What’s One Of The Best Pieces Of Life Advice You’ve Received?
When I had cancer in my 30’s I thought to myself that at least I would learn the secret of life by having faced death. At the end of it what I had learned was – live each day as if it was your last – … but that eventually did not cover it because I didn’t die. I still needed to plan for the future forgo gratification and not waste money BUT I also needed to make sure that all my relationships were in a place of – nothing left unsaid – because on any given day it could be your last.
I wanted to recommend The Daily Stoic to your readers. It has wonderful daily wise posts that touch on variations on these themes.
The wrong thing to take from the Stoic exercise of Memento Mori is that you should live today like it’s your last day on earth. The problem with that approach is that it excuses too much reckless behavior. You’ve seen the movies–an asteroid is coming and so everyone freaks out and acts like a lunatic or a libertine.
The point, Seneca says, is to live each day like it’s your whole life. His line was that he “balanced the books of life each day.” Meaning, he lived fully every 24 hours, neither rushed nor indolent, deferring nothing and doing nothing superfluous or unnecessary either. In modern terms, he was taking it day by day.
Too many people waste their time thinking about the future or trying to maintain the past. That was not Seneca. “I don’t, by Hercules, grab at [the day] as though it were my last one,” he says, “but I look upon it as though it could be my last.” What’s the distinction? It’s about being fully present in the moment, indifferent to whether there’s more or less to come tomorrow because, as we know, tomorrow is never guaranteed. “I enjoy my life thus far,” he said, “because I don’t spend too much time measuring how long all this will remain.”
And so we should do the same. This could be the last email we read. The last lunch we eat. The last quiet afternoon with a friend. Enjoy it. All of it. Completely. Live a full life today and if you’re lucky enough to make it through to tomorrow, do the same thing again
This is one of my favorite posts:
It was announced in late May that the remains of the great poet Samuel Coleridge were finally rediscovered, having been lost for nearly six decades. Coleridge, one of England’s most beloved poets (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan, and Dejection: An Ode) had originally been buried at the chapel of Highgate School but his remains were re-interred in St. Michael’s Church, in 1961. Yet despite his enormous fame and the relative recentness of the move, the location of the remains were forgotten about by church officials, bricked over and lost.
It’s a humbling lesson for anyone who chases fame and renown, one that fittingly calls up three verses from an English peer of Coleridge’s, Thomas Grey, in the poem “Elegy Written in a Country Courtyard.”
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If Mem’ry o’er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where thro’ the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour’s voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flatt’ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death?
All paths to glory lead to the grave and, in this state, all are made equal again. As Marcus Aureliuswrote, “Alexander the Great and his mule driver both died and the same thing happened to both. They were absorbed alike into the life force of the world, or dissolved alike into atoms.” It doesn’t matter your reputation, how famous you are, how many readers you have, how much money you have — when you pass from this earth you are no longer important and eventually you will be forgotten. So what good is being self-important and greedy while you’re alive? Marcus Aurelius himself was buried not in his own vault, but in the vault of Hadrian, and then when Rome was sacked by the Visigoths, his remains were lost forever.
It’s the cycle of life and Marcus had prepared himself for this. He didn’t chase posthumous fame because it didn’t matter to him. What he cared about–what we need to care about this morning and today–is the good he did while he was alive. He cared about the present moment because it is the only thing that matters.
The same is true for you right now.
Stop picking your nose!!!
My uncle recently passed away, yesterday actually. He had an intellectual disability and severe arthritis to the point that in his later years he couldn’t even take his shoes off due to the arthritis. He slept with his shoes on. My dad (his brother) who was his partial caretaker in his later years didn’t know until my uncle went to the hospital for a hip surgery gone wrong. His bed sheets at his feet where dirty. Dad never saw him without his shoes on. My uncle grew up on a dairy farm and lived with my grandparents his entire life. I was reflecting on his life today and one thing that I remember about him, I don’t ever remember hearing him complain. Not a single time. About anything. Bailing hay, building fence, cutting firewood, shoveling coal, plowing the road in winter, carrying milk cans, feeding calves, nothing. Not a single complaint I can ever recall. Amazing.
Rest in peace, Uncle Nev.
“Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.”
– Thomas Jefferson
“If you speak the truth, have a foot in the stirrup.”
– Turkish Proverb
“You can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails.”
“If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both.”
– Native American saying
“If in other sciences we should arrive at certainty without doubt and truth without error, it behooves us to place the foundations of knowledge in mathematics.”
– Roger Bacon
“The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.”
“Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.”
– Albert Einstein
“There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.”
– Ali ibn Abi-Talib
I’ve been collecting some personal maxims/thought-provokers and I’ve typed some of these up on little tent cards and put them on my desk at work as reminders.
Most I just made up myself but some are quotes from various books, podcasts, song lyrics. I wish I kept track of the original authors but unfortunately I didn’t.
|Say Yes to No and No to Yes.|
|Make the first move.|
|No one can read your mind|
|Slow to judge. Quick to lend a hand|
|You already have what youre looking for|
|Have More questions than answers|
|We move forward, because we can’t go back.|
|Go closer to the source.|
|Tell them what you’re chasing.|
|Make it face to face|
|The small things are big things.|
|The best things come from the hard things.|
|Say what you mean and mean what you say.|
|Your attitude determines your altitude.|
|Sleep exercise and nutrition can solve many poblems.|
|kindness and courage multiplies. So does greed and fear.|
|When you stop looking for shortcuts you begin to grow|
|Slow down to speed up.|
|Healthy self; heal thy self.|
|Ask yourself the questions you wish you knew the answers to.|
|Treat your partner like a guest in your home.|
|Wave to your fears.|
|Make it real.|
|Dream bigger than you’ve ever dreamed.|
|Take the smallest steps you possibly can.|
|Everything is hard before it is easy.|
don’t take on too much debt
dont buy a nonessential unless you already have funds for it
Trust in God, but tie your camel. (Persian Proverb)
Serving the powerful is like sleeping with a tiger (Chinese Proverb)
Birds of prey do not sing (German Proverb).
You do not really know your friends from your enemies until the ice breaks (Icelandic Proverb).
Denial is pushing something out of your awareness. Anything you hide in the basement has a way of burrowing under the house and showing up on the front lawn.
Not moral perfection but the promotion of the rejected complementary attitude is the basis of a religiously stable personality.
I read them — and a few I liked (Sasportas was good).
But the Liliane Frey-Rohnquote I couldn’t even understand. Googling the phrase doesn’t help; Googling the name tells me she’s a wealthy respected scholar in the field of — I don’t know, psych or sociology — with a pop-author following as well.
But it tells me nothing about the bit of life advice.
Can you rephrase or parse that one? I hate feeling stupid, but it’s been a long time since I’ve tried to hide stupidity in the basement.
Hmm… my father-in-law had a book, “never trust a calm dog”; it had tons of one-liners like this; one that actually is wider than it seems: at a restaurant if the chicken and the steak are the same price, get the chicken. (And I don’t suppose that applies to cheesteak subs)
Frey-Rohn is a Jungian and to me it is about the concept of the shadow. That people striving for moral perfection are not looking at the shadow side of themeselves. When I ignore my shadow and just focus on the nicer and better sides of myself, the shadow usually comes back to “bite” me in some way or another. I learned a lot about this concept of the shadow from Robert Bly:
Sometimes you see a compnete reversal of personality, especially among mystics; the gregarious partier (Francis of Assisi) becomes contemplative; the contempletive becomes extremely social; the narcissist (Schindler’s List) becomes other-centered; the the other-centered starts writing poetry about love of self.
All the while, not losing their original personality, but displaying a personality they never had.