by DW Green — December 1, 2021Today there will be endless interruptions: phone calls, emails, visitors, unexpected events. Booker T. Washington observed that “the number of people who stand ready to consume one’s time, to no purpose, is almost countless.”A philosopher, on the other hand, knows that their default state should be one of reflection and inner awareness. This is why they so diligently protect their personal space and thoughts from the intrusions of the world. They know that a few minutes of contemplation are worth more than any meeting or report. They also know how little time we’re actually given in life—and how quickly our stores can be depleted.While we might be good at protecting our physical property, we are far too lax at enforcing our mental boundaries. Property can be regained; there is quite a bit of it out there—some of it untouched by man. But time? Time is our most irreplaceable asset—we cannot buy more of it. We can only strive to waste as little as possible.read more
by DW Green — November 24, 2021“To live a life of gratitude is to open our eyes to the countless ways we are supported by the world around us.” ― Gregg KrechGratitude may not change what’s happening in life, but gratitude will change your relationship with it.When we learn to feel gratitude with a full heart, we are learning to love unconditionally. Living this divine love is living in grace. See the light in others and treat them as if that is all you see.Be patient and loving with every fearful thought. Practice observing your fears as a witness, and you’ll see them dissolve.I am filled with the irrevocable truth that everything-there-is is wherever we are.Intend to see the hidden beauty of all that exists—it then reveals itself.Appreciating what we take for granted helps develop a grateful disposition.
by DW Green — November 17, 2021Have you ever heard some ask: “What would you do if you found out tomorrow that you had cancer?” The question is designed to make you consider how different life might be if you were suddenly given just a few months or weeks to live. There’s nothing like a terminal illness to wake people up.But here’s the thing: you already have a terminal diagnosis. We all do! As the writer Edmund Wilson put it, “Death is one prophecy that never fails.” Every person is born with a death sentence. Each second that passes by is one you’ll never get back.Once you realize this, it will have a profound impact on what you do, say, and think. Don’t let another day tick away in ignorance of the reality that you’re a dying person. We all are. Can today be the day we stop pretending otherwise?read more
by DW Green — November 10, 2021The events that will transpire today are the same as the things that have always occurred. People living and dying, animals living and dying, clouds rolling in and rolling out, air sucked in and sucked out, as it has for aeons. This moment right now to paraphrase Emerson, is a quotation of the moments that have come before and will come ever after.This idea is expressed nowhere more beautifully than in the Christianity hymn Gloria Patri. “as it was in the beginning, and now, and always to the ages of ages.” This thought is not supposed to be depressing or uplifting. It’s just a fact. However, it can have a calming, centering effect. No need to get excited, no need to wait on pins and needles. If you haven’t seen this before, someone else has. That can be a relief.read more
by DW Green — November 3, 2021Hope is generally regarded as good. Fear is generally regarded as bad. To some, they are the same—both are projections into the future about things we do not control. Both are the enemy of this present moment that you are actually in. Both mean you’re living a life in opposite to amor fati (love of fate: the welcoming of all life’s experiences as good).It’s not about overcoming our fears but understanding that both hope and fear contain a dangerous amount of want and worry in them. And, sadly, the want is what causes the worry.read more
by DW Green — October 27, 2021An event is objective. How we describe it—that it was unfair, or it’s a great calamity or that they did it on purpose—is on us.Malcom X (then Malcom Little) went into prison as a criminal, but he left as an educated, religious, and, motivated man who would help in the struggle for civil rights. Did he suffer an evil? Or did he choose to make his experience a positive one?Acceptance isn’t passive. It’s the first step in an active process toward self-improvement.read more
by DW Green — October 20, 2021In Plutarch’s Life of Theseus, he describes how the ship of Theseus, an Athenian hero, was preserved by the people of Athens in battle-ready condition for many centuries. Each time a board decayed, it would be replaced until eventually every stick of wood in it had been replaced. Plutarch asks: Is it still the ship of Theseus, or is it a new one?In Japan, a famous ship Shinto shrine is rebuilt every twenty-three years. It’s gone through more than sixty of those cycles. Is it one shrine, 1,400 years old? Or sixty consecutive shrines? Even the U.S. Senate, given its staggered elections, could be said to have never been fully turned over. Is it the same body formed in the days of George Washington?Our understanding of what something is is just a snapshot—an ephemeral opinion. The universe is in a constant state of change. Our nails grow and are cut and keep growing. New skin replaces dead skin. Old memories are replaced by...read more
by DW Green — October 13, 2021The novelist Cormac McCarty was living in a motel room when he heard a knock at the door. It was a messenger—he’d been awarded the Macarthur “genius” grant and $250,000. Unexpected events can be good as well as bad.Who could dream of such an unexpected twist? Who but Clotho, one of the three Greek goddesses fate, who “spins” the thread of human life? To the ancients she was the one who decided the course of the events of our lives—some good, some bad. As the playwright Aeschylus wrote, “When the gods send evil, one cannot escape it.” The dame was true for great destiny and good fortune.Their resigned attitude might seem strange to us today, but they understood who was really in control (not them, not us!). No amount of prosperity, no amount of difficultly, is certain or forever. A triumph becomes a trial, a trial becomes a triumph. Life can change in an instant. Remember, today, how often it does.read more
by DW Green — October 6, 2021When people say change is good, they’re usually trying to reassure someone (or themselves). Because instinctively we view change as bad—or at least we’re suspicious of it.Consider doing away with those labels altogether. Change isn’t good. The status quo isn’t bad. They just are.Remember, events are objective. It’s only our opinion that says something is good or bad (and thus worth fighting against or fighting for). A better attitude? To decide to make the most of everything. But to do that you must first cease fighting.read more
by DW Green — September 29, 2021
Something happened that we wish had not. Which of these is easiest to change: our opinion or the event that is past?
The answer is obvious. Accept what happened and change your wish that it had not happened. Stoicism calls this the “art of acquiescence”—to accept rather than fight every little thing.
And most practiced Stoics take it a step further. Instead of simply accepting what happens, they urge us to actually enjoy what has happened—whatever it is. Nietzsche, many centuries later, coined the perfect expression to capture this idea: amor fati (a love of fate). It’s not just accepting, it’s loving everything that happens.
To wish for what has happened to happen is a clever way to avoid disappointment because nothing is contrary to your desires. But to actually feel gratitude for what happens? To love it? That’s a recipe for happiness and joy.read more