Simple Progression to Personal Wealth and Happiness

Here is a little wealth and happiness insight from a theologian and evangelist from the late 18th century:

Make all you can. Easy right. I guess that depends on what your definition of easy is. “Make all you can” is not to be confused with “make as much as your neighbor or friends or those around you.” Nope. This is your own race and not a comparative one. Make as much you can whether that’s a hundred dollars or a hundred million. If you want more, you have to be willing to do more. That means you will have to put in the mental and physical power required to make more. By the sweat of your brow, you can do this.

Save all you can. Another easy one on paper. Have you ever read The Richest Man in Babylon? It is a great book with one really, really important lesson that will stand the test of time. If you don’t have time to read the book, which you should because it is a good one, I will go ahead and share the lesson with you. Whatever you make, save 10%. What if you cannot do that right now? It is okay, many people are in that boat. As soon as you can, get yourself to that point. How? Live below your means. Get yourself out of debt. Don’t spend every last dime on purchases that aren’t necessary. Save for that rainy day when the floods of desperation grip the world and the only ones to survive are the ones who threw themselves a financial life preserver.

Give all you can. You have been making all you can. You have been saving all you can. What are you going to use all that wealth for? Will you be a miserly scrooge holding on to something you can’t take with you into the next world? Use your wealth to make this world a better place when you leave. This is a chance to leave a positive legacy. It is a chance to help those who didn’t have the opportunities you had. You could help provide them the opportunities to make and save all they can. You could set the example so that someday they could give all they can to make someone else’s life better. This is paying it forward.

Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can. –John Wesley

This is a simple strategy to personal wealth and happiness. It has withstood the test of time. I hope you enjoyed today’s thought on the virtue of Charity. To be virtuous starts with your own self-development, but it goes beyond the self. It creates a positive force on those within your sphere of influence. This is how you win in life. This is Winning with Virtue.

Have a wonderful day.

A Drop in the Universe, A Speck in Time

I turned out the lights and turned on my Kindle. It was bedtime, and the Kindle my nightly ritual. A little light reading before bed helps me sleep. It tires my eyes and quiets my mind. Usually I read a bit of fiction, but this night I read from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. The translation I have is old. It is filled with thee’s, thou’s, and thine’s. I like it as it reminds me of the King James Bible.

The emperor had a way with words and the passage from the sixth book did its magic on me. After a few minutes of reading, I had to put the book down. I had to digest the words. Sleep didn’t come quick this night.

Consider where we are right now in this time, in this space. Compare it to the big picture of the universe. A small point in time. A tiny pinprick in the vastness of the cosmos. Here we are, veritable miracles of life, so small and fragile. But here we are, together. Despite all our differences and problems, we are in it together, occupying the here and the now.

We have a tendency to make things seem bigger than they are. Our problems, because they impact us personally seem, to matter more than the problems of those down the street, those across the globe. Yet in the grand scheme of things, they are nothing but minor trifles.

This is the call for unity. When you meet your fellow humans, it is one miracle colliding with another. The dog, the cat, and even the bird on the front porch, all miracles, all points in time and space. True charity is that we treat all our brothers and sisters with love despite our differences. True charity is to honor those we meet with the dignity and respect that all creatures deserve. We are one moment in time, one speck in the universe. Our impact may seem small. But to those we come across, it can be enormous. The waves our impressions leave can lift others and sweep them to safer shores, or it can crash upon them shattering them on the rocks. What impact will you leave today? How will you be remembered tomorrow?

The words of the Stoic Emperor have made their marks on my soul. I hope it has the same impression on your’s:

Asia, Europe are corners of the universe: all the sea a drop in the universe; Athos a little clod of the universe: all the present time is a point in eternity. All things are little, changeable, perishable. All things come from thence, from that universal ruling power either directly proceeding or by way of sequence. And accordingly the lion’s gaping jaws, and that which is poisonous, and every harmful thing, as a thorn, as mud, are after-products of the grand and beautiful. Do not then imagine that they are of another kind from that which thou dost venerate, but form a just opinion of the source of all.

He who has seen present things has seen all, both everything which has taken place from all eternity and everything which will be for time without end; for all things are of one kin and of one form.

Frequently consider the connexion of all things in the universe and their relation to one another. For in a manner all things are implicated with one another, and all in this way are friendly to one another; for one thing comes in order after another, and this is by virtue of the active movement and mutual conspiration and the unity of the substance. Adapt thyself to the things with which thy lot has been cast: and the men among whom thou hast received thy portion, love them, but do it truly, sincerely. –Marcus Aurelius, from Meditations Book 6:33-35

As They Ought to Be

“Be good.” It is what I tell Alec as I’m leaving. When I said that the other night as I headed to work and left him with his grandparents, his grandmother said, “He’s always good.”

When I think about it. He usually is good. Why then do I say it? Is it a last reminder before I leave? Am I afraid that as soon as I walk out he will turn into a little monster? Is my saying it an unchecked habit that I have formed?

A few days before that I got upset with him. He made a small error. I got upset. Why? I don’t know. I could make a bunch of excuses but none of them would be legitimate. How many mistakes have I made in my life? How many of greater consequence than the one he made. When I made it, the last thing I wanted was to be reprimanded of it. The misdeed was instantly noticed, reprimands were only piling on. And I of course, hating when it was done to me, I piled on. A few minutes later, I apologized. It was unnecessary, and I was not helping the situation or him to become better. I was the little monster.

If there is anyone I hope to influence in this world, it is him. How can I help him become what he is capable of becoming? I can treat him as what he ought to be, not what he is now. Even though he is still just a child, I can treat him as a fellow human capable of making appropriate decisions. I can guide him along the way into what I believe is acceptable behavior, but I shouldn’t harangue him for every little action I perceive to be an annoyance. I need to keep Solomon’s words in mind, “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not be intent on his death.”* There is no need to engage in psychological warfare. I know what it feels like and would not want it for him. I don’t need to nitpick. I don’t want to become a nag for no other reason than to be disagreeable.

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of becoming. -Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

As I meditate on these words of Von Goethe, I think of all those I with whom I come into contact: those in my community, at church, within my workplace. Are we not all on a path of what we are becoming? Treat others as they were what they ought to be, and we can have a hand in helping them meet their capabilities.

*Proverbs 19:18

And the Credit Goes to… Someone Else

It was a brilliant idea. A couple of months later, someone else was taking the credit. It bothered me, because I wanted to be the one that got the accolades. All for what? Some stupid stuff that truly didn’t matter? But it was my idea! And, it got adopted. When it is all said and done, isn’t that all that really matters?

This idea was pulled out of the ether. There was no work involved to build it. There was no money invested into it either. It just happened to stick. That’s it.

What should I do now? My best move would be to let it go. Let the other person revel in their wittiness. It is pride that is holding me back. I have to relinquish the pride and control the ego. I have to move on and come up with more ideas.

By fixating on my injured pride, I am no longer being useful in the present. Instead I am wallowing in a past that might have been but really never was. To get more accomplished in this world, I have to be in the present moment.

Why is this a charity post?

It is charity in letting the other person take the credit that they feel is theirs. There is no need for it to become a petty fight. Our pride shouldn’t be so great that we sacrifice the happiness of those around us. It just isn’t worth it.


 

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit. –Harry S. Truman

How Did You Make Them Feel?

Two years ago I read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This was such a good book that I read it again last year. It is now on my annual reading list. The lessons are really valuable. And if I don’t keep them fresh on my mind, they are easily forgettable.

It is a strange title for a book. It gets right to the point, and one would think it would be a must-read for anyone lacking influence with little to no friends. You could even go so far as to think this is a completely selfish book that would help the reader grow in popularity. To some degree, you would be right. But as you take the lessons to heart and grow as a person, it becomes less about you and more about the people you come into contact with. The better you treat others, the more friends you win. And as your group of friends increase, the greater your sphere of influence.

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I’ve learned that people will forgive what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. –Maya Angelou

The feelings of others is a tricky thing. It is easy to run roughshod right over them if you are not paying attention. I try to guard my feelings. I try not to be overly sensitive to the way others make me feel. It works for me, but I can’t have that expectation for others. I have to be mindful of how I make others feel. If I don’t, then I risk losing friends, customers, and co-workers. I could even alienate family members if I am not careful.

Say the wrong thing out of character, and you can try to rectify it. Do something stupid, and maybe in time it will become a thing of the past. But if you damage someone’s feelings, you will damage them on the inside. The wound will never properly heal, because they will never really forget the sin you committed against them.

There’s a few key principles from Carnegie’s book to keep in mind. Follow these and you can create lasting and loyal friendships:

  • Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Make them feel important.
  • Call them by their names (which means you have to take the time to learn and remember their names).
  • Get them to talk about themselves. Do it by asking questions.
  • Listen to what they are saying, not force them to hear what you have to say.
  • Don’t criticize.

The best effect of fine persons is felt after we have left their presence. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Hero

To be strong and to endure when the time comes, you must train your body. Like steel, you must temper it and remove the impurities.

To perceive the environment and to act accordingly, you must train your mind. Grow in intelligence and knowledge. Grow through experience.

To be able to move forward when those around you are paralyzed with fear, you must train your heart. Your soul. Become accustomed doing uncomfortable things.

Discipline. Wisdom. Courage. Training in these virtues is a selfish pursuit. It is purely to make you better. It is to prepare you for the hard times. To be the hero when the world (or your family or community) is in need of one.

When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness. –Joseph Campbell

The transformation may begin selfish, but it becomes charity. It becomes love. Acting for those who need a helping hand. Acting for those who are unable to act for themselves. You can be untrained and still step up in the dark moment, but will you be as effective?

We plant in the spring, grow in the summer, and gather in the fall. Why? To prepare for the harshness of the winter. In the same manner we should plant the seeds of virtue and cultivate them when the times are easy. For we will need them when the dark days arrive. The world will need its heroes. Be ready when the call comes.

The hero prepares, not selfishly, but to give.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. –John 15:13

Looking for Dirt

Charity 12/22/2019

My job is to find dirt. To be more specific, I look for dirt and other quality issues on the painted bodies of luxury cars. I am an auditor and finding dirt is one of my specific functions. I know what dirt looks like underneath the paint and can spot a speck that is smaller than a millimeter. When I go looking for dirt, I find it.

Before I was an auditor, I built cars for the same company. I didn’t know what dirt looked like and honestly I didn’t care. My focus was functionality and performance. I cared about what was on the inside.

Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it. –Abraham Lincoln

Finding dirt on people is just like finding it on cars. If you go looking for dirt, you will find it. We can find all kinds of things we don’t like about other people. If that is our intention, nobody, not even the good ones, will stand a chance. We will find a way to criticize even their positive aspects. We see it in politics. We see it in our coworkers and even with our family members.

I get paid to find dirt with the hope that our customers won’t see it on their cars. I would rather they focused on the inside which contains the majority of the car’s value. I don’t get paid to find the dirt on the people in my life. Doing so will drive them away and create an unnecessary chasm between us. I would rather focus on their inner qualities. That’s where their real value lies. By focusing on that, we have the chance to strengthen the bonds between us.

This is a good thing to keep in mind this Christmas season. We can begin with the friends and family we will see over the next few days. We can carry our practice into the new year giving us the opportunity for true peace in our lives.

The Skeleton Keys #3: Give to the World

Charity 11/27/2019

I doubt it began with the Egyptian pharaohs, but they are a good starting point. They amassed huge fortunes when they were alive. And when they died, they took their wealth with them to their burial chambers. Why? Maybe they thought they could it would help them in the next life. Better safe than sorry, right? And today, what’s the legacy left for the world? A few monuments and recovered artifacts.

Now, think of the old man. The one you know or the one you have heard about. His goal in life was to accumulate wealth. He was that crabby old guy that living only for himself. He was a hoarder of gold without a charitable bone in his body. When he dies, he will probably do everything in his power to take his loot with him into the next world. And what of his legacy? For a short time, he will be remembered as an old rich guy that died alone. And then as the decades go by, he too will be forgotten.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. –John 15:13

The greatest sacrifice you make in this world is dying for another. We don’t hear of these feats too often. But when we do, we never forget this ultimate sacrifice. The soldier doesn’t think of the consequences when he crosses that barrier between life and death. He is only thinking that he will cross instead of those around him.

I have always attributed these words in John 15:13, as the end-all be-all for a show of love. And it is, but is there a second best show of love? What could we do now in this world while we are still alive?

A small deviation about responsibility and employment…

When I was younger, I only lived for myself. It was childish. When I got married and had a child. I had to put away childish things and start living for the good of two other people. This is far better than living for just myself. Being responsible for three raises the stakes. It adds a little positive pressure in my life to do the right things.  I hold a certain value in my family’s life. They need me. Oh yes if I was to go away, they would move on. They would find a way to survive. In a sense, it is kind of similar to an employer/employee relationship.

An employer needs an employee. Terminate the relationship and both will find a way to move on and survive. Until then, their relationship is based on a contract. The greater the perceived value of the employee, the greater the compensation the employer will be willing to pay.

Back to the second best show of love…

There is a great joy in being able to help others. The more I help others, the greater the joy and drive to help even more. It brings value to my life and to the lives I touch. I may not have the opportunity to make the ultimate show of love, but I can do the next best thing: I can give my “living” life to my family, to my friends, and to those around me. I can give it to the world in an attempt to make it a better place.

Why the comparison to employment? If you live only for yourself and your contract ends between you and the world, the world will move on. It will forget about you like you forgot about your co-worker who was terminated last year. But if you live for the good of the world, the world will take notice and compensate* you based on your perceived value. Your legacy will be determined by how long you can stay in the memory of those you reached. For example, imagine Shakespeare whose writings will probably be with us in some form until the world is no more.

The first skeleton key to success is to combine your faith with your works. The second is to hope in your own self. The third skeleton key to success is to give it to the world. This is success that goes beyond the grave. It goes beyond our actual time on this planet. Of the billions of people throughout the ages, we have the opportunity to leave our mark by creating a legacy the world will remember.

 

To do more for the world than the world does for you –that is success. –Henry Ford

 

*This could be in other forms of compensation, not just financial.

 

A Clean Slate

Charity 11/17/2019

As the new member of my work team, I get the opportunity to listen to my teammates’ opinions of the other members of the team. If I listen to each of them and formulate my own opinions based on what they say, I am going to find myself with more negative views than good. In time I would come to the conclusion that none of my teammates are worth anything.

The politics within this small group reminds me of the politics we see in the news. If we watch it long enough and not put much thought into it, we will begin to form our opinions based on the opinions of those reporting it. And the problem with that is nobody really reports the good stuff. It is only the negative, because that is what gets the ratings. You could pick any channel, turn the volume down, and you will still hear the noise coming at you loud and clear. The individual being reported on could be doing some really good work, but nobody is going to notice. The dirty sells better than the clean.

 I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble. –Rudyard Kipling.

It isn’t easy to tune out all the noise. You don’t even have to tune all of it out. You can take some of it into consideration, but in the end you will have to make your own decisions. You will have to judge for yourself the quality of those you allow to influence your life.

I believe my teammates are here for a reason. I’m going to hope they are high performers that will add value to the rest of the team and the organization. If not, then I will take that into consideration as well. But I will form my own opinions. I will believe the best of them as I hope they will believe the best of me.

You are going to get a clean slate from me. The next move is yours.

Tao to Rise Up

Charity 11/10/2019

Ambition is tough. The desire to get ahead in the world is a natural thing for the one interested in her own self-development. She wants her life to be better tomorrow than it was yesterday. She looks around at those content with where they are at in life, and realizes that she wants more. She’s hungry, and her desire won’t allow her to sit on her laurels like everybody else.

Over the years, I have worked with people like this. I’ve seen both the good and the bad. I know a guy who is hungry to get ahead. Nothing wrong with that, but he’ll cut your throat to do it. Along the way, he will be all smiles. But then one day, you will wonder what happened when you got run over.

I’ve seen some others that were all smiles as well, but their approach was completely different. They knew that a highly functioning team was more important than individual glory. They built relationships and brought those around them up. There was no pettiness, and certainly no back alley throat-cutting.

The famous samurai, Miyamoto Musashi said, “You must understand there is more than one path to the top of the mountain.” And to get to the top of your proverbial mountain, you will have multiple paths. The way you choose is completely up to you. But if you would destroy those around you to achieve your own success, you will find yourself lonely and unhappy at the pinnacle. You will find many wanting to pull you down. What happens if you choose to help others ascend to their own heights? You will discover that you have company at the top, and true happiness with those respect you for who you are.

How will you get to the top?

We rise by lifting others. –Robert Ingersoll