Inner Excellence and “What Should I Pursue?”


I read a great piece today from Brian Kim.  It came in an E-mail, but I’ve added his site to the blogroll, because he gets to the heart of things rather quickly on what can be a complicated matter of happiness. If you came here direct to my post, here is the link:

The quote that stuck in my head is, “Don’t compare outputs.”  Three simple words with so much to tell us.  In essence, Brian is telling us that happiness is an internal function…don’t judge ourselves relative to the outside world, but on our effort…did we do our best?  It is the pursuit of excellence, especially inner excellence, that determines our happiness in the long run.  While this is quite true, where we often get caught up is in what should we pursue excellence?  Is our pursuit a virtuous one?  Of course, this can be a rather difficult matter if we have not observed some of the simple answers right in front of us.

What to pursue?

What to pursue?

This is where I often turn to a practical application of the Eightfold Path of Buddhism called the Five Mindfulness Trainings.  Check the link for an in-depth discussion, but simply put, these five are:

  1. Respect Life, rather than Killing
  2. Be Generous, rather than Taking
  3. Be Loving, rather than Lustful
  4. Listen Carefully, Speak Wisely
  5. Nourish Your Body, rather than Poison It

I’ll admit, Buddhist thought can be a lot to take in, especially in one big gulp.  It requires some effort, study and meditation.  In essence, though, it all boils down to this.  Before I endeavor to take part in any action, thought, speech, or pursuit I can ask myself:

  • Does it hurt others?
  • Does it hurt myself?

This must be an honest and deep evaluation, in which you must search for the answers to these two questions without rationalizing your pursuit.  Your answer will determine if you should, if the pursuit is virtuous.  More simple, not easy stuff, right?

2 thoughts on “Inner Excellence and “What Should I Pursue?”

  1. your very good at what you write ,it can’t be easy following these rules or maybe it is the reverse,it is easier because what you do know comes naturally to you .I believe you are nice to your fellow man ,loving to your family ,honest in your work relationships ,it must be very satisfying ,while here at the old homestead ( a town home now )my life feels like it is falling apart ,my daughter and I are at ends because I caught her in a old life style ,I don’t want to go into it ,but she upset me beyond words ,my grandchildren are about all i have left in this world ,she could lose them so easy,i told her something ,she says “don’t have a pity party ” I than told her, I won’t, because of you ,you said those people are cowards

  2. Judy, your daughter seems to be confronting one of those issues that are “simple not easy” (almost all of them are). She knows the right thing to do, it is staring her right in the face, and yet she chooses not to do it. Why? Because even though it is simple to see, it is not easy to maintain the courage, discipline, what have you to execute that choice. Of course, humans do this all the time. It is like the child who reads the sign “do not turn on switch,” and then flips it on.

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