If you’re experiencing a period of joy or pleasure, either with a situation or a person, cherish it because it will not last. Nothing lasts.
You’re not only happy or only unhappy but happy about some things and unhappy about others. The worst question in the world is “Are you happy?” Happiness is more like a thermostat, and throughout your life it will be stubbornly constant, moving only if you change how you think about the events that happen to you. If everyone experiences the same things, heartbreak and illness, money problems and aging, the main thing that differs us is how we think.
The difference between a good life and “bad luck” are the choices you make. Seemingly intelligent people make poor choices that eventually lead to disaster. Getting in that car after too much to drink, standing down when you should stand up, letting life idle by in front of a television set, abusing your body with poor health choices, not living within your means, having unprotected sex with a stranger. These are the things we do without daily conscious thought but nonetheless increase the risk for future disaster. “Why me?” I can tell you why.
It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday. It’s done, finished, and no amount of reflection or regret will change unless you act. Constant, focused action on the present helps fix the past. It sets your future.
If you find someone with character, don’t let that person go. The world is full people who will sell out their beliefs, their words, their country, and their fellow man for money or power. You have government agents spying on their neighbor because they want a steady job. You have doctors who put their name on research papers for a drug that’s as bad as the disease. You have the pastor with the extra marital affairs, the environmentalist who owns a car, the family values conservative who flirts with little boys, the lawyer who suppreses free speech for his big money client, the libertarian who takes government assistance, the mayor who helps his friends before his voters. The only way I can sleep at night is if my words and my thoughts match how I live my life. Without character you’re a fraud.
No one will complete you or make you better or happier than you can make yourself. This is true for many reasons, but the biggest is if someone else was much better or happier than you, they wouldn’t waste their time on you. Everything that is needed to become fulfilled and self-actualized and so on is only found within you. The faster you realize that the sooner you’ll stop waiting for someone else to do a job you can do for yourself.
There is comfort and then there is growth. You can’t do both at the same time. If you are comfortable in life right now then you are not growing. I think I’ll go for comfort when I run out of ideas. Or when I’m ready to die.
You need a project, something beyond your normal job or habits, that pushes you do and learn things you’ve never done before, something that has a journey with a concrete beginning and a not so concrete end. And when time comes for you to move on to something else, when you’re sitting around for weeks or months with that empty feeling of accomplishing nothing beyond mere survival, a new project comes into your mind and off you go again. A meaningful life is a series of projects.
If you haven’t experienced it first hand then you don’t know, regardless of the authority. It’s just time killing entertainment. It’s not true unless you see it, touch it, feel it, taste it, until it’s confirmed beyond a reasonable doubt. There’s theoretical knowledge and there’s applied knowledge. But don’t take my word for it.
Should, must, have
You don’t have to do anything but die. There’s no rules in life. Anyone who pushes rules onto you is suffocating by theirs. No one said you have to work for megacorp on the exact same days and same hours as everyone else. Think about this concept we have called “rush hour.” Twice a day most of the population drags themselves to work and then back home again. Who said it had to be that way? Who said you have to have to own a house and car and barbecue grill to be a complete person? Who said you had to work hard most of your life to save money until you can barley bend over to tie your shoes? Who said you had to act and talk and look like everyone else? If you can’t answer why you are doing everything you are doing then you’re living by someone else’s rules, not your own.
The most important thing in life is time. Besides basic survival with food, shelter, and clothing, it’s the only thing you should fear losing. While many people are lucky enough to live long lives, you may not. I’m not a gambling man—I’m not going to assume I will live to 76.3 years of age. Time is a savings account, and you’re drawing on it with soulless endeavors and draining relationships. You will die before you are ready, and there is no praying or hoping or wishing that will get back the time you did not spend wisely.
Everyone wants to get something for nothing. Quick cash with scratch tickets, quick weight loss with pills, a big house with a self-destruct loan, Hollywood style love, talentless fame. People want the sweet things without having to taste the bitter. I don’t know if the things I do in life are right or not, but if it’s really hard to do and I curse it every night before I go to bed wishing life was easier then it’s safe bet I’ll have a rich payoff. If it’s easy then it’s not worth doing.