It’s your life

This:

“It’s your life — but only if you make it so. The standards by which you live must be your own standards, your own values, your own convictions in regard to what is right and wrong, what is true and false, what is important and what is trivial. When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else or a community or a pressure group, you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

And this:

“to be nobody but yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.” –e.e. cummings

 

Raise the aspirations of others

Tyler Cowen is an economics professor and a prolific blogger at Marginal Revolution. He’s an A-list follow with multiple blog posts every day, and he’s a voracious reader who has pointed me to a lot of insightful articles and books.

I love this thought from Cowen: “At critical moments in time, you can raise the aspirations of other people significantly, especially when they are relatively young, simply by suggesting they do something better or more ambitious than what they might have in mind”

I have appreciated those who have seen more in me than I thought possible, who summoned something greater from me by their expectations.

And I have delighted in those moments when I have been able to awaken a new possibility in someone else. That’s a calling that keeps me going.

What if you looked for opportunities to heighten the trajectory of someone who would otherwise settle for a lower arc?

What if you regularly asked “What if…?”

There could be more people more fully fulfilling their potential with even a slight course correction thanks to your interest and curiosity and encouragement.

Awaken possibility.

A belief in the blood

“My great religion is a belief in the blood, the flesh, as being wiser than the intellect. We can go wrong in our minds. But what our blood feels and believes and says, is always true. The intellect is only a bit and a bridle. What do I care about knowledge? All I want is to answer to my blood, direct, without fribbling intervention of mind, or moral, or what not.” –D. H. Lawrence

This reminds me of Kubrick’s “The truth of a thing is the feel of it, not the think of it.”

“We can go wrong in our minds.”

Indeed. Just read the news.

Undoubtedly, our age is more disconnected than any before it from the physical—from blood and flesh and the feel of sunshine on skin and feet on actual ground. And face-to-face conversation. And taste and smell and the delicate sounds that get lost in the wash of noise emanating from ubiquitous devices.

There’s a knowing that comes from the body that our long-ago ancestors probably were in touch with in a way we never will be.

Not that I want to quit feeding my mind. But I know I need to more fully inhabit more often my flesh and blood.

And feel as well as think.

The Journey is the Thing

“Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable. Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.” Tal Ben-Shahar in Happier

It’s about pointing yourself in a direction and toward an end that matters to you, and then fully inhabiting the journey toward that end. But it’s this moment, this step in the journey that is the true destination.

President Kennedy, in one of his final press conferences, responded to a question about how he was liking being President with a reference to the ancient Greek definition of happiness as “the full use of your powers along lines of excellence.”

That resonates. Tapping the limits of your potential and employing the full use of your powers in the quest toward some noble destination. An excellent journey.

Act as if you were absolutely perfect

“Disregard whatever you think yourself to be and act as if you were absolutely perfect—whatever your idea of perfection may be. All you need is courage… Behave as best you know. Do what you think you should. Don’t be afraid of mistakes; you can always correct them. Only intentions matter. The shape things take is not within your power; the motives of your actions are.” –Sri Nisargadatta Maharam

Caution is the devil, right? Have a bias toward action, even if you don’t know if you’re doing the “right” thing.

I tend to overthink and procrastinate and often end up missing out on the chance to do something good or to make something meaningful happen.

The better course is to just take action. Do something, anything.

Have courage. Act like you are who you aspire to be.

Hard work, hardly working

“What you choose to work on, and who you choose to work with, are far more important than how hard you work.” –Naval Ravikant

Hard work overrated?

Yes, especially if the “what” and “who” are undervalued.

Hard work and efficiency are actually detrimental if you’re heading in the wrong direction with the wrong people.

Get the who, what, and why right and the work won’t seem hard at all.

(By the way, Ravikant is a great Twitter follow—@naval.)