Hitting the 30 mark
The sense of hitting the big 3–0. It dawned on me just overnight in my dream, and then I felt a little bit of stress and anxiety knowing that I had now reached what may be a half century mark in my life.
Waking up today, I had flashbacks to times I spent with my grandpa, grandma, mom and dad and the love they showed me / continue to show me and I am reminded of how life can pass by so quickly. It dawned on me that time is finite and that we live as it isn’t.
Most of this year, I have been spending my time studying how I can improve my quality of life. Seeking, searching and learning from those who have been there and done that, and also reading voraciously on thought leaders in this field.
Two schools of thought dictate the way I think about living a good life:
I have summarised in theory what these two schools of thought are. I want to note before talking about each of these schools of thought, that for this to really resonate, it needs to be understood and implemented strictly into one’s day to day routines before any benefits can be seen. I haven’t really talked about what to do day to day in detail in this post (which I may in another post). Instead, this post is more about setting the scene.
Logotherapy (Victor Frankl)
Logotherapy (greek for “logos” = reason) is a concept based on the premise that we should search for meaning.
When we talk about meaning, we are talking about meaningful work, meaningful experiences, meaningful relationships. We look at suffering as meaningful too. This makes a lot of sense when we look at the example Victor provides.
“Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now how could I help him? What should I tell him? I refrained from telling him anything, but instead confronted him with a question, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive without you?:” “Oh,” he said, “for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!” Whereupon I replied, “You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it is you who have spared her this suffering; but now, you have to pay for it by surviving and mourning her.” He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left the office.”
Meaningful work — have a look at Cal Newport’s study on deep work, meaningful relationships — have a look at Adam Grant’s study on givers and the book non-violent communication by Marshall Rosenburg on how one can work on this, meaningful experiences — most motivational speakers can talk to this, but going outside of your comfort zone is what will help one achieve this and I would recommend Ray Dalio’s formula pain + reflection = progress as a good rubric for this, and suffering — reading Victor Frankl’s book itself will help one understand this more.
Seven takeaways from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday are as below:
- Virtue is the most important thing — integrity, integrity and integrity
- The stoic loves everything — love begets love, hate begets hate
- Have low expectations — let go more
- The obstacle in the way is the way — see a challenge as an opportunity
- Ego is the enemy — pride prevents us from growing
- We are all interrelated — we need to understand the human condition
- Remember you must die — have a sense of urgency in your life
Being a stoic means understanding the notions noted above and living with these principles embedded into your day to day.
The call to action
The “aha” moment hits you when you see how your life changes when you start to recognise how your day to day can change and this only comes from understanding and integrating principles in your day to day life.
Capitalism directs us to walk on the wrong path naturally, and encourages us to seek shortcuts, to seek happiness through money and power. It encourages a victim mindset & egotistic behaviour, a pursuit of guilty quick pleasures instead of generative pleasures, and this has re-wired most of our brains, dictating how we act, how we think and how we live our day to day lives.
It’s a common adage that there are many things in life that we should not pursue, many times that we should think before we act, yet the lure and our emotions make it hard for us to resist.
What it goes to show is how easily we can be manipulated. Our overinflated egos and our lack of awareness of our own selves and environment is the core barrier to changing our lives for the better.
The result is that we become shackled prisoners, blinded by short term emotions, desires and thinking that hide the very fact that our baseline happiness is declining.
To become free, we need to start with limiting the very activities that we derive guilty pleasure from and have become reliant on for happiness, and instead spend more time pursuing activities that are engaging, make us producers and not receivers, and take time to achieve.
To become free, we need to learn to think before we act, understand what the intentions behind our actions are and pause and reflect. We need to let go of all the unnecessary thoughts in our heads.
The hardest part of all this is probably that we have to act and live completely differently to how many people by default are acting and living.
If you are reading this though, this is the call to action. The call to action to take responsibility of your happiness and improve your quality of life, because if we can, then why not?!