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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Are you teachable?

Adulting is hard. Add a child or two to the mix and things get really spicy, really quickly. Think about it, some days you wake up on the wrong side of the bed. The littles in your life do, too. Put a parent and child together who have both had long days, one with chores and errands and commitments, the other with learning all the new rules at kindergarten and you have a recipe for conflict. 

Today was especially intense, but in the moment I caught a small insight. Mr. Opinion was telling me one of the 1000 things that he intended to do. As I heard the words coming out of my mouth, “You are NOT in charge…stop telling me what you want to do… You are five, you need to learn that you don’t get what you want by demanding it…” It dawned on me just how much we have in common. This was a teachable moment if only I could properly seize it. This was a moment of #Action that could reshape these discussions. 

I’d read an Article that said our words become their inner voices and I realized that I needed to reshape the message. Do I want him to simply bow to my authority? By no means! What I really needed him to do was have respect for himself, for his parents, and to control his emotions and actions. How potent and important a message for a 5 year old to learn! What’s more is that in the moment I need the very same lesson. I won’t get my way by simply demanding it. This was a moment for direct application of some Stoic Philosophy that I’d written down just this morning. 

The BIG 3 Lessons of Stoicism

1) Our thoughts affect our emotions

2) There is wisdom in focusing on what you can control

3) Habits are important

So, was I teachable? Did I change the message? Heck yes! The new habit will be to relate and empathize, reinforce that I understand the struggle of not feeling in control, but to assure him that even when things get out of control and you feel overcome with emotion, we can control our thoughts, we can focus on our #Actions, control our behavior, and be strong people of character. 

The same lesson applies at 5, 15, and 50. These seemingly tiny changes in our thoughts and behaviors will play out in a lifetime of improved attitude and behavior. 

Adulting is hard, parenting isn’t easier, but we get the benefit of little instructors and trainers whose wants and needs are small (unending, demanding, relentless… sure) at this point but they are beautiful mirrors of the things we need to work on inside ourselves. 

We WANT things to go a certain way. We have our own plans at 5 and 50, but we will all do well to remember to see the little lessons and calls to #Action in the day-to-day.

#FFW

First blog post

This is my very first post. The stock photo is beautiful, so I’m keeping it. This site is the answer to a challenge.

Have you ever heard yourself utter the phrase “I wish…”

Fill in the blank with some unfulfilled desire, want, dream deferred, or pipe dream for that matter. That phrase lets you consider the prize, but connotes defeat. The wish is a trap.

Action is the antidote of a wish. Action is making something happen. This site may start off as a humble, unassuming blog, but it is a first step in building an empire. Chew on these philosophical treats:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

“If you want to escape the burdens that oppress you, you should not be somewhere else, but someone else.” – Seneca

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.”  – Jack Welch

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” – Michael Jordan

The voices we allow into your lives will change us, shape us, mold us. If we are not careful, the music we hear, the political advertisements running the background, the fear-filled media could slowly strip away our strength. Only through focused, diligent attention can we actively choose our destinies.

Right now, you can make the choice to take responsibility for your life. You will no longer have anyone to blame, but you will be able to look back on your days and see something amazing that you made, and never again have to utter the sad phrase, “I wish…”

#FreedomFromWish