This is going to be a short post. Meditations, from Marcus Aurelius (He touched me on the shoulder once), is one of those books I've read dozens of times and refer to with regularity. It's a treasure trove of profound and useful thoughts. Here is one of those thoughts:
The most important thing is this: do what you know you should do. Most of you who get this far will probably close the post thinking, "That's obvious, I know that already." Whether or not you finish this post is irrevant; it's mostly a reminder to myself anyway. All I know is that it's a fact, so I'm sharing.
In any area of my life where I struggle, it's invariably because I don't follow this rule. Money, health, relationships, whatever! If I'm not doing what I know I should do, things usually don't work out. You know exactly what I'm talking about.
When you feel your weight starting to increase after a string of bad food choices, you know that you need to start eating better foods. But do you? If you're like most people (including me) you don't and then once your weight is totally out of control you're forced to take drastic measures.
Is your business slumping? You and/or your company probably know what you need to turn things around. Are you doing it? Probably not.
Are you in a bad relationship that you know isn't a good situation? You get the point. It's time to act on what you've thought in your head a million times.
If this was easy, we'd all be rich, fit, and happy - but it is by far the most worthwhile thing to work on. If you got this far, look at your actions throughout the day and take note of how you do. If your actions aren't in line with what you know needs to happen, then start adjusting. I'll do the same.
Do something, take a step forward.
If you're in sales and you have no idea how you're going to hit your sales target, just talk to someone new about what you're doing. Don't worry about your pitch or the numbers or anything - just have a conversation. And then another, and another.
If you're an artist and you're frustrated with your work or lack thereof, just make something and show someone. Don't worry if it's good or bad just make it and see where it takes you.
If you're a 20 something (or 30, 40, 50 etc) not sure of where to go in your career, just try something new. Work at something new and see if something's there. If it's a dead end - try again. Steve Jobs was absolutely right when he said, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards"
If you're out of shape and feeling unhealthy - move your body, eat something that's good for you today - right now. Don't stress about a diet or finding a trainer, just focus on doing something right now that is good for you.
If you're constantly feeling strapped for cash and you don't know how to start saving money, set a dollar aside today. One, single dollar - $1.00. I don't care if you're making a good income, if you're constantly living pay check to pay check, you need to feel what it's like to have extra money set aside. It doesn't matter if you use a piggy bank, shoe box, savings account, checking account, or money market mutal fund, put a tiny amount aside on a regular basis. By starting small, it's painless and you'll build that muscle. Bottom line is - just start, right now.
What about if you have a personal website and you aren't happy with your ideas, and you think your writing sucks at the moment? Do what I'm doing right now and write something. Talk about something you care about and put it into the world. I figured I should probably follow my own advice.
Of course we all know that life is short and time is limited. We should also know that waiting for outside events or a bolt inspiration to magically change our situation is stupid. So here's my blog post. What are you going to do today to move yourself forward?
There are a million quotes about revenge, but when it comes down to it, the best revenge...isn't revenge at all.
Marcus Aurelius said it best. In a time when hate and fear are near all-time highs in American politics, it's important to keep this idea in mind. How do you respond to people who are ignorant, angry, and fearful of people not like them? Try getting into an argument with one of these people and see how well that works.
At the recent Trump rally in Chicago which turned violent, protesters tried that exact method. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that those protesters, no matter how well-intentioned, didn't convert any die hard Trump supporters to their way of thinking. No, let's go back to good ol' Marcus Aurelius.
If the other person is ignorant, be informed. If the other person is angry, remain calm and optimistic. If the other person is fearful of outsiders, be tolerant and accepting. If the other person is spreading lies, speak the truth. Don't argue. Don't debate. Don't resort to violence. Simply do what you think is right. Don't "be like that."
My aunt died today. We knew it was coming, but that never actually helps once the time comes. From the day we are born we know what's in store for us, yet for the vast majority of our lives we deny that inescapable fact. Some of us get a warning when it's our time, some of us don't, but the ending is always the same.
In her final days, as we received updates about her hospice care and pain medications, I couldn't help but think about her impact on my life. I don't know what she desired to accomplish, I don't know what regrets she carried with her, all I know is that a constant in my life is gone.
As I've gone through my collection of family photos, there are photos of her with my mother when she was a baby, photos of her when her kids were young, then photos of her with those same kids as they went through college and got married and had children of their own. There were photos of her holding me as a baby, and at my high school graduation, and as recently as last Thanksgiving. She was always there. She wasn't perfect, but she was always loving, and she was a big part of my small family.
The timing of her passing is funny in a way because we were at her house on June 17, 1994 - the day OJ Simpson lead police on the most surreal chase of all time, while the Knicks battled the Huston Rockets in the NBA Finals. Almost 22 years later the OJ Simpson trial is back in the headlines and the Knicks are still breaking our hearts. We were in her house when Mike Tyson decided to bite off Evander Holyfield's ear. We spent Christmas at her house when I got Super Nintendo. Yes, these ridiculous things are what come to mind when I think about her. They seem small, but of course they're not.
I'm sure she had many other moments like this with all the people in her life. Moments that will stand out and stick in their minds long after this initial sadness passes. She has two great sons who are raising their own families. They're creating their own memories now, and life will go on.
How do you interact with the people in your life on a day-to-day basis? How do you think they'll remember you when you're gone? I talk about this theme a lot on this website, because I think it's a great way to clarify our thinking and to keep things in perspective. Ultimately it's just about asking yourself every day: If it all ends tomorrow, is this how I want to be remembered - is this what I want my life to mean?
Please take some time today and reflect on your own life. Look at where you're going and what you're creating. One day, there won't be any more tomorrows. Start being the person you want to become right now. Treat people well. Be good to your family. Focus on living well. One day you'll be gone and all you'll leave behind are the impressions you made on others. What will those impressions say about you?
I'm always reading the biographies of great men and women who I aspire to emulate. If I never reach those heights, I'll be content going to my grave knowing that people thought of me the way that my brother and I felt about my aunt. I'll be content knowing my brother feels about me, the way her sisters feel about her. And if I'm lucky I'll be able to leave behind great children, as she has, to grow and expand my legacy far beyond any place I could've imagined. I can only hope to be so lucky.