Realm—king and queen

Realm

You are the ruler of your realm.

It may not always feel that way, but, if you think about it, everything you come across is part of who you are, part of your life experience, part of your own little empire.

From that perspective, we are all responsible for our interactions, our perceptions, our feelings, and our experiences; they are the elements of our realms, and we are the monarchs.

We can decide what kind of rulers we will be. We can be hands-on benevolent rulers who take responsibility for our realms and don’t abdicate our duty. Or we can be thoughtless rulers who don’t pay attention to the business of our realms and let others determine their fate.

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Friend. Two friends embracing each other outdoors

Friend

We all have people in our lives—people who are important to us, people we spend time with, people we care about.

There are lots of ways we might characterize these relationships—acquaintances, colleagues, teammates—but how many of them are friends?

We tend to use the word friend without a lot of thought. It’s a very common word, and we tend to use it rather loosely, but I think it can be helpful to dig in to what it really means to have a friend. What does friendship mean to you?

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Hero. Fireman Rescuing a Baby From Burning House

Hero

The meanings of certain words have been diluted in this age of instantaneous information. People throw the them around without a thought to their meaning or their impact. To me, “hero” is an important example.

In the past, I tended to cringe whenever I heard the word “hero,” mainly because I heard it so much. It used to be reserved for those among us who did truly extraordinary things or were able to get jobs done in extremely trying circumstances.

So what is the essence of acting heroically? Is it overcoming fear? Is it committing fully to a course of action? Is it going the extra mile? It may be all of these, some combination, or something entirely different. The essence of heroism is inherently ineffable. If it was something that could be measured or taught, it would lose its mystique.

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Beginnings. Young woman sitting and looking through window

Beginnings

Have you ever found yourself going down a path that you know isn’t right?

We may feel we’re stuck on that path, that the events that led us here will lead us relentlessly in the same direction.

We may feel that we’ve messed up, or dropped the ball, and that we can’t escape the consequences.

I’ve had several times in my life when I knew (or later realized) that I was on the wrong path—that I had done, or was still doing, something stupid (smoking, staying in unhealthy relationships, making poor choices). But I was shortsighted or pigheaded or oblivious—or a combination of the three.

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Woman volunteering at community soup kitchen

Action

Walking the walk and talking the talk.

Do you act on what is important to you, or are your values more of a feeling?

I write a lot about values, thoughts, and emotions, but what does all this mean in terms of how we interact with the world? Does it translate into a foundation for our actions?

What we do on a day-to-day basis matters. Taking the extra step when it’s consistent with our worldview or values is important.

In our busy society, we are constantly working the margins of time management. We try to make every second matter so that we can add to our stock of available time (see time). We get irritated if we lose a few seconds at a stoplight or if we have a slow driver in front of us. With this mind-set, it can be hard to take advantage of unscheduled opportunities to act on our values and to step up when we see a need.

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