1. Life’s two most important questions are ‘Why?’ and ‘Why not?’ The trick is knowing which one to ask.
‘The unexamined life is not worth living,’ Socrates said. I am a very reflective woman, and I know that sometimes raising the ‘Why?’ is a double-edged sword, because in one hand, it allows us to acquire some understanding of why we do things, but, on the other hand, we cannot get the answer of why some people behave in a certain way.
To change such habitual and maldaptive patterns of behavior requires first some recognition of the pattern. People tend to resist this, preferring to invoke coincidence of simply focus on individual events in a way that places responability on tohers.
According to Gordon Livingston in Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart, if people are reluctant to answer ‘Why?’ questions in their lives, they also tend to have trouble with ‘Why not?’ The latter implies risk.
2. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
By adopting a flexible, malleable approach to life, we can maintain our composure even in the most restless and turbulent conditions. In The Art Of Happiness, the Dalai Lama states that it is through our efforts to achieve a flexible mind that we can nurture the resiliency of the human spirit.
The ability to reduce our value system to its most basic elements that allows us the greatest freedom and flexibility to deal with the vast array of problems that confront us on a daily basis.
3. Finding happiness in your relationships
The relationships you have with family and close friends are going to be the most important sources of happiness in your life. But you have to be careful. When it seems like everything at home is going well, you will be lulled into believing that you can put your investments in these relationships onto the back burner. That would be an enormous mistake. By the time serious problems arise in those relationships, it often is too late to repair them. This means, almost paradoxically, that the time when it is most important to invest in building strong families and close friendships is when it appears, at the surface, as if it’s not necessary.
Clayton M. Christensen and James Allworth presents in How will you measure your life? a theory of good and bad capital
I genuinely believe that relationships with family and close friends are one of the greatest sources of happiness in life. It sounds simple, but like any important investment, these relationships need consistent attention and care. But these are two forces that will be constantly working against this happening.
First, you’ll be routinely tempted to invest your resources elsewhere–in things that will provide you with a more immediate payoff.
And second, your family and friends rarely shout the loudest to demand your attention. They love you and they want to support your career, too. That can add up to neglecting the people you care about most in the world.
The theory of good money, bad money explains that the clock of building a fulfilling relationship is ticking from the start. If you don’t nurture and develop those relationships, they won’t be there to support you if you find yourself traversing some of the most challenging stretches of life, or as one of the most important sources of happiness in your life.
4. Your journey is to know yourself
Charlotte Kasl reminds us in If the Buddha Dated that we are unique in all the world. Our journey is to know ourselves.
To be loyal to your journey is to care for yourself and remember that at your center, you are luminous essence capable of compassion and love.
According to Stephen Wolinsky in The Tao of Chaos, we all start life as an essential being—completely spontaneous and free, without memories or associations.
The spiritual path is a process of unmasking ourselves rather than changing or repairing ourselves. We start by being aware of our masks, curious about their purpose, amused by their cleverness, yet always remembering that masks are simply that.
In A Guide to the Good Life, William B. Irvine plumbs the wisdom of Stoic philosophy, one of the most popular and successful schools of thought in ancient Rome, and shows how its insight and advice are still remarkably applicable to modern lives.
To help us advance our practice of Stoicism, Seneca advises that we periodically meditate on the events of daily living, how we responded to these events, and how, in accordance with Stoic principles, we should have responded to them.
He attributes this technique to his teacher Sextius, who, at beadtime, would ask himself, ‘What ailment of yours have you cured today? What failing have you resisted? Where can you show improvement?’