Step Into "What's Next" with Integrity and Intention
Depression and anxiety are temporary emotional states that we all experience from time to time.
Yes, sometimes depression and anxiety are sustained clinical conditions that require professional treatment. But often depression and anxiety are merely temporary emotional states. Too often we seek to avoid them through the least healthy means. Doctors overprescribe anti-depressants and anxiety suppression meds.
Even when we don't seek medical "solutions," we choose drugs, alcohol, or other means to dull the pain or push it away. This approach only causes further harm to our health and knocks us out of alignment with our virtue.
Recognizing that this kind of suffering is self-imposed and caused by our attachment to the past or future, allows for a healthier approach. We can choose to return to the present moment. Take a pause. Contextualize our situation or circumstance.
We can ask ourselves, "Is what I'm choosing to feel serving me? Serving those I care for? What can I...
Let's face it, you can not live a life worth living without making mistakes. Getting things "right" involves going through a lot of "wrong."
And some of those "wrong" choices of word and deed come with a heaping helping of regret. And when regret appears, you can be sure that shame is following close behind.
But here's the thing, when shame comes to visit, you don't have to extend it an invitation to come in for an extended stay or even an overnight. You don't need to invite shame in for lunch or even tea.
Don't draw the shades and lock the door. That only encourages shame to hang around. And shame is very patient and extremely persistent.
Instead, meet shame at the door and thank it.
"Thank you shame for coming by. Your presence is an indication I have some work to do. A mistake to own, apologize for, and make amends for. And sitting with you, for even a minute, will only get in the way of the important work I need to do to make a wrong a right. So, thanks...
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.”—Viktor Frankl
At the beginning of this week, I encouraged building some intentional “quiet time” into your day-to-day lives. Paradoxically, it may seem, today I’m encouraging you to build in some struggle!
“It is difficulties that show what men are.”—Epictetus
Progress is facilitated when training is put into practice. You need obstacles, challenges, and misfortune that test and push your abilities.
Don’t hide from or avoid these moments. Welcome them. Embrace them. “Thank” them.
People, situations, and circumstances that encourage us to exercise and employ what you’ve learned are why you practice and prepare. You’ll grow or you’ll learn. Either is a lesson worth the time and effort.
“A setback has often cleared the way for greater prosperity. Many things have...
For those of us on the path of developing and delivering our best selves through our best work, it is easy to get lost in the churn. Hustling to get what we're working on done so we can move on to what's next.
The path to progress doesn't encourage the employment of patience or peace.
But so often the best insights and inspiration come when we are quiet and still. Which is why you need to schedule and insert some of these moments in your day.
For me, these moments are; first thing, mid-day, and at day's end. Upon rising, I journal my morning gratitudes and read a few pages of Meditations. At mid-day, I go for my infamous "cemetery run." At day's end, I jot down my day's biggest success and most challenging moments in my journal.
Fresh perspectives, new angles, unexpected ideas, and interesting insights almost always visit me during at least one of these moments of quiet stillness. The cycles of mental and physical activity momentarily halt and I'm reminded of the gift...
“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” ― Marcus Aurelius
In an age that seems to reward certainty and confidence, it's tempting to look for a map. The shortest, fastest, and easiest way to get where you want to go (or worse, where others think you should want to go).
The problem with maps is they can only take you where others have already been. They can't reveal the best course for you. Only a compass can do that.
Maps require obedience. Compasses cultivate empowerment.
Employing a compass over a map requires curiosity and courage. A willingness to learn as you go. It allows for course correction and tacking. The compass invites adventure and fellow travelers.
Are you trying to find your way or follow someone else's? Do you need a map or a compass?
Keep flying higher!
We spend a lot of time in our own heads. Probably more than is healthy. And much of this narrative is feeding questionable agendas and assumptions about ourselves, our situation, and those who surround us.
Piercing the veil of our self-fulfilling self-talk is an exercise worth doing more often. Here's a one-minute exercise that can help you "zoom out," provide a bit of context, and encourages empathy and cosmopolitanism.
It's called Hierocles' Concentric Circles of Concern. Starting with yourself, reach out to ever-widening circles of contacts and imagine pulling those people closer to yourself and into the previous circle. Your family, your friends, your neighbors, people living in the same city or town, and so on and on. You can extend this exercise all the way out to the planet and beyond.
Want to learn more? My friend, Massimo Pigliucci, shares more about this practice and its history in his blog.
What could you accomplish if you got out of your head and into the...
I run at the cemetery. It's a daily memento mori practice. A reflection on mortality. "Remember you die." Every cemetery run is an opportunity to contemplate my journey from "womb to tomb."
This ritual reminds me of the transience of earthly things and the futility of ego attachments.
My cemetery run reminds me to return to the here and now, and do the work I was born for. The work of being a human being. Cultivating character. Enhancing my life by elevating the lives of others.
What do you think? Is it possible that contemplating your death might inspire you to start living well?
Keep flying higher!
Humans are complicated. Can we agree on that? What other creature is capable of holding two diametrically opposed ideas in their head at the same time and simultaneously hold each to be true and still function?
Some people believe the earth is actually flat and still go onround the world cruises. Some people believe Elvis is still alive and also argue that he was murdered.
But this thinking isn't limited to kooks and conspiracy theorists.
I believe that I am enough. I believe you are too, btw. But I also believe that enough is not enough. My guess is you believe the same.
Perfection is impossible. Seeking it only leads to suffering and unhappiness. But progress is possible, and likely when we work on ourselves daily.
So, what will you do today that helps you wake up to a better you tomorrow?
Until next week, keep flying higher!
Of all the lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn), the biggest have intersected with my struggle with understanding and employing empathy. A struggle I only began coming to terms with when I added a chapter on it to The Stoic Creative ebook.
The punchline, or rather the truth as I see it, is that empathy begins with yourself. If you cannot connect with your feelings and see, hear, understand, and forgive yourself, then you are incapable of doing so sincerely and authentically with others. Until then your relationship with others and yourself suffer.
To say I’m a lapsed Catholic would be an insult to lapsed Catholics, but when I hear (and recite), first Corinthians, I get a glimpse of the divine. In you, in her, in him, in me, in nature and in the cosmos. And I begin to think that I just might be getting closer to an empathic understanding and appreciation. And this has “saved” me many times from the unhelpful, harmful, and hateful stories I...