Marcus Aurelius MEDITATIONS

Inspirational Book Reviews

I am writing this review of the book Marcus Aurelius MEDITATIONS translated and with an introduction by Gregory Hays. There are a number of translations of Meditations, but this is the one that Ryan Holiday recommended and is considered by many to be the best. I would recommend getting the hard cover version of the book, available at Amazon for around $11. I’ve listened to the audio version, but for me the written version is superior, making it easier to focus and really absorb the information. The hardcover version has very clear type, not too small and easy to read. The book overall is very high quality.

My copy of Meditations with a few bookmarks, well more than a few.

Summary

In this translation of Meditations the introduction is about 50 pages, not a trivial amount of reading. I would recommend reading the introduction at least once, as it contains…

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Quotes from Marcus Aurelius Meditations

Statue depicting what Marcus Aurelius might have looked like

I’m working on a book review of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, but I thought I would share some of my favorite quotes from the book with you. I should have the book review done in a couple of days.

Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180. He ruled with Lucius Verus as co-emperor from 161 until Verus’ death in 169. He was the last of the Five Good Emperors and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers. All the quotes provided on this page are from the book Meditations, translation by Gregory Hays.

Favorite Quotes from Meditations

“Remember how long you’ve been putting this off, how many extensions the gods gave you, and you didn’t use them. At some point you have to recognize what world it is that you belong to; what power rules it and from what source you spring; that there is a limit to the time assigned you, and if you don’t use it to free yourself it will be gone and will never return.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 2:4

“Yes, keep on degrading yourself, soul. But soon your chance at dignity will be gone. Everyone gets one life. Yours is almost used up, and instead of treating yourself with respect, you have entrusted your own happiness to the solus of others.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 2:6

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think. But death and life, success and failure, pain and pleasure, wealth and poverty, all  these happen to good and bad alike, and they are neither noble nor shameful-and hence neither good nor bad.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 2:11

“No matter what anyone says or does, my task is to be good. Like gold or emerald or purple repeating to itself, “No matter what anyone says of does, my task is to be emerald, my color undiminished.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 7:15

“The mind without passions is a fortress. No place is more secure. Once we take refuge there we are safe forever. Not to see this is ignorance. To see it and not seek safety means misery.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 8:48

I have a few more Marcus Aurelius quotes, and continue to add to this collection. All the quotes come from the book Meditations. Here is my current collection. https://josephsacco.com/quotes-marcus-aurelius/

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Practice Compassion

The Dalai Lama has written a whole book on compassion, which I believe I read over 10 years ago. I like his quote as the true feeling of compassion for others will in fact benefit them and yourself. In this post I want to make a case for adopting compassion, and how it is one of the most important virtues in life.

The Merriam Webster definition:

compassion

noun

sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it

I like this very brief yet powerful definition of compassion. Breaking it down a compassionate person has sympathetic consciousness for others distress and a desires to do something about it. You might also phrase it as a sympathetic awareness for the distress that others are experiencing. There are a number of synonyms for sympathy, but you also might phrase this as a compassionate person has a caring awareness of the suffering of others and wants to alleviate it.

Most of us can be compassionate when it comes to family members, friends, and often with people that think like us, but true compassion is not just for those you love or agree with. True compassion, even for those we don’t agree with means we have expanded our world view to all sentient beings. To be compassionate is a virtue, an unselfish expression of your better self. When your first reaction to things you do not agree with is negative, you are being judgmental, which is one of the biggest impediments to compassion. This propensity to judge others often comes from an inflated ego. Your thoughts may include viewing others as wrong, stupid, uninformed, unintelligent, and of course viewing yourself as better than everyone else or least those you judge.

If you recognize suffering in others and actually decide you want to do something about it, you are practicing compassion. In our very imperfect world there are many opportunities to be compassionate. Some examples may include:

  • Chronic conditions (cancer, heart disease, etc.)
  • Starvation
  • Disease (pandemics)
  • Mental illness
  • Death
  • War such as Russia’s invasion and destruction of Ukraine
  • Racisim and oppressing people based on sexual preference

There are no shortages of pain and suffering in our world, some of this may be very close to home for you. If you are a Buddhist, Christian, Jew, or Muslim you most likely have been taught compassion as part your doctrine or religion. Of course practicing compassion is not limited to a philosophy or religion, as an agnostic you may also be as compelled as anyone else to feel the pain and suffering that surrounds us and want to act. One could make the case that compassion is a universal virtue.

If you think you are a compassionate person, then you may realize the difference between empathy and compassion is about the action or lack of it. You can empathize with the plight of others, but if you do nothing about it you are not compassionate. This isn’t inherently bad and maybe it is a step in the right direction. The fact that you have empathy for others is better than as the quote above states you are just an observer. For most of us our heart is in the right place, but we don’t take that next step because we are so wrapped up in our own troubles, that we can’t take the time to act on the empathy we feel. Maybe we just don’t know how to help.

One of the things we have seen over the past couple of decades in the United States is that Americans are less inclined as in the past to belong to a religious entity like a church. You might ask why does this matter? Well in the past the church was a place that reinforced compassion as a virtue and maybe more importantly provided avenues to practice it by supporting numerous charities and causes. From the article on the web “America is losing its Religion” some of the statistics are shocking:

By the numbers: Gallup poll released last week found just 47% of Americans reported belonging to a house of worship, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% as recently as 1999.

  • The shift away from organized religion is a 21st century phenomenon. U.S. religious membership was 73% when Gallup first measured it in 1937, and stayed above 70% for the next six decades.

Context: The decline in membership is primarily driven by a sharp rise in the “nones” — Americans who express no religious preference.

  • The percentage of Americans who do not identify with any religion rose from 8% between 1998 and 2000 to 21% over the past three years, while the percentage of nones who do not belong to a house of worship has risen as well.

If religion as we know it continues to decline over the next couple of decades, what will replace it? Now you may be agnostic and feel that religion is unnecessary, but surely there will be a void of some sort, and those religious institutions that survive will have less to work with in terms of acting upon their compassion. The need for our society to practice compassion is not decreasing, in fact it is most certainly increasing. The vast income and wealth inequality has only forced more of our world wide population into poverty and often into homelessness.

If you have an awareness of all the suffering in this world and want to act upon it look at your own community. I don’t have all the answers, but there are food banks, homeless shelters, and other charitable organizations that my provide an avenue for your compassion. I feel that if we don’t act things are going to get progressively worse.

References

America is losing its religion

Three Decades Ago, America Lost Its Religion. Why?

In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace

What’s holding you back?

Not a huge Tony Robbins fan, but this is one of his better quotes.

Most of us are nowhere as happy or successful as we might be. Something is holding us back from achieving what we want in terms of relationships, life style, spirituality, professional growth, or a number of other things we might be seeking. You probably have guessed by now, but much of what I write about is my own struggles and imperfections. While these might seem personal to me, they are not mine alone, and my hope is that some of the solutions I found will work for you too.

Before I go on and on about how to identify and eradicate some of the things that are holding you back, I need to mention the following:

There will be no change in your life until you change. You are 100% responsible for yourself. Stop blaming your circumstances on outside events. Much of the fucked up things that have occurred in your life were based on shitty decisions or habits. Of course there are terrible things that have happened to you that were out of control, but they only account for a small percentage of the shit you have endured. I know this is tough love, but most of the pain you have in your life has been self inflicted.

Let’s look at some of the behaviors that are holding you back:

  1. Unhealthy Habits: I put this as the first item in this list as it has such a huge impact on how you feel and think. This might include smoking, drinking (sorry this fucks up a lot of people), drugs, lack of exercise, and in the United States an unhealthy diet. All of these shitty habits alter the mind and the body and will not only slow progress, but may destroy your life.
  2. Laziness: Yes you dream about doing stuff, but when it comes down to taking action you make up some lame excuse such as I’m tired or it’s just too much effort to learn that new language, or study for a certification, or apply for a new job. You can make up all the excuses in the world and settle for your current reality, but underneath it all your just too fucking lazy to do anything about your situation. I’m going to be brutally honest here, because I am as guilty as the next person in this regard. If you are too lazy to do what is required to advance your life, then stop complaining or wishing for a different outcome. Don’t say it is too hard or I don’t understand what to do, just accept you are fucking lazy and move on.
  3. Attitude: I know this is hard to believe, but you might just have a somewhat negative attitude towards life and people in general. You may be harboring a huge ego, envying other people’s success, or have anger issues. If you think your smarter than everyone else you’re immediately going to compare your level of happiness or achievement to others. All the bullshit you see on the news is negative for the most part, and my advice is quit watching that shit. Your attitude will improve, but only if you address the rest of the stuff on this list. Drop the comparison with other people, the envy, the overblown ego, and the way you react negatively to every little stupid thing that happens.
  4. Bored: You are bored to death, because you do the same thing everyday. You make all kinds of excuses like well I live in this boring town and my job is boring. No one not even Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa could tolerate the boring life you have created for yourself. You settle for this boring existence because it has become a habit. This boredom with your life, relationships, career, or whatever has a huge impact on your motivation and ability to move forward. It’s like some bad movie that repeats itself day after day. Nothing materially changes, you are just repeating the same behavior and the only thing you have to look forward to is stagnation.
  5. Living in the Future: Are you someone who is constantly planning and trying to figure out what will happen one, two, three, or ten years from now? How is that working out for you? It’s not that a little planning is bad, but when it comes at the cost of not living in the present, then it is just an obsession. People that live in the future on a consistent basis, are thinking that the future will be better than the present. You see it all the time. When I retire I will be happy and carefree, or when I get that new job, or start my own business my life will be fulfilling. Take it from someone who plans the future for a living (Project Manager), it is no way to live your life. If you can’t be happy now, then do something about it, but you can rest assured that the future will be just as challenging as the present.
  6. I’ll Do It Later: I’ll do it later is the mantra for many of us. Take it step further, and doing it later can totally mess up your life. We apply this “do it later shit” to everything. I’ll quit drinking after my vacation, or take that class in the Fall, and you can go on and on deferring things that would help you grow as a person because you think that the future is guaranteed, which of course it is not. Time is guaranteed to no one, and the do it later thing is often due to a lack of priority or thinking you need to fill your life with a wide array of activities. If you know you need to do something that will propel your life forward then make it a priority, otherwise it’s just another goal that you are likely to never achieve.
  7. Risk Aversion: Most of us live our life as safely as possible. We are risk adverse and it’s that very attitude that is holding us back. Risk makes us uncomfortable, it conjures up fears of failure and pain. It’s so much easier to just stay the course then it is to leave your comfort zone. I can’t tell you how many people I know that hate their jobs, but won’t go look for something else, or how many people that want to start a business, but feel the risk is just too high for them. In your mind you know that only by taking risks will you be rewarded, but our propensity for safety and the known, wins out most of the time. There is a huge correlation between risk and reward, and being risk adverse is just holding you back.
  8. Focused on Money: Viewing the world through a financial lens, while a motivator for some can become an addiction for others. The typical millionaire compares themselves to billionaires and is never happy with how much wealth they have acquired. We constantly trade time for money, happiness for money, even morality for money. What if you have 3 million dollars, but fear starting that business or retiring because there may be a lull in adding money to your account balance. Do you see where I’m going with this? You sacrifice starting that business or taking some time off because of this obsession with money. This kind of feeds into the risk aversion equation and you might be actually limiting the possible financial gains. In any case, one must ask themselves how much is enough?
  9. Lack of Execution: You are a great dreamer and have created a meticulous plan laying out all your goals. That’s wonderful, but there is something lacking here and that is execution. Instead you flip flop and change your mind just when it is time to start working on that goal. You took so much time in the planning phase that you talked yourself out of doing the actual work to achieve the goal. Sound familiar?
  10. Priorities: I saved this one for last because it probably kills more dreams than most of the others combined. You have 24 hours in a day, some of that time is spent sleeping, eating, working, relaxing, or doing something else. At the end of the day you look back and say, shit I didn’t get that one thing done that was important to me. I did a bunch of other useless crap that someone else wanted done, but what I needed to get done in support of my goals was left undone. You are stuck in the urgent for someone else versus what is the highest priority paradigm. You are really living on the opposite end of the spectrum from “The Living in the Future” problem. You just field issues, react, and end up getting 20 things done, and everyone thinks your so productive. In this case you are not really planning your day, week, months, but instead let everyone else highjack your agenda. In fact you become so busy with all the meetings, chaos, and unscheduled work that you don’t even have time to think.

So those 10 things stated above are likely holding you back and if you think really hard about it you may have even more to add to this list. There is no easy answer to eliminating these obstacles that are preventing you from making progress in your life. Why do you think so few people are successful? I’m not talking about how big a pile of money they have, but more about what they have accomplished in their life and more importantly their level of contentment. Whatever way you measure success, those people that have achieved a lot of it systematically removed impediments, took chances, planned and executed, ruthlessly prioritized their days, and spent the majority of their time getting things done versus sitting on the couch.

There is a big difference between being intentional and taking responsibility for your life, versus just letting life happen to you. Listen, I’m not Fyodor Dostoevsky, Jeff Bezos, the Dali Lama, Mother Teresa, Bill Gates, or Elon Musk, and worse yet I have experienced or am currently experiencing all the impediments above, but here is the thing at least I am aware of it. I’m not kidding myself and realize there is lots of room for improvement. You might be thinking that you don’t have the capacity to change or eliminate all of these impediments. Stop bullshitting yourself; you know dam well that you can change and if you look real hard you have lots of examples of things you have overcome in the past. That’s the first step in the process, that you must begin believing again in your ability to change.

Now the second thing to start believing is that you have understood that nothing will improve for you by staying the current course. You must truly understand that only by making changes in your life will you begin getting traction towards your goals. If you don’t believe that change is necessary, well then you are fucked. Go ahead keep on your current path, but leave your expectations at the door.

Sometimes the things that are holding you back are related. I would first look at unhealthy habits as they often contribute to laziness, attitude, doing things later, or even lack of execution. You can’t tear down the whole thing at once, but if you start chipping away at one or two of these things that are holding you back, great things begin happening. Sometimes your ability to change is correlated with the amount of disgust with your current situation. We humans can tolerate a lot of shit and it often takes some kind of seminal moment to get us off our ass and do something about it. If you are still reading this it would be my guess that seminal moment has already happened and you want something better for yourself.

Remember with each passing day another opportunity will have come and gone. Failure to act and address these things that are holding you back will keep you exactly where you are. Don’t wait for tomorrow to start implementing change in your life. I wish I could give you some magic formula for success, but all I know is that it requires you to change. Most of the time making a change in your life is because you just can’t stand the status quo anymore. Use that to inspire you to begin building a better future for youself.

If you enjoyed this post and found it helpful, please like it and comment.

Namaste

Check out my companion blog https://inspirationalbookreviews.com/

Personal Mantras used in Meditation

It has been quite a while since my last post In The Buddha’s Words and I have no valid excuse for not being more prolific with my writing. This post will provide a justification if you will for using mantras when meditating. I like many of you suffer from a monkey mind that cannot seem to turn itself off while sitting on the cushion. All the thoughts of things you need to do, issues in your life, and a general inability to let it all go are preventing you from just focusing on your breathing. One method of blocking out the monkey mind is to use a mantra during your meditation practice.

Definition of a Mantra

  1. Hinduism. a word or formula, as from the Veda, chanted or sung as an incantation or prayer.
  2. an often repeated word, formula, or phrase, often a truism: If I hear the “less is more” mantra one more

This definition is somewhat incomplete as mantras are used in Buddhism during mediation and have many other uses. A mantra can more generally be described as repeating a word or phrase as a way of programming your mind as those who believe in the law of attraction, but in our case, the mantras I’m interested in will be used during meditation and not used to manifest anything.

If you are at the point in your meditation practice where you don’t need a mantra or two to block out the monkey mind, then more power to you, but for me, it’s a useful practice. The mantra I am using currently using goes something like this:

There is no pain, there is no suffering, there is only peace and contentment

I am saying these phrases to myself, not audibly, but thinking them. On the first breath “there is no pain”, on the second breath “there is no suffering”, on the third breath “there is only peace”, and finally on the fourth breath “and contentment”. By taking the time to think about each of these sub phrases individually during each breath you increase the emphasis on the meaning. The mantra can totally block out all other thoughts as it is repeated over and over again. For me, the act of meditation is about leaving any state of pain, suffering, and creating a state of peace and contentment.

Note I’m not trying to manifest a new car or more money. I’m also not trying to bolster my ego by telling myself how great I am, nor am I trying to practice some bullshit self-improvement technique. For me, meditation is not some tool I use to create a better version of myself or God forbid correct all my faults. As the Buddha taught pain and suffering exists all around us as an innate result of experiencing life. I prefer even if it is only during my meditation session to create a state of no pain, no suffering, only peace, and contentment. You might view this as an escape from life, but I contend it is more than that. I’ve come recently to experience my meditation practice as more of a revelation of what is truly authentic. Maybe another way to put it is that through meditation I am experiencing my most authentic self. I’m not saying meditation is the only way to be more like who you really are, but it is certainly one of the best ways. Most other activities in life have you playing a role, trying to gain something, achieve a goal, satisfying some desire, or are generally concerned with improving some aspect of your life by doing stuff. You know, the way we spend the vast majority of your days.

Most human beings are very goal oriented always seeking to improve themselves, gaining some satisfaction from checking off one goal after another on the list, but strangely enough still largely unsatisfied with their existence. This strong attraction to acquiring things and the subsequent brainwashing that has occurred over the many hundreds or years has done nothing to nurture our true nature or foster even a modicome of self awareness. If someone deviates from path (norm) they are either lazy or insane by the standards of society. Meditation and the use of mantras can help you undo some of this conditioning. The Buddha provided the Noble Eightfold Path as a means of escaping all this self induced suffering. Regarding meditation and the discovery of your true self the focus should be on right mindfulness and right concentration.

Other mantras I’ve used in addition the afore mentioned one includes:

Zazen is life

I am here, I am present

I am happy to be alive today

I give thanks for the Buddha, I give thanks for the Dhamma, and I give thanks for the Sangha

If I have any advice it would be to not make your mantra too complex. Shorter phrases fit better within the span of a breath and can be more impactful. You can also intersperse periods of just observing your breathing and when the monkey mind begins to take over, go back to your mantras.

Namaste

In the Buddha’s Words

Inspirational Book Reviews

Summary

This review of “In the Buddha’s Words” will undoubtedly be a bit longer than many of my other posts. If you haven’t guessed by now I am more than a little interested in Buddhism, which you can find out more about on my other blog thestoicbuddhist. I have the soft cover version of the book, which is 485 pages. The books has high quality print and the font is not too small, making it very readable. The book starts out with a forward by the Dalai Lama, then a preface, list of abbreviations, key to pronunciation in Pali, and a detailed list of the contents of the book. This is a scholarly explanation and exploration of discourses in the Pali Canon. The book is divided into 10 sections and each section includes a somewhat lengthy introduction that helps provide a better understanding of the the text in the…

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Balance Restored

One of my recent blog posts was aptly named Unbalanced. In this post I wrote about how over time your work life can go terribly wrong in the sense that it becomes your whole life. While for some people this may be fine, but for me it was a form of hell on earth. Much like addictions this working all the time lifestyle creeps up on you over time. In Unbalanced I mentioned there were three options:

  1. Accept and Adapt
  2. Do Nothing
  3. Extricate yourself from the situation

I chose number one, allowing a little acceptance and making some adaptations. First off let me say I am a huge fan of Buddhism, Stoicism, Yoga, and meditation; practicing each of these on a daily basis. The problem is no matter how much you read or spend time meditating you cannot escape the chaos that often ensues on a daily basis during your work day. I’m not saying that it doesn’t help, but it cannot by itself save you. You might be saying well your the Stoic Buddhist, so what the hell! My response is don’t stop your practice, in the end it will improve all aspects of your life, but it only marginally helps you deal with some shit show at work.

Well as I mentioned I choose door number one to practice some acceptance for the situation and then make a few adaptations so that I might make things more bearable.

I like this Anthony Hopkins quote as he lets you know that other peoples opinions of you are of no concern, and that expecting nothing and accepting everything may serve you well. While this is a great mantra to live by, it does not preclude you from taking action. This is where the adaptation comes in. This is the Merriam Webster definition of Adaptaption.

adaptation

Essential Meaning of adaptation

1: something that is adapted especiallya movie, book, play, etc., that is changed so that it can be presented in another form. His stage adaptation of the novel was a success.The film is an adaptation of a book of the same title.

2: a change in a plant or animal that makes it better able to live in a particular place or situation. The insect’s evolutionary adaptations enable it to be almost invisible even when sitting in the middle of a leaf.

3: the process of changing to fit some purpose or situation the process of adapting a tool designed for easy adaptation

I would suggest that number two and three apply in this case. With acceptance you begin to achieve number two, allowing you to better live in a particular place or situation. While acceptance is awesome you also need to actively manage the situation. So making some changes to the way you approach your work allows you to adapt to the situation much easier.

Well all this leads us to adapting the way you approach this situation, in this case your workaholic tendencies and ways to alleviate the negative narrative you have about it.

  • If you start with I expect nothing and accept everything you relieve yourself of trying to control it all and stop judging it as a negative experience. Lets face it there are a lot of things that are out of our control and when we worry, resent, become angry, or provide any kind of emotional response to these situation we are opening the door for more suffering.
  • Another method that helps you adapt to all the annoying shit at work is to stop giving a fuck about everything. If someone says something demeaning or criticizes your work you can get upset and at the time if might deeply offend you, but you really don’t know their motives and in many ways you should not give a fuck. Save your energy for the things you really care about and stop letting all the other crap make you crazy.
  • The last little tip that helped me was to set some limits around your free time. This might include not attending every meeting you are invited to, or getting the administrative stuff done on Friday so you don’t have to work on the weekend. Look for ways to begin balancing work with your personal time. You might even take a day off now and then. We all think what we do is so important and without us the world will come to the end and your project will fail without your 24 hour a day monitoring. Once you realize that none of this is true, you begin to give yourself some freedom and the job that was killing you no longer seems so daunting.

When it is all said and done your job is really not all that important and you are not that important to your employer. Maybe what is important to you is doing quality work that you enjoy or realizing your efforts at work are contributing to your family. Find those 2 or 3 things you really value and let those provide some level of satisfaction. As I’ve mentioned before when you start caring about everything you are on the road to becoming a workaholic and ultimately experiencing burnout.

If you just can’t adapt and the situation at work is not improving you can always find a way to exit. This might mean taking another position in your own company, or asking for a different assignment, and if all else fails finding a new job. In this job market anyone with the right skills is now calling the shots and there are a lot of opportunities to be found. Remember self torture by trying to endure a situation beyond a reasonable amount of time is not your best choice.

Namaste

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck

My latest book review. Let me know what you think.

Inspirational Book Reviews

Overview

Well here we go again, another book making use of the word Fuck. You might remember another book review I did on Unfu*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop. This book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson was a book I read partially a couple years ago. More recently I ran into a review of this book on YouTube by the author and decided to give it another try. It turns out this book is pretty good and kind of got me out of a funk I was feeling.

Don’t let the title fool you, it’s not about meandering your way through life and not giving a shit about anything, far from it. One of the key messages is stop giving a fuck about everything. When you give a fuck about all the little things in life, you lose focus on what is really important…

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Unbalanced

Guess where this is going?

It has been a while, in fact I think my last post was in June. What the hell! The topic for today is unbalanced, which is the reason I haven’t written anything in so long. About six weeks ago I made a decision to take on what became a monumental endeavor at work. The whole thing imploded and became what a friend of mine in the Netherlands calls a shit show. A shit show if you didn’t know is pretty much synonymous with a disaster. What started as a seemingly good idea to up my game and take on a new challenge, quickly eroded into some form of torture. Now I’m no stranger to hard work, but the kind of hours I was putting in became a bit absurd after a while. The first 3 weeks were 75-80 hours per week, including working weekends.

After a few weeks of this, which forced me to skip pretty much all forms of exercise; not only was I mentally drained, but I also wasn’t feeling very well. There is always a fine line between working extremely hard and taking care of yourself and I had crossed the line into burnout land. I’m sure you have experienced this before, when you reach that point almost anything can piss you off. You are so mentally and physically tired that your emotions, not the good ones begin to surface. The worst of it all was I didn’t enjoy any of it. I took a trip to Florida to meet with some of my team mates and our customer, and not once did we go out to eat together. After workshops during the day with my customer, I would go back to the hotel room to work and grab something to eat at Publix or Subway by myself. What I began to realize is that 14-16 hour work days are unsustainable, well least for me.

So why am I telling you all this? It kind of sets the stage for what happened next. It became clear to me that I needed to take back my life, so after about 4 weeks I decided I had enough, took a Friday off and started to limit how much I would work on the weekend. We did bring in some additional help, which allowed me to not be responsible for nearly everything and that certainly helped. The thing is everyone gets to a point where enough is enough, and you figure out ways to scale down the hours or you do yourself serious harm. This is usually a choice unless your in a prison or concentration camp. It wasn’t like I freed myself from the situation, but what I did was make it a bit more manageable. The fact that 8 weeks later it’s still a shit show and I am deeply engaged says something about how stubborn I am or my lack of intelligence.

This kind of sums it up.

You always have a choice to leave the situation, adapt and accept it, or do nothing, but that really doesn’t work except in extremely rare situations where leaving or adapting are not really an option. Doing nothing will just result in burnout and really is a form of self destruction. When I say accept it, I mean you are willing to adapt, but not in a passive way. You have chosen to stay, stick it out, or whatever you want to call it, but with some conditions. Please distinguish between adapting including some acceptance and doing absolutely nothing. If down the line things don’t get better than you need to figure out an exit strategy; life is way to short to stay in a shit show indefinitely.

Namaste

The Question You Must Ask Yourself

This post will be purposely short and to the point. It originates from a bit of journaling this morning. I like to start my day with a grateful practice, but my thoughts often turn to other questions about the meaning of our existence on this planet. Enough said, here is the journal from this morning:

Journal Entry

I am grateful for being alive today, and having the opportunity to live a more fulfilling life.

The question you must ask yourself is what is the purpose of all this? What do you mean by living a more fulfilling life?

Why am I here? Is it to fulfill a destiny, serve others, or to master my own philosophy?

Maybe it is all or none of the above. Maybe it’s as the Buddha taught to end suffering.

Whose suffering? Your own and all sentient beings.

How? For me it must be by writing and actions.

It’s not much of a reach to say we all have more than one purpose for living and these can be noble or selfish, or even some combination of the two. As humans we are fairly complex, possessing desires, dreams, and sometimes selfless motives for what we do.

There are many noble reasons to exist including:

  • Service to your community
  • Taking care of your family
  • Showing compassion for others
  • Being more mindful and spiritual
  • Becoming a better human being through philosophy

On the other side of the coin exists our selfish or negative motives:

  • The accumulation of wealth and material things
  • Sensory desires like sex, drugs, drinking, etc.
  • The desire to punish, belittle, and criticize those that are different from us
  • Wrong thought such as anger, hate, or envy
  • A preponderance of ego; thinking you are better than everyone else

The selfless or noble motives for your life result in happiness and the selfish in destruction. The choice is always yours alone.

Namaste