The modern world has given us much, but it has also set us many traps that require careful thought if we are to avoid them. Living a meaningful life in the 21st century is not a simple task. In a world that is exploding with the shiny allure of technology and consumerism, many people are surrendering their time and energy in ways that are not fulfilling.
Things I've Tagged ‘Wisdom’
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One may think that pessimism is widespread today. Everyone, on all sides, is outraged at injustices and worried about the problems we face. But just beneath the surface, everyone, on all sides, shares an optimism that progress is not only possible but likely. Everyone believes that once problems are identified, they can be solved, and in time they will be. This myth of inevitable progress is our modern faith, and like many faiths before it, it is a false faith generated by deep-seated human desires. Only the pessimist can see clearly the problems we face, and at the same time understand that progress is unlikely, and that our future, in many ways, is likely to be bleak.
So, so good, and so very valid.
Pragmatism believes that the mind is a tool. Your mind should work for you, not against you. People who don’t master their mind, don’t believe it’s possible.
They say: “I can’t help but thinking these things.”
Well, you can with enough practice. It’s a skill.
In other words: You have the ability to decide what you think. Or, you can choose NOT to think.
And that is one of the most important and most practical things you can learn in life. Before I learned that skill, I would spend hours and hours inside my head.
I think in our tech heavy world we really don’t do the vast majority of what’s being suggested here–I struggle personally with 1, 6, 7, and 8–and connection with our fellow humans is a struggle as a result.
- Don’t multitask.
- Don’t pontificate.
- Use open-ended questions.
- Go with the flow.
- If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.
- Don’t equate your experience with theirs.
- Try not to repeat yourself.
- Stay out of the weeds.
- Be brief.
Watch the video to get an expanded look at each of these points.
One time, on a sweltering August night, Grandfather and I made camp down by the ocean. He said, “While I teach you about the ways of war, I want you to know that the real struggle is between the two wolves that live inside each of us.”
“Two wolves?” I asked, seated on an old log near the fire. My eyes were transfixed by the flames twisting uncomfortably in the night air.
“One wolf is evil,” he continued. “It is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, deceit, false pride.” He paused, poking at the embers of our fire with a long stick he’d been carving.
“The other is good. It is joy, love, hope, serenity, humility, loving-kindness, forgiveness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, faith.”
I considered that for a minute, then tentatively asked, “Which wolf will win?”
Sparks danced towards the stars as the old man stared into the glare of the flames and replied, “Whichever one you feed.”
I don’t know how often I feed the joyful wolf, but it is not nearly enough over the past two years. Sometimes I live in a world of self-doubt, self-pity, anger, envy, resentment, and inferiority–and I don’t wish to do so any more. It’s an exceedingly tough cycle to break from. But I aim to do it.
Hat tip to Mr. Kottke, because his post rings true for me. The above passage was from Rules for a Knight by Ethan Hawke. Full disclosure, the link here hopefully sends a little money Kottke’s way if you happen to purchase the book.
Writing brain and speaking brain verbalize differently for me, I have found. I’m considered a passable conference speaker, and, from friendly conversations to client meetings, I’m rarely at a loss for words. But the ideas I’m able to articulate with my mouth are nothing, absolutely nothing, to those I can sometimes share while writing.
I’ve felt this way for quite a long time. It’s always been difficult for me to coherently formulate a thought on the fly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m capable, and I may sound passible, but I do not do as well as when I write.
Our ancestors were bold and industrious–they built a significant portion of our energy and road infrastructure more than half a century ago. It would be almost impossible to build the system today. Unfortunately, we cannot rely on the infrastructure of our past to travel to our future.
Even when change is elective, it will disorient you. You may go through anxiety. You will miss aspects of your former life. It doesn’t matter. The trick is to know in advance of making any big change that you’re going to be thrown off your feet by it. So you prepare for this inevitable disorientation and steady yourself to get through it. Then you take the challenge, make the change, and achieve your dream.
Strange how one person can saturate a room with vitality, with excitement. Then there are others… who can drain off energy and joy, can suck pleasure dry and get no sustenance from it. Such people spread a grayness in the air about them.
All men’s misfortunes spring from their hatred of being alone.