Who Is Thinking?

Do you have an opinion that is not the same as the generally held beliefs of the masses? Would you consider your thinking contrary or against the grain of popular belief? If yes, then: good.

Well, somewhat good. Your opinion, if voiced, could come at a significant cost. You could get publicly shamed, silenced, cancelled, or even killed. Jesus rubbed a few people wrong with His voice, and He was crucified. Many of His early believers followed Him and was on the wrong end of government-sanctioned murder. If you upset the mob, the mob will find a way to retaliate. Such is the way of the dissenting voice.

What is the alternative? To have the same beliefs and thoughts as the rest of the world? You could. You could go on autopilot, do the same as everyone else, believe what they believe, , think like they do. Isn’t this unity? A part of the collective?

If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.

Benjamin Franklin

To think like everyone else means you have shut down your own ability to think for yourself. You have taken the easy route and have done your best to remove what makes you unique. You might think there is nothing wrong with this. You might be right. But what if the world’s way of thinking is wrong? What if the direction of the mob or Big Brother does more harm than good? By not thinking differently, by not using your voice, you have made yourself complicit in the harm.

In Franklin’s time, men stood up and spoke out against a government they disagreed with. They fought for their ability to think differently. Not just for them, but for all who come after them.


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Age and Abilities

Working in a factory, I am amazed by how many workers in their thirties and forties conduct themselves as if they were in their fifties and sixties. They work manual labor jobs, but their bodies reflect those who live a sedentary life. Couple this with poor dietary choices and the result is premature aging. Not knowing their psychological status, I would dare say that none of them want to die early. But if they are fortunate to live to an old age, what will be the quality of their lives?

Regular daily physical activity has been a way of life for virtually every person who has reached the age of 100 in sound condition.

Dr. Alex Lief, Harvard Medical School

I recently read the above quote in my studies on exercise and older adults. Imagine living to 100. The century mark is still a rare occurrence even with what seems to be an ever-increasing average life expectancy. It would be amazing to live that long, unless you couldn’t enjoy it when you got there.

Daily physical activity. Is this the cup of “enjoyable” life we should all be drinking? When I think of Dr. Lief’s point, I can only think of all the older (the ones close to a 100) that I have met. A few stand out that seem to be truly enjoying life. They were more than just functional. They were thriving in both body and mind. What sets them apart from their peers? Living that long there is no doubt they have had their fair share of pain and heartache. And yet, they keep moving on with a light in their eyes and a smile of their faces.

Almost everything we have been taught about aging is wrong. We now know that a very fit body of 70 can be the same as a moderately fit body of 30.

Dr. Walter Bortz, We Live too Short and Die too Young

Imagine a fit 70-year-old with the physical capabilities of one that is 30. I know some, and no doubt you have met a few as well. Imagine if at 30, you didn’t have the metabolic age of someone in their fifties. Both scenarios are possible. And like a good mutual fund balance, the earlier you start, the better.

But this post is more than just having a fit body into your senior years. Your mind and your outlook on life plays a significant role in how you age.

Everybody hopes to reach old age but when it comes, most of us complain about it.

Cicero

The earlier you start complaining about your age and limitations, the worse you will age. You could condition yourself to become the decrepit individual with no joy and light in the eyes. Nobody would say they want that as their dream. Don’t let it be you. Build your body through movement and good nutrition. Guard your mind and don’t let those negative age-related thoughts become your reality.


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How Important Is It?

Imagine all the things you want to do in this life. Some them are truly great. Some of them could, in some way, make a great impact on this world and our way of living. Right now, all you have is a dream, one that is almost an impossibility. The odds of success are barely there. They are so small. Yet, there is a chance. With God, all things are possible. And you, as a child of God, have the same potential of possibility. This thing that is in your mind. It can be accomplished.

If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should do it.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk. You might not like him or even agree with what he does, but it doesn’t change the fact that he daily tries to achieve what seems to be impossible. What he does in his mind is to him, the right thing to do. He believes his work is important for both him and humanity. Despite the odds, he is going to do it.

How are you any different? You have the same potential. If it is the right thing to do, you should do it. Who cares how slight the chance of success is? You can do it. This is your gift to humanity.


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Better to Have and Not Need

A glutton has an endless desire to accumulate more. They are always hungry, and their appetites are never sated. Like the glutton, the materialist has the same appetite, only theirs are for things. They can never have enough. If it is shiny and new, or if it is rare and hard to find, they want it.

Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.

Franz Kafka

The beauty of Kafka’s words is that it goes beyond gluttony and materialism. It seems to speak of something of a higher nature. Like the carpenter, it is not about having all the hammers but having the right variety of hammers capable of performing the necessary work.

Rather than outside possessions, consider the following internal possessions:

Can you have too much knowledge, too much wisdom? We all know the consequences of a lack in one of these, but there is no harm in an excess.

Can you have too much discipline or too great a work ethic?

What about courage? Better to be courageous, than to lack it in your time of need.

Would you rather have an abundance of faith or not enough of it?

What about love? Antonio Porchia said, “In a full heart there is room for everything, and in an empty heart there is room for nothing.” Without love in your heart, you will truly be barren.

Food comes and goes. Too much spoils. If you eat too much, your body will hold an undesirable excess.

Possessions will only last for a short time. Fortune gives and takes away. Whatever you have left in the end, you will leave behind.

The acquisition of virtue is sublime. It imprints a mark on your eternal soul. And wherever the soul travels in this life or the next, its character will remain intact. Better to have on that day of your need than to be without and suffer the consequences.


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Contemplating Seneca #52: Wandering Outdoor Walks

Last week, Alec and I took our first hike in quite some time. As we walked along, I marveled at his enthusiasm and curiosity. Every rock, flower, and tree was the object of his admiration. We crossed streams, traversed logs, and hopped from boulder to boulder. We were out in nature breathing in the fresh air and connecting deeply with the earth. There was no cell phone signal and no technological distractions.

We spend so much time indoors. In the morning, we leave our house, get in our cars, go to school or work, back in our cars, and finish it all up secure in our homes. It is all the trappings of a modern life, yet far removed from the way our ancestors lived.

In Alec’s case, he does the above and then goes to the gym three days a week. How much sunshine and fresh air does he get? Not enough!

We should take wandering outdoor walks, so that the mind might be nourished and refreshed by the open air and deep breathing. -Seneca

I need more time outdoors. Alec does too. This year, I have made a commitment to myself to make a change. I wish it could be every day. But for now, I am going to start on the weekends I don’t have to work. We are going to hike more. We are going to get out in nature, breathe in the fresh air, and nourish our bodies.

Pulliam Creek Trail. Flatrock, NC
Green River Narrows, Flat Rock, NC
Brief summary.

Between Fake and Real

Some of the richest people you will ever meet are not the ones that drive around in the flashy cars, wear the trendiest clothes, or live in the most upscale homes. Nope. Some of the richest people you will ever meet will come and go without giving you any clues to their wealth.

The ones that would flaunt their wealth may not actually be that wealthy. Even if they seem to have money, they might be poor. They might be in an advanced state of materialism which keeps them always chasing after the next latest and greatest shiny object.

It is best for the wise man not to seem wise.

Aeschylus

Like the fake wealthy are those that would want you to believe they are wise. They will flaunt their sagacity like a fake Rolex on the wrist. They will seek you out so that you may give them the validation they need. But true keepers of wisdom don’t need the show, they don’t need to seek you out. A true guru doesn’t go looking for students. Instead, it is the other way around. The one who would pursue wisdom will go looking for the guru.

Maybe the idea of faking it until you make it works in some areas. But faking wealth until you have it will leave you with less than you started with. And as for faking wisdom, leave that sport for the fools. Rather than faking, pursue. Do the research. Do the work. Become what you want to be, not a shell of something you are not.


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Climbing Mt. Vision

We are what and where we are because we have first imagined it. -Donald Curtis

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become. -Buddha

A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances. -James Allen

We become what we think about all day long. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Throughout the ages, the message has been repeated over and again. You are the product of your thinking. In our youth, our imagination ran wild with the possibilities of what we could accomplish. Somewhere along the way, as we aged, we became more “responsible” and put away those childish dreams. However, reigning in our imaginations did not halt the fact that we are still the product of our thoughts.

In Pushing to the Front (click here for free e-book), Orison Swett Marden wrote, “We lift ourselves by our thoughts, we climb upon our vision of ourselves.” Mt. Everest is but a molehill compared to the vision I have imagined for myself. I don’t know if I will ever get to the top. Regardless, I will never stop climbing. Consider Marden’s words and elevate your level of thinking. Take your imagination to the heights and begin your ascent to Mt. Vision.


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Happiness and Flow

There are some days where flow seems impossible. A sporadic mind, a cell phone designed to distract and interrupt, and countless other trivialities spring up. Those days are difficult. Items need to get checked off the list, but the boxes remain blank. It is easy to get frustrated when this happens. It is easy to blame the universe and those within it for destroying your chances of productivity. Such an unhappy state!

But then, there are the other days. There are days when you are gifted with a laser-like focus. You are in the zone, and you got the flow. You don’t need the coffee and its stimulating effects because what you got within is more than enough. Those days are the best. Pure bliss!

Happiness is a good flow of life.

Zeno

If you want to be happy, you must find the flow. Whatever that flow is, doesn’t matter. It is your flow. All you must do is get on and enjoy the ride.

This state is available to all of us. You can find it in a day, or it might take you a lifetime. Such is the quest for happiness. You define it, then you pursue it, and hopefully, finally, you find it. You will meet it on your own terms when you are ready.


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One Day, This Day

As the sun comes up, I face towards it, and like an Egyptian of antiquity, stare straight into its center. It is a beautiful blessing to look upon its face and consider how fortune has favored me. I am alive. I am well. As far as I know, all my friends and family, all those I consider dear to my heart, are also alive and well. We have survived to see another day. This is a blessing. The air we breathe, a blessing. The Sun with the power to create and destroy, a blessing.

In this moment, I think upon the day before me. Like the Sun, will I be light? Will I shine, and radiate, and be a blessing to others? What good will I do this day?

One day is worth a thousand tomorrows.

Ben Franklin

This day is all that matters. No would have, could have, or should have. Can I go to bed tonight with the knowledge that I did all in my power to do? If I wake tomorrow to see another day, I will continue to build upon this foundation created over a span of yesterdays. But if not, I am at peace. I did today, all that I could do.

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Experimenting in the Lab of Life

What I didn’t like about High School Science: When it was time to experiment, you only had one chance to make it work. And the experiment you were conducting wasn’t really yours, you were just replicating someone else’s.

It reminds of all the time I spent reading the Book of Proverbs as a kid. I had the lessons right there in front of me, but I didn’t have the first-hand knowledge. It wasn’t until I conducted by own ill-advised experiments that I could understand the validity of Solomon’s sayings. Of course, most of those experiments went wrong. Some of them set me back several years. There were dark times of doubt and confusion. There were even more times of delusion where I traded long-term fulfillment for the fleeting pleasures of the short-term.

But not all the experiments were bad. Some were useful, providing a solid foundation that I continue to build on to this day (reading). Even the experiments that went horribly bad (finances) proved to be valuable lessons.

A true experiment, unlike those conducted in a High School Laboratory, ventures into the unknown. It will test your boundaries as it delves into the uncomfortable. Often, we choose comfort, but it is the uncomfortable that makes us resilient to fears, anxiety, stress, and weakness. The more we experiment with our bodies, our minds, and our souls, the stronger we become. By experimenting daily, we can test the boundaries of our capabilities and see what is truly possible in this life.

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Get out of your comfort zone. Get into the lab of life and start experimenting.


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