I sure am full of a lot of advice. If you read here on the site enough, you might wonder if I have any organization to my thoughts, or am I just like Jack Handy with a few deep thoughts now and again? The answer to these questions is “yes” and “no.” I do have random ideas pop into my head, but it is always through the filter of my philosophy. In the interest of maintaining a simple template for the Heroic Stoic philosophy (at least as a beginning), I think I have been very clear that there are 3 tenets to always remember: Continue reading
I need to spend more time in the now. Like everyone, I spend far too much time grasping, chasing, and hunting for things that just aren’t that important. I told my wife the other day, that my problem is that I want to “make a million dollars, help a million people, and live a million years.” When I said this, she thought “live a million years” meant I wanted to leave a legacy with my work. I thought about it for a while, and indeed that is something that I want; it’s one of those motivators that puts me back on the grasping trail. However, what I really meant by “live a million years” was that I wanted to literally “live a million years.” Talk about unrealistic expectations! Continue reading
I was planning to visit my son at college. He knew I was going to see him Thursday. My wife had sent him a text on Monday, telling him that we would be making the 3-hour drive to have lunch with him. He responded with his typical concise “ok.” We were very busy until Wednesday night, but my wife sent a text around 6 pm, “We are coming for lunch tomorrow.” He did not respond. No big deal, this is typical of my atypical son who does not check texts very often, and seems to reply even less. At 10:30 pm the night before our trip, I sent a text to him…no response. Again, this is typical, he was probably working and couldn’t check it. As we departed for his college Thursday morning, I sent a new text, “We are coming for lunch today.” I did not receive a reply. Continue reading
Who am I? I have had many roles, and continue to have more…too many in fact. Here are the ones I can think of:
- Personal Trainer
- College Instructor
- Teacher (to my young children)
- Retired Officer
- Liberty Activist
But these are just roles I play. There were times in my past when I wanted some of these to define who I was. Occasionally, I still latch on to one of them and think, “that’s my calling, that’s who I am?” However, none of these roles are who I am in entirety. I am all of these and none of them all at the same time. When someone asks me, “what do you do?”, it’s a tough question. I do a lot. If someone asks me “who are you?” (which they never do), then what is the answer? It’s an even tougher question; or is it?
I am at a point in my life where I am defined by no one thing. This is a good thing, I think. I have been headed in that direction for some time now. In the past year, since I retired from military servitude, I have had much more time to explore and dive into things that I like and do things that are more productive. I don’t have goals, so much as I have themes (I stole the “themes” theme from James Altucher: see more). My themes are simple, yet my means seem to be surprisingly complicated. Every time I write down the themes I wish to pursue, they come down to these three:
- Have Fun (through interesting and meaningful pursuits)
- Help People (family, job, and community)
- Pursue Liberty (for me and others)
I will readily admit that these three themes necessitate a grasping of this world. However, I always try to remember that my participation in this world doesn’t necessitate my belief that this participation in it is permanent, or that I will make a lasting impact in much of what I do. I just am, while I try. As a philosopher, I should pursue my themes with some rational detachment. In the end, I will be gone and so will you. The goal then is to just “be,” while pulling your weight along the way. At the end as I utter my last breaths, I could ask myself:
- “Did you enjoy it along the way?”
- “Did you do your best to be a positive influence on those around you?”
However I can answer these 2 questions, then that is who I am. I hope to answer YES, to both.
PS: I just realized 2 things: 1) This post is like an open journal entry and 2) It comprises bits and pieces of the three influencing philosophies from my life raft.
If you know something is right, if you know that acting a certain way, or even feeling a certain way is the way to maintain your tranquility, then why don’t you do it?
I will get to the point: It is through your will that you can maintain your tranquility. To act according to your philosophy during the most trying of times requires great effort, but to be a person of virtue you must do this. You must, through sheer mental exertion, act how you know you should act!
Here on the site, I write about a philosophical world view that includes being aware of what you can and cannot control, that fate largely determines our future, and that everything is impermanent. You may agree with this view in its entirety or you may disagree with parts or even all of it. Regardless of your opinion on the matter, I do think that living a life of tranquility requires two major steps:
- Establish your philosophy (How do I live?)
- Live by that philosophy
Because it may be where most of us philosophers fail, I want to address that second part today. Assuming you have established some semblance of what is the way to live, then what does it take to actually live according to what you know to be virtuous? Let’s break this down a little. Let’s just take one small example.
In my philosophy, I know that I cannot control the actions of those around me. Occasionally, I am confronted by someone who is a complete jackass.
I don’t mean that they are being a jackass today, but I mean a person who, by the sum of their actions, is a jackass (see definition here). Assuming that I must deal with this person, at least for a time, what do I do? First, I must determine (a) how I act with this person? For my own tranquility though, I must establish (b) how I feel about and because of this person?
(a) I do not return their rudeness, attitude, and demeanor in kind. Some of us may be tempted to do this, but most of us find this step fairly easy to complete, although it does cause us stress. In any case, this is easier than the next part of my reaction to this jackass, and that leads to…
(b) I do not let their action affect my emotion, viewpoint and general attitude of the world around me. This, I think, is the tough part. It is by sheer force of will, by having complete awareness and exerting effort that I execute this very important step and maintain my tranquility and my virtue. In many cases, I may need to maintain my interaction (e.g., a family member, an important client, my boss), so I may need use my mental will constantly. In many cases, you may have the option to discontinue the interaction, and I do not discourage this if you have the option (for example, find a new job, look for new clients, etc.). In any case, you must first decide whether a continued interaction is important to you; then regardless of what you decide, you maintain your tranquility through your own effort.
The bottom line here is that tranquility is yours to control, and this requires effort of will. Your philosophy is there for you to use it in the toughest of times, and when these challenges arise you will be required to act according to what you know to be true: that your virtue is maintained by you regardless of external influence.
To act according to what you know to be best is not always easy, but you must do so, no?