I really enjoy reading philosophy and sharing some of its many life lessons. Writing this blog helps me to internalize the perspectives and actions that make for a meaningful and genuine life. But, while knowing, understanding and communicating these ideas are important, a fulfilling and peaceful life only comes from actually living every day as the person that we want to be. Being present requires you to focus 100% of your attention on each moment and taking it in, not "multi-tasking." Feel compassion for others, but also act to help. Steadfastly maintain your honesty and integrity without sacrificing it for personal gain. Love others unconditionally and overtly demonstrate your love. None of this is easy. It takes practice and dedication. We recognize when we falter and work to be better, to do good and feel it warm our hearts. Let's learn to really walk in our own shoes.
Do you ever feel a twinge of envy when you see others succeed? Do you unconditionally cheer the accomplishments of your child's peers? Have you ever thought about these feelings? Does the "success" (however defined) of others really diminish you (or your child) in any way? It's unlikely. Teach yourself to root for and celebrate others, and to be genuinely moved by their failures as well. Practice this empathy and selflessness. You will not only feel better about your sense of self, but find so many more joys to share!
"Love.Love.Love." was Barbara Jordan's answer to what she saw as the greed and divisiveness of the 1980s. The Beatles sang that "the love you take is equal to the love you make." Love can take many forms - caring, compassion, gratitude. Whatever your social or political perspective, can you envision any scenario not improved by love? Or any situation made better by hatred? Try practicing empathy, not only for those you already hold dear, but also for others with whom you may disagree and for strangers whom you may encounter throughout your day. Extend your hand to help and to understand others and your life will be so enriched that you will be hooked on love.
"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight. Never stop fighting." E.E. Cummings
One step at a time. It's the only way we get anywhere, whether walking to the kitchen or climbing a mountain. So, if you want to change something about your life, don't let the prospect of failure stop you. Take the first step. Begin your effort. If you falter, take another step. Progress and results always require work, and are more satisfying if failure is possible or even probable, and you overcome it. If the goal is important enough to you, then you'll avoid the old excuse we all used in middle school - "It doesn't matter; I wasn't really trying." Just try.
Do what's right, not what's easy. We are often faced with the prospect of choosing the easy path because it's quicker, cheaper, more convenient or less emotionally challenging. Rarely, however, do we consider the cumulative cost to our self-image and emotional well-being. Doesn't it just feel good to do the right thing? Imagine the benefit to your personal sense of virtue and integrity if you make at least one difficult choice to do the right thing every day. Many philosophers and psychologists opine that virtuous choices and helping others are the single most effective contributors to positive mental health. Doing the right thing can be a challenge, but it's usually not as difficult as it may seem at first blush, and is always more satisfying than the easy way out.