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.
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?
Are you satisfied with what you’ve accomplished in life? Do you think or talk about it a lot?
Pride is a double-edged sword. It has historically been considered an undesirable trait, while humility has been considered a virtue. The “sin of pride” is one of the seven deadly sins. However, in this context, pride is a relative term—we would have to feel we’re better than other people. It could also be interpreted as arrogance, which takes that superior feeling one step further—to acting superior or saying that we’re superior.
Pride can also have positive connotations. The positive feelings that come from knowing we did something well or achieved something are part of our motivation for doing those things. Pride gives us confidence. It can be the foundation for our belief in ourselves and our ability.
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.
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.