and like the stoic philosopher after whom I was named, I love wisdom.
For me, wisdom means practically applying knowledge and skills from life lessons learned for a more meaningful, fulfilling and happier experience. And really, that’s what we’re all looking for in life, right?…a more meaningful, fulfilling and happier experience.
So I’m constantly searching for ‘life knowledge and skills’ to practice. There are three primary places I find them:
- Ancient wisdom from past cultures (including group thoughts, traditions and religions)
- Modern science and studies (I LOVE psychology and sociology)
- Personal understanding as it relates to my unique experience
I simplify these concepts to think about them and share them with others.
Briefly here are a few key concepts/ideas I think about and practice (and fail, to get up and practice again).
Life is about…
Moment to Moment We Must Aspire to be Our Higher Selves
The Greeks called it ‘areté’. While there is no direct English word that covers the meaning completely, often it is loosely translated as ‘virtue‘ or ‘excellence‘. Maslow called it ‘self-actualization’, and said “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.” He placed it at the top of his famous chart of ‘needs’, saying as the lower layers are fulfilled, humans NEED to strive towards their higher calling to be truly happy.
Last thing on this point, will one ever reach his/her fully capability? No, and thankfully so. That’s the beauty of life. Because there is always room to step into growth, we constantly have the opportunity to be better.
For Lifelong Lasting Happiness, Eat PIE Daily
Happiness primarily comes from three things:
- Personal Achievements – meaningful goals we’ve set for ourselves, we’ve achieved, and/or are working towards
- Interpersonal Relationships – creating and building meaningful connections with friends and family
- Existential Grand Purpose – existing and finding our purpose in something that is bigger than ourselves
Focus your daily habits around these aspects of PIE, and you’ll have sweet happiness baked into your day.
(And I’m not sorry for the flaky puns Someday you will be speaking of happiness and all of a sudden an image of pie will be dancing in your head. You’ll remember this idea, and you’ll thank me.)
One of the primary reasons we are here is to learn.
All Learning Happens Through Five Steps: E-NAPPS
E-NAPPS stands for:
Engage / Notice / Analyze / Practice / Produce / Start Again
Everything that has breath, will always be learning; whether it’s learning a language, how to walk, how to have confidence, be mindful of the moment, write a financial statement, shoot a basketball, run a business…whatever!
Be mindful of and follow this cyclical learning process, E-NAPPS, to get better.
Points worth noting:
- we are in control of this, so be empowered and don’t wait for someone/something to come and ‘teach’ you.
- this can be accelerated; especially seen when learners tailor the learning cycle for their goals. Again, be your primary teacher.
- “There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.” ~ Richard Buckminster
If we approach our life as the laboratory and our existence as the experiment, we will have a different relation to mistakes and failures which will dramatically change the speed, depths and joy with which we learn.
And that takes us to the next key philosophy of life…
The Greatest Asset a One Can Have is the Right Mindset
…and more specifically, a ‘growth mindset‘. I love Carol Dweck’s ongoing work in the field of motivation and success. While ‘growth mindset’ is a concept as old as time, she is the one coined the term and has done extensive study in the field over the past 20 years.
At the risk of oversimplifying ‘growth mindset’, it’s basically, those who have led successful and meaningful lives stepped forward knowing their abilities and mind aren’t limited, i.e. ‘fixed’, but they have the capability for something greater, i.e. ability for growth.
This ‘choice and ability to grow’ is the one thing we must be mindful to cultivate, protect and keep. As Viktor Frankl told us “Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.”
Some other ideas I’d like to share on this point are:
- In moments of success, ‘fix mindset’ and ‘growth mindset’ appear the same. The difference is when challenges happen. Change our relatinship with challanges and use ‘growth mindset’ language.
- Dweck’s research has already scientifically proven in the classroom that learners who understand the concept of mindsets learning and perform better. I believe if educators teach the idea of mindsets as their foundational lessons, this can fundamentally change how education happens for the learner and will create more moments of growth for the learner.
- Often times we fall victims to complaining about what we don’t want and what we don’t have. Be empowered and constantly step towards improvement by asking three questions of your goals:
- What do I want?
- What do I have?
- What is the next small step to move in that direction?
In order to grow effectively in life, we must take care of our fundamentals, nutrition, rest, and exercise. With those three, I also add a fourth…
A Keystone to Having a Fulfilled life is Mindfulness
Mindfulness is simply practicing non-judgmental awareness, kindness and curiosity of our own thoughts.
We can discuss this for years, but I’ll leave three quick points here:
- Our mind’s state greatly influences our perception. Our perception helps forms our thoughts. Our thoughts manifest themselves in our interactions. Our interactions create our experiences. And well…in a simply way, that’s what life is, a continual experience that stems from our state of mind. Our state of mind defines every single relationships in our life. So why would we not make looking after it our top priority?
- How ideas ‘swirl’ in your head is very similar to how they ‘swirl’ in other people’s heads. And as you become familiar with your own thoughts and how they work, you become familiar with how thoughts work in others. Also with mindfulness, you see how life is not just about you. It’s a collective experience.
- In a culture oversaturated with information, one of the greatest skills to have is control over our attention. Attention is simply putting your focus where you want, when you want for a set period of time. (side note: Distractions aren’t a bad thing, as long as when we are distracted, we notice and use it as an opportunity to return and be present again.)
Now how do you do that, or even get started?!? Well, life is this practice. But more than that, remember E-NAPPS, stepping forward into growth and here is a good video that may help you on your journey.
Above all, Practice (Self-)Compassion, and Always Choose to Appreciate and/or Enjoy.
In this life, there will always be challenges, uncertainties, and pain.
These are conditions of this game. And thankfully so.
If life is about experiencing and meaning, these elements deepen our experience and create more meaning. But for this to happen effectively, we need to practice compassion.
Compassion means sympathy. It’s actually a loan-translation of the Greek sympatheia. To take it a bit further, it loosely translates to ‘with the pain’ or ‘together with suffering’. Notice, it’s not initially ‘solve the pain’. Before we address suffering, we have to sit with it and truly seek understand it.
Again, this idea can be discussed at length for ages (as it already has been), but let’s keep it short.
Some brief points to share on this idea are:
- Stress, anxiety and worry don’t come from life’s challenges. They come from life’s challenges that we think are insurmountable, or we can’t overcome. When challenges happen, remember the 3 empowerment questions to ask yourself.
- Emotions will happen if you want them to or not. Avoid fighting them. Rather E-NAPPS them, sit with them, be curious about them and looking for understanding (even if you don’t get it). This will help you back to your centre, i.e. equanimity, and help move towards ‘areté’.
- In every situation in life we can do one of two things. We can either one, appreciate it, or two, learn from it (and appreciate it later). This perspective creates a life of gratitude and growth.
Like I said, I love thinking, noticing, analyzing and practicing this stuff.
I can go on and on…and I do with, with my meditations (i.e. thoughts with myself). So if you find any of these philosophies interesting, you can find more of my ideas and thoughts in over here.
Remember, these are just my thoughts and perspectives. If you find they help and serve you, enjoy. If not, feel free to challenge it or leave it. But know, these concepts are incomplete just as every other perspective, yours included.
Also, while I do call these ‘thoughts with myself,’ I’m mindful that life is a shared experience. I invite you on this journey of stepping forward into growth. I look forward to seeing you along the way, and I wish you all the best.
For now, thanks for sharing this time and space with me.
Also, I must take a moment to shoutout fellow philosopher (i.e. ‘lover of wisdom’) Brian Johnson and his Philosopher’s Notes series. He has played an instrumental part in bringing attention to and helping to develop many of these ideas.