Over the past few months I’ve been thinking a lot but not enough, to be honest.
I’ve been going, working, doing, living but there are times that we really need to review how we’re living, who we are, and if we’re living the best life we can…
…And heck, what’s the best life we can live?
There’s the idea of potential, but also the path we head down, what we really want, and what we can do about what we really want. (read: don’t be good; be a man)
A few things:
1. We cannot wish for what isn’t.
We have to accept what is. Do our best with what is. While not wishing for what isn’t.
What is what we do not have – the house, business, amount of money, the wife, family etc…
While we cannot wish for what isn’t, dwelling on the fact that it isn’t our reality, we can and should work toward it. (read: how to be happy and healthy)
What is, is what we can do right now, and it’s our task to do our best with it.
There’s a lot we can do right now, and figuring out what the best thing to do and how to best do it isn’t always as simple as it sounds.
The trouble most run into is focusing on what isn’t, wishing it were, and getting down about the fact that they don’t have what they don’t have.
Living a life focusing on what we don’t have and what we can’t control (you can’t snap your fingers and have the wealth, house, wife, family you want, you can’t just ‘have it’, but you can become the man worthy of it) is living a life stuck in quicksand, never getting out, never living. (read: how to man up and create a meaningful life)
2. The task is both doing your best with what you have and becoming your best.
Becoming your best is something we have to unpack as well. What is your best?
Who is your best?
This takes both more effort and less.
It takes less mental effort. Less worrying and second-guessing. You already have everything you need to do truly great things.
You do not need to become someone else, you just need to be better at who you are.
The best you is created through correct choices, like being more confident (nothing more than a choice), more disciplined, even more adventurous.
We can’t discount adventure. That’s fun. That’s living.
Imagine not worrying about what others think while also taking pride in your work, business, and how you look/dress simply because you’re a quality individual in every aspect of life.
The Good Life
The good life is simple, calm, peaceful, purposeful, powerful.
The Grand Goal
If you lack a grand goal – tied to work, your craft, family, whatever – it’s difficult to live a grand life.
Being grand and great and having that potential within you, you need to have a goal worthy of said potential so as to not waist it.
How to Live a Good Life
Practically, there are things you can and should do daily:
1. Practice death and the worst case.
Accept both death and the worst case. Death is not the worst case, but the death of you and everyone you care about, or maybe just everyone you care about and not you, but also the death of your business, your dog, and their suffering.
It sounds morbid, but visualize the worst case. And visualize your death.
It will make you appreciate what you have, and we have to appreciate what we have to live a good life.
2. Take no day for granted.
Where are you right now?
I’m writing this from London on a last minute trip to this city and then to Italy.
I have not appreciated where I am. I have been taking it for granted and thinking about things that are not in my control.
Stop it. Don’t take the day, nor the work you have to do, for granted.
It’s important work. Do it well.
It’s an important day, enjoy it and live it well.
3. Do what you set out to do.
Achieving things is great, it makes us feel (with validity) that we were here for a reason.
…That we’ve done something.
Most of the things we set out to do don’t get done when we set out to do them. We get distracted, we over-think things, we quit.
Do what you set out to do. Do it as best you possibly can.
4. Enjoy things that cannot be taken from you.
Enjoy who you are, your character and your values.
Enjoy your breath, the act of breathing, your heart beating. Enjoy your friends and family. Enjoy people in general.
Enjoy struggling and working. Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy.
Find things to have joy in rather than searching for things to stress about, worry about, get sad about.
Focus on those things you have and you enjoy, and find joy in your work, it’s such a large part of life that we have to find and create joy in it even when we don’t fully enjoy it, even in those times of struggle and pain, find the joy (often for men the joy comes in the challenge).
5. Be a man of character.
Your character is not your personality.
William Straton Bruce writes:
“Character is nature and nurture. It is nature cultured and disciplined, so that natural tendencies are brought under the sway of the moral motive. His natural individuality marks off a man from his fellows by clear and specific differences. But this individuality may be non-moral. To produce character it must be brought under discipline, and organized into the structure of a true moral being… Above all, [character] includes a choice, a settled habit or bent of will, so that it can be seen in its outcome in conduct. Character takes up the raw material of nature and temperament, and it weaves these into the strong, well-knit texture of a fully moralized manhood.”
Character is not just internal, it must show itself in how you act, your habits, even what you give the world (your work and deeds).
Jordan Peterson said a weak man cannot be virtuous, that is, virtue cannot stop at intention, it must be carried out in an act, and a weak man cannot aid others as a strong man can – if at all.
On a discipline level, it’s shunning and avoiding bad desires and taking action on overall ones. That is, doing the things that will create the legacy you want to lead and avoiding the things that your conscience does not want you to do.
Listen to your conscience, it’s a true voice as to what you ought to do and what you ought not to do.
Live a good life…
Living a good life is a choice, a decision you make daily to do the right things, to work hard, to find joy where joy can and even where it shouldn’t be found.
Doing the right thing, the best thing, is a decision that we don’t think or understand will make our life better.
We see choosing a lack of discipline as the best thing, the thing we want to do is better than the thing we have to do.
That is, choosing immediate pleasure we see as what is good when the thing that will actually help us feel good is discipline.
Check out my book, the Lost Art of Discipline (free audiobook here) or get it on Amazon.com.