December 26

“A friend loves you, of course; but one who loves you is not in every case your friend. Friendship. accordingly; is always helpful, but sometimes love does one harm.” – Seneca

The most important quality we need to develop, nurture, and perfect to get the most out of the path we are on is discipline. The trouble with applying discipline to our lives is that discipline is a hard operating system. Discipline will chastise us when we allow our emotions to dictate our actions. Discipline will remind us when we don’t fulfill our obligations, when we don’t keep our word. Even with ourselves.

Discipline will get us out of bed and get us moving towards our goals even on the days we would rather pull the pillow over our heads and stay in bed.

Our friends and loved ones aren’t against us, but they do sometimes fight against the discipline. They tell us it is going to be alright if we stray from the path a little bit. They encourage us when we allow our emotions to dictate our actions. Our friends will forgive us when we don’t fulfill our obligations, even the ones that we have to them.

Our friends love us. But in loving us they allow us to be weaker than we need to be in order to accomplish the things we want to accomplish in this life. We need to be strong enough to love our friends but also strong enough to know when we need to detach and go our own way.

Fortunately, discipline will always tell us the right way to go.

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December 25

“Hence it is that the larger part of goodness is the will to become good.” – Seneca

There is a saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Beginning is often the hardest part of any project. The more significant the project, the more difficult it can be to determine where to begin and then getting started can be daunting.

There is a moment in any difficult or scary endeavor that looms over us and can feel like it lasts forever even if it is only a moment. That moment is the moment between recognizing what needs to be done and then actually implementing action to accomplish what needs to be done.

But the best part of any scary or difficult project is that once that moment is past, once we implement some course of action, the rest starts to fall into place. There might be difficulties along the way but the hardest part is beginning. With almost anything, the most important part is showing up and putting in the work.

The showing up part is the same as the wanting the change part of becoming the best version of ourselves. The desire to learn from our mistakes, the discipline to detach and see our weaknesses objectively, the grit to start in the face of doubt and likely criticism. These things do not ensure that we will be successful on our path, but these things are the major components of that success.

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December 24

“Truth lies in open for all; it has not yet been monopolized. And there is plenty of it left even for posterity to discover.” – Seneca

The world doesn’t really change, the people in the world don’t really change much, but the facade, the distractions, and the vices we enjoy all seem to grow and multiply as our lives become easier and more luxurious. We get a little free time and we fill it by wasting it.

We putter around our little homes worrying about the leaves in the yard, the spots of dead grass, getting the laundry put away, and getting those spots off the kitchen floor. Meanwhile there is water dripping through the ceiling and we ignore it long enough to let the structure be damaged. While we are busy puttering around telling ourselves that we are keeping busy, the important things are rotting out from under us.

We could be reading, learning a language, working on projects of value. We could be working to actually maintain the house that is falling down around us.

The person we want to become can look at our situation and that person can tell themselves what is important to focus on, what we can control, and what is unimportant or what we can not control.

The person we want to become would find truth. Wherever they looked. Let’s start looking.

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December 23

“Remembering is merely safeguarding something entrusted to the memory; knowing , however, means making everything your own; it means not depending on the copy and not all the time glancing back at the master.” – Seneca

If we pick any profession, any skill, anything worth doing can be memorized. But there is more to mastering a skill than memorizing the steps.

Anyone can learn to play the guitar. If a person dedicated themselves to it, they could probably memorize the entire collection of songs by Jimi Hendrix. Play every note the same, right down to the bend in the guitar strings. But that doesn’t make them an artist. They become an artist when they make something of their own.

The same is true of anything that requires knowledge. Anyone could, if they were so determined, memorize the code of the first Pac Man game and code it out. But it doesn’t become an accomplishment until they make it their own.

The same is true of the path we are on. We could memorize the words, we could recite them in fitting situations, and we could even apply them to our own lives accordingly. But until we find a way to make this life our own we won’t feel the contentment that comes with learning to live according to the words we have memorized. Until we find and travel our own path it will all just be someone else’s work.

Let’s make our own way.

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December 22

“Remembering continually what a noble thing it is to round out your life before death comes, and then await in peace the remaining portion of your time, claiming nothing for yourself, since you are in possession of the happy life.” – Seneca

Many of save for retirement. Some of us probably plan for retirement. Almost all of us dream of retirement. While we might plan what we are going to do and how we are going to live, how many of us plan who we are going to be when we retire from working life?

Sure, it’s nice to dream about being rich and living a leisurely lifestyle, how much nicer would it be to retire into being a kind and patient person who is content controlling the things that we can control.

And training ourselves to be that person can be done on any income, can be started at any age, and can be practiced at all times of the day. Even while we are engrossed in other work. We haven’t retired yet.

And while we will be working on perfecting being in control of the things we can control for the rest of our lives, we will reach a point where we are comfortable in that ability and can be content in any situation, focusing only on the things we have control over.

And at that point, it won’t matter if we retired yet or not.

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December 21

“This is sound practice – to refrain from associating with men of different stamp and different aims.” – Seneca

It has been said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. There is probably some truth to that. We are going to pick up traits, behaviors, habits, and even thoughts from the people we most closely associate with.

As a result of this, if we are choosing to associate with people who are o n a different path than we are, or even worse, not on any path at all and just being pulled through life by their emotions and their reactions to the world around them, we are going to get distracted from our own path.

There is a balance that has to be struck here however, we can not just abandon loved ones and friends because we have decided to change the direction of our own lives. But we can not allow them to distract us from the things we hope to accomplish. We need to be able to detach a little bit, see when it would be better to not associate and then step back without distancing ourselves from them.

And we should be making new friends and companions who share our goals and are on the same path. Because companionship while we are working towards something is the best encouragement to continue on.

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December 20

“This molding will not be done in gold or silver; an image that is to be in the likeliness of god can not be fashioned of such materials; remember that the gods when they were kind unto men, were molded in clay.” – Seneca

Simplicity gives us the most leverage. A complicated lifestyle requires a lot of maintenance. If that maintenance can not be provided, the entire lifestyle has to suffer and the person accustomed to that way of living has to suddenly live without a luxury they have been treating as essential.

But a simple life can pivot. Even if we enjoy a fair amount of luxury in life, so long as we recognize it as luxury, if it gets taken away from us, we can live without it. Because the whole time we have been enjoying it, we understand that it is not essential. We can live without it.

A fun but difficult exercise to take seriously, we can try to imagine living the way people elsewhere on Earth live right now, while we are living our opulent lives. Lives where we have access to clean water and sanitation, lives where we are well sheltered from the elements, lives where we know where our next meal is coming from, lives where we have access to practically all of the knowledge humanity has acquired thus far, while we are living these lives, there are people living lives we can not even fathom. And they are happy, they laugh, they enjoy their days, they look forward to dates and events. They live full lives. With far less than we could even fathom.

Why are we struggling?

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December 19

“Neither can beauty or strength make you blessed, for none of these qualities can withstand old age.” – Seneca

Strength is a skill that is worth having when you can have it. There are still plenty of situations in the world we live in that are made easier or better by having strength to apply to them. And the nice thing about being strong is, even if you are really strong you can always apply less strength to a situation. You can not apply more than you have.

Beauty is a trait worth accentuating. Being attractive makes life easier. People are nicer to attractive people, they trust them more, and they want them to like them. Accentuating our attractiveness is never a bad thing.

But these aren’t forever things.

Being kind. Being patient. Listening well. Not trying to control situations that aren’t within our control. These are all things that will make our lives better now but more importantly they are things that we can continue working on and implementing in our lives for the rest of our lives. Even after we can no longer really consider ourselves attractive, even after we have to work tirelessly just to keep our strength from declining, we can become kinder. We can become more patient. We can listen better and most importantly, we can focus more on the things we can control.

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December 18

“In order that virtue may be perfect, there should be an even temperament and a scheme of life that is consistent with itself throughout; and this result cannot be attained without knowledge of things, and without art which enables us to understand things human and things divine.” – Seneca

Almost every workout plan, nearly every diet, practically all of the alternative income streams out there, and almost every life improvement strategy have one thing in common. They all worked for some of the people who used them. But why do they work for some people and not for others?

There are worlds of nuance there that might obscure the reasons that these things work for some people and not for others but if we strip away all of the nuance, we’ll see there is one overarching theme to every success story. Consistency.

Understanding what has to be done, simplifying that as much as possible, and then doing the things that have to be done consistently is almost a surefire way to ensure success. Certainly, true success stories almost never lack the consistency aspect of the tale.

And so it stands to reason that if we had to pick one thing we needed to add to our own lives to help us along the path, consistency would be as good a trait as any other. Consistency requires discipline, it requires us to be able to see how we are doing objectively.

But simplifying the path we are on to a few things we want to achieve, working out the best way to reach those goals and then incorporating those steps into everything we do is the best – possibly the only – way to get where we want to be.

So, let’s figure out who we want to be, decide the best route to get there, and be that person day in and day out.

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December 17

“What then is good? The knowledge of things. What is evil? The lack of knowledge of things.” – Seneca

Life is great about giving us feedback, we need to be better about receiving and understanding the feedback life provides.

Gaining life experience does us little to no good if we are not open to the lessons that those experiences provide to us. The point of gaining experience is to learn something about ourselves and make ourselves a little better in the process.

Many times, the things that change us the most, especially the things that are going to improve us the most are the worst things to go through. Persistence doesn’t feel like persistence when we are going through it, during that time persistence feels like suffering.

And if we struggle through but only focus on what we had to endure, and only maintain a perspective that focuses on what happened to us rather than what we gained from the experience, we’ll never get any better. At the very least, we won’t become as great as we could have become.

So while we are going through life, gaining experience, we should keep our minds open to the lessons we could be gleaming from our experiences. These lessons will provide us knowledge of the world we live in and how we might better navigate it.

And that is what makes us good.

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December 16

“Make yourself happy through your own efforts; you can do this.” – Seneca

Flow is as good a definition as we are likely to find for the state of contentment in the human experience. It breaks down to a person focused on performing a doable task that has a clear goal, offers immediate feedback, allows the performer to move without worrying and absorbs the actor so much that they lose sense of self and time. Athletes, surgeons, pilots, and writers are likely to be able to describe this to any of us.

How can we apply this to our own lives? If we are honest with ourselves and we have identified the areas we would like to work on – our weaknesses – then we can set small, easily reached goals that will provide immediate feedback.

If for example we want to be better about managing our time, it won’t help much to set a time budget that will take a month to audit, instead we should break down our morning routine into steps, determine which of them are necessary and then perform only the necessary steps in a set sequence one morning – with no deviations. Getting to work on time or getting out the door with enough time to enjoy our commute will be a reward in itself.

There are likely a dozen or so things like this that each of us could add to our daily lives. We should start with a small manageable number and we should start today.

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December 15

“Work is the sustenance of noble minds.” – Seneca

The best way to ensure that we are going to die before we reach the age of a senior citizen is to make certain that we retire from the workplace before the common age. And that we don’t have a plan for retirement.

Many people retire, they travel a little bit, and then they settle into a lifestyle of hanging out around the house and not really getting up to much. And then they die.

They die because we are social creatures that need some form of mental engagement in order to stay healthy. Our minds are fueled by our bodies, by the stimulation of social interactions, and by the feedback of a job well done.

That’s not to say that our goals should involve staying in our cubicles until we literally drop dead, nor should we remain in positions that would empower and enable younger workers to advance their station.

Instead we should remain constantly engaged and constantly working on ourselves. Constantly trying to improve in the areas we can improve on. Constantly seeking feedback and trying to alter our path based on the feedback we receive. And constantly observing and interacting in a positive way with the world around us.

Because our lives depend on it.

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December 14

“Be deaf to those who love you most of all; they pray for bad things with good intentions.” – Seneca

The people who love us the most are also the people in the best position to do us the most harm. These are the people who, while having the best of intentions, will encourage us to be lazy with our goals.

They are the ones who will tell us that we deserve some reward, that we can take it easy because we have worked so hard already, or that it is alright if we break our own rules.

These are the people who will tell us that it is alright if we have just one beer, or if we sleep in just one day, or if we lose our tempers just one time. Because nobody is perfect.

Better than depending on them for guidance, we should live as if we are constantly being judged by those who would see us fail. What would that one coworker say to us if they saw us open that beer? How about that family member who gave us a hard time about getting up so early, wouldn’t they love to see us hit snooze right now?

We aren’t competing with those people but it is perfectly acceptable to use their judgement as motivation to stay on the path when our discipline starts to flag a little. Especially when we are being encouraged to flag by those who are trying to be supportive.

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December 13

“Follow up the impulse which prompted you to make for all that is best, treading under your feet that which is approved by the crowd.” – Seneca

There will be times along the way where we just don’t see the point. We will see everyone around us ‘living in the moment’ and getting tugged around by their emotions, giving in to the easy path, enjoying the distractions of life but man, it sure looks like they are having a good time. We will wonder why we are depriving ourselves, disciplining ourselves, and going without those distractions everyone seems to enjoy.

It is during these times that it is important to remember why we are on this path, that there is a goal here and that while it is difficult, it also makes life better.

We are better for not allowing our emotions to dictate our responses to situations. We are better for remaining in control of our thoughts, words, and actions. We are better for not trying to control the things that are outside of our control.

But it is important to stop and recognize that we are not better than those around us, we are not better than the crowds, we are not better than our peers. We are better than we used to be and that is the only comparison that matter. It is the only one we should be making.

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December 12

“If we are willing to examine critically the various causes of our fear, we shall find that some exist, and others only seem to be.” – Seneca

There are things that should keep us from doing things, we should not try to overcome obstacles that actually pose a threat to out health and well being without proper training and most importantly, a very good reason for taking these obstacles on.

But most of the time, the things that hold us back, the things that keep us from completing the tasks we have on our bucket list are not real fears. They are fears like the fear of rejection, the fear of failure, and the fear f the unknown keep us firmly on our current path.

But in order to become our best selves we are going to have to sort out the fears that matter and should be listened to and the ones that don;t matter and are better ignored.

Two thought exercises may help make that distinction for us, the first is simple. If we play out as many variations of the scenario as possible, what are the negative realistic outcomes? If none of them are a threat to our health and well being, we should ignore them.

The other thought exercise requires more, well, thought. If we were going to explain a situation we find ourselves to a friend or our future selves, would the story be one of regret of opportunity lost or one of relief for not having experienced an unnecessary hardship?

We all know which story we would rather tell.

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December 11

“Before now men have gone to meet death in a fit of rage; but when death comes to meet him, no one welcomes it cheerfully, except the man who has long since composed himself for death.” – Seneca

The sooner we make peace with the fact that the life we currently get to enjoy is going to end, the sooner we can focus on other things. Without any regard to the end result. We can work towards being kinder even if it keeps us from advancing in some aspect of our lives, because what difference does it make? We’re going to die anyway and does taking advantage of someone now really make our lives any better? No. It doesn’t. Better to be kind.

Sure we could turn it around and claim that taking advantage doesn’t matter for the same reasons. But we’d have to live with being that person for whatever the remainder of our time is. And when it all fell away and if we are fortunate to make that slow decline into old age and eventually succumb to the ravages of age; we will always know we were that person, the person who couldn’t be completely trusted.

How much sweeter is it to know that we missed some opportunities, maybe we even found ourselves taken advantage of once or twice, but when someone else’s fate was in our hands, they could always trust us to do what was right.

Because that is who we are.

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December 10

“If it falls to the lot of anyone to be set gently adrift by old age, – not suddenly torn from life, but withdrawn bit by bit, oh, verily they should thank the gods, one and all, because, after they have lived their fill, they are sent to a rest that is scheduled for everyone.”          – Seneca

We live in a culture obsessed with youth. In our world the elderly are all but forgotten, in many ways segregated out from the rest of society and dealt with as a burden we have to endure until they shrug this mortal coil. The same will likely be true for us should we be lucky enough to arrive there.

And it is lucky. Right now, we are on a path that will take the remainder of our lives to complete, and we aren’t even going to get to finish the path. We don’t get to see what is at the end. But we should want to see as much of it as we can. We should want to continue down as far as we can so long as we are still progressing and capable of progressing.

And we should continue to work towards progress. Even if that progress involves learning to thrive and enjoy our time in a society that has relegated us into the role of being a chore for others.

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December 9

“He who does not wish to die cannot have wished to live. For life is granted to us with the reservation that we shall die; to this end our path leads.” – Seneca

It’s going to happen. We can not escape it. But it also comes for everyone else. We all are going to face this fate, we are all eventually going to cease to be a part of this world. It is simply the price we all have to pay to be a part of this. We can think of it as the cost of admission.

If the cost seems steep to us, it might be that we are forgetting just how amazingly fortunate we are to be here in the state we are in.

We know considerably more about genetics now than we did just one hundred years ago and to compare the knowledge we have of things now to that held during Seneca’s time makes the philosopher seem like a barbarian. It would be wise of us to consider however, just how we might seem two thousand years from now.

If we turn back to how fortunate we are to be here, in the state we are in, with the faculties, and individual traits we currently possess we will see that the odds of us existing at all are remote.

There are twenty three chromosomes in the human genome that live in pairs, giving us a total of forty six. When males generate sperm and females generate eggs, those pairs are halved, mixed, and then turned into different variations of those twenty three chromosomes. This process leaves us with eight million possibilities in each egg, and another eight million possibilities in each sperm which equates out to sixty four trillion combination possibilities. And yet here we stand. The number of people who could have existed instead of us is greater than the number of people that have ever existed. By a large factor. That is almost sixty four trillion people who will never see a sunset, never hear the ocean, never feel a crisp breeze, and never smell the warm air after a summer shower.

Yes we have to die. But that is only because we got to live.

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December 8

“For death, when it stands near us, gives even to the inexperienced men the courage not to seek to avoid the inevitable.” – Seneca

At some point, all of us are going to reach a point where we accept our fate. If we struggle with a terminal disease long enough, if we live long enough to see that there is no escaping the inevitable end of our days, we will eventually come to accept that we are going to die.

How much better is it for us to get that out of the way now? We don’t know when we are going to die, but then again even if we were diagnosed with stage four lung cancer tomorrow, we still wouldn’t know when we were going to die. We would just have a better idea about how we were going to die. Even then, nothing is certain.

And so, we could choose now to live as if we do have a diagnosis hanging over our heads, as if we do have some sort of sense that our time line is not going to be as long as we want it to. Because, if we are honest, no matter how long our time line might be, it will never be long enough.

So instead, let’s not waste the time we have on things that don’t matter, let’s not try to control things we can’t control, let’s not allow petty things to interrupt our relationships, and let’s become the best versions of ourselves we can become in whatever time we have available to us.

And let’s live the only way anyone really can, not knowing when a moment will be our last.

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December 7

“This is a great accomplishment, and one which needs long practice to learn, to depart calmly when the inevitable hour arrives.” – Seneca

Some day, almost all of us have no idea when, we are going to die. It’s coming for us whether we are going to be ready or not. And whether we like it or not, with the way that technology, medicine, and science are constantly improving on themselves, we are all likely going to know what is going to kill us when it finally arrives.

It’s as if we are waiting for a guest to arrive but we have no idea when to expect them. And what is worse, while we aren’t exactly excited for them to come visit, we can’t stop them from visiting either.

Just as it is with guests we don’t care for but can’t keep from visiting, we should look at death as something that we are going to have to take part in, whether we like it or not, that is the cost for being a part of this world.

Anything that has to be done, anything that must be dealt with whether we like it or not should be approached with an open mind, and a calm demeanor. It doesn’t help us any to dread eating food, going to bed, or making our living in the world, it also doesn’t help us to treat death any differently.

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December 6

“A great pilot can sail even when his canvas is rent; if his ship is dismantled, he can yet put in trim what remains of her hull and hold her to course.” – Seneca

Life isn’t really out to get us, it isn’t out to ruin our day, life isn’t plotting about how to make us miserable but there are going to be days where we will not believe a single one of those words. There will be days where it will seem as though even the weather is out to destroy our mood.

The sad truth is, life isn’t out to get us because life is indifferent to our existence. We don’t matter enough for the universe to raise a figurative eyebrow.

But that can be hard to see sometimes. Sometimes, we are going to have to get by with what we have in situations where what we have doesn’t seem like it’s going to be enough.

And we are more likely to find ourselves in these situations when things are already not going well for us. For example, a flat tire is less likely to seem like a huge burden when we have the time and money to deal with it. But flat tires don’t happen in those situations. Flat tires happen on the first day of a new job we really need because we’ve depleted our savings.

How we choose to sail the ship in these moments is going to be what makes us who we are.

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December 5

“Now wisdom is an art; it should have a definite aim. Choosing only that which will make progress, but withdrawing from that which it has come to regard as hopeless.” – Seneca

One of the secrets to a happy life. Quite possibly the key ingredient to enjoying the experience of living is this: we shouldn’t worry about the things we can not control. Another way to look at the things we can not control is to see them as things that do not matter. They may seem important, and they may very well have a huge effect on the outcome of certain situations but if it lies outside our control, it does not matter.

The way that we sort out the things that matter against the things that don’t is to determine two things. The first is going to be how much control we actually have over the issue or situation in question. The second is more important, how much does it matter to the end result?

If it isn’t going to help us become better people, if it isn’t essential to the task at hand, if it isn’t going to make things better, it doesn’t matter. We can leave most things, even the things we might have control over right where we found them.

The trick to being able to determine whether or not these two questions apply to anything is to detach, to step back, not allow our emotions or thoughts to interfere and to look at the situation as objectively as possible. This ability gets better the more we practice. And we should practice everyday.

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December 4

“Therefore, as far as possible, prove yourself guilty, hunt up charges against yourself; play the part, first of accuser, then of judge, last of intercessor. At times be harsh with yourself.” – Seneca

We have a limited amount of time to do this. A limited resource that we can neither make nor purchase more of. It would make sense then, to be certain that we have an end goal in mind and that we prioritize the steps that are going to help us move towards that end goal fastest.

Where this becomes difficult is that getting better at things, becoming more disciplined, controlling our emotions, our actions, and our words takes practice. If we try to tackle the big important things right out of the gate, we are likely to fail, a lot.

But unlike travel along an actual path, we are trying to make ourselves into better people. This only takes assigning an end goal and then getting started. If we are on the wrong path we will make adjustments as we move along. If we picked the right path from the beginning, we are not being honest with ourselves and likely haven’t really made it anywhere. In other words, any movement we make is beneficial movement.

More important than getting started is being honest, brutally honest with ourselves. We have to be able to catch ourselves when we are not holding our own standard and at times, we need to be harsh – even ruthless – with our judgment.

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December 3

“For he who does not know he has sinned does not desire correction; you must discover yourself in the wrong before you can reform yourself.” – Seneca

When we set out to improve ourselves, we have to have some idea of what we are improving and we also have to have a plan on how we are going to make those changes.

Just as we wouldn’t start trying to repair a leaking pipe without actually knowing where the pipe was leaking from and having a solid plan about how to fix the problem, we should approach making ourselves into the best versions of us that we can with the same attitude.

We have to be comfortable with our short comings, familiar with our weaknesses. We might be afraid that being open about the areas we are falling short will make us appear weak, and to some that might be the case but in reality, being open about our weaknesses allows us to work on them better and we appear more secure. Even if we’re not.

Bringing the things we want to work on into the foreground makes them an area of focus. As we improve in one area we can re-evaluate and find new weaknesses to focus on.

We can do this for the rest of our lives.

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December 2

“It helps little to cast out one’s own faults if you must quarrel with those of others.”            – Seneca

There is a temptation – especially in the early part of taking up the path – to impose the standards and ideals that we are building for ourselves onto others.

When we see others losing their temper we will recognize their inability to have emotional discipline but we will fail to see that we are failing to discipline our own thoughts in allowing ourselves to judge others.

If we are really new to the path, if we believe in what we are doing but fail to constrain our emotions, if we allow ourselves to become zealots, we may even confront others with our newfound beliefs.

This leads only to difficulties we are not likely prepared to endure.

Because we are not emotionally disciplined enough to properly deal with the positions we place ourselves in, we get that rush of adrenaline where we should remain calm and steady. We become emotional and may even raise our voices when we should be detached and trying to understand the others’ point of view. And worse of all, we turn people off to our ideas when we should be attracting them by setting a better example.

We do this and then we think to ourselves that it happened because our argument wasn’t well formulated enough, or we didn’t have all the facts right, or we didn’t articulate well enough.

In truth, we shouldn’t be having arguments in the first place. We are still working on ourselves, we have no business trying to work on others. And when we are finished working on ourselves, we will see that we have no reason to be working on others.

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December 1

“The person you are matters more than the place to which you go.” – Seneca

If we travel anywhere on Earth, anywhere that other people inhabit and live out their lives that is, if we travel to those places, inevitably we will find someone living in these places who is content likely even happy living in the conditions we find them in. We could find this person in every city, every village, even some of the most remote places on earth.

The question we should find ourselves asking when we find these people – or even when we acknowledge their existence – is what it is that allows them to be happy in the situation they find themselves in.

Undoubtedly, we will find that these are people who have two things firmly in their grasp. The first is that they have control over themselves, they have a significant level of self control. This means emotions, actions, words, and even thoughts. The second thing they have a grasp on is the ability to let go of the things that are not in their control. They were born where they were born and they had access to the resources they had and they made the most of that.

in doing these things it is very likely that additional resources and opportunities will make themselves available to such people but they will be content even if these resources and opportunities never come along.

Because they have self control and the ability to let go. All at the same time.

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November 30

“You must lat aside the burdens of your mind, until you do this,no place can satisfy you.” – Seneca

We could choose any location, we could choose any occupation, we could look into any living situation, and almost any type of relationship and we could find people who were perfectly content and even, happy. We might ask ourselves how this could be but if we are being honest with ourselves we already know the answers to these questions.

People who have the ability to be content in any situation are the same people that we choose to admire for their ability to control themselves and maintain a level of discipline necessary to keep themselves from trying to control things that they can not.

For example, we do not control where we are born or the situation we are born into but we have to find a way to operate in the situation we are handed. And we have to be able to recognize the things we can control if we want to do well in the situation we find ourselves in.

But until we learn to recognize the things we can have control over – mostly we can have self control – and we learn to control those things to the best of our ability at all times, we will never be satisfied. We could have the most luxurious lives and still be miserable because we will be focused on controlling things we have no control over.

And that will always lead to misery.

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November 29

“You need a change of soul rather than a change of climate.” – Seneca

There is a commonly used saying that breaks down to basically encouraging us to build lives we don’t feel the need to take vacations to get away from. There is something to be said for that. As we are typically the source of almost all of our problems – mostly because we fail to control the things we can control because we are focused on trying to control things we actually have no control over – we fail to see that when we try to escape from the troubles of our lives, we take the source of the problem with us.

Because everywhere we travel to, we are forced to take ourselves along. We’d be better off not taking vacations, not finding new jobs, not moving away at all, until we can look at ourselves and tell ourselves honestly that we are doing a decent job controlling the things we can control and letting go of the things we can not control.

We are likely to find that if we spend just a little time everyday taking a mental inventory and assessing how we are doing at controlling the things we can and letting of of the things we can not, we won’t feel as though we need a break from our lives. Instead we may find ourselves feeling invigorated to get out there and trying to get just a little better at doing what we can to improve our own situation in the ways that we can. At the very least, we will recognize that we control our perspective and therefore our own happiness. And if we can control our own happiness, we have nothing to escape from and nowhere to escape to.

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November 28

“No man is able to borrow or buy a sound mind.” – Seneca

There are a few things in life that money absolutely can not buy us. Yes, money will make a lot of things, probably almost everything, a little easier. But for example, money is not going to give us the discipline to eat the right foods in the right amount and to exercise consistently enough to be in the best possible shape we can be in.

Money might be able to afford us an education but it is not going to give us the strength of mind to keep pushing ourselves, to keep learning, to keep seeking wisdom. That takes a sense of self control, it takes an amount of discipline that takes time to develop and effort to maintain.

Money makes us more attractive to potential love interests but money does not allow us the sef control and the self realization to see how much we get out of a relationship by putting another person’s well being ahead of our own. Money does not automatically lead to us realizing that we need to put work into a relationship in order to get the most out of it.

We can not buy many of the things that we value most in life, but through discipline, self control, and self awareness we can develop them over time.

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November 27

“But there can be no such good except as the soul discovers for itself within itself.”              – Seneca

The pursuit of happiness. Something so intrinsic to personal success and human achievement that the minds that crafted the constitution of the United States put it into the document that governs the ideas that fostered the greatest amount of human achievement in recorded human history.

The pursuit of happiness is an interesting way to view happiness, as something we have the right to pursue but not necessarily the right to possess.

What is interesting here, is that the framers of that constitution would have known about the writings of the Stoics, and in that light should have known that each individual has within themselves the keys to their own happiness.

We might not have any control over our own health, our own wealth, even our relationships but we do have control over how we view those things. We have control over how we choose to react to things that happen to us, we have control over how we choose to view the situations we find ourselves in.

And we can choose to view the world in ways that make us happy.

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November 26

“Just as crimes, even if they have not been detected when they were committed, do not allow anxiety to end with them; so with guilty pleasures, regret remains even after the pleasure is over.” – Seneca

Guilty pleasures. The things we know we shouldn’t do but we do it anyway. Sometimes we treat ourselves to the things we consider guilty pleasures as a reward for an accomplishment, sometimes as a reward for going through a difficult ordeal, but mostly we allow ourselves guilty pleasures because we can’t help ourselves. in this way, our guilty pleasures are a weakness.

We shouldn’t be doing things we feel guilty about, even a little bit, as this implies that we actually knew better and did something regardless of that knowledge.

We need to remember that who we are is simply an amalgamation of the things we do consistently. The little things we often take for granted are the things that make us who we are. The little things we do every single day. If we make the decision to indulge that weakness, even just a few times weekly, we are the person who indulges our weaknesses.

It might be that we are satisfied with being the person who indulges their weaknesses but more likely we would rather be the person who is disciplined and exhibits self control.

Self control starts with our guilty pleasures.

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