Daily Journey – May 2018

Daily Journey is a collection of my thoughts from reading The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living.  My objective is to gain greater control of my emotional responses by reading and sharing my thoughts on stoicism with you all everyday over the course of a year.  If you would like to explore these topics with me, and others who are seeking to gain emotional control come over to the Mastery of Skill closed facebook group to join in on the conversation.

Live Skillfully!

-Jon

*****

May 1st – Make Character Your Loudest Statement

There are many outward symbols that reflect our lives and beliefs. The clothes we wear, tattoos, jewelry, uniforms, and even our emotions.
 
The most important of these is the way we live. Showing the world your character is the most defining of your outward appearances.

May 2nd – Be The Person You Want To Be

This is a two step process.
 
First, define the person you want to be.
 
Second, do the things that are required to be that person.
 
The first step is easy.. pure abstraction. It gets hard when you have to start taking action.

May 3rd – Show, Not Tell, What You Know

I’m not 100% sure where I picked it up, but I have really latched on to the saying “Action over Abstraction.”
 
You can know a lot, but who cares if the knowledge isn’t resulting in positive forward momentum.
 
Stop talking about things, and start doing them… right now.

May 4th – What’s Truly Impressive

You can have all the accolades and awards you want, but what I find really impressive is when you have a reputation for being the one who gets things done.

May 5th – You Are The Project

Your physical, mental, and emotional development needs to be front and center in your daily efforts.
 
Everything within your scope of influence benefits from the actions you take to learn and grow.

May 6th – Righteousness Is Beautiful

Outward appearances are not a true indicator of inward virtue. However, just and right actions radiate power and beauty.

May 7th – How To Have A Good Day

Because you only control your actions, decisions, and behaviours, the only way to have a good day is to do good things.
 
We all know exactly what this means.
 
Exercise, meditate, study, plan, serve, and play.
 
Focus on relationships not rewards.
 
Solve problems and help others along the way.
 
Now just imagine what you would feel like at the end of a day that included these things.

May 8th – Good and Evil? Look At Your Choices

The concept of “reasoned choice” is foundational to stoic beliefs and practices. It is the main weapon we have in controlling our decisions, actions and behaviors.

At the core of the concept of reasoned choice is the principal that you can only control you, and while you have may influence outside of yourself, you will never be in direct control of anything other than your thoughts.

This is a very powerful tool. It allows us to view the world in the terms of the good we can do to counteract the evil that exists outside of us. It also allows us to critically judge our own actions and root out evil in our own actions, decisions, and behaviors.

There is plenty of evil in the world, so take control of you reasoned choice and do good.

May 9th – Carpe Diem

Cliche as it is “seize the day” really is a critical lense to look at our lives through.

You only get this one shot. A few fleeting hours, minutes and seconds before you fall back asleep. What should you do today? What can you do today? What will you do today?

Don’t get caught up in abstraction… go get to work!

May 10th – Don’t Be Inspired, Be inspirational

It’s a bit tricky to be inspirational sometimes, but it comes down to really believing in your objective, your team, and yourself.
 
False, or faked, inspiration is easy to see. It comes across as a lackluster commitment to some vague and abstract concept.
 
On the other hand, when you meet someone who is truly inspiring you know they are in the fight all the way. They have committed themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally to getting the job done… and their actions, decisions, and behaviors prove it.

May 11th – Guilt Is Worse Than Jail

We make mistakes, it happens… but there is a side of us that wants to cover them up, hide from them, ignore them, or blame them on someone or something else.
 
When we do this we we become trapped by the guilt of our actions. The mistake wasn’t undone, and the lie compounds the problem. This pain may not feel gut wrenching or life changing at first (maybe it does), but over time it the unhealthy stress will build and build until the weight of it is crushing.
 
When we own our mistakes and make honest and realistic efforts to fix them we free ourselves from the burdens and the stress. Again, this might not be immediate but over time the stress is relieved until we are free of it.

May 12th – Kindness Is Always The Right Response

If only this were easy. So many religions and philosophies teach this practice… but it really is hard. The truth of this concept is hard to argue with. We have all probably been there, fuming in rage at someone who offended us and then they just kindly apologize. This action can immediately change the dynamic of the situation.
 
It is more then just controlling your own anger and harmful response. The kindness needs to be sincere and come from a place of heartful good intention. Insincere kindness is coercive and reeks of personal gain versus mutual benefit.
 
Kindness gets even harder in the face of repeated offense, but that doesnt mean its power is decreased. Persistence may be needed to get the results you want.

May 13th – Fueling The Habit Bonfire

I have really come to love habits. If you really want to start digging into how controlling habits can empower your life read “The Power of Habits” and “Mastery” back to back.
 
Here’s the quick version 🙂
 
First thing you need to know. You can change any habit you currently have or start a new habit that you want to have. It is 100% in your control to form and modify habits to form the perfect routine to meet your goals.
 
Second… if you want to master something practice has to be a deliberate habit.
 
-Want to be smarter… make a habit of reading.
-Want to be faster… make a habit of running.
-Want to be stronger… make a habit of doing push ups.
 
Of course there are lots of little tips and tricks to help refine your habit building. But the hardest part is after taking ownership is the first step. Start changing your actions and the habits will follow.

May 14th – Our Wellbeing Lies In Our Actions

You really have to do good to feel good.
 
There are two sides of this. Doing good things and being good at the things you do.
 
Doing good things allows you to serve others as well as ideas and causes larger than yourself, while being good at the things you do increases your self worth and healthy sense of pride.
 
The real trick here is when you are good at doing good.

May 15th – Count Your Blessings

The act of being grateful is a powerful way to mitigate and remove negativity from your life.

Give it a shot!

May 16th – The Chain of Method

Good habits take time to develop… and bad habits take time to break.
 
You have to repeat the actions you want in your life while stopping (or replacing) the actions you need to remove.
 
The path to your goal is made up of day after day of successfully chaining together the actions you need to take.

May 17th – The Stoic Is A Work In Progress

Living a good life is about striving for and sustaining high quality action. It is a work in progress and not a search for “ah ha” or oh I get it now” moments.
 
The practice of stoicism requires doing good when things are bad. It is about using reasoned thought to control your actions instead of letting unbridled emotions have their way.
 
Take steps towards these goals every day.

May 18th – How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

This is all about the mindset behind the action (no the quality of the actions, per say). Think of Mike Rowe and his TV show dirty jobs… I’m sure he had some really hard days and the men and women he worked along side also had some rough days. But the reality is those days may have been hard, but they were only bad days if you had a bad attitude about them.

May 19 – Learn, Practice, Train

Too many times in life we can be feel satisfied with learning.

After spending a day teaching Emotional Intelligence to a group of 40 people I can see it in their eyes… they are happy they have learned something new.

The dark side of this is learning is that most of them will stop there. Having been given a set of new tools to use as leaders they will go home thinking the job is done and that they are now better for the effort. They almost got it, but will fail in the follow through.

Once you learn you have to practice. Wash, rinse… repeat. Wax on off. Is that air your breathing…again! This is putting in the work to really understand and build the capability and capacity to “do” the thing you learned about. This is were action takes over abstraction.

The final piece is to continue training. Execute the skill (or skills) you are working on. Train in the real world if you can, the closer to reality the better!

I think this methodology is why Jiu Jitsu resonated so quickly with me.

Warm up by practicing some fundamental skills. Then learn through demonstration a new skill or technique. Now drill that new technique with a partner so you start to get a feel for it. Finally, roll with your classmates so you can try test and refine your skill set.

Don’t stop at learning, don’t stop at practice, don’t even stop at training… because that’s were you circle back to learning.

May 20th – Quality Over Quantity

Quality is sometimes a moving target. It is a subjective term… but the good news is that in a lot of circumstances your level of effort directly correlates to the quality of the outcome.

May 21st – What Kind of Boxer are You

Mike Tyson is famously known for saying “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.”
 
Like a lot of one liners this has some truth to it… but only some.
 
A fighter goes into the ring with a plan, that plan starts to change and adapt as the fight unfolds.
 
Inexperienced or poor fighters get hit, let their emotions take over, stop thinking… and then loose.
 
The best fighters can change their course of action on the fly and overcome their opponent physically, mentally, and emotionally… regardless of getting punched in the face.
 
The key is training, and experience. The kind of training and experience you get from getting hit, not just reading about getting hit.
 
This analogy plays out to just about every aspect of our lives. If we want to be resilient when we get hit with the metaphorical punch in the face… then we have to prepare for it, and not just by reading about it the things we face, but by getting up and living life.
 
Search out knowledge and Learn, train hard with people who push you to be better, get as many experiences under your belt as possible. This way when the punch to the face comes you may be rattled, your plan may have to change… but you won’t be beat.

May 22nd – Today is the Day

Everything you want to do.
Everything you want to be.
Everything you want to have.
Everything in the world is at your fingertips.
You just need to start working for it today.
Right now.
Stop thinking about it and go get it.

May 23rd – Show Me How To Live

If you want an exceptional life, then you must do exceptional things.
 
I want to be healthy, so I eat clean and exercise.
 
I want to be able to solve problems, so I study new and interesting things.
 
I want to help others, so I write.
 
There is no short cut, quick fix, or trick to it. It all starts with doing the things you know you should be doing in order to build the life you want.

May 24th – Making Your Own Good Fortune

I think a lot of times we see people who, on the surface, seem to have it all together and the world really just conspires for them to get everything they want. They are fit and healthy, they have all the things you would want, they are educated and smart, their kids are well behaved and productive…. What we often don’t see is all the behind the scenes actions these people are taking to make their own good fortune.

Sure there are going to be outliers that just get it all, I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about you and me, we can build the life we want by taking the actions required to get there.

For the vast majority of us, there is no short cut through the hard work. You have to do the work… period!

May 25th – Where To Find Joy

Ready for a counter intuitive thought? Happiness comes from work.
 
We have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to do work. Our brains crave a physical, mental, and emotional challenge. We want to see and solve problems, we want to build things, and do things. We want to give value to our family and community. We crave, at a primal level, the satisfaction of a job well done.
 
Take this very fundamental support structure away and there will be no amount of technology, luxuries, relaxation, leisure, or vice that will bring about true joy or lasting happiness.
 
Want to be happy? Find and do good work!

May 26th – Stop Caring What People Think

I would rephrase this a little to more clearly get the point across.
 
“Don’t let the opinions of others have an undue amount of influence on your actions, beliefs, and thoughts.”
 
Other people’s thoughts about you have value, but they shouldn’t be over valued.
 
If you find out someone views you in a negative light stop and think about what actions on your part influenced their thoughts? Is their opinion valid? If it is, you may need to adjust something in your life to fix your problem. Take action, do something about it.
 
If it is not valid, then why let it effect you?

May 27th – Sweat the Small Stuff

That’s right worry about the small things. Too many times we get tricked by cliche sayings, false short cuts to happiness, or intentional taking things out of context in order to meet our own misguided wants and desires.
 
I get it, we shouldn’t sweat the small things in life that our outside our control or that we have limited influence over… but I’m not on board with giving up on the things we are in control of.
 
The reality is that big things come from small gains made day in and day out.
 
Let’s get after the small things!

May 28th – The First Two Things Before Acting

When confronted with a problem we initially are faced with the urge to get upset, which in turn leads us down the road of loosing site of our goal/objective… which is to do good and be good.
 
First things first, learn to control getting upset.
 
This looks different from person to person but in general it involves controlling your psychological response through quieting activities like breathing and mediation. This keeps the body out of the way so you can control the thoughts, probably by using a tool like mindfulness meditation.
 
Once your body and mind are under control you can move on to step two: remembering your purpose, to do good and be good.
 
Following these two steps tempers your emotional response and frames the problem in the context of the outcome you really want.

May 29th – Work is Therapy

“it is the grind that sharpens the ax.” — Jocko Wilink
 
I know another Jocko quote… but seriously .
 
The hammer and anvil may forge the ax, but the repeated use of the grind stone hones the edge and makes a more useful tool.
 
This is very similar to our own lives. Our knowledge training and experiences, combined with the relationships we acquire forge us and shape us, but it is the work we do that hones us and increases our effectiveness.
 
What are you working on?

May 30th – Working Hard or Hardly Working

Being busy is not the same thing as being productive. You have to be getting somewhere for the work to count.

May 31st – We Have But One Obligation

The one job you have above all others is to be a good person. Everything else you do is derivative of that role. It is safest foundation you can build you life on.
 
To be good, simple do good.