Strategic Principles to Personal Serenity and Moral Direction Amid the Trials and Troubles of Life. (Part 2)


Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals.

  • Once you have determined the spiritual principles you wish to exemplify, abide by these rules as if they were laws as if it were indeed sinful to compromise them.
  • Don’t mind if others don’t share your convictions.
  • How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be?
  • Your nobler self cannot wait any longer.
  • Put your principles into practice now.
  • Stop the excuses and the procrastination.
  • This is your life! You aren’t a child anymore.
  • The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be.
  • The longer you wait, the more you will be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret because you know you are capable of better.
  • From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself.
  • Separate yourself from the mob.
  • Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do now.

The life of wisdom is a life of reason.

  • It is important to learn how to think clearly.
  • Clear thinking is not a haphazard enterprise.
  • It requires proper training. It is through clear thinking that we can properly direct our will, stick with our true purpose, and discover the connections we have to others and the duties that follow from those relationships.
  • Every person should learn how to identify mushy and fallacious thinking.
  • Study how inferences are legitimately derived, so that you avoid drawing unfounded conclusions.
  • For instance, note the following examples of faulty logic: “I am richer than you; therefore, I am better than you.” One encounters such absurd assertions as this all the time, but they are completely fallacious.
  • The valid inference that can be drawn is this: “I am richer than you; therefore, I have more possessions or money than you do.”
  • Another example: “I speak more persuasively than you; therefore, I am better than you.” From this, we can only conclude, “I speak more persuasively than you; therefore, my speech carries more effect than yours.”
  • Your character is independent of property or persuasive speech.
  • Take the time to assiduously study clear thinking and you won’t be hoodwinked.
  • A strong education in logic and the rules of effective argument will serve you well.

If people treat you disrespectfully or speak unkindly about you, remember that they do so from their impression that it is right to do so.

  • It is unrealistic to expect people to see you as you see yourself.
  • If people reach conclusions based on false impressions, they are the ones hurt rather than you because it is they who are misguided.
  • When someone interprets a true proposition as a false one, the proposition itself isn’t hurt; only the person who holds the wrong view is deceived, and thus damaged.
  • Once you clearly understand this, you will be less likely to feel affronted by others, even if they revile you.
  • You can say to yourself, “It seemed so to that person, but that is only his impression.”

Strategic Principles to Personal Serenity and Moral Direction Amid the Trials and Troubles of Life. (Part 1)

Strategic Principles to Personal Serenity and Moral Direction Amid the Trials and Troubles of Life. (Part 3)

Know first who you are and what you’re capable of.

  • Just as nothing great is created instantly, the same goes for the perfecting of our talents and aptitudes.
  • We are always learning, always growing.
  • It is right to accept challenges.
  • This is how we progress to the next level of intellectual, physical, or moral development.
  • Still, don’t kid yourself: If you try to be something or someone you are not, you belittle your true self and end up not developing in those areas that you would have excelled at quite naturally.
  • Within the divine order, we each have our special calling.
  • Listen to yours and follow it faithfully.

Propriety and logic are different things and each has its appropriate application.

  • The proposition “Either it is day or it is night” works well in a disjunctive argument, but not as well in a friendly conversation.
  • Likewise, at a banquet, it may make sense to take the largest share of food if you are really hungry, but it would be bad manners to do so.
  • When you dine with others, be aware not only of how much your body appreciates the delicacies offered but also how important good manners and personal refinement are

Stand squarely behind your decision.

  • Once you have deliberated and determined that a course of action is wise, never discredit your judgment.
  • Chances are there may indeed be people who misunderstand your intentions and who may even condemn you.
  • But if, according to your best judgment, you are acting rightly, you have nothing to fear.
  • Take a stand.
  • Don’t be cravenly noncommittal.

Let your reason be supreme.

  • Inculcate the habit of deliberation.
  • Practice the art of testing whether particular things are good or not.
  • Learn to wait and assess instead of always reacting from untrained instinct.
  • Spontaneity is not a virtue in and of itself.
  • If some pleasure is promised to you and it seductively calls to you, step back and give yourself some time before mindlessly jumping at it.
  • Dispassionately turn the matter over in your mind:
  • Will this pleasure bring but a momentary delight, or real, lasting satisfaction?
  • It makes a difference in the quality of our lives and the kind of person we become when we learn how to distinguish between cheap thrills and meaningful, lasting rewards.
  • If, in calmly considering this pleasure, you realize that if you indulge in it, you will regret it, abstain, and rejoice in your forbearance.
  • Reinforce the triumph of your character and you will be strengthened.

Self-importance is not the way of the true winner.

  • Nobody enjoys the company of a braggart.
  • Don’t oppress people with dramatic stories of your exploits.
  • Nobody cares that much about your war stories and dramatic adventures, though they might indulge you for a while to appear polite.
  • To speak frequently and excessively of your achievements is tiresome and pompous.
  • You don’t need to be the class clown.
  • Nor do you need to resort to other indelicate methods to convince others you are clever, sophisticated, or affable.
  • Aggressive, glib, or showy talk should be completely avoided.
  • It just lowers you in the esteem of your acquaintances.
  • Many people casually pepper their speech with obscenities in an attempt to bring force and intensity to their speech or to embarrass others.
  • Refuse to go along with such talk.
  • When people around you start to slip into indecent, pointless speech, leave if you can, or at least be silent and let your look of seriousness show that you are offended by such coarse talk.

Don’t be afraid of verbal abuse or criticism.

  • Only the morally weak feel compelled to defend or explain themselves to others.
  • Let the quality of your deeds speak on your behalf.
  • We can’t control the impressions others form about us, and the effort to do so only debases our character.
  • So, if anyone should tell you that a particular person has spoken critically of you, don’t bother with excuses or defenses.
  • Just smile and reply, “I guess that person doesn’t know about all my other faults. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have mentioned only these.”

Abstain from casual sex and particularly avoid sexual intercourse before you get married.

  • This may sound prudish or old-fashioned, but it is a time-tested way by which we demonstrate respect for ourselves and others.
  • Sex is not a game.
  • It gives rise to very real enduring emotional and practical consequences.
  • To ignore this is to debase yourself, and to disregard the significance of human relationships.
  • If, however, you know someone who has had casual sex, don’t self-righteously try to win them over to your views.
  • An active sex life within a framework of personal commitment augments the integrity of the people involved and is part of a flourishing life.

Respect your body’s needs.

  • Give your body excellent care to promote its health and well-being.
  • Give it everything it absolutely requires, including healthy food and drink, dignified clothing, and a warm and comfortable home.
  • Do not, however, use your body as an occasion for show or luxury.

Be careful whom you associate with.

  • Regardless of what others profess, they may not truly live by spiritual values.
  • It is human to imitate the habits of those with whom we interact.
  • We inadvertently adopt their interests, their opinions, their values, and their habit of interpreting events.
  • Though many people mean well, they can just the same have a deleterious influence on you because they are undisciplined about what is worthy and what isn’t.
  • Just because some people are nice to you doesn’t mean you should spend time with them.
  • Just because they seek you out and are interested in you or your affairs doesn’t mean you should associate with them.
  • Be selective about whom you take on as friends, colleagues, and neighbours.
  • All of these people can affect your destiny.
  • The world is full of agreeable and talented folk.
  • The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, and whose presence calls forth your best.
  • But remember that our moral influence is a two-way street, and we should thus make sure by our thoughts, words, and deeds to be a positive influence on those we deal with.
  • The real test of personal excellence lies in our attention to the often-neglected small details of our conduct.
  • Regularly ask yourself, “How are my thoughts, words, and deeds affecting my friends, my spouse, my neighbour, my child, my employer, my subordinates, my fellow citizens?
  • Am I doing my part to contribute to the spiritual progress of all with whom I come in contact?”
  • Make it your business to draw out the best in others by being an exemplar yourself.

One of the clearest marks of the moral life is right speech.

  • Perfecting our speech is one of the keystones of an authentic spiritual program.
  • First and foremost, think before you speak to make sure you are speaking with good purpose.
  • Glib talk disrespects others.
  • Breezy self-disclosure disrespects yourself.
  • So many people feel compelled to give voice to any passing feeling, thought, or impression they have.
  • They randomly dump the contents of their minds without regard to the consequences.
  • This is practically and morally dangerous.
  • If we babble about every idea that occurs to us big and small, we can easily fritter away in the trivial currents of mindless talk ideas that have true merit.
  • Unchecked speech is like a vehicle wildly lurching out of control and destined for a ditch.
  • If need be, be mostly silent or speak sparingly.
  • Speech itself is neither good nor evil, but it is so commonly used carelessly that you need to be on your guard.
  • Frivolous talk is hurtful talk; besides, it is unbecoming to be a chatterbox.
  • Enter into discussions when the social or professional occasion calls for it, but be cautious that the spirit and intent of the discussion and its content remain worthy.

Prattle is seductive. Stay out of its clutches.

  • It’s not necessary to restrict yourself to lofty subjects or philosophy all the time, but be aware that the common babbling that passes for worthwhile discussion has a corrosive effect on your higher purpose.
  • When we blather about trivial things, we become trivial, for our attention gets taken up with trivialities.
  • You become what you give your attention to.
  • We become small-minded if we engage in discussions about other people.
  • In particular, avoid blaming, praising, or comparing people.
  • Try whenever possible, if you notice the conversation around you decaying into palaver, to see if you can subtly lead the conversation back to more constructive subjects.
  • If, however, you find yourself among indifferent strangers, you can simply remain silent.
  • Be of good humour and enjoy a good laugh when it is apt, but avoid the kind of unrestrained barroom laughter that easily degenerates into vulgarity or malevolence.
  • Laugh with, but never laugh at.
  • If you can, avoid making idle promises whenever possible.

Follow through on all your generous impulses.

  • Do not question them, especially if a friend needs you; act on his or her behalf.
  • Do not hesitate!
  • Don’t sit around speculating about the possible inconveniences, problems, or dangers.
  • As long as you let your reason lead the way, you will be safe.
  • We must stand by our friends in their hour of need.
  • But, Clearly Define the Person You Want to Be
  • Who exactly do you want to be?
  • What kind of person do you want to be?
  • What are your ideals?
  • Whom do you admire?
  • What are their special traits that you would make your own?
  • It’s time to stop being vague.
  • If you wish to be an extraordinary person, if you wish to be wise, then you should explicitly identify the kind of person you aspire to become.
  • If you have a daybook, write down who you’re trying to be so that you can refer to this self-definition.
  • Precisely describe the demeanour you want to adopt so that you may preserve it when you are by yourself or with other people.

Our hopes and fears sway us, not events themselves.

  • When considering the future, remember that all situations unfold as they do regardless of how we feel about them.
  • Undisciplined people, driven by their antipathies and sympathies are forever on the lookout for signs that build up or reinforce their unexamined views and opinions.
  • Events themselves are impersonal, though judicious people certainly can and should respond to them in beneficial ways.
  • Instead of personalizing an event (“This is my triumph,” “That was his blunder,” or “This is my bitter misfortune”) and drawing withering conclusions about yourself or human nature, watch for how you can put certain aspects of the event to good use.
  • Is there some less-than-obvious benefit embedded if a trained eye might discern?
  • Pay attention; be a sleuth.
  • Perhaps there is a lesson you can extract and apply to similar events in the future.
  • In any event, however seemingly dire, there is nothing to prevent us from searching for its hidden opportunity.
  • It is a failure of the imagination not to do so.
  • But to seek out the opportunity in situations requires a great deal of courage, for most people around you will persist in interpreting events in the grossest terms: success or failure, good or bad, right or wrong.
  • These simplistic, polarized categories obscure more creative and useful interpretations of events that are far more advantageous and interesting!

The wise person knows it is fruitless to project hopes and fears about the future.

  • This only leads to forming melodramatic representations in your mind and wasting time.
  • At the same time, one shouldn’t passively acquiesce to the future and what it holds.
  • Simply doing nothing does not avoid risk, but heightens it.
  • There is a place for prudent planning and for making provision for situations to come.
  • Proper preparation for the future consists of forming good personal habits.
  • This is done by actively pursuing the good in all the particulars of your daily life and by regularly examining your motives to make sure they are free of the shackles of fear, greed, and laziness.
  • If you do this, you won’t be buffeted about by outside events.
  • Train your intentions rather than fooling yourself into thinking you can manipulate outside events.
  • If you are helped by praying or meditating, by all means, do so.
  • But seek divine counsel when the application of your reason hasn’t yielded any answers when you have exhausted other means.
  • What is a “good” event?
  • What is a “bad” event?
  • There is no such thing!
  • What is a good person?
  • The one who achieves tranquillity by having formed the habit of asking on every occasion, “What is the right thing to do now?”

Strategic Principles to Personal Serenity and Moral Direction Amid the Trials and Troubles of Life. (Part 1)

Strategic Principles to Personal Serenity and Moral Direction Amid the Trials and Troubles of Life. (Part 3)

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