This assignment calls for 90 minutes of silence. Put away your smartphones and devices and leave the presence of other people. Be still by yourself.
Then, write a two-page paper reflecting on the experience and putting it in historical perspective.
Some questions to consider:
- What does it feel like to be silent, to be without constant access to a smartphone?
- How is this part of our lifestyle now different than in premodern times?
“The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.” – George Elliott
I’m going to talk to you about some things that I’ve learned in my journey most from experience, some of them I’ve heard in passing, many of them I’m still practicing, but all of them I do believe are true.
Life is not easy! It is not! Don’t try to make it that way. Life is not fair, it never was, it isn’t now, and it won’t ever be. Do not fall into the trap, the entitlement trap of feeling like you are a victim. You are not. Get over it and get on with it.
So, the question that we’ve got to ask ourselves is what success is to us, what success to you. Is it more money? That’s fine, I’ve got nothing against money. Maybe it’s a healthy family. May it’s a happy marriage. Maybe it’s to help others. To be famous. To be spiritually sound. To leave the world a little bit of a better place than you found it. Continue to ask yourself that question. Now, your answer may change over time and that’s fine. But do yourself this favor.
Whatever your answer is, don’t choose anything that will jeopardize your soul. Prioritize how you are, who you want to be, and don’t spend time with anything that antagonizes your character.
Be brave, take the hill, but first answer that question, “what’s my hill?” So, first we have to define success our ourselves and then we have to put in the work to maintain it. Make that daily tally. Tend to our garden keep the things that are important to us in good shape.
Where you are not as important as where you are. It is just as important where we are not as it is where we are.
Look, the first step that leads to our identity in life is usually not “I know who I am.” That’s not the first step. The first step is usually “I know who I am not.” The process of elimination. Defining ourselves by what we are not is the first step that leads us to really knowing who we are.
You know that group of friends that you hang out with that really might not bring out the best in you? You know, they gossip too much or they’re kind of shady they really aren’t going to be there for you in a pinch. Or how about that bar that we keep going to that we always seem to have the worst hangover from? Or that computer screen, right? That computer screen that keeps giving us an excuse not to get out of the house and engage with the world and get some real human interaction. Or how about that food that we keep eating? That stuff that tastes so good going down but makes us feel like crap the next week. When we feel lethargic and we keep putting on weight. Well… those people, those places, those things stop giving them your time and energy!
Just don’t go there! I mean, put them down! And when you do this, when you do put them down, when you quit going there, when you quit giving them your time, you inadvertently find yourself spending more time and in more places that are healthy for you, that brings you more joy.
Why? Because you just eliminated the who’s, the where’s, the what’s and the when’s that were keeping you from your identity.
Trust me too many options I promise you too many options will make a tyrant of us all. So, get rid of the excess. The waste of time, decrease your options. And if you do this, you will have accidentally, almost innocently, put in front of you what is important to you. By process elimination.
Knowing who we are is hard. It’s hard. So, give yourself a break. Eliminate the who you are not first and you’re going to find yourself where you need to be. Instead of creating outcomes that take from us, let’s create more outcomes that pay us back. Fill us up. Keep your fire lit, turn you on for the most amount of time in your future.
We try our best, we don’t always do our best. Our architecture is a verb as well. And since we are the architects of our own lives, let’s study the habits, the practices, the routines that we have that lead to and feed our success, our joy, our honest pain, our laughter our earned tears. Let’s dissect that and give thanks for those things.
And when we do that, guess what happens? We get better at them! And we have more to dissect. Be discerning. Choose it because you want it. Do it because you want to. We’re going to make mistakes, you’ve got to own them. Then you’ve got to make amends. And then you’ve got to move on.
Guilt and regret kills many a man before their time. So, turn the page, get off the ride, you are the author of the book of your life.
– Matthew McConaughey