Welcome to Zoe Meditations, where every week, I will summarize a few ideas that will help you live greater, love better and laugh more.
This week, I would like to specifically share some ideas on purpose, self compassion, meaning and facing uncertainty.
It’s been a crazy week out in the world. Coronavirus, 14 days quarantine, and countries locking down one another like an old married couple.
However, let’s not be disheartened. Let philosophy be our guide and let’s use our ‘social distancing’ time to reflect and be a better person. Just like what Waldo did…
- Finding our life purpose: According to Robin Sharma in his book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, our life’s purpose is to have a life purpose. We are happiest when we are pursuing a goal or a cause.
True, you can choose whatever purpose you want, but the best purposes are the ones that solve problems or help another person in some way.
Once you’ve set your life purpose, you need to break it down into workable goals. Workable goals have (1) time pressure (2) commitment to the public (3) measureable.
- Love yourself: According to Kristin Neff in her book Self Compassion, it’s impossible for everyone to be above average all the time. When we try to be special, we can’t see ourselves clearly. We can’t improve ourselves and reach our potential.
What you want to do instead is to cultivate the ability to accept yourself as you are, not just your good, extraordinary, and cool side, but also the bad, ordinary, and lame side.
Because let’s face it, as human beings, you contain good and bad, the touch of extraordinary and ordinary, an element of cool and lame.
So accept yourself as you are- your goodness and badness- and just love them. Love them enough that eventually. you want to have more of your good and less of your bad. You will eventually find the desire to change and improve yourself.
- Purpose in suffering: “Everything can be taken from us except for one thing,” Victor Frank once said, “to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances.”
In his book Man’s Search of Meaning, a person can find their life’s meaning (purpose) in their suffering.
Frankl noted that when humans are able to attach a higher purpose to their suffering, they will eventually find the strength to undergo their suffering, with courage and equanimity. (Think of a father who took dangerous jobs so their sons can go to school, think of a wife who would take extra jobs to medicate her sick husbands).
- The best question to ask when you are suffering: The world will try to break you. Most things that happen in life are beyond our control.
In his book Fools of Randomness, Nassim Nicholas Taleb argued that most men lived under an illusion of control: we think we are in control of our world but we don’t. The world is getting more complex and random day by day. No humans will ever find certainty.
The best question to ask when suffering strikes then is not: why does this happen to me? Or What have I done? But rather, what should I do about this?
- Simplify, simplify, simplify: The modern world contains too many choices, social pressures and complexities. As a result most humans live a confused unsatisfying life.
Greg McKeown wrote in his book that modern humans should constantly ask themselves: is this the very most important thing that I should be doing with my time?
Constantly asking yourself this question is important because our time, energy and focus are limited; but the modern world seemed to be offering unlimited choices.
McKeown then recommend us to use the following framework to navigate through this confusing life:
– Explore and evaluate: Set time to explore your options, but make sure you put a time limit there, then ask, “Is this the best possible choice I had?”
– Eliminate: cut the useless options by saying no.
– Execute: make sure that you keep your life to its essence by creating a system (what is important, what is not important).
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