hit the ground in the morning, the devil says, ‘Oh crap, he’s up.’”  I love the notion that you can out-hustle the adversaries out there that mean you harm. This requires motion. A rudder only steers a moving ship.

Iron sharpens iron

Proverbs 27:17 

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Metal ore starts out strong, but not as strong as it could be. Through the smelting process and quite literally “trial by fire.” In the crucible, heat, pressure, and repeated bearings by a skilled blacksmith, something strong becomes something much stronger. Iron begets steel. 

Today one of the resources I look up to for highly intelligent stoic wisdom took notice of some of the little contributions I’ve made to the community. We all take what we perceive and reflect it with our own sense of wonder and understanding. If something they say inspires me to say something that inspires you, you owe it to the world to spread that knowledge because you never know how you are sharpening the next person out there. 

Never wel yourself short or too cheaply. You have something outstanding to share with the world!

#FFW