1) “You don’t need a reason to be happy. If you do that reason can be taken away.”
2) “‘What do I do then, now? Where do I go from here?’ Dan asked Socrates.
‘Who cares?’ He yelled gleefully. ‘A fool is ‘happy’ when his cravings are satisfied. A warrior is happy without reason. That’s what makes happiness the ultimate discipline—above all else I have taught you.’”
3) “Reality never matched their dreams; happiness was just around the corner — a corner they never turned. And the source of it all was the human mind.”
4) “There is no need to search; achievement leads to nowhere. It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see. And the only laws are paradox, humor and change. There is no problem, never was, and never will be. Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life, just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine. You are the world, you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too! It’s all the marvelous Play of God. Wake up, regain your humor. Don’t worry, just be happy. You are already free!”
5) “Sometimes sorrow, sometimes joy. But beneath it all remember the innate perfection of your life unfolding. That is the secret of unreasonable happiness.”
6) “And so I awoke to reality, free of any meaning or any search. What could there possibly be to search for? All of Socrate’s words had come alive with my death. This was the paradox of it all, the humor of it all, and the great change. All searches, all achievements, all goals, were equally enjoyable, and equally unnecessary.”
7) “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
8) “Act happy, be happy, without a reason in the world. Then you can love, and do what you will.”
As I was reading a book an acquaintance sent me, Clear Quiet Mind, I came across a section in the book from Chapter 7, The Myth of Perfection, that I believe is very helpful for accepting our imperfections and living with peace of mind in a World that is constantly telling us to be “perfect.”
After reading this chapter on the myth of perfection I googled “myth of perfection” and found that many people have written on this subject: The Huffington post, Professors, TEDTalks, etc. It is a popular subject, so it must be important to discuss.
Here I break down what I find from these multiple sources with practical ways of accepting our imperfections from Clear Quiet Mind, which can help you get past your myth of perfection to living a life with more peace of mind. Enjoy.
Dictionary definitions of perfect include: “Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.”
“Completely free from faults or defects, or as close to such a condition as possible.”
Why do so many of us strive for an impossible feat which only leads us to disappointment? Why do we judge others when they make a mistake, but are forgiving for our own faults?
Are your role models perfect? Who are your role models? If they are a superhero from a movie or book, then that’s just not realistic.
A TED Talks speaker, Jim Hill, speaks of his former unrealistic expectations of himself and of others here.
He says, “Ive been wrong about role models all along. They don’t have to be perfect. How could they be perfect? They’re people.”
He goes on to speak about how no one is “perfect” all the time. We’re people. We’re flawed, and that is okay. After someone told him he was a good role model, he thought of all the reasons why he was not a good role model, but he says, “But if I could be a good role model for this slice of time, well then maybe all my role models could be perfect in slices of time.”
Instead of judging a person off of one bad thing they did, or maybe something they didn’t do, we can look at the slices of their lives that are inspiring to us: A characteristic of theirs, an achievement, an attitude, etc. When we chase perfection in ourselves and in others we only end up beating ourselves up, or others up (verbally usually), because we all fall short.
I want to be perfect just like you do, so how can we accept this inevitable fact of being imperfect?
Practical techniques from Clear Quiet Mind are next, but one way the speaker Jim helped himself was by practicing recognizing that his friends aren’t perfect, but they are pretty awesome at times, so he looked at the positive traits in them instead of focusing on any negative. He now tries to look at everyday people as role models, none of them are perfect, but they have slices of perfection woven into them. He says that doing this has let him off the hook of perfection.
An incredibly helpful way to release the myth of perfection is to understand that no one is perfect or ever will be, but we can look at the good qualities in others life and look up to those qualities.
Author Kevin Schoeninger also has great ideas and ways on how to handle this myth of perfection. He goes a little deeper on this subject by diving into ways to recognize when we are viewing things from a myth of perfection and then ways to release the myth of perfection.
Remember, we all struggle at times with this myth of perfection. Don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect.
Kevin says things like:
“Do you avoid taking risks in business because you think you might fail?”
“The Myth of Perfection is an invisible line that is impossible to measure up to.”
“When have you done enough? “By what standards can these be judged—and, who says so?”
“Is it really important for you and/or your kids or be busy, productive, and perfect all the time? Does that make for a happy and healthy life?”
“What if these standards of perfectionism are arbitrary, illusory, and moving targets that keep you locked in the stress of never being good enough or worthy enough for what you really want?”
“The bottom line is that ‘perfection’ is a myth. What you see when you step back and observe life more objectively is not perfection, but ‘diversity.’ Life is infinitely diverse. Diversity is a rule here on Earth. There are over seven billion different human bodies, sets of skills, habits, lifestyles, preferences, and personalities—and countless other lifeforms, each with their own unique characteristics.”
3 ways to recognize The Myth of Perfection
(All quoted examples below are from Chapter 7 in Kevin’s Book, Clear Quiet Mind, pages 63-74)
“The myth of perfection needs to be made conscious before you can let it go and choose another outlook. Until you recognize it and can pause it as it arises, you’ll be a slave to its mythical power.”
The first way to let go of any limiting perspective is to recognize what you’re doing, Kevin says.
1) Black and White thinking
Example: “A person is a ‘good person’ or a ‘bad person.’”
“Actions are either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’”
“This just isn’t true. Every person is a diverse mix of different intentions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. There are no 100% good or bad people. No one is 100% percent anything.”
“Actions can only be judged in context-yes even the ‘bad ones,’ like stealing, lying, and taking a life(example just below). What if these actions were in the service of a greater good?”
(Example)—“Would you lie to a Nazi about hiding a Jewish family in your attic? Would you steal their gun if they barged in and were trying to use it? Would you kill them to save innocent lives? Perhaps?”
*”Life presents itself in a rainbow of different colors and shades. Black and white thinking just doesn’t represent Reality. It’s important to view everything, every action, and everyone in their uniqueness within the complex contexts in which they appear.”
2) Always, Never, and Should
“This kind of thinking disregards the truth that all things in this physical world of time and space change and grow. Circumstances change and require different responses. We all change. Life is always changing. Life requires adaptation.”
…“Yet, we tend to label things as if they are unchanging. We say things like, ‘you always…’ and ‘I never…’ to judge others and justify ourselves.”
“‘Should’ is an equally fallible concept. We think that people should follow the rules, until they break them, create something new and amazing, and become famous for it. Then, in retrospect, they were courageous or creative geniuses.”
What if minorities and women never stood up for their rights and just followed the rules? There were laws that women couldn’t vote and that people could own slaves..How unbelievable is that? What good would happen if we didn’t break rules that are meant to be broken?
“We think that people should work until they are 65—yet, we admire those who can retire early. We think that we should long for retirement, yet those who stay engaged and active in purposeful work seem to have the most fulfilling, healthy, and happy lives.”
“Discernments about what is good, right, and valuable can only be made within the ever-changing contexts in which they occur. So, check yourself for the words always, never, and should. See if you can notice the arbitrary standards behind these statements. What if these are unnecessarily stressing you out or creating conflict?”
3) Comparison and Nitpicking
“We are brought up to compare—and this naturally leads to critical judgments if we or others don’t measure up.”
“A current example of this is the notion of ‘political correctness.’ This concept is one of the most arbitrary markers for what is good and bad. Political correctness clearly is about what is most important to the group with which you identify. It has no absolute value on its own.”
“In U.S. politics, as people congregate around ‘whatever Democrats do is bad’ or ‘whatever Republicans do it bad.’ This type of thinking leads to all sorts of contradictory and conflicting judgments…Life doesn’t offer absolute answers”
“The bottom line is that people, things, and actions can only be discerned within the complex contexts in which they occur. Quick and easy, black and white judgments are inaccurate to how life actually presents itself. Life is infinitely diverse.”
4 powerful techniques on releasing The Myth of Perfection
1) Notice Exceptions and Alternatives
“Notice exceptions to the rule you’re applying.” Kevin’s idea is that we are around imperfect people all the time, friends, family, etc, but we still love them for who they are.
He says, “For example, do you think so and so is beautiful even though he or she is ‘overweight?’ Can you think of a time when a ‘good person’ had a ‘lapse in judgment?’ Can you remember a time when the point you are now disagreeing with was true?”
“Notice the variety of possible ways you can look at the same situation. By momentarily adopting different points of view, it helps release you from the stress and tyranny of any one perspective.”
“At a minimum, it can lead you to say, ‘Maybe there are a variety of ways of looking at this situation.”
2) Refute Irrational Ideas
Our ideas, our self-talk, whether rational or irrational will impact our emotions, and our emotions motivate our actions. Kevin discusses how the psychologist Albert Ellis wrote about this, identifying common irrational beliefs that “launch us into stressful feelings which result in poor coping behaviors.”
Some of these adapted irrational beliefs include: “I must have love and approval for me to feel good, I must be flawlessly competent, successful, and perfect to deserve good things, My happiness and suffering are entirely dependent upon external events, Anything unknown, uncertain, or potentially dangerous is scary, What happened in the past determines what will happen now.”
There may be truth in some of these ideas for you, but “it’s how you use these ideas against yourself that’s decisive,” Kevin says, “When you attach to them as strong beliefs, they limit how you view yourself and your possibilities.”
“Certainly, you don’t control everything that happens, but you can control how you interpret, relate to, and respond to what happens.”
“Ellis discovered that, if you can refute your irrational ideas, you can interrupt the chain of reaction, and create a new outcome. If you reframe your thinking, you will feel and act differently. By doing this, you become stress-resistant and stress-resilient.”
Kevin discusses Ellis’s 5 Steps to Refute Irrational ideas which you can read more about here in Ellis’s ABC Model
3) Ask yourself, ‘Am I Coming from Love or Fear?’
“Anytime you’re feeling critical or judgmental toward yourself or others ask this question: Am I coming from love or fear?”
“The root of the myth of perfection is fear of vulnerability— that ‘I am vulnerable if I’m not perfect.’
“The cure for fear is first identifying your fear and acknowledging it, then deciding if it needs to be acted on or not. This helps respond appropriately to what is happening. Perhaps your fear is alerting you to something that needs to be done? If so, how can you address your fear by taking appropriate action? If not, can you let that fear go?”
“Good questions to ask fear: ‘What am I afraid might happen? Is that likely or am I exaggerating that possibility? What actions do I really need to take? Is it possible that nothing needs to be done except letting go of fear and seeing things in a more realistic empowered way?’”
“Once you’ve identified necessary actions or decided that you may be exaggerating risk to protect feelings of vulnerability, you can move toward love.”
“On the love side, you can ask, ‘How can I be more loving and compassionate toward myself and others in this situation? What would ease fear? What would help things work out well for all concerned? How can I initiate or participate in this positive outcome?’”
“In moments of fear and vulnerability, what would someone who loves you unconditionally, exactly as you are, say to you or do? How can you apply this principle to how you relate to yourself and others?”
“Love is a response that naturally arises when you see the real needs of yourself and others in any situation. Love desires the best for all concerned. Love is your natural response when you are free from fear. When you love, instead of criticizing and blaming, you can observe and discern what needs to be done.”
4) Observe and Accept What Is Actually Happening
“In moments of challenge, vulnerability, and fear, is it possible to set aside all mental chatter, all stories and judgments, and simply be an objective witness to what is happening? … It is possible with practice to do this, to free your mind.”
“Remember your skills of mindfulness, acceptance, and detachment. Is it possible to mindfully observe what is happening, accept it as it is, and let go of judging people and events as good or bad? Is it possible to see others and situations innocently, as if for the first time, without prejudice? —To help do this you might use the First Seat of Consciousness(technique): — Observe the situation from a perspective above and behind your head. Imagine yourself sitting up there, looking down on yourself, others, and the situation as a whole.”
You can imagine being in the sky, on a cloud, looking down at yourself and all of life, which can get you out of your own thoughts.
“I encourage you to try these techniques to release the myth of perfection in situations in which you are harshly judging yourself or others.”
Kevin’s book is very useful in helping people achieve an inner peace through practical techniques. I have underlined almost every single word throughout this book as I read it. As I read the book, part of me wanted the next page to not connect with me so I didn’t have to underline it, but it kept happening!
If you would like the full book you can buy it here from Amazon for $15
Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives
Book Written By Dan Millman
Click on Dan’s name above to go to his website & learn more about him. (Also can scroll down to go straight to the 5 life-changing takeaways if you’d like).
Growing wise through personal and spiritual experiences, this story follows a World Champion Gymnast, Dan, who seemed to “have it all” in the eyes of society. Even though he had everything he desired in the physical realm, he was still not happy.
I think many people can relate to this^. We get what we think we want and then find out that it doesn’t bring lasting fulfillment. We hear about rich & famous people committing suicide, although many people often desire that famous/rich life. Dan is still alive & well today, but he went through many struggles to be able to live life beyond his ego.
“I feel good, sometimes I don’t, ay,” said Drake in his popular song “God’s Plan.”
Everyone feels bad at times, no matter how much ‘success’ they have in this world. And it’s okay to feel bad, even though the media only portrays happy people having a good time. Remember that what you see on tv usually isn’t an accurate example of real life. You can check out an article I wrote on accepting our feelings by Clicking Here.
Anyway, one night, while Dan was still in college, he went to a gas station after waking up in the middle of the night. He met a unique old man who he named Socrates later on. (“Socrates” never told Dan his real name).
Socrates became Dan’s guru/mentor/teacher. Helping to enlighten Dan, Socrates teaches him many things throughout the book that ultimately opens Dan’s mind and allows him to awaken; to be happy now without a reason. Like many people in the World today, Dan was living through his ego before he met Socrates. He pursued worldly pleasures & accomplishments only to find out that those “fulfilling” moments don’t last. Led by his teacher, Socrates, Dan is able to experience life beyond his ego, and live in peace.
The “living in peace” phrase just created another thought through me; we always say Rest in Peace when someone dies, but why don’t we ever say Live in Peace when we are living??
Way of the Peaceful Warrior was one of the first books that had a big impact on my life. I read it for the first time when I was around the age of 19, and have continued to read it again & again.
After I finished reading this book for the first time it immediately became my favorite book, and remains my favorite to this day. It opened up my mind to new ideas & a different way of viewing & living life. Way of the Peaceful Warrior has helped me live joyfully in the present moment, to be happy now without reason, to focus on things that really matter, to take action instead of dwelling in thought, to live non-judgmentally, & to live life in love.
I do not always remain in this state of bliss, but when I accept my feelings & situations as they are, this brings me peace. I shared this earlier, but click here if you’d like to read an article on this.
The author, Dan Millan, said he wrote this book “to inspire, uplift, and to remind readers of life’s bigger picture & higher promise.” This book definitely inspired me & gave me more insight into the bigger picture of life.
“Be happy now, without reason, or you’ll never be happy.”
~I truly believe that this book should be read throughout schools all around the world. The ideas & ways of thinking this book explains could benefit the education system & our future tremendously~
In this post I will summarize some of the main points of the Way of the Peaceful Warrior. I will discuss how I have been using what I’ve learned from this book, will provide you with many of my favorite quotes from the book that relate to each takeaway & I’ve added some thought provoking quotes from the book at the end. Thank you for reading & Enjoy!
**I also want to encourage you to not just read this, but to put these ideas into practice. Ask yourself, “How can I apply this to my life?” These life-changing ideas need to be more than just read. Be patient when practicing these, & continue to remind yourself of these ideas throughout your days for them to become second nature.**
1) BE HAPPY NOW, WITHOUT REASON.
- Millman’s words helped me see that happiness lies in the journey, not in the destination. Many people are working at jobs only to make money for retirement. Retirement does not equal happiness. I have used this knowledge to do more of what I love & to practice being fully present in each moment. I am able to enjoy the ‘little things’ in life, such as a cup of coffee, a book, playing basketball, teaching, hanging out with family/friends, and the list goes on.
Why waste half your life doing things you don’t enjoy doing if you have an opportunity to do something you enjoy?
Happiness happens now, in this present moment. The future never really comes, the future only happens as another present moment.
Here are great quotes from the book that can open your eyes to being happy now, without reason:
* “‘What do I do then, now? Where do I go from here?’ Dan asked Socrates.
‘Who cares?’ He yelled gleefully. ‘A fool is ‘happy’ when his cravings are satisfied. A warrior is happy without reason. That’s what makes happiness the ultimate discipline—above all else I have taught you.’”
“Reality never matched their dreams; happiness was just around the corner — a corner they never turned. And the source of it all was the human mind.”
“There is no need to search; achievement leads to nowhere. It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see. And the only laws are paradox, humor and change. There is no problem, never was, and never will be. Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life, just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine. You are the world, you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too! It’s all the marvelous Play of God. Wake up, regain your humor. Don’t worry, just be happy. You are already free!”
“Sometimes sorrow, sometimes joy. But beneath it all remember the innate perfection of your life unfolding. That is the secret of unreasonable happiness.”
“You Don’t need a reason to be happy. If you do that reason can be taken away.”
“And so I awoke to reality, free of any meaning or any search. What could there possibly be to search for? All of Socrate’s words had come alive with my death. This was the paradox of it all, the humor of it all, and the great change. All searches, all achievements, all goals, were equally enjoyable, and equally unnecessary.”
“Act happy, be happy, without a reason in the world. Then you can love, and do what you will.”
“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
2) You are much more than what you think
Live in the Present.
- Our thoughts limit our experience. When you can let go of your thoughts, you can be fully alive in the present moment. The answers you seek lie beyond thought.
“My name doesn’t matter; neither does yours. What is important is what lies beyond names and beyond questions.”
“The birth of the mind is the death of the senses”
^^ I’ve been realizing this more & more lately that we are most alive when we are not dwelling in thoughts. We can take time to have rational thoughts, but take some time to meditate in nothingness. Let go of your thoughts by focusing on your external environment. Tap into your senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel? Try to do this for at least a few minutes.
When you are only in your mind, thinking, you are never fully in the present moment. Practice focusing your attention to things outside of you.
* “Satori is the warrior’s state of being; it occurs at the moment when the mind is free of thought, pure awareness; the body is active, sensitive, relaxed; and the emotions are open and free.”
“Remember, every-moment satori.”
“The warrior is Here, Now.”
“You have to ‘lose your mind’ before you can come to your senses.”
“Stay in the present. You can do nothing to change the past, and the future will never come exactly as you plan or hope for. The warrior is here, now. Your sorrow, your fear & anger, regret & guilt, your envy and plans and cravings live only in the past, or in the future.”
“Your business is not to ‘get somewhere’ — it is to be here.
“You have been immortal since before you were born and will be long after the body dissolves. The body is Consciousness; never born; never dies; only changes. The mind — your ego, personal beliefs, history, and identity — is all that ends at death.”
^^This quote reminds me of the philosophy stoicism. I wrote a post about it that you can check out by Clicking Here.
3) Life is much more than what you can think.
- This book helped me view the external environment without judging it. Instead of looking outside & thinking “Ooo I love or hate this weather. There is a bird & a tree, and wow that car is going really fast,” I practice just looking outside & dwelling on what is, letting thoughts come & then go like passing clouds. I practice not judging things around me, seeing them just as they are, with no thinking needed. I am not like this all the time, but it is good to practice this technique!
“You now see everything through a veil of associations about things, projected over a direct, simple awareness. You’ve ‘seen it all before’; it’s like watching a movie for the twentieth time. You see only memories of things, so you become bored. Boredom, you see, is fundamental non-awareness of life; boredom is awareness, trapped in the mind. You’ll have to lose your mind before you can come to your senses.”
“You’ve become bored to things because they exist only as names to you. The dry concepts of mind obscure your direct perception.”
“Like most people, you’ve been taught to gather information from outside yourself; from books, magazines, experts. Like this car, you open up and let the facts pour in. Sometimes the information is premium and sometimes it’s low octane. You buy your knowledge at the current market rates, much like you buy gasoline. Like this gas tank, you are overflowing with preconceptions; full of useless knowledge. You hold many facts and opinions, yet know little of yourself. Before you can learn, you’ll have to first empty your tank.”
4) Actions are more important than thoughts.
“Your thoughts are like wild monkeys stung by a scorpion.”
Don’t believe everything you think; I have heard this phrase many times & it relates to this idea.
We can’t always control what we think, but we do have control of our actions.
Yes, try to think positive & focus on the best, but don’t try to force thoughts away. Embrace them; let it come & then let them go like clouds passing by.
“You don’t need to control emotion,” Socrates said. “Emotions are natural, like passing weather. Sometimes it’s fear, sometimes sorrow or anger. Emotions are not the problem. The key is to transform the energy of emotion into constructive action.”
“Old urges continue to arise, but urges do not matter; only actions do. A warrior is as a warrior does.”
“. . Action always happens in the present, because it is an expression of the body, which can only exist in the here and now. But the mind is like a phantom that lives only in the past or future. It’s only power over you is to draw your attention out of the present.”
Paying attention is also an action, and one of the most important actions:
“A Zen student asked his roshi the most important element of Zen. The roshi replied, ‘Attention.’
‘Yes, thank you,’ the student replied. ‘But can you tell me the second most important element?’ And the roshi replied, ‘Attention.’”
Practice paying attention.
“Ultimately you will learn to meditate your every action.”
“Use whatever knowledge you have but see its limitations. Knowledge alone does not suffice; it has no heart. No amount of knowledge will nourish or sustain your spirit; it can never bring you ultimate happiness or peace. Life requires more than knowledge; it requires intense feeling and constant energy. Life demands right action if knowledge is to come alive.”
“Full attention to every moment is my desire and my pleasure. Attention costs no money; your only investment is training.”
5) On Life & Death.
* “Experts devote their life to training. Masters devote their training to life.”
“I’ve tried to show you by example that a warrior’s life is not about imagined perfection or victory; it is about love. Love is the warrior’s sword; wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death.”
* “Everyone tells you what’s good for you. they don’t want you to find your own answers. they want you to believe theirs.”
* “‘Why worry? Better to live until you die. I am a warrior; my way is action,’ Socrates said. ‘I am a teacher, I teach by example. Someday you too may teach others as I have shown you—then you’ll understand that words are not enough; you too must teach by example, and only what you’ve realized through your own experience.’”
“The World out there, is a school, Dan. Life is the only real teacher. It offers many experiences, and if experience alone brought wisdom and fulfillment, then elderly people would all be happy, enlightened masters…
..But the lessons of experience are hidden. I can help you learn from experience to see the world clearly, and clarity is something you desperately need right now. Your intuition knows this is true, but your mind rebels; you’ve experienced much, but you’ve learned little.”
“Think of death as a transformation — a bit more radical than puberty, but nothing to get particularly upset about.”
“Death is not sad; the sad thing is that most people don’t really live at all.”
“Where are you? Here. What time is it? Now. What are you? This moment.”
“You fear death and crave survival. You want Forever, you desire Eternity. In your deluded belief that you are this ‘mind’ or ‘spirit’ or ‘soul,’ you find the escape clause in your contract with mortality.”
“Wake up! If you knew for certain that you had a terminal illness – if you had precious little time left to make use of your life and consider who you are, you’d not waste time on self-indulgence or fear, lethargy or ambition. You do have a terminal illness – it is death. Be happy now, without reason – or you never will be at all.”
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed these book notes as much as I enjoyed the book. I think many people can relate to this incredible story.
Let us be happy now, without reason, and we will live our best life.
You can purchase The Way of the Peaceful Warrior book from Amazon by clicking here if you’d like.
More thought provoking quotes from the book:
* “So I’m a fool, huh?” Says Millman. Socrates responds with, “We’re all fools together. It’s just that a few people know it; others don’t.”
“Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change, free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is a law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”
“Enlightenment is not an attainment, it is a realization. And when you wake up, everything changes and nothing changes.”
“How do you know you haven’t been asleep your whole life? How do you know you’re not asleep right now?”
“Understanding is the one-dimensional comprehension of the intellect. It leads to knowledge. Realization is three-dimensional — a simultaneous comprehension of head, heart, and instinct. It comes only from direct experience.”
“Focus all your energy not on struggling with the old, but on building the new.”
“Embody what you teach, and teach only what you have embodied.”
“Stress happens when the mind resists what is.”
“There are no ordinary moments!”
*Story about a younger traveler, Milarepa who has been seeking enlightenment everywhere. He eventually sees an old man carrying a heavy sack down a mountain & thinks the man knows the answer to his question…
Milarepa says, “‘Old man, please tell me what you know. What is enlightenment?’ The old man smiled at him for a moment, and swung the heavy burden off his shoulders, and stood straight.
‘Yes, I see!’ Cried Milarepa. ‘My everlasting gratitude. But please, one question more. What is after enlightenment?’
Smiling again, the old man picked up the sack once again, slung it over his shoulders, steadied his burden, and continued on his way.”
I had to read this story^ a few times before I understood it. I hope you can see it.
“Life is not suffering; it’s just that you will suffer it, rather than enjoy it, until you let go of your mind’s attachments and just go for the ride freely, no matter what happens.”
“If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever.”
“Reading the future is based on a realistic perception of the present. Don’t be concerned about seeing the future until you can clearly see the present.”
“Meditating an action is different from doing it. To do, there must be a doer, a self-conscious someone performing. But when you meditate an action, you’ve already released all thoughts, even the thought of, ‘I.’ There’s no ‘you’ left to do it. In forgetting yourself, you become what you do, so your action is free, spontaneous, without ambition, inhibition, or fear.’”
“The journey is what brings us happiness not the destination.”
I hope you enjoyed the quotes as well as the summary! Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice! Start today, ask “How can I apply these ideas to my daily life?” Let these ideas sink in to who you are.
I also recommend reading Dan’s second & third books in the Peaceful Warrior trilogy. (Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior & The Hidden School) which you can purchase from Amazon if you’d like by clicking on their title.
Get the books from a library or buy them; either way it will be worth your while! I read both & thoroughly enjoyed them.
Happy Reading! I wish you well on your journey toward becoming a Peaceful Warrior.
Disclaimer—This might change your perspective on life. Hopefully for the better.
The choice is yours.
The 4 philosophy ideas I discuss stem from a philosophy called stoicism.
I wanted to title this post: “Stoicism 101; an old philosophy that can liberate you,” but I’m not sure if many people have heard about stoicism, and I know most people have heard of philosophy.
So what is stoicism? (scroll down to ‘4 Main Points‘ section for just the main points if you’d like).
Stoicism is defined as: “The endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.”
It is being okay with everything that happens & accepting how you feel. It is focusing on what you can control, and letting go of the rest.
Stoicism is liberating.
Stoicism can help you:
- Become a better person & friend
- Deal with people & external events appropriately
- Deal with adversity
- Maintain a level head through praise & criticism
- Come to peace with death
- Overcome destructive emotions, and many more.
Stoicism is also defined as: “An ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge, and that the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.”
Stoicism helps us accept life as it is. It helps us get past our labels of “good” & “bad.” Stoicism helps put us in a mindful state of awareness, getting us out of our constantly judging mind, enabling us to experience life fully, non-judgmentally.
In relation to living non-judgmentally, I’ve heard this quote: “What is chaos to the fly is normal to the spider.”
Shakespeare also said, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
We know what is good or bad in human terms, but there is a lot more going on in the universe than what we think.
There is so much happening beyond us.
We know that murder is a bad thing, yet cows, chickens and other animal life are murdered daily in our world. I eat meat so I am not complaining, I am just trying to get us all to think.
Do you think eating dog is bad?
Multiple countries eat dog today, and other countries think that this is very wrong…Here is an article that came out April 3, 2018 that discusses how over 5 million dogs are eaten in Vietnam every year—Click Here For Article.
Is it wrong to kill animals for food? I don’t have that answer.
Maybe hundreds or thousands of years from now, if the human race is still around, they will wonder how we could have eaten the meat of other animals.
Maybe not though as well.
Look back to a few examples from recent centuries, the 1900’s & beyond, to things we look back on in disgust: Open racism, public hangings & no womens’ rights.
These injustices are still happening today in some places.
So this is what philosophy is; thinking. Thinking, learning & then living out the best life from what we know. Philosophy is about questions & perspectives.
Stoicism is not pessimistic, it is optimistic, you just need to see it in the right light.
Before I get to the main points of stoicism, I would like your feedback via email. I am considering writing a short ebook that will discuss stoicism in more detail. I have about 70 pages of solid notes on the subject, & have read multiple books regarding stoicism, so if you would be interested in reading a short ebook(condensed to about 20 pages) please let me know!
For now, here is a summary of a few main points that stoicism offers & how we can apply them to our lives.
4 Main Points
•Which translates to a love of one’s fate•
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a big fan of amor fati.
He is quoted saying, “my formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it, but love it.”
The stoics also had another way of looking at this. They believed in a universal guiding force of the universe. They thought we are like a dog tied to a moving cart, and we have two options: We can try to dig our hind legs in, struggling to control everything, getting dragged & being challenged. Or we can enjoy the ride & live our best lives.
Last quote on Amor Fati:
“Demand not that things happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do, and you will go on well.” Epictetus (Philosopher & former slave)
Are you loving your fate? If not, you can with practice, and it will help you live your best life.
2~Focus on what you can control and let go of the rest
Most of us have heard this quote: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr
We have heard it, and might think, “yea that’s good, I should do that.” But we often don’t follow through with this quote.
We need to follow through with action. Make a list of things you can control, and a list of things you can’t control. Then stop wasting any time on things you cannot control. This takes time & practice, as I am practicing this myself and am not perfect at it.
I love this idea from Philip Ghezelbash that relates to focusing on the things we can control:
“Do you have a problem in your life?
No? ► Then don’t worry.
Yes? ► Can you do something about it?…
Yes? ► Then don’t worry.
No? ► Then don’t worry.”
I have been practicing this lately when I am stuck in traffic. There is no reason to get upset in uncontrollable traffic, but many people do & I have too at times. I’ve been reminding myself that I have no control over the traffic, and this reminder has been bringing me peace of mind.
3~Practice poverty & misfortune
This may sound counterproductive but it can actually help a person grow tremendously.
When we intentionally practice poverty & misfortune a few days each month, we will be more prepared and accepting for when it does come.
“We must learn to disappoint ourselves at leisure before the world ever has a chance to slap us by surprise at a time of its own choosing.” Alain de Botton
Alain goes on to say: “One of the goals of civilization is to instruct us in how to be sad rather than angry. Sadness may not sound very appealing. But it carries – in this context – a huge advantage. It is what allows us to detach our emotional energies from fruitless fury around things that (however bad) we cannot change and that are the fault of no-one in particular and – after a period of mourning – to refocus our efforts in places where our few remaining legitimate hopes and expectations have a realistic chance of success.”
Entrepreneur, practicer of stoicism, and author of a New York Times Best Selling Book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss, practices this each month. See him talk about it by clicking here…
Ferriss talks about how the philosopher Cato, would practice poverty & misfortune:
During Cato’s age, over 2000 years ago, every now and then he would wear clothes that society viewed as humiliating.
Cato did this to train himself to be ashamed of only those things truly worth being ashamed about.
Deep down we know that clothes are nothing to be ashamed of, but many people spend a lot of money to buy brand clothing to impress people they don’t even like.
The philosopher Seneca also practiced this. In one of his writings he wrote: “Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?’”
We undervalue what we have, because most likely we’ve always had it…
“Many of your fears are based on undervaluing the things that are easily obtainable.” Tim Ferriss
Ferriss also practices this by doing fasts, not eating anything for days, & also doing fasts that include only eating rice, or only drinking water. (If you plan on doing a fast, research it as much as possible beforehand).
This year I have done two 30 hour fasts, and multiple 16-20 hour fasts.
There has been a lot of research done on fasting, and it has many benefits. This Harvard study explains how fasting can lead to a longer and healthier life: Click Here for the study.
I’ve been practicing this another way without even knowing it: When I need clothes, I first go to Goodwill or other thrift stores, where I buy great clothes for a cheap price. I am very glad my mother took us to thrift shops growing up; they really have some amazing gems. And when I buy clothes that society might think is “poor,” that doesn’t bother me & I’ll still wear it.
Macklemore agrees here in his song Thrift shop(clean version).
He says, “I’m like, ‘yo, that’s 50 dollars for a t-shirt.’ Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition. 50 dollars for a t-shirt, that’s just some ignorant _____.
I call that getting tricked by the business.”
Do we care that much about the opinions of others that we will spend enormous amounts of money to impress them?
2000 years ago, former Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius said, “it never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”
Think about what your life would be like without the things you have. It could happen. Better to have practiced misfortune so that if it comes to you, you won’t be bothered by it.
Are you practicing poverty & misfortune? If not, do you think you will?
4~None of what you do lasts
Again, this may sound pessimistic, but it is liberating, and if you are still reading you can sense that practicing stoicism can be liberating.
Marcus Aurelius reminded himself of all the people who have died, whether they had a “great” occupation or a “lowly” one. He said: “Run down the list of those who felt intense anger at something: the most famous, the most unfortunate, the most hated, the most whatever: Where is all that now? Smoke, dust, legend…or not even a legend. Think of all the examples. And how trivial the things we want so passionately are.”
“No matter how clever or brilliant, none of what we do lasts…It’s good to remember that.” Ryan Holiday
“If everything is ephemeral, what does matter? Right now matters. Being a good person and doing the right thing right now, thats what matters and that’s what was important to the Stoics. Be humble and honest and aware.” Ryan Holiday
If you want to really live your best life, it is important to frequently think of your own mortality. This will help you appreciate each and every moment, and not have such an intense fear of death that most people refuse to think about.
“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” Marcus Aurelius
I hope you enjoyed learning about, or learning more about the wonderful philosophy of stoicism. There are many more practices involved with stoicism; these were a few key starting points I believe are good to begin with, & they are ones that I am practicing.
If you want to learn more about stoicism, I recommend reading the book “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius. I recently read it & it is now one of my top 3 all-time favorite books.
And as I said, I have many notes on stoicism and am considering writing a short ebook on the subject to discuss it in more details (the ebook would be around 20 pages). If this is something you’d be interested in reading please let me know 🙂
I look forward to hearing from you, & hope you have gained a new perspective through reading this.
“In your actions, don’t procrastinate. In your conversations, don’t confuse. In your thoughts, don’t wander. In your soul, don’t be passive or aggressive. In your life, don’t be all about business.” Aurelius
This post mainly comes from the ideas of the great Tony Robbins while I only add to it.
You are seeking emotions and experiences. After researching experts, I have found that there are six basic, universal needs that drive ALL human behavior. Every human being has these needs, but we each put different VALUE on these needs. Our focus on these needs will determine the direction of our life! What need will you live for?
The six human needs include:
Each of these needs influence every single human being’s life, and by understanding the needs that shape your behavior, you can take control of your life, and create new habits that lead you to the life you’ve been dreaming of living.
What do you think the most addictive thing in the world is???
Find out in a few paragraphs, it’s not what you think.
Before we get more into our human needs, lets look at how DECISIONS shape our destiny, and our decisions of course are intertwined with our needs.
Decision is the ultimate power. Decisions shape destiny.
There are 3 Decisions we are making EVERY moment of our lives:
1) What am I going to focus on? Focus=feeling. Past/present/Future…Self or others?
2) What does it(this situation/experience) mean? Is it the end or the beginning? Are you being punished or rewarded?
3)What are your going to do? Are you going to give up or move forward?
We make these decisions consciously or unconsciously.**
Lance Armstrong for example could have focused on his cancer but he continued to focus on biking and being the best. He continued to win!
Rosa Parks. Her focus was that she could change the world for her kids or grandkids instead of focusing on what she was told to do. She wouldn’t go to the back of the bus & she changed the whole world!
Entrepreneur Tony Robbins also has an incredible story. When he was a eleven years old with a very broke family and no food for Thanksgiving, a stranger came to his house on Thanksgiving to give them a turkey. Tony’s angry father and himself had VERY different PERSPECTIVES/FOCUSES on this event that went like this:
Tony’s Father: His 3 decisions: Focus was “this is charity” What does it mean “I am worthless” What do I have to do? “Leave my family.” Which he did…
Tony’s focus: There’s food! What does it mean? “Strangers care about me and other people.” What am I going to do? “I’m going to do something to make a difference.” Six years later he started feeding families when he was 17. Slowly but surely he built a foundation and has fed millions of people all over the world.
Your FOCUS determines much of your life. Try to be intentional and conscious of what you focus on.
& The most addictive thing in the world is….
Most people will guess wrong. The answer is Problems.
**Most people find a way to feel significant by having a significant problem. Problems are the safest way to connect with others and not be rejected. Problems are the biggest addiction in our culture.
And SiGNIFICANCE is one of the six human needs!!! Think about your life. Do you connect and feel significant through problems? And are you happy with constantly talking about problems or do you want to live a life with less complaining?
***Instead of just looking at peoples’ behaviors, see their attempts to meet their needs.***
A few insights into the 6 human needs:
- People like to be certain, to have financial security, to trust people and experiences. But too much certainty makes us bored, so we need some variety.
- People like good surprises, if it’s a bad surprise they call it a problem.
- We all need to feel important, special, unique..People do this in so many different ways-tattoos, religion, joining a group..etc..One of the quickest way some people feel significant is through Violence. Violent things happen each day, just watch the news; these people have a striving for significance, as well as some big mental problems..I encourage you to be significant in a positive way. Join some great groups, read, write, travel.
4) What we really need is Connection & Love
- Connection and love are like rain to a garden of flowers, they make us grow. Surround yourself with people who support and love you. I am so thankful for my family because of their love. Also if you are feeling down and depressed, get a pet. Dogs will love you and are always happy to see you. Cats are different, but they can show love to their owners as well.
Every human finds a way to meet the first 4 needs. What will your FOCUS be to meet these needs???
The next two needs create fulfillment!
If you don’t grow, you die. Relationships, businesses, self, etc.
- We grow when we have something to give of value. So don’t always be thinking of yourself..I know it’s hard, but try to get out of yourself for awhile & see what you can give to others that can help them. EVERYONE has something great to contribute, but it can be very difficult to find it. Start by donating food or clothes, or doing something small for someone. It feels amazing and will help you grow. It’s funny how a selfless act will ultimately help you too.
6) To Contribute beyond ourselves
- Growth and Contribution are intertwined. You grow by contributing. Contribution=growth.
“The secret of living is giving.”
“It’s not about me, it’s about we.” Tony Robbins
People truly get excited to contribute once they experience it and not just talk about it.
We ALL have the same needs, but whatever need leads us will lead us to our destination.
People all try to meet the same needs, but we do it in different ways. A firefighter saves lives for significance while someone else kills a person for significance.
Try to appreciate how people are attempting to meet their needs, explore your decisions, and give.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO FOCUS ON?
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
- Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
- When in doubt, just take the next small step.
- Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
- Pay off your credit cards every month.
- You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
- Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
- Save for retirement, starting with your first paycheck.
- When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
- Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
- It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
- Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
- If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
- Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
- You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
- A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
- It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
- When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
- Burn the candles; use the nice sheets; wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
- Overprepare, then go with the flow.
- Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
- The most important sex organ is the brain.
- No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
- Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
- Forgive everyone everything.
- What other people think of you is none of your business.
- Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
- However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
- Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
- Believe in miracles.
- Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
- Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
- Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
- Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
- If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
- Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
- Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
- All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
- Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
- The best is yet to come.
- No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
- Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
- If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
- Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.
These are all so good. I read this a few times! Credit to Regina Brett. Which is your favorite??