I am addicted to the desire to succeed so that I can rub it in the faces of those who have doubted me. I know that this is a false reason for wanting success based in ego. I must remind mindful of this desire, and actively combat this state of mind. It is deadly. Spite has propelled me in the past to improve my lot, however, it is not a sustainable model since it requires deep resentment to thrive. In the end, resentment cuts me off from those around me and society at large, and will diminish my life.
If I want to keep my mind free of clutter, these are the things I must avoid:
- No anger
- No lust
- No jealousy
- No click bait
- No television
- No pornography
- No social media
- No daily news cycle
Will I fail with this entire list on a long enough timeline? Of course I will, but I know that the less of these things I participate in, the clearer and more calm my mind is, which meaning I am able to focus on my true goals. Incremental daily progress is better than acquiescence to mediocrity.
Why am I studying all of the subjects that I study?
- To be peaceful
- To be resilient
- To help myself
- To help my family
- To help society
- To prove something to those who have doubted me
All of these reasons are an interconnected web, and not a hierarchy in my day to day affairs. Some days I am looking for inner peace. Some days I need to be resilient through a difficult situation. Some days I need to make progress for my family and myself. Some days I am altruistic and want to improve myself to benefit society. Some days I am resentful and I want to prove something to society. However, the baseline of consistent studying of many subjects satisfies all of those reasons.
The baseline is that I am learning and studying so that I can be a producer and contributor to society. I study so that I can increase my maximum effectiveness in my affairs. My strength has always been my intellectual prowess, even though for many years I shunned it. I must work to continually expand it, and never waste it again.
Obstacles provide an opportunity for growth. Without a challenge, how will I grow? Do I truly want to be consider a problem solver? It is a spiritual generality that pain and challenges lead to personal growth. I need to seek that which is blocking my path, and figure out a solution to unblock that path. The final step is to share my knowledge with others so they might overcome that obstacle as well.
Today I can stop making excuses for my lack of progress in my goals. There are no excuses, only my lack of willingness to take steps towards those goals, no matter how small that step is. It is better to take an inch forward towards the goal line that be stagnant. All progress shall be embraced, and all stagnation is poison.
When I actively listen, which I define as asking appropriate questions at the most effective times, I learn more efficiently. However, more often it is the case that the best active listen is just truly hearing what the other person is saying.
I often grasp for whatever handle is presented to me by life without thinking. This is often the wrong handle, and I get burnt. The trick has been to find the correct handle as quickly as possible and grab it, while remembering the other handle is a tad bit too hot for my liking.
Everyday I wake up with the intention of making progress on my myriad assortment of goals, even on the “weekends”. I want to actively participate in life, focused on the task in front of me, rather than simply going through the motions. I do not want to reflect on my past when I am in my twilight years and think that I wasted precious time passively letting life happen to me.
I have spent many years being prideful of my ability to adapt and thrive in a multitude of environments and conditions. For this to continue, I need to remove the ego from the equation, and approach each new adaptation from a place of unknowing humility.
For me, my anger, based in delusional self-righteousness, has caused me more problems in the past twenty years than the actual perceived harms against me that generated the self-righteous anger. To keep an even keel, I must recognize the small, fertile spores of these self-righteous delusions for what they truly are and exterminate them.
Prompt from: The Daily Stoic Journal by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman