Insight and Inspiration for Flying Higher in Endeavors that Make a Difference
“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” ― Marcus Aurelius
In an age that seems to reward certainty and confidence, it's tempting to look for a map. The shortest, fastest, and easiest way to get where you want to go (or worse, where others think you should want to go).
The problem with maps is they can only take you where others have already been. They can't reveal the best course for you. Only a compass can do that.
Maps require obedience. Compasses cultivate empowerment.
Employing a compass over a map requires curiosity and courage. A willingness to learn as you go. It allows for course correction and tacking. The compass invites adventure and fellow travelers.
Are you trying to find your way or follow someone else's? Do you need a map or a compass?
Keep flying higher!
We spend a lot of time in our own heads. Probably more than is healthy. And much of this narrative is feeding questionable agendas and assumptions about ourselves, our situation, and those who surround us.
Piercing the veil of our self-fulfilling self-talk is an exercise worth doing more often. Here's a one-minute exercise that can help you "zoom out," provide a bit of context, and encourages empathy and cosmopolitanism.
It's called Hierocles' Concentric Circles of Concern. Starting with yourself, reach out to ever-widening circles of contacts and imagine pulling those people closer to yourself and into the previous circle. Your family, your friends, your neighbors, people living in the same city or town, and so on and on. You can extend this exercise all the way out to the planet and beyond.
Want to learn more? My friend, Massimo Pigliucci, shares more about this practice and its history in his blog.
What could you accomplish if you got out of your head and into the...
"Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now, take what’s left and live it properly." – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 7.56
I go for my daily run at the cemetery. It's my memento mori practice. “Remember, you die.” My cemetery run is a time to reflect on mortality. It inspires me to live the rest of my day more fully.
Every cemetery run is an opportunity not only to contemplate my journey from womb to tomb, but it’s also a call to employ myself in work that’s worth it.
This ritual reminds me of the transience of earthly things and the futility of ego attachments.
My cemetery run reminds me to return to the here and now, and do the work I’m meant to do. That work begins with the work of being a human being. Cultivating character and enhancing my life by elevating the lives of others.
What do you think? Is it possible that contemplating your death might inspire you to start living well?
Keep flying higher!
Have you seen the...
Humans are complicated. Can we agree on that? What other creature is capable of holding two diametrically opposed ideas in their head at the same time and simultaneously hold each to be true and still function?
Some people believe the earth is actually flat and still go onround the world cruises. Some people believe Elvis is still alive and also argue that he was murdered.
But this thinking isn't limited to kooks and conspiracy theorists.
I believe that I am enough. I believe you are too, btw. But I also believe that enough is not enough. My guess is you believe the same.
Perfection is impossible. Seeking it only leads to suffering and unhappiness. But progress is possible, and likely when we work on ourselves daily.
So, what will you do today that helps you wake up to a better you tomorrow?
Until next week, keep flying higher!
Of all the lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn), the biggest have intersected with my struggle with understanding and employing empathy. A struggle I only began coming to terms with when I added a chapter on it to The Stoic Creative Handbook.
The punchline, or rather the truth as I see it, is that empathy begins with yourself. If you cannot connect with your feelings and see, hear, understand, and forgive yourself, then you are incapable of doing so sincerely and authentically with others. Until then your relationship with others and yourself suffer.
To say I’m a lapsed Catholic would be an insult to lapsed Catholics, but when I hear (and recite), first Corinthians, I get a glimpse of the divine. In you, in her, in him, in me, in nature and in the cosmos. And I begin to think that I just might be getting closer to an empathic understanding and appreciation. And this has “saved” me many times from the unhelpful, harmful, and hateful stories I...
Marianne Williamson's quote is a compelling call for us to tap into our curiosity and courage and live bigger and in service to others. It lets us know that we are enough as we are while reminding us that we have unfulfilled promise to develop and deliver.
"Your playing small does not serve the world."
Please don't play small. We need you.
Keep flying higher!
I've earned my living from playing music on stages large and small. Sometimes for festival audiences of thousands, sometimes to the sound of one fan clapping in a small club. Along the way, I learned a few lessons that inspire and inform other life endeavors. Here are my top 10 lessons learned from the stage that apply to living "the good life."
Marcus Aurelius is often called the last of the “good emperors” of the Roman Empire. A man who stood above questioning who questioned himself daily. Marcus’ reminders to himself about the importance of virtue and justice inspire me and many others to this day.
“To live the good life. We have the potential for it. If we can learn to be indifferent to what makes no difference.” — Marcus Aurelius
What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be happy? These are questions we’ve asked ourselves since the dawn of time. Many of us are overwhelmed by such questions. But here, Marcus reminds himself of his agency over his perceptions, thoughts, and actions and therefore the power he has to maintain his sense of well-being in any situation or circumstance.
In this quote, Marcus is reminding himself of a lesson from one of the ancient world’s greatest teachers, Epictetus: “It isn’t events themselves that disturb...
I love to learn. Don’t you?
The world is full of mystery and wonder, and I am surrounded by people dedicated to developing themselves and doing good in the world. It’s all so fascinating and inspiring.
And of course, there’s plenty of suffering and cause for concern out there too. It can be quite overwhelming. I don’t watch the news much, but when I do I am struck by the level of certainty people express. Especially about things that are incapable of being “known” in an absolute sense.
“It’s impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”—Epictetus
How difficult it must be to prop up a “certain” posture. Especially when evidence appears that discredit your position. What recourse is there for the certain but to lash out, call names, and insulate themselves in little guilds of gullibility?
“Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.”—James Stephens