Two Minds

Little Minds

It starts with a wish:

  • Want more money.
  • It all to be easier.
  • More comfortable.
  • Worry-free.

Sometimes wishes are acted upon:

  • Go back to school to hopefully get a higher paying job.
  • Take the steps to become more efficient or to reduce the workload.
  • Check out from the adventures that life has to offer and watch more television and play more games.
  • Don’t let responsibility be a cause for stress.

Most wishes are well-intended. Who doesn’t want a better life? But for the little minded, it never goes beyond the wish. They are perpetual dreamers without the ability to turn their wishes into reality. As soon as adversity comes their way, they come to a full-stop. Their dreams get derailed, and they find themselves in the same place if not in a worse one.

Great Minds

We have all heard stories of heroes who overcame adversity. They hit the wall, but they didn’t let the wall end their journey. Instead, they found a way to get over, go around, or push through. How were they able to do this when so many around them stopped?

The heroes also had dreams and wishes, but these dreams and wishes evolved into something greater. They have a purpose. As the great yogi Paramanhansa Yogananda once said, “ A wish is a desire without energy.” Actionable purposes are the engines that get us to our intended destinations. Without them, we do not move in the direction we want to go. We remain stagnant.

An obstacle makes us think smarter and work harder. Overcoming it makes us stronger and more resilient to future obstacles. There will always be detours, snares, and pitfalls along the way. Great minds realize this and don’t let it hinder them. Rather, they embrace the challenge it presents. If the purpose is great enough, nothing short of death will deter it.

Great minds have purposes; others have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.

Washington Irving

Since this post ultimately ends with action, here is your call to action:

No doubt you have a dream. Is it only a dream or has it become a purpose? If it is not a purpose yet, then it is well past the time to get up and get moving. Put action into the dream and go beyond those with the little minds. To be a great mind, we must have a purpose that will not get derailed by the obstacles in our way.

Examining Epictetus #38: Inward Beauty

A somewhat fit body, clothes that fit well, good hygiene. When I am out in public, this is the way I want to present myself. I don’t want to look like I am indifferent and have little regard for my external appearance. Some may consider this vanity. I consider it appropriate and professional. It is not easy making good first-impressions and opening new networks when your appearance causes others to shy away from you.

But wait you say. Shouldn’t we focus on the inside more than the outside? Why should we be judgmental of another’s appearance? They cannot help what they look like. To this, my response is that I do not judge the things that are outside one’s control. And though I am responsible for what is within my control, I try not to judge what is within another’s control. After all, one’s choices are appropriate to them and right in their eyes. Therefore, I will do my best not to judge them at all. But regarding my own person, I will continue to do my best not to be repellant to others.

Give me beauty in the inward soul; may the outward and the inward man be at one.

Socrates

My true focus is on the inward soul. This is the part of me that is eternal. The outward shell will eventually succumb to the ravages of age and dis-ease. The body will break down and be no more. I can do my best to delay the process, but ultimately time will be the victor. Death is inevitable, and I will return to the dust from whence I sprang.

If  I want to be beautiful, then it is to the inward soul I must turn. This is the true beauty I seek. So, how do I make myself beautiful? It begins with choice.

You are not your body and hair-style, but your capacity for choosing well. If your choices are beautiful, so too you will be.

Epictetus

Inward beauty is the pinnacle of virtue. And to be virtuous, one must continually make good choices. Let us look at the four cardinal virtues.

Wisdom

Wise choices are well thought-out. They are often made through good counsel and with the best intentions for not only the individual but also for those around them. A fool does not do this. Their choices are both rash and irrational. A fool will repeat his mistakes because he fails to learn from his poor choices.

Discipline

Those lacking discipline fail to see the big picture. They might have an idea of the greater rewards to come, but they choose immediate gratification available to them now. They choose not to wait. Rather than keep working, they make the choice of least resistance.

Discipline is a matter of staying the course unto the end. Small, fleeting rewards pale in comparison to the greater treasures that come to the persistent, pro-active, and patient.

Justice

Do the right thing. The righteous will do this consistently. The wicked will not.

I can’t say I have always been consistent, but I do my best. I’m reminded of these words from the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers:

Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.

Vince Lombardi

I can strive for perfection and who knows, maybe I’ll catch excellence along the way. I can protect my inner citadel with filters on the things my mind consumes. I can think before I act in a way that is beneficial to more than only myself. When I see fraud, I can call it out lest I too become fraud.* These things are within my control. This is the path of the righteous.

Courage

About 30 centuries ago, King Solomon gave us this proverb:

The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!”

Proverbs 22:13

Lions are fearsome creatures that can wreak havoc on a village. If everybody barred their doors and hid inside what would happen? Back in Solomon’s day, there was no doorstep delivery by drones, no indoor plumbing, or electricity to power the refrigerator and streaming services. 3, 4, and 5G was unheard of. Cabin fever wasn’t the worst problem one faced. However, starvation, dehydration, and sanitation were. It would be preferable to deal with the threat of a lion outside than to stay locked down within the confines of one’s home. The heroes back in the day courageously went about their business. And if there was a lion walking down the street, they dealt with it.

Threats to our existence forcing us to stay within the safety of our homes have been around long before anything we have seen over the last couple of years. Predators, cosmic impacts, plagues, and war have taken its toll on our species, yet we have survived. Humanity is resilient, and it was not by hiding. It was not by staying in place. It was through action. And that takes courage.

Courage is a beautiful choice. Where others seek shelter, the bold go forth. They move themselves, their communities, and their species toward progress. We can either be stagnant in our evolution, or we can take the required steps for growth.


Socrates understood that beauty starts on the inside. Epictetus, who undoubtedly studied Socrates, further elaborated on this concept because the world still preferred external beauty over the internal. Today, things have not changed. We continue to chase after the fleeting and ignore the eternal.

We may live in this world, but we don’t have to do what the rest of the world does. We can look inward and create a beautiful soul. We can make our inner lights shine so bright that others will admire the beauty we possess. This beauty we can take with us into the next life.


*If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud. -Nicholas Nassim Taleb

Finding Love

“Nobody loves me!”

How many times have you heard someone say that? How many times have you felt that way in your own life? The feeling of not being loved weighs deeply on the mind. It brings on feelings of moroseness, frustration, and depression. Everybody wants to be loved. And when you don’t feel it, the emptiness within grows and eats away at your very being.

The truth is that most people are loved. Maybe they haven’t found that special someone to spend the rest of their lives with yet, but they are still loved by others in their network. The problem is they don’t recognize it. They do not feel as if they are loved. And the words, “nobody loves me,” is usually expressed to those they trust, to those that do love them.

And in the off chance that nobody really loves them, they must ask themselves why. Why does nobody love them? Hopefully, the answer to that question leads to more questions. Hopefully, it leads back to the one asking it. With a little digging we can find out the reason. We can get to the root of the problem and find ways to correct them.

If you would be loved, love.

Hecato of Rhodes

This is maxim that stretches back through the ages. If you want to be loved, you must be willing to love first. We must go beyond the selfish mindset of “nobody loves me.” We must first learn to love and freely give our time and devotion to that pursuit. If we want to receive, me must give.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

We have grown up with tales of giants. Cultures around the world claim they once existed. And even today, tales of hidden giants and their remains surface in the media. Did they exist? Are they still out there?

I have never seen a giant, nor have I seen firsthand their skeletons. I have seen structures that look like they may have been built by giants, but who can say for sure? And though literature throughout the ages have covered their existence, I have never read anything written by an actual giant.

If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Sir Isaac Newton

Newton gives credit to the giants whose shoulders he stood upon. Who were they? Was it Goliath, Loki, or the big man living at the top of the beanstalk? No. Newton’s giants were of ordinary stature but of extraordinary talent. His list of giants included Aristotle, Descartes, Galileo, and Kepler. In time, Newton himself became a giant upon whose shoulders others stood upon. And if I want to see farther, whose shoulders will I stand on? Of course, I have my own giants that I look to, individuals who have lived exemplary lives leaving behind works and words that have survived the ages. By studying them, I can stand on their shoulders and see a little farther. Who knows, there may even come a day when others may be able to stand upon my shoulders to increase their vision. I don’t want to let them down or cause them to not see  as far as they can.

To stand upon the shoulders of the greats who have come before us is a privilege that can only come through a lifetime of learning and personal growth. It is available to all who wish to see a little farther.

Examining Epictetus #33: Trials, Character Development, and the Way

Trials

It doesn’t matter what it is. When I see my son struggle in any endeavor, I feel bad for him. I wish he didn’t have to go through the ordeal. I wish it was easier for him.

Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.

Jim Rohn

This wish for him is a very tiny wish, and it only lasts for a few seconds. Reality quickly sets in, and my moment of weakness is gone. As a father, it is not my job to remove his obstacles. Instead, it is my job to make sure he goes through them and to help him navigate them to the best of his abilities. I hate it when he loses, but the losing is necessary. Better to lose now and learn from the experience than to learn it hard way later in life. It is preferable to lose a game or fail a test now than to do so when the stakes are higher. Learning the lessons from his trials puts him on a path to winning (consistently) in the future.

The trials we go through expose our weaknesses. They show us where we need to improve. They create the path to strengths we never knew possible.

Character Development

One of the greatest joys in life is accomplishing a difficult goal. Thoreau said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals .” Our destination is important. Even more important is who we become along the way. This journey is critical to the development of our character.

This is the ultimate game. It is one that is dear to our hearts. Cheating or cutting corners in our personal endeavors diminishes our returns. Short-sighted and shallow goals will do us no good. We cannot play small in a game void of consequences. Doing so provides no benefits.

We must be willing to play big if we want the lucrative rewards that comes from both the process and accomplishment.

The Way

How do we go big and win? We put it all on the line. Look at the winners around us. Championship teams don’t hoist the trophy by luck. Gold medalists  don’t get to the podium by happenstance. They make their goals, and then they fully immerse themselves in the quest. They make it their top priority.

This is the way. We must make it the most important thing in our lives. We can either make our journey into a reality, or we can keep it as a wish.

Give yourself fully to your endeavors. Decide to construct your character through excellent actions and determine to pay the price of a worthy goal. The trials you encounter will introduce you to your strengths.

Epictetus

Give 100%. Develop your character like it is your birth right. Find your strengths.

Proverbs 18:15 The Heart and the Ear

Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”  Can you really learn anything if your heart is not in it? Your mind can want it, but it is your heart that provides the motion. To be properly educated, get your heart into it.

“When you talk,” said the Dalai Lama, “you are repeating something you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” If you want to learn something new, you must listen.

The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

Proverbs 18:15

A Step of Faith

What is faith? Is it not believing in someone or something even if you can’t see it? I don’t think about the air I breathe. I never consider if it has the right mixture of gases. Breathing is a natural function, and I have faith that my body will be able to use the air it takes in.

Blind faith is different and often dangerous. Whether it is an over-confidence in one’s abilities or a disconnect from the reality of one’s circumstances, blind faith can be disastrous. Eating an unknown mushroom can result in negative consequences up to and including death. Walking in complete darkness can have similar results. if you are going to have faith, blind faith is not the one you want to have.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I love these words from Dr. King. I see the staircase in front of me. I know that what I want is at the top even if I don’t completely understand the full value of what is up there. My only choices are to stay in place or take the first step. The consequences of not moving are more dangerous than the action of taking the step. Action begets action. One step leads to another. I have faith that my legs and heart will get me to the top. This is faith. It is not blind faith, but faith in the process of doing what I was put one this earth to do. It begins with the action. Therefore, I must go.

Confidence for the Win

Merriam-Webster

Belief in one’s own abilities. How do you get this belief? Hone your abilities. Practice. The speaker that lacks confidence is lacking in practice and experience. The singer that didn’t memorize the words to the song will lack the confidence to perform on the stage.

Why is my son not a better wrestler? It is not because of physical ability. It is because he lacks confidence. How so? He is a novice. He only knows a few techniques and has yet to master them. His teammates and opponents have more years of experience. They have a larger arsenal of techniques and moves at their disposal. They have spent more time practicing. But as Alec gets more time on the mat, as he grows in experience and continues to practice, his confidence will improve. He will become a better wrestler.

If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.

Carl Lewis

Winning and winning consistently is a product of confidence. It is a product of a belief in your abilities. That belief comes through practice, which in time will lead to mastery.

Contemplating Seneca #25 On Written Goals

Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When you don’t know what harbor you’re aiming for, no wind is the right wind.

Seneca

Whether it is at the beginning of the year, at the end, or somewhere in between, the act of creating goals is one of the great separators between the high-performers and the rest of the field. It doesn’t matter your age or station in life. If you want to get ahead, it starts with goals. Obviously, that is not enough. It is only a starting point. Keep in mind these words from Sir Francis Drake: There must be a beginning to any great matter – But the continuing unto to the end, until it be thoroughly finished, yields the true glory.

So, you have yourself a goal to get better at something that is holding you back. Accomplishing this goal will understandably change your life. What should be the first step?

The act of writing down your goals has stunning benefits. Check out these words from Keith Ferrazzi in his book Never Eat Alone and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time:

As my dad used to say, no one becomes an astronaut by accident. Luck has little to do with achievement, as a study cited in Success magazine makes clear. In the study, researchers asked Yale’s class of 1953 a number of questions. Three had to do with goals:

-Have you set goals?

-Have you written them down?

-Do you have a plan to accomplish them?

It turned out that only 3 percent of the Yale class had written down their goals, with a plan of action to achieve them. Thirteen percent had goals but had not written them down. Fully 84 percent had no specific goals at all, other than to “enjoy themselves.” In 1973, when the same class was resurveyed, the differences between the goal setters and everyone else were stunning. The 13 percent who had goals that were not in writing were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent of students who had no goals at all. But most surprising of all, the 3 percent who had written their goals down were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent of graduates combined!

Writing down your goals could put you in the top 3%. That is an elite level. Being in the top 3% in any sport would almost guarantee an induction into a Hall of Fame. In any business sector, a top 3 percenter goes together with being a top earner. Imagine being at the top of the list of authors, entrepreneurs, or leaders. How about being a top 3% father or mother? Natural talent will only get a person so far. The rest is a combination of smart work and hard work. if we want our plans to bear fruit, we must have an aiming point.

Time to get smart,

Or rather it is time to develop some S.M.A.R.T. goals.

SMART Goals: Definitions and Examples

On a piece of paper, write down what you want your goal to be. Then define it using the S.M.A.R.T. method. When you are done, hang it up or put it somewhere that will serve as a daily reminder. Congratulations! You now have a higher probability of achieving your goal. Your chances of success have just increased exponentially.

To do more for the world than the world does for you—that is success.

Henry Ford

Personal goals are fantastic for getting you from point A to point B. However, personal goals only serve the individual making the goal. Altruistic goals on the other hand, benefit not only the goal creator but others. If we are truly interested in finding success, we must consider goals that do more for others than ourselves.

My Dirty Doorstep

There is one that I love like a brother. However, he is almost the exact opposite in personality, communication, and demeanor. As much as I love him, there are times I don’t want to be around him. It is simply too stressful.

Whenever this person does something, I am quick to complain to the others in our mutual circle. My complaining may start off with the latest perceived infraction, but inevitably it will extend to all the previous faults that still bother me today.

Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof, when your own doorstep is unclean.

Confucius

I am far from perfect. I am stubborn, arrogant, and often sarcastic at the wrong moments. I can be petty, selfish, and unempathetic. For all my good qualities, the bad ones are just as prevalent and probably more noticeable to my friends and family. These are areas that need some serious work but are also ones that I do not like having pointed out to me by others.

All day long I can complain about the snow on my neighbor’s roof. Yes, that roof is a problem, but it is not my problem. I cannot control my neighbor’s actions, their roof, or the weather that brought the snow. The only thing I can control are my actions and my attitude. Marcus Aurelius said I should be tolerant with others and strict with myself. If I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, such as cleaning the mess on my doorstep, I would have no time to complain about the snow on my neighbor’s roof. I would have no time to complain about my friend’s problems.

If thy brother wrongs thee, remember not so much his wrong-doing, but more than ever that he is thy brother.

Epictetus

Patience is what I need when I am around my friend. His issues and the way he deals with them are his own best practice. And if it works for him, then I need to be less critical. I am not going to change this person, but I can love him for all the good qualities that makes him my friend. And if it rubs me the wrong way, then that is my problem. It is a problem with my perception and attitude, a problem that I need to correct.