The Accidental Stoic Pt. 3 - Live A Life Of Character
(If you have already read one of the other parts, you can skip the intro. I wanted to make sure all readers had the background no matter which lesson they were starting on. Enjoy!).
I love Tim Ferriss.
I love Ryan Holiday.
When you go through something traumatic you find yourself looking for answers, grasping for knowledge.
You hate the way you feel.
You don’t know what to do yet, but you know you never want to feel this way again.
But what can you do?
You allow yourself to be teachable.
Allow yourself the opportunity to learn from your mistakes so you don’t have to relive them again.
Two of the people that I turned to were: Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday. They practice and preach Stoicism: the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.
In these blogs I am going to break down 5 pillars of the philosophy (Time Is Brief, Overcome Adversity, Live A Life Of Character, Self-Awareness, and Practicing Misfortune), and explain how I became one without even knowing it. What a pleasant surprise! Nothing like having a goal and realizing you are already there!
I find the best way to allow yourself permission to be teachable is either acknowledging the desire and need to learn or finding yourself in stories about other people and applying it to your own life.
1. Live A Life Of Character:
- Recognize the power of your gestures.
- Do not compromise.
- Practice: humility, honesty, and awareness.
- Think about your thinking.
- Learn from others’ experiences.
- What do you spend most of your time on? Is it important?
- Be steadfast, strong, in control, and always learning.
“Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.” (Mat. 5:37)
This one was a bitch slap right in my face ………
If Mike Tyson was the one bitch slapping me ……
Not 1988 me, 1988 him.
We all think we are good people.
If we didn’t we would change, right?
What we fail to recognize is it really doesn’t matter if you are a good person, if you do bad things. Barry Bonds is the greatest hitter of all times, but if he didn’t get a hit what would he be? Exactly, a should-have-been. That’s what we do to ourselves when we don’t live a life of character. We are should-have-beens.
They are great, but.
Without character, you are a “but” head. Just imagine Biff Tannen walking around with you all day:
“What are you doing butthead?”
“You sure you want to do that butthead?”
“Are you thinking about your family butthead?
“Are you thinking about your legacy butthead?
We operate in the shadows. If people don’t see it, it doesn’t count, right? That’s a negative Ghost Rider. It counts even more, because it means you are lacking character. You are a phony. You are a fake. You present one thing, you say one thing, then you turn around and do another. You are like a famous comedian that preaches family values, goes after other comedians publicly, then gives chicks drugs and humps them. Are those family values? We have an emergency Dr. Huxtable!
If no one knows, does it count?
If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?
The answer is: FUCK YES IT DOES!!
You think it is all about you? If YOU didn’t see it? If YOU didn’t hear it? Whether you see it happen or not, the repercussions of a fallen tree will still be there: a shattered trunk, crushed trees around it, years of growth and stability gone, homes of little woodland creatures destroyed. Poor squirrels.
And what do you say? But I didn’t see it. Maybe it didn’t happen.
Go fuck yourself you jerk-off.
I am a good person. Really I am. I care about people. I hate when I hurt people’s feelings. I love my wife. I love my daughters. I love all my friends and family. But if a tree falls in the woods ……..
We spin the shitty situations we put ourselves in so we don’t have to feel bad.
If we held a mirror up to our actions, or if we let other people see the stupid shit we are doing, we would puke. Instead, we tell ourselves it’s not that bad. We don’t tell anyone the bullshit we are doing, and we keep doing it. Better than feeling bad, right? Why bring yourself down? That’s no fun.
Bring yourself down.
There is an unbelievable freedom in living a life of character. No secrets? The feeling of knowing you are doing everything the right way? Not just by your biased standards, but by those around you? Holy shit. It is amazing. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! It’s freedom. It’s freedom within the freedom. Like uber freedom!! (not the app).
We all have freedom to do pretty much whatever we want. Most people choose poorly: they eat like shit, work like shit, fill their minds with shit like bad TV, bullshit web searching, porn, treating their bodies bad, and treating their relationships bad. We have all the freedom in the world, and we shackle ourselves with the decisions we make EVERY SINGLE DAY.
There are a lot of losers out there.
You may be one of them.
You may think I am still one, but I don’t care, because I know I’m not. Why? How? Because I live a life of character. I have no secrets, I do everything with integrity, I audit my time and my interactions with people both personally and professionally, and I am grateful for everything I have. I am cool. Joe Cool. Or Joey Cool (don’t want to piss off Snoopy).
You need to audit yourself consistently to make sure you are living a life of character. Check all the time. We are creatures of habit, creatures of conditioning. You can condition yourself right in to and right out of just about anything, good or bad. If you don’t audit, you could be going off in a direction you wouldn’t or shouldn’t. Reflection is key. Evaluate perspectives. Adjust. Tweak. Get better. Be better. Consistently.
If things in your life are not the way you want, or envisioned, audit. Audit everything! Don’t have the marriage you want? Audit yourself. Messed up kids? Audit yourself. Not enough time in the day? Audit. Not enough money? Audit! Fix you, then you can fix IT.
You may need to really sit down and evaluate who you are. You may not know. I didn’t. My wife was the first relationship that allowed me to be me. The problem was, I didn’t know who I was. I always thought relationships were the ebb and flow of who you are to keep the peace. What if you could be 100% all the time? Holy shit. New concept. Maybe that’s why they say good relationships are easy. You can just be you. That’s seems pretty easy. But what if you don’t know who you are? What if part of you is an asshole? Then you need to fix it. Audit yourself.
Once you audit, you NEVER compromise. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. When you leave a crack in the door, it’s much easier to blow right open. If you close it all the way, it stays shut. That’s where I really messed up. My no’s ended up being maybes because I left the door slightly open. I didn’t slam it shut when I should have, and it became a yes. It slowly opens, a little wider, then a little bit more, then all of a sudden, shit, it’s open, it’s a yes. Damnit. But I’m a good person! Well, not right now you aren’t. Actions speak louder than words.
How do you live a life of character?
I’m glad you asked.
Do what is in the best interest of you (the good you, not the selfish dickhead you), do what is best for your family, do what is best for your friends, your company, your clients, the random person walking down the street. That’s character. That’s integrity. NEVER compromise. You will be better for it. Your loved ones will be better for it. Everything will be better! Your LIFE will be better. You can walk around with your head held high because the sunlight feels so damn good!
Shadows are cold.
Darkness is lonely.
Step out and let the rays of light warm you, energize you, and show you what the world can be, and should be.
I wish I had this knowledge 20 years ago. Instead, I learned it the hard way. You don’t have to have the same regrets I do. You can learn from my mistakes, my experiences. Change is good. Live A Life Of Character.