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.
The question in the title is the question I have been considering lately. How do you live a perfect day? What does that even look like? Is it possible? Honestly, I do not know. However, I do know it is worth trying find out.
What would make a day perfect? To define this, we must go back to the philosophy of stoicism. The stoics believe we are responsible for everything within our control. Therefore, a perfect day can still involve rain, snow, personal loss, and other “less than ideal” situations. A perfect day is not a cosmic alignment of the stars. Instead, it is what you did to make the day perfect. Were you able to control the things that were in your control?
If we go back to the question of what a perfect day involves within the parameters of what is in our control, what are some of the things you can do to make it perfect?
Wake up refreshed and energized.
This begins with executing a routine the night before. If the unexpected happens the night before, which could very well happen, then it is out of your control. Either way, we must play the hand we are dealt to the best of our abilities. Just remember, the better you prepare the night before, the better your odds of success on the following morning.
Eat and drink right.
A perfect day doesn’t involve putting something in my mouth that I will regret a few hours later or will destroy my chances of a perfect day on the morrow. Remember, we are what we eat (and drink).
Get the things you need/want done.
Plan it out, create the list, and check off the boxes. But what if your idea of a perfect day is to take one off and do nothing? Then make the arrangements beforehand so that you have no misgivings while you are enjoying your day. And if your day is about super-productivity, then go into attack-mode and get after it. Of course, outside influences might slow or halt your progress. Don’t worry, they are outside your control. Deal with them and move on. What is not outside of your control is the wasted time. If you can identify and eliminate it, then you will be able to crush your “to-do” list.
These three things could put you well on your way to achieving that ever-elusive perfect day. But those three do not seem to be enough. Something seems to be missing:
Oh, the icing on the perfect day cake. It is an act of unconditional love for someone other than yourself. This is giving the cup of water to the one who thirsts. It is the essence of godliness. If you want to make a good day divine, then be on the lookout for these opportunities that have the power to change the lives of those you encounter. It is the final and most important ingredient to make your day perfect.
Consider the souls that have touched your life. Consider the acts of kindness, love, and friendship that you will never be able to forget. These are rare gifts that we should hold dear. Those moments are the catalysts for the stories worth remembering and worth telling. And once they are passed down, they inspire others to acts in similar ways.
Or maybe, it will inspire the recipient of that love and friendship to be more loving and to be a better friend to others. Maybe one generous act of kindness crossing your path of destiny will change your course so dramatically that others will also be affected. The result would be an exponential return of love. The result would be a truly better world.
No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without forever leaving some mark on it forever.
It might have been a mess when we got here. It certainly was far from perfect. What will it look like when we leave?
How will the impact of your presence affect:
The lives of those around us
Where we work
We can’t expect to walk into a good place, but we can make it better than when we found it. We can’t expect others to do it, but we are not accountable for their actions. We are only accountable for our own.
I wake up. I struggle to get out of bed. Instead of checking in on how I feel, I look to the sleep section on my Fitbit app. Ugh. Another mediocre night of sleep. I think about the long day ahead and force myself to get dressed and go workout.
I am at work and check my email. I check my schedule to make sure I am where I am supposed to be at the appropriate time. I reach for the coffee to help me get through the meetings with those that do not want to meet, to get through the tasks that need to get done, and to get through the reports that need to be completed.
Back at home. Chores, dinner, a wound-up kid with tons of energy that need to be burned, and a spouse whose day wasn’t much different than mine.
Bedtime. Will I be able to get to sleep? Tomorrow is a new day with a new set of struggles like the ones of today.
The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.
Neale Donald Walsch
What if the day looked different? Of course, it would be the same day with the same set of obstacles. But what if I had a different perspective? Instead of drudgery and have-to, what if it was opportunity and want-to? What if…
The alarm goes off, and I take a moment to check in with myself. I made it through the night to see another day. Not everybody gets that chance, but I do. I get dressed and exercise grateful that I have a mind and body that can still do it.
At work. I have a job that pays the bills and allows me and my family to live a relatively comfortable lifestyle. I have a chance to help others and make new connections. Somebody finds value in what I do. I find value in what I do.
Home. I have a wife and child who love me. There is food on the table and shelter over our heads. Our basic needs are met.
Bedtime. The bed is comfortable. Sleep comes with the knowledge of peace and security. Sleep comes because I did not squander the day in idleness, but instead made the most of the opportunities given to me. And if I am given another tomorrow, then I am given another opportunity. I am given a gift to be grateful for.