Know Thyself And Be At Peace

We are never ‘at home’: we are always outside ourselves. Fear, desire, hope, impel us towards the future, they rob us of feelings and concerns for what now is, in order to spend time over what will be – even when we ourselves shall be no more. (Montaigne)

What does being ‘at home’ mean? I take it as being comfortable in your own skin and in your current situation. This doesn’t mean that you have achieved whatever it is that you wanted in life or have become the best version of yourself but rather knowing that you’re a work in progress and with time, you’ll slowly inch towards what you want and who you want to be. But in the present, you aren’t avoiding your feelings and emotions.

Instead of this rationalization, we tend to dwell on fears, desires, and hopes as Montaigne suggested. Too often we spend our time living in a fantasy land where things are better and this helps us avoid our current situation. Or, we spend our time in some future hell where things are worst of and this adds to our fears and anxieties and also stunts our growth. Both these modes of beings rob us of the present, from being alive right now. By not being ‘at home’ with our emotions and feelings right now we are unable to unpack and understand the reason behind our emotions and feelings and how to improve our situation. Instead, avoidance is adopted in the form of living outside of ourselves. We fill the silence and stillness that we need with either pleasure or painful thoughts so that we don’t have to deal with our current reality. All this concern for what will be is a hindrance to progression.

Whoever would do what he has to do would see that the first thing he must learn is to know who he is and what is properly his. And whoever does know himself never considers external things to be his; above all other things he loves and cultivates himself’ he rejects excessive concerns as well as useless thoughts and resolutions. (Montaigne)

Fears, desires, hopes, and anxieties can all subside when we know who we are and what exactly do we want from life. Otherwise, we’re stuck either trying to please a version of ourselves which isn’t true by following trends or conforming to other peoples opinions or we live trying to live up to other peoples expectations (especially the expectations of our loved ones) and when these things fail to bring us peace and fulfillment we suffer from an even greater dose of anxiety and fear and are left just hoping for a better tomorrow. Even worse our mind doesn’t evolve further. It’s stuck in the old pattern and we think perhaps if we get the new thing we might be happier or that if we start a new relationship it might will the void. But it’s all just a cycle of hope, desire, anxiety, and fear and this cycle is broken when we come to ‘Know Thyself’.

This phrase, ‘Know Thyself’ has been present since the Ancient Greek time and probably before too. It was etched into the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and it still relevant now as it was back in Ancient times. This makes one wonder how much we have evolved as humans or perhaps how little. Our core concerns for meaning, purpose, happiness are still the same as our ancient ancestors.

As Montaigne suggested, the person who cultivates themselves comes closer to finding peace and fulfillment. Only you know the answer to your own riddle. Each individual must figure him or herself out and by doing so, cultivate their physical, mental and spiritual self. In essence, cultivate their soul. What other people may see as useless and meaningless can still bring us peace and joy. Especially in our current age which is so materialistic. There may be some things or activities that might not have an effect on our financial situation but can bring our mind and spirit peace. Those things are especially valuable to cultivate. Hence why we have to spend time figuring ourselves out and not trying to fill our time with excessive concerns.

Some questions we should reflect on and try to answer for ourselves:

When am I at peace?

What will I need to do to feel fulfilled?

What makes me fulfilled?

When do I feel happy?

When do I feel ashamed or guilty?

What does a meaningful day look like?

 

Bruce Lee On The Importance Of Being A Quality Human Being

You know how I like to think of myself? As a human being.

For Bruce Lee, it was important to identify himself as a human first before any race, gender or ethnicity. By emphasizing his humanity over anything else, it helped him transcend social and cultural barriers and at the same time, it allowed him to think broadly and to have his philosophy be attainable to any individual.

However, Bruce Lee’s goal wasn’t simply to be human. Rather, it was to be a human of “quality”.

The function and duty of a human being, a “quality” human being, that is, is the sincere and honest development of potential and self-actualization.

Self-actualization means to achieve one’s full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity, and a grasp of the real world. Simply put, to become the best version of yourself.

In order to fulfill one’s own potential, it is important to hone the ability to self-reflect. Self-reflection can allow us to detach momentarily. To see our own flaws and limitations so we know the areas we need to improve or strengthen.

We can ask ourselves: What habits do we need to break? What habits do we need to start? Where do we lack knowledge? Are we too passive? What part of our life requires immediate action?

For Bruce Lee, his goal was to actualize himself and he believed that should be the goal of all humans.

To promote the growth process and develop human potential:

To get through social role playing

To fill in the holes in the personality to make [one] whole and complete again.

The social role-playing part is important as well. We are social creatures and we have to do well by our community. It’s not a selfish attitude that Bruce Lee advocated but rather he believed in actualizing ourselves by performing our social duties to the best of our ability while improving upon our flaws. Both can go hand in hand. If we become the best version of ourselves then the ripple effects of that are felt by our friends, families and the community we live in. At the same time, by dedicating ourselves to being a productive member of society, it can help move us closer to our ideal state.

What the hell; you are what you are, and self-honesty occupies a definite and vital part in the ever-growing process to become a “real” human being and not a plastic one. Somehow, one day, you will hear “hey, now that’s quality; here is someone REAL.” I’d like that.

The key to being a quality human being is self-honesty. If we lie to ourselves and run away from who we currently are then there can be no improvement. Other people can point out our flaws but it’s easy to rationalize that truth and act as if other people are wrong. It’s also important to understand that who we currently are isn’t what we have to be. Bruce Lee also advocated constant change and this change has to come from within. We can only improve and grow if we wish to and in order to do this, we need to be honest with ourselves. Brutally honest about somethings. It can be uncomfortable to pick at our own flaws but there really is no other way to inch towards self-actualization. There needs to be constant ownership and accountability of our own actions. Perhaps in this manner, one day, someone can look at us and say “here is someone real,” just as Bruce Lee was.

Book referenced: Bruce Lee Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee’s Wisdom for Daily Living 

Reflections: Be Your Own Friend

Often times we look outside ourselves for advice. It’s easy to give the responsibility for our own improvement to other people. Meaning that we find someone who is popular or trending, who is a self-help guru and then follow whatever they say, without giving to much thought to what is being told or even asking ourselves if the advice given is what we need. But popularity can cloud logic and reason. By giving up personal responsibility, we don’t feel let down by ourselves if we don’t get better. We have someone to blame, to point the finger to and in doing so, feel better about ourselves.

But the simple fact that we desire someone to help us is a good sign. It’s an internal recognization that what we are at this moment isn’t what we wish to be. We know that we can be better. We know we can improve. This alone should give us a hint of where to look in order to get good self-help advice.

Just as the phrase suggests, self-help should start with the self.

In reality, if you were to detach for a moment and take a pen and paper and ask yourself Where do you want to be in ten years’ time? How will you get there? What are the things you are doing that you need to stop? What are the things you are not doing that you need to start? You will quickly find the paper filled with proper advice.

These simple self-reflective questions bring forth, in most cases, immediate answers. Because deep down we know what our bad habits are and what we need to stop practicing. We also know exactly what we need to do in order to grow and improve. You will never know anyone as well as you know yourself. You know your transgressions, insufficiencies, and inadequacies. With this knowledge, you also know what your next step should be which is simply to fix these transgressions, insufficiencies, and inadequacies.

The issue is that all of this is difficult. It’s always hard to take on responsibility. If you fail to grow it’s on you. The reason behind your failure will be either your lack of will or discipline. Which is why it’s so much easier to do what someone else says. But the changes enacted by our own will power and self-control are longer lasting because we attain those through struggle and hardship.

Although having external aid isn’t a bad thing either, especially if you are able to narrow down your flaws. If you know your specific issues and problems then it’s easier to navigate through the endless stream of bad advice that is spouted everywhere. External sources then can teach you how to break bad habits, how to build good habits, how to enact the right mindset, how to deepen personal relationships, how to become more confident and how to love and care for oneself.

But, first, you must take on the uncomfortable task of self-reflection and self-honesty. In this way, we also come to build trust within ourselves. We can take our own words and be confident that it’s what we need. In some ways, we begin to act as a friend to ourselves. Someone who is loyal, who wants the best for us and who isn’t afraid to call us out when we get off the right path. That’s true self-help, self-love, self-care.

 

 

How Attention Can Improve The Quality Of Our Life

The function of consciousness is to represent information about what is happening outside and inside the organism in such a way that it can be evaluated and acted upon by the body. In this sense, it functions as a clearinghouse for sensations, perceptions, feelings, and ideas, establishing priorities among all the diverse information. Without consciousness, we would still “know” what is going on, but we would have to react to it in a reflexive, instinctive way. With consciousness, we can deliberately weigh what the senses tell us, and respond accordingly. (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

To have mastery over consciousness essentially means to have mastery over the self. If your body was a car then the consciousness would be the driver. Without control over consciousness it would result in the driver being lost, going in a random direction, distracted by detours and rest areas, leading you towards some unknown and perhaps even a dangerous path.

The reason for this is that your consciousness allows you to “Daydream and make-up lies,” and this can lead to anxiety and passivity. You may come up with different scenarios why some activity may lead to disappointment and failure so it’s best not to act. Or maybe even find excuses for those disappointments and failures which divert ownership, causing you to not grow from your actions.

However, the opposite is true as well. It’s our consciousness that allows us to “Write beautiful poems and scientific theories”. With control over our consciousness, we can steer ourselves towards where we wish to go. The same obstacles that can hinder progress can be viewed as possible opportunities for self-growth if we can change our consciousness, change our thought process, change our mindset. Then, failures and disappointments don’t seem permanent and neither do we associate fear with them.

To develop this trait, one must find ways to order consciousness so as to be in control of feelings and thoughts. It is best not to expect that shortcuts will do the trick.

One way of influencing consciousness is through attention. Because consciousness is essentially a focusing tool, meaning that whatever information we are consciously attending to is the information we will respond and react to. Then, one thing we can do is to focus our attention on the right information. But we can only attend to those desires we have intention towards.

We may call intentions the force that keeps information in consciousness ordered. Intentions arise in consciousness whenever a person is aware of desiring something or wanting to accomplish something. Intentions are also bits of information, shaped either by biological needs or by internalized social goals.

So, in order to act in the right manner, we have to attend to the proper goals with the right intention. If your goal is to lose weight but you find yourself desiring food, then we can focus our attention towards that goal of losing weight and being healthy which can supersede the desire for immediate gratification. Or our intention can guide us towards picking a healthy option rather than fast food. This way we can train our consciousness to pick the right goal.

However, there is a limiting factor associated with our consciousness.

Unfortunately, the nervous system has definite limits on how much information it can process at any given time. There are just so many “events” that can appear in consciousness and be recognized and handled appropriately before they begin to crowd each other out.

Then, a step towards directing our consciousness is to understand its limited storage capacity so, we have to be selective in the information we allow into our consciousness. A common mistake that is made by people is paralysis through analysis. Where we overthink and gather too much information which leads to inactivity because we don’t know what to do. Again, if the goal was to lose weight but you spend weeks looking up all the different types of diets and exercise programs, you may find yourself overwhelmed, your consciousness will be filled with so many different paths that it’ll not know which one to pick.

Again, the importance of attention is shown in our ability to control our consciousness.

It is attention that selects the relevant bits of information from the potential millions of bits available. It takes attention to retrieve the appropriate references from memory, to evaluate the event, and then to choose the right thing to do.

If you don’t hone your attention then your consciousness skips around, you become easily distracted and taken off from the path you want to be on. Meaning, that either it takes longer for you to achieve your goals or you fail at them completely.

Attention is then improved by first, getting our priorities and intentions in order so we know what to focus on. Secondly, to only allow specific information in our consciousness which will help improve our quality of life so that you can quickly attend to that information when needed.

In this way, we essentially create ourselves by how we invest our energy, on what we focus our consciousness on. So by taking our consciousness under control, we get control over one of the most important tools in improving our lives.

Reference: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi



Youtube: Learned Living

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/learned_living/

Poem: The Old Rebel

Article: Montaigne On How To Be A Well-Rounded Thinker

Short Story: The Bus

 

Poem: Electric Self-Help

We live in a detached age,

age of technology,

where the discomfort of being human is simply comforted,

detached from what’s necessary for your body,

(movement)

attached to what necessary for the ego,

(likes and follows)

constantly seeking distractions from oneself,

while grasping at that which takes you further away from your spirit.

 

Our age allows us to connect with others, in

a way that has never existed in human history,

yin and yang,

ancient wisdom,

with connection with others, comes

the disconnect with oneself.

 

The computer screen lets me see the injustice that just took place a second ago on the other side of the world,

it lets me feel your happiness,

share in your nervousness,

open my art to you.

 

Grateful to the age of technology.

 

The computer screen shapes my sight to see the beauty behind a screen while real beauty goes unseen,

it normalizes me to the clicking of keys but not to the chirping of birds,

it lets me hide my own sadness,

turns my sight from questioning my own nervousness,

distracts my mind as I commit injustices to my own body,

shapes my art trying to please others.

 

For all of that, I take responsi——

Self-help books, five ways to identify your feeling, stream of motivational quotes, “how to be like me”, three easy ways to find yourself, two steps to becoming yourself, this is what’s holding you back from reaching your potential, one easy solution to your problems, follow this to be that and so it goes.

Motivational talkers, influencers, self-help gurus,

every day a new one joins the fray trying to explain to you what you are doing wrong, what you need to be doing and how to do it,

giving you a blueprint to live your own life.

 

Show me the way,

tell me the way,

lead my life,

O, stranger.

 

Here, the detachment is evident.

(for you listen to these strangers with long beards and shiny watches and in doing so you quiet the sound of your own voice)

Detached from your self.

Detached from your body.

Detached from your spirit.

Detached from your soul.

 

Instead of asking yourself how you feel,

you seek the comfort of a strangers words,

becoming a stranger to yourself,

deaf to your body’s cries,

devoting yourself to other people’s instructions,

(hence, living someone else’s life).

 

Is that living?

matching your steps on the imprint of others,

mechanical,

robotic,

lifeless,

soulless,

marching in a straight line,

conveyor bed human,

hoping this is good enough,

afraid to think for yourself,

afraid to make mistakes,

afraid of what your body begs of you.

 

Ask yourself what do you need and hear your body tell you,

it doesn’t want a new necklace,

it simply wants to go for a walk,

it doesn’t want to eat again,

it just wishes to move around, to feel the breeze, to smell, to touch, to hear, to see,

it doesn’t want a new leather belt,

it simply wants to stretch,

(tight hips, tight back, a knot in the neck, elbow flames, shoulder pain but all of that is just a momentary thought before you distract yourself, before you quiet the body).

 

But, this is uncomfortable.

 

So, the moment your body begins to speak,

you begin to scroll,

or type away,

seeking bodily pleasure,

pleasure for your senses,

pleasure for right now,

age of immediate gratification,

gratifying your detachment.

 

But, be uncomfortable,

 

Ask yourself questions,

for you know what you want,

you know what you should be doing,

you know which actions make you feel good and which make you feel guilty,

you know yourself better than any human being will ever know you,

love yourself,

for yourself, do what is necessary.

 

But that phone flashes and takes your mind away,

that new video comes and takes 20 minutes of your life,

that new alert comes and you lose yourself,

that itch comes, where you reach for the device, almost unconsciously,

and your mind tells you its fine, 2 mins, 5 mins, you’ve done enough work, 10 mins, your checking up on the world, 20 mins, your friends, 30 mins, and break, end of scene, back after the intermission of seeing how your doing — and back to the next scene, 2 mins, 5 mins….

 

Happy right now.

 

The detachment between thought and action has always existed,

always planning on what you’ll do next,

but not doing,

using the mind but not the body,

amplified with the aid of the new age,

your body softens,

not knowing work,

you mind continues a pattern of hoping, planning, distraction, inaction, dreaming, hoping, one days and some days,

as you watch others living,

your darkroom full of flashes from the video of others experiencing life,

you feel accomplished through the accomplishment of others,

human nature,

our group is successful which means you are too,

but now we imagine the group to be the world,

so you can always find something to justify your opinions, habits, actions, as you continue rotting,

your body tired of talking turns to whispering and soon it’ll go mute for that is nature too,

why continue something that has no effect?

 

An article on productivity,

a video about things you missed in a movie,

a plea from your body to do something about your back pain,

which to follow?

what to do?

perhaps look up what a guru would do,

but it’s obvious which one you should do and yet,

 

Disconnected. Detached.

 

All one needs is themselves,

self-help,

self-love,

self-care,

self-discipline,

follow the self,

pain/pleasure, needs/wants of the self,

self wishes to move, to love, to care, to embrace, to speak, to listen, to hold hands, to laugh, to empathize, to connect, to attach, to see, to wonder, to do, to act, to live.

 

Detach for a moment and be in solitude,

alone with yourself,

the silence speaks and guides you,

connects you with your path,

walks with you as you act,

fills you with feelings and emotions,

uncomfortable and comfortable,

growth through this way is everlasting,

growth through someone else’s path is unstable,

pleasure derived from solitude is fulfilling,

pleasure from someone else’s actions is fleeting,

no one can tell you who you are, if

they don’t know you then how can they tell you what’s best for you?

you know yourself,

your body knows you,

true self-help is when you aim to please your flesh, your bones, your muscles, your tendons, your nerves, your blood, your heart, your mind, your spirit, your consciousness, your soul,

selfishly aiming at getting to know yourself,

not your neighbor across the world,

that comes after.

 

Step 1: Help your self.

 

Age of technology is beautiful,

but don’t forget the other ages,

Know thy self as it says on the temple in Delphi,

true now as it was before,

for the age is changing,

but we are still human,

the same as the ancient ones,

same needs and troubles, same fulfillment and harmony,

our forefathers and mothers discovered the importance of listening to their bodies, trusting their instincts, following their inner voices, applying their own logic and reasoning, building their own habits, disciplines and work ethic,

and through this, they created all that is known to man,

there was no Buddhism before Buddha,

thus, this should be your primary foundation,

yourself.


Youtube: Learned Living

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/learned_living/

Poem: Nero Dances

Article: Indirect Battle Strategy and How It Can Help Us Overcome Our Own Obstacles

Short Story: Everything Work’s Itself Out

 

 

 

Reflections: Get Out Of Your Head

If we do not keep them (our minds) busy with some particular subject which can serve as a bridle to reign them in, they charge ungovernably about, ranging to and fro over the wastelands of our thoughts. (Michel de Montaigne)

A lot of our issues are self-manifested. It’s because when we are inactive when our bodies or minds aren’t involved in a task then the mind is free to roam different possibilities and concerns, many of which lie in the uncertain future. If we don’t tame this impulse, we are wrought with stress and anxiety.

Many times self-doubt only creeps up when we are still, when the world is silent, that moment before you go to bed or right before you are about to take a risk, the plunge, that one second, that’s where doubt comes because for that moment you think about the possible failures and the mind becomes untamed.

An easier way might be to say that when we don’t concentrate on the present then our mind becomes untamed. But concentrating on the present moment seems impossible if we aren’t actively doing something so, that’s a difficult thing to practice. Be present is a nice phrase but impractical much of the time.

But as quickly as doubt, stress or anxiety arises, with equal ease, they can be erased if we simply act. Take action, get out of the head and get in your body: Go for a run, see how many burpees you can do in 30 minutes, go meet up with friends and play a sport, play an instrument, talk to someone you love, pick up a book, start writing, whatever it is, whenever we get out of the mind we also leave behind the “wasteland of our thoughts”.

Montaigne understood the side effects of an idle mind very well, he said an idle mind “gives birth to so many chimeras and fantastic monstrosities” because for some strange reason idleness loves to spend its time thinking about what isn’t going right in our life. Constantly jumping from one thing to the next and it feels so real because your heart might begin to race, thinking about these monstrosities and it’s in time like these when one almost has to smack themselves, tell ourselves “it’s going to be okay”, verbalize it, make the mind focus on the positive words, on the task of saying “everything will work out” and you see in that instance these monstrosities disappear.

When the soul is without a definite aim she gets lost, as they say, if you are everywhere you are nowhere. (Michel de Montainge)

Keep an aim in mind. I think this is why people love to journal in the morning or mid-afternoon. If you are able to write down what you want to do that day every morning then for the next few hours your mind is occupied and as the occupation wanes in the afternoon, one simply has to remind it of the aim and it’ll kick right back up and keep helping you instead of hurting you.

The biggest thing is to approach idleness with caution for you understand what comes with such comfort and at least, if those “chimeras” do come, we have a plan of action on how to fight them.