Temperance 1/29/2019

Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. -William Faulkner

Who are you really competing against? Now that you got that down, go out and win!

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The Virtue of Temperance

Control. Discipline. Restraint. Call it what you will. But if you don’t have it, then life will be much harder. Rather than automating your life for success, your habits will be weak and detrimental. Temper your desires of excess. There is joy in moderation.

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10 Reasons to Slow Your Anger

Good sense makes a man slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. –Proverbs 19:11

It is not the easiest pill to swallow, but being slow to anger is the best medicine. Here’s 10 reasons why it is best to let it go:

  1. Winston Churchill said, “A man is about as big as the things that make him angry.” Let that quote sink in if the little things make you angry.
  2. Not getting angry is a true test of self-mastery. Do you have enough restraint over your mind to not give into your emotions?
  3. To not retaliate may be perceived as weakness, but this is the easy way. Isn’t it better to have the strength of a calm mind? As Marcus Aurelius put it, “The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.”
  4. What is the offense? Does the offender deem this as offensive or are they acting in a way they perceive to be right?
  5. A city breached and left defenseless are those who cannot control their temper. –Proverbs 25:28. What’s the translation here? Without the proper defenses in place, you are vulnerable. An angry man does not make good decisions, and poor decisions are a liability.
  6. The high road, your glory, is to overlook it. When the offender realizes his errors, the onus is on him to make it right.
  7. The low road, which is shameful, is to point out the offence. Do this, and chances are the offender will care less about rectifying the mistake.
  8. Is this something you will be angry about tomorrow? Only if you stoke the fire.
  9. When anger rises, think of the consequences. –Confucius
  10. Take a deep breath. Count to ten or a hundred. Do what is right and you can’t go wrong.

Temperance 1/22/2019

The measure of who we are is how we react to something that does not go our way. -Gregg Popovich

It takes discipline and control to react in an appropriate way. Do you have enough of it?

_____________________

The Virtue of Temperance

Control. Discipline. Restraint. Call it what you will. But if you don’t have it, then life will be much harder. Rather than automating your life for success, your habits will be weak and detrimental. Temper your desires of excess. There is joy in moderation.

_____________________

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Take Control

Control. Do you give much thought to it? What is in your control? What is not?

Take for an example your body. The unknown condition growing within you was more from chance than from neglect. Was this in your control? Of course not. Exercising every day with a good diet didn’t stop the tumor. It just, as far as anyone knows, happened.

Or what about the weather? It wasn’t your doing that caused the storm and the landslide that wiped out your home and possessions. Random chance. No gods conspiring against you. It just happened.

So many things that are out of our control, but even during the most chaotic times, we can always be in control of one thing. Our minds.

The stoics were big on this: We can control the things within our control. And for all the things that are not in our control, at least we can control our minds and how we deal with it.

We don’t always get a fair shake. That’s life. So how do you respond? Do you get angry? Do you give up? Do you shake your fist at God and blame Him for your problems? You are one of a billion with countless others that have gone before you and countless more to come, yet you think the universe has singled you out and dealt you these cards?

It just happened, as it happens to many others in some fashion or another. We take the cards we are dealt. We can’t change the cards; they are not in our control. What is in our control? How we play the game. You can fold at every hand or you can play. Control what you can control. And if everything is out of control, rest assured, that your mind is your own and that is something you can always control. Take control.

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. -Epictetus

Temperance 1/15/2019

Practice, the master of all things. -Augustus Octavius

Slow becomes smooth, smooth becomes fast. There is only one way to get better, only one way to mastery. Practice.

_____________________

The Virtue of Temperance

Control. Discipline. Restraint. Call it what you will. But if you don’t have it, then life will be much harder. Rather than automating your life for success, your habits will be weak and detrimental. Temper your desires of excess. There is joy in moderation.

_____________________

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Squirreled

The next entry in my series, The Art of Not Getting Things Done, I discuss getting squirreled…

Okay, that’s a joke, but it is recurring theme that worth taking a look at. It seems the more I read about productivity, the less I seem to accomplish. It is not that I am accomplishing less than before, but now I am more aware of how often I am dropping the ball.

Yesterday morning, I was off to do something of great importance. But then I remembered that I really wanted to subscribe to the Medium app. I downloaded this app a few weeks ago and found the articles were just fantastic. These are quick, beneficial reads that I can knock out anytime. But after a while, the “what you want to read is reserved for member’s only” pop-up started blocking the articles. Okay, I got the message, it is time to pay the man for the good stuff.

I can’t remember the last time I paid for an app. Apparently, PayPal and Apple couldn’t remember the last time either. The quick “push to subscribe” button led me down a 45 minute rabbit hole of renewing passwords, updating personal information, and choosing security questions in case the passwords and pins are deemed insufficient. By the way, Apple, when I couldn’t answer my old security questions, you gave me the option to change my questions. That seems like a little hole in the security, but thank you for allowing me to proceed with my purchase.

The process took much longer than I planned. The thing of great importance that I was off to do, well, I can no longer remember what it was. Maybe, it fell into the “things of great importance” storage container in my brain. Who knows, one day it might be retrieved from the archives. If it does, I hope it does not lose its importance.

Squirrel
Disney Pixar

Remember Dug from the Disney movie, Up? While relaying some very valuable information, Dug would get distracted by a squirrel. We used to  joke about this at work. One could be in mid sentence and get squirreled. Some get squirreled often. Yesterday morning, I got squirreled hard. Forty-five minutes flew from me before I even knew what happened. What should I have done? I should have made a note of it and returned to it when I had nothing pressing. Subscribing to an app wasn’t pressing at the time. But by allowing it to take precedence, I lost something that was potentially of greater value.

Not just squirreled hard, but squirreled often.

After my morning incident, I became aware of just how often I get squirreled. These squirrels pop up all the time. I will read a book or article that mentions another book >>> Well as a mass consumer of the written word, I never heard of this other book >>>  Let me go to Goodreads and see what it says >>> Is this author on my BookHub list, so I can get notifications if his/her books go on sale in the Kindle store? >>> Let me check my email to see what’s on sale today? >>> Oh look, more email. Before I know it, time has slipped away. I went from some very interesting reading to a meandering walk that took me away from my goal of finishing the chapter. Squirreled. And that is just reading a book. Thank God, I took the notification badges off for Twitter, Instagram, FaceBook, and all the other squirrels that lurk on my phone.

I read an article on Ryan Holiday’s Notecard system. It is a system that I want to in some way adopt. To get in the habit of using cards on a regular basis, I started keeping a 3×5 index card with me wherever I go. On the card is the 5-6 most important tasks I need to get done for the day. Hopefully, just this act alone will reap some very fruitful benefits. Usually, the back side of the card is empty. Today, I am going to call the B-side of this card my Squirrel Bucket. My hope is that all the distractions go on it. If it is worth addressing, then maybe after the front side of the card is complete, I can go back and take a look. Worth a try, right?

I can’t multi-task. If I want to get things done, I have to focus on one item at a time. It takes massive effort to temper the mind from all the distractions. Can you get things done? What do you to stay distraction-free and boost your productivity? I would love to hear about it and maybe try to incorporate it into my own life.

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst. –William Penn

 

Refining the Morning Routine

Sunday was a failure. My alarm was set for 4:45. I rolled out of bed at 6:30 (this lack of discipline alone is cause for much grievance). I went downstairs and began a later-than-planned morning routine. I meditated for 10 minutes. Then I did some reading. My plan was to read one chapter. Instead I read about 4-5 to finish the book I was reading. My wife, Bethany, woke up at 7:30 followed soon by my son, Alec. Once they were up, I put a stop to my morning routine. No workout. No writing. No creating a plan for the week to come. I could have kept going and finished up. But when they are up on my day off, my concentration goes to them.

Why was this morning a failure? Because the quiet time when the house is asleep is my time to really work on my own personal development. And once I dropped the ball on this morning, I never made the time to pick it back up. The busy-ness of the day took over, and there was no working out, no planning, and certainly no writing. By the time Monday morning came around, I was still trying to create a plan for the week.

Some would think: It is a Sunday morning, why be so hard on yourself? The truth is that I look at a Sunday morning as one of the most important days of the week. It is a day off from my normal work shift. It is a morning for planning and catching up from the previous week. And why am I so hard on myself? Because nobody else is going to accomplish my goals for me.

As Monday progressed, I had an opportunity to speak with my work partner Kia about my viewpoint on Sunday. I probably should start paying Kia as she has become to some degree my personal advisor. Our conversation turned to my morning routine in general and what specifically I am trying to accomplish. I laid out my normal Monday morning for her:

  • Wake up at 3:45
  • Meditate from 4-4:10
  • Read to 4:30
  • Quick workout to 4:50
  • Write until I run out of time before getting ready for work.

She asked me what was the most important thing I wanted to accomplish? I told her to write. Her response: Why are you not writing more? And it wasn’t just writing she was asking about. Am I writing toward a specific goal or am I just writing whatever comes to mind?

You’re better off not giving the small things more time than they deserve. –Marcus Aurelius

I looked back on my routine and had to have second thoughts. Do I need to get up earlier? Do I really need to read in the morning? I read throughout the day. How is an additional 20 minutes (sometimes longer) really helping me to get the writing done? When it comes down to it, am I spreading myself out on so many small things that I am not spending enough time on the really big thing that matters the most?

Only having a short amount of time in the morning, there is no room for wasted time. Every activity has to be qualified. If the activity is not getting me closer to my goals, then it has to be dropped from the morning routine. This refining process makes me stronger and more productive. It turns me from a sad wishy-washy dreamer into a disciplined producer inching ever closer to the destination I seek. The more I produce in those quiet morning times, the happier I become. Happy knowing that I got it done and happy knowing the rest of my time can be spent on other pursuits.

What does your daily routine look like? Are you spending it on the small insignificant things or on the big things that matter? If you are looking to up your current level of productivity, refining your routine is a must. This simple act leads to a more disciplined life, one that is truly happier.

A disciplined mind leads to happiness and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering. –Dalai Lama

The War Within

There is a war raging within all of us every day. It is a war that began in our earliest years and will continue on until all our final breath. It is a war against our base desires. Those desires that would keep us from accomplishing  our individual missions.

Some will win this war, because they choose the stay vigilant. They are always at the ready and can fight at any given moment.

There are others, who in moments of inspiration, fight with all their might. They will try to win the war in the shortest amount of time possible. In time, they will realize they have spent all their energy. Yet, the war still rages. They will give up in exhaustion and lose all the ground they gained. They will lay there until inspiration strikes again, and then they will pick up their arms to repeat this never-ending cycle.

Then there is the rest. Those who never even know that a war is taking place. They lay dormant, giving in to every indulgence. From the surface, they seem to have no hope. No aim. No purpose. No drive to live a fulfilling life.

If you are not among the vigilant, you are going to lose the war. It sounds ominous, but it is true. The only way to win is to don your armor. Take up your shield every day and prepare yourself for the onslaught to come.

You are at war with yourself. It is a war you can win if you fight every day. You can win with discipline.

Start by identifying the enemy. Is it procrastination? Gluttony? Lust? Greed? Identify the enemy. Create ways to overcome it. Make a plan. Win the daily battles. Win the war.

The man who overcomes his desires is braver than he who overcomes his enemies. -Aristotle

Walk the Path

From his prison cell, the Puritan preacher John Bunyan wrote Pilgrims’s Progress, one of the greatest selling books of all time. It is a book I have not read in over 30 years, but it may be one of the most memorable books in my mind. It may be time, I reread it.

In the book, the main character, Christian, sets outs on a journey from his home in the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. How does he get there? By staying on the path. If Christian does not stay the course, but veers to the left or the right, he will be ensnared by the temptations of this world.

In the past few years, I have spent a good deal of time considering my own path. Where is it that I want to go? Once I figured it out, I had to answer the next question. How can I get there if I do not stay on the path?

The path is straight and narrow. You have to maintain constant vigilance to stay on it. On either side are the temptations, the distractions, the snares and the pitfalls. Procrastination, laziness, and all the other vices are waiting for you. They are calling out to you to stop only for a moment. And then another. And then one more time until you no longer remember what it is you are supposed to be doing. How do we continue the journey when we suddenly find ourselves longing to stop?

Discipline. Self-Control. Temperance. We continue our slow and steady pace. We know that the sugar-high of immediate gratification will eventually turn to the bitterness of regret. We continue the march, because the “what might have been” alternative is so dreadful that we dare not taste its fruit.

We all have our paths to take. Once discovered, you have to walk it. It is the only way to partake of the reward at the end of the journey. There are no shortcuts, and straying from it only leads to evil.

Do not turn to the right or left; remove your foot from evil. –Proverbs 4:27

Bragging on the Unknown

How many times did a brilliant idea cross my mind? It started as a small seed and in the course of a few minutes burst into a cloud of grandeur taking over all my thoughts. Soon I get a glimpse of the future and just how far I made it.

Every now and then, the idea continues for a few days. As it stews in my mind, I decide to make a plan and see where this will go. My excitement continues to grow until no longer can I keep it to myself. I mention it to my friends and family. With a look of skepticism, they patiently listen to me ramble on about the beautiful future in which I will exist.

The days go by, and the luster begins to fade. Reality sets in and the beautiful future never comes. Soon the idea that would change everything joins all the other fantasies that caught my attention for a few fleeting moments.

We make our plans. Our excitement grows. We bubble with enthusiasm and before we know it, we are sharing our dreams with anyone that listens. But can we follow through? We know there will be hardships along the way. Certainly we will meet resistance. Will we be able to overcome these obstacles and see our plans to the end?

How much better would it be to keep our egos in check and those plans to ourselves? We cannot forecast the future. We cannot know for certain what is going to happen tomorrow, if we even get a tomorrow.

Of course we should plan for the future. Like the farmer that plants the seed without a guarantee of the harvest, so should we do the work now for the possibility of a better tomorrow. We should collaborate with others in order that we may see our plans to fruition. But let us not brag of our glorious future as if it is already here. Rather let us do the work and be grateful for each day we have the opportunity to do it. The work we do will always resonate louder than any words we might say.

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what any day may bring forth. –Proverbs 27:1