Each repetition with that heavy weight reinforced the signal to my muscles—they must become stronger. Oh, the strength won’t come today. No, today is the sacrifice that precedes the gain in strength tomorrow. Or in my case, the strength that may come someday in the future. With strength training, there is no immediate gratification. There is only the next repetition, the preparation for the next building block to be added to the foundation.
Every time I do a good deed, my expectation isn’t for my own benefit. But for every good deed I do, I become stronger. My ability to perform more good deeds increases. Whether that good deed is for myself or for others, I get stronger. And when those deeds are directed toward others, they, the recipients, get stronger. The community gets stronger.
Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.
The beauty of strength training is that anybody can do it and reap the benefits. There is no prejudice. There is no exclusion for only a certain group of people. Everybody can train and become stronger. Strength goes beyond muscles, tendons, and bones. It is developed in our good actions. Each good action is another repetition promoting positive change and adding to another layer on top of the foundation.
Action breeds action. Inaction does the same. To become stronger, we must train.
When it comes to where to invest our money, we have a plethora of options:
Some are slow-going and relatively secure. Others are contingent on how all the others are doing. And some are a toss of the dice with the fingers crossed.
All investments have the same end-goal in mind. The investor wants to get a positive return. So, what this have to do with a poet?
Charity and personal force are the only investments.
Charity. How is charity an investment? Is there a tangible return on a good deed that has no expectation of getting anything back in return? For the investor that is only looking to increase the portfolio size, it is an obvious no. but are we not all connected as humans on this planet? If we make a charitable investment into our communities, do we not get a positive return? By helping those in need, we can create a portfolio that goes beyond our own lives. This is an interest that truly compounds.
Personal Force. Whitman said this is the other great investment. Once we put ourselves into motion, momentum builds. When we invest in ourselves, whether through education, health, or any other self-improving endeavor, we become more valuable. Our stock goes up.
The challenge for us today is to take Whitman’s words to heart. Charity and personal force. Are there any sounder investments than these two?
When you love a game, it can consume your thoughts. You find yourself learning the rules, learning the strategies to help you become better, and learning how to counteract and defeat your opponent. When it comes to a game, winning is the end goal. And winning, also known as success, comes easier to those who love the game.
The same application of love can be utilized in one’s occupation, hobbies, art, and faith. It also applies to one’s relationships. When you love something or someone, you want to become better than you were yesterday in relation to the object of your desires.
When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.
Better is, well, it is better. When I become better in one aspect, I can utilize that same formula to other areas of my life. My love for knowledge and understanding in one subject can spark growth in others as well. When Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all,” he hit the mark spot on. If we put our hearts into it, if we truly love what we are doing or pursuing, then we are getting the most out of our education. Everything becomes better with love.
One of the last things I do before I go to sleep is say a prayer of thanks. I am grateful for friends and family, breath and life, health and love. I have food, shelter, and the means to provide for my wife and son. Sound of mind, body, and soul.
Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.
Of course, I want more. But in truth, I have more than I really need. If I only pursue the latest and the greatest, I will be a slave to every new generation of “stuff.”
I have so much, and that is enough. For this I am thankful. Truly, I am blessed.
There was once a time when one would hurry ahead only to open the door for the one coming behind. Now a person would hardly look back to see if any was coming.
Once a lady could board a crowded train or bus and others would get up and offer her their seat. Now, she stands.
Once, driving down the road, motorists would use their turn signals and allow others to merge into their lanes. Not anymore.
But that was in the past.
A genuine “how do you do,” a hearty handshake, a smile, and a heartfelt response. Have these become relics of a previous age?
Courtesy is as much a mark of man as is courage.
Courage is no doubt a virtue many would attain. Do we look at courtesy in the same light? Consider the cost it requires to show a little kindness. For you, it may only be a few seconds to go out of your way. For the recipient, the effects may leave a lasting impression paying dividends for years to come.
Natural disasters, pandemics, global elitist playing the part of puppet master, drought, starvation, war, inflation.
So much in this world that weighs us down physically and mentally. Why is this happening to us? Why now? How do we stop it?
Why us and why now really come down to our viewpoint. The good times are the easiest to remember and certainly the times we long for. But catastrophes do not discriminate. They don’t just go after you and the ones you love. They attack anybody and everybody that gets in their way. A tidal wave doesn’t pick who its victims will be. It is an equal-opportunity destroyer. The hard times has always come and gone only to turn around and come again. It is rather depressing if you allow it to depress you.
What about trying to stop it? Equally depressing is the answer. Some things you just can’t stop. You can give water to him that thirsts, but can you stop a drought?
Let him that would move the world first move himself.
Leave it to Socrates to find a glimmer of hope in what seems to be an unfixable situation. Maybe there are some things we cannot change, but there are some that we can. We can be the catalysts that sparks a movement. We can be the rock in which others find shelter and comfort. We can be these things but not without a price. What is this price? We must first be willing to change. We must become the pinnacle of self-improvement. We must learn to grow, adapt, and as Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” It begins with us on the individual level. And once we fix ourselves, we can go about trying to fix the world.
The lady stood in line at the grocery store. The associates knew who she was and was giving her a wide berth. Unfortunately, another customer got too close to her in the line. The cashier, who happens to be my wife, attempted to give him a silent signal with her mask-covered face. It didn’t work, and the lady finally found another target for her hate. And thus, unfolded the same weekly tirade at the grocery store. This lady is in a perpetual state of anger and doesn’t care who feels her wrath.
The easiest solution is to return hate with hate. If it were me, I would make a game of it and flood her with more sarcasm than she could handle. But is that the right course of action? Does this improve the situation, or is it only a severe case of pettiness? I know what I would do, and I also know what I should do. Sadly, would and should are not the same thing. In this case, I will have to consider the words of one of the great thinkers in history. What would he do?
What Would Plato Do?
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
Our antagonist in this story is angry. She is bitter. I cannot imagine the cause. But pouring gasoline on the fire is not beneficial to anybody. The battle she is fighting may be harder than anything I have imagined. Kindness may not cure her of her problems, but kindness is the answer. Thank you, Plato, for these words of wisdom.
In the beginning, we acquired resources. This was done for our survival. Food, water, and shelter. Once the basics were covered, we acquired resources for the survival of our offspring. That was the way, way back in the day.
We weren’t materialist back then, we were survivalists. But the times changed. We began acquiring resources for the sake of having them. We acquired them for the status, the power, and the comfort. All this stuff, just because we could. And not even one ounce of it can we take with us into our next lives.
The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
If we go back to the beginning, life began as covering the basic needs. Then, it became about ensuring the survival of future generations. If you have your basics covered, how are you now spending your life? Is it only for you, or is it for something that will provide value to the ones who will be here after you are gone?
No matter how many languages you translate this into, the beauty of saying thank you is never diminished. What in this world, in this universe, should we be thankful for? If you ponder all of it, then what we owe our existence to goes far beyond the infinite.
And yet, when we pray, do we start with gratitude? And if we go deep and consider the infinite, which deserves our gratitude, will we have time for our personal requests? Exactly how important is our requests? Of course, to us our requests mean everything. This desire however, according to the Buddhists, is the cause of our suffering. Yet, if we have a heart full of gratitude, how much are we truly suffering?
If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.
Take a moment today to consider all the things we have. There is so much for us to be grateful for. We have more blessings than our ability to count them. Thank you.
And thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read this post. I deeply appreciate it.
Heart disease. That is scary. Once the ol’ ticker goes, so does the soul that inhabits the body. Heart disease is so scary that millions will go on a lifetime prescription journey in the hopes of avoiding it.
The heart is a muscle. Like any other muscle, it can be trained. If you exercise it and give it the right nutrients, you can strengthen it and significantly reduce your chances of disease in the future. Between medication and diet/exercise, what would you choose?
Having a strong, healthy heart should be a priority. As stated earlier: once it is gone, so are you. As a result, we go to great extremes to protect it. But the worst heart problem cannot be fixed with exercise. Medication cannot cure it. Doctors may be able to repair it once it is damaged, but they are powerless when it comes to repairing this most serious of heart problems.
Some would say your heart and soul are one in the same. I agree. But where the heart muscle will one day cease to exist, your heart soul will continue into your next existence. But without love and charity in your heart now, you might find yourself in a shack on the outskirts of heaven instead of that mansion you were hoping for.