Know Thyself

Recently I came across a play where one character had been adopted and he asked another character, who knew his origins, “Can you tell me who I am?” and I thought, “Now there’s an interesting sentiment! How can someone possibly know you better than you who you are?” I mean to ask another who you are! Isn’t that the greatest irony of all. Shouldn’t you know who you are better than anybody else? But at the same time I was struck by the thought that one knows himself only in relation to others. It is through communication with others that we are able to discover our own selves. Each person is a mirror and they reflect an image of yourself to you. Conversely you act as a mirror and show them an image of their selves. Depending on mood, this image is interpreted in a specific way and bounced back accordingly.

Others tell us who we are. Not only in words, but in glances, facial expressions, and gestures. Thank God for others! Can you imagine living in a deserted island without any other people? You would not be able to know who you are! Well, in that case I suppose you could always resort to meditation, or “self-reflection.” As most people, I personally prefer both, the company and good conversation of other people, and sometimes I like being quiet and reflective. The ancients had a proverb, “know thyself.”  True indeed, I believe the best kind of knowledge is not that of science or mathematics, but it is the knowledge of your identity, your personality, your self.

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Responsibilities and Expectations

(this entry is a post from a previous blog of mine)

If you think about it, if you have no responsibilities and nothing is expected out of you in life, you are in big trouble. At first, you might think that you’re on easy street, but did you know that an “easy life” soon enough turns into a “hard life.” Yes, in another sense, an easy life, ie a life without responsibilities and expectations, is a hard life.  It is one’s responsibilities that keep one going. If you think, “I have to do this, because it matters,” you will be much more driven than if you think, “oh, I can do this today, but who’ll notice?” Likewise is the expectations that others put on you that keep you feeling important. If nothing is expected out of you in life, which may happen when somebody puts you down and expects nothing out you, (in other words you are good for nothing) you lose your sense of self-worth and feel powerless. We often equate self-worth and happiness with work. Indeed, for we work not only to put bread on the table, but we work to feed ourselves mentally and spiritually.

Lessons are earned, not learned.

“Lessons are earned, not learned,” (G Shetuni). Let us examine this quote a little bit. I think it is true, that lessons are earned through painful experience. For example when you are a kid, your parents may teach you: “Don’t go near the fire because it is hot.” But you probably won’t listen! And so you wind up going next to the fireplace and stick your hand above it, and you learn for yourself that fire is hot and potentially dangerous. But you earned that knowledge, by almost burning yourself; you didn’t learn it from what mom or dad may have told you.

Another example, let’s say the speed limit reads “35”  and you do “55”, and a cop pulls you over and hands you a speeding ticket. The lesson here is: “Don’t speed!” But didn’t your parents, and your friends tell you not to speed before you got that ticket? Of course! It’s common knowledge. But earned knowledge is far more powerful than learned knowledge. Learned knowledge is easily stepped over, earned knowledge stays with you, and makes you wiser and stronger.

Another example, let’s say you believe “the grass is greener on the other side.” For example, let’s say you live in a small town, but believe the grass is greener in New York. So you just have to go there! But then, after living in the big apple a few months, you realize your hometown ain’t so bad, and that life in the big city ain’t all you thought it was. And so you learned that the grass is not greener on the other side. But did you really learn this lesson? No, you didn’t learn it! You earned it! By going to New York and painstakingly seeing for yourself. Lessons are earned not learned.

What goes into making a good life?

What makes for a good life? Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that a well rounded life is better than a life “out of balance.” For example, all work and no play is bad. Likewise all play and no work is not the ideal life. So, as I see it, when it comes to living well, it is better to put each of your eggs in different baskets rather than all of your eggs in one basket. Some of each thing is better than all of  just one thing. Here is a list I came up of things that I value and I believe should go into making a good life.

You need some fun and excitement in your life.

You need some love in your life.

You need some friendship in your life.

You need some stability and routine in your life.

You need some rest in your life.

You need some work in your life.

You need some hobbies and entertainment in your life.

You need some challenge and growth in your life.

Did I forget anything? I am sure this is not a comprehensive list of the features of a good, well rounded life. But it is a start. I encourage you to come up with some things that are important to you that you want to incorporate in your life. Share them in the comments.

motivational quotes 12/23/14

Don’t turn into a cynic.

Daily life is happiness to me.

You can’t enjoy pleasure because it’s always accompanied by pressure.

Don’t allow yourself to be idle.

Be mindful.

Stand for something.

Embrace your nature. (Gretchen Rubin)

No guts no glory (folk)

Try really hard.

If you can take the blame people will give you the responsibility. (Gretchen Rubin)