“Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been.”
– Marcus Aurelius
Greetings from LA and Oahu!
This week we’re discussing the proper response to doom & gloom, Seligman’s three lives (which is best and which is worst), and why focussing on obstacles is a great way to… well, find more obstacles (the opposite is also true).
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Doom & Gloom Goes Boom
If you’ve spent much time reading the news, then you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that, according to Letter.ly, 90% of all media news is negative.
Just the other day I was doing some reading about climate change.
After 30 minutes, I’d found that I’d gone too deep. I started worrying about things that I had no control over.
So I took a step back.
I looked outside.
And I reminded myself that right now… all is well and I am safe.
There’s a lot of doom and gloom peddling these days.
Maybe those headlines are right. Maybe we are all doomed.
But what does it matter?
Either way, we respond by…
- Doing our part toward fixing the problem.
- Moving on with our lives.
That’s all we can ever do. We might wish that we could single-handedly fix climate change, or the war in Ukraine, or other depressing world-wide (or personal) events… but we can’t.
All we can do is maintain our own integrity by doing our part.
Sometimes that means donating to relevant charities, sending letters to political leaders, or buying more sustainable products.
Ultimately, we shouldn’t worry. We should take action. And then we should move on with our lives.
Here’s how Marcus Aurelius puts it:
“The first step: Don’t be anxious. Nature controls it all. And before long you’ll be no one, nowhere—like Hadrian, like Augustus. The second step: Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy.”
Seligman’s Three Lives
In 2002, Martin E. P. Seligman published an article titled, Pleasure, Meaning & Eudaimonia, where he argues that a) pleasure is not the same as happiness and b) eudaimonia predicts life satisfaction.
What is eudaimonia?
Aristotle believed “eudaimonia” (a greek word literally meaning ‘good spirit’) to be the highest, more desirable form of human happiness.
The word refers to (according to Britannica) “human good that is desirable for its own sake (as an end in itself) rather than for the sake of something else (as a means toward some other end).”
Ultimately, Seligman identified three paths to happiness…
Pleasure — “consisting in having as many pleasures as possible and having the skills to amplify the pleasures. This is, of course, the only true kind of happiness on the Hollywood view.”
The Good Life — “consists in knowing what your signature strengths are, and then recrafting your work, love, friendship, leisure and parenting to use those strengths to have more flow in life.”
The Meaningful Life (eudaimonia) — “consists of using your signature strengths in the service of something that you believe is larger than you are.”
According to research, the path that leads to the most life satisfaction is the third and final path. When we use our skills and strengths toward something we believe to be meaningful, we experience more joy and hope than if we pursued the other two paths.
What does this mean for you?
Well, that’s up to you 🙂
It might be worth thinking about which of the three paths you’ve been pursuing.
And then it might be worth considering how you could upgrade to living a life that is more meaningful to you.
In this video, Simon Sinek explains how the human brain “cannot comprehend the negative.”
“I’ll give you an example,” he explains, “Don’t think of an elephant. You can’t tell the human brain not to do something.”
Why is this important?
Because “we very often reinforce things when we put them in the negative.”
He continues, “Skiiers know this… if you go through trees and you’re saying ‘don’t hit a tree, don’t hit a tree, don’t hit a tree’, guess what you’re watching? You’re only looking at trees. You don’t understand how anyone can skii with all these trees. As opposed to if you say ‘follow the path, follow the path, follow the path’, now you don’t see the trees, you just see the path.”
“If you focus on the obstacles, all you will see is obstacles. If you focus on the path through the trees, all you will see is path through the trees.”
What are you focussing on?
Are you focussing on the problem… or the solution?
You’ll find what you’re looking for.
Change your focus and you’ll change your direction.
Here is some other random stuff we found interesting this last week!
- Richard Coles Meets Richard Dawkins
- The Controversial Plan to Unleash the Mississippi
- What if Letterforms Had More Serifs?
Books We’re Reading
Here’s what the tribe is currently reading (let us know books you’re loving and we’ll include them in future emails!)…
- Live Happy: Ten Practices for Choosing Joy — “An eye-opening shift of perspective on the secret of authentic happiness: how surprisingly simple, everyday acts lead to lifelong joy and fulfillment, from the experts at Live Happy magazine.”
This Week’s Image
“A new view of the Cartwheel Galaxy, seen by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. The wheel-like structure of the galaxy is the result of a high-speed collision between a large spiral galaxy and a smaller galaxy not visible in this image. The Cartwheel Galaxy lies about 500 million light-years away from Earth.” via The Atlantic
This Week’s Riddle
Here’s this week’s riddle — the answer is at the bottom of the email!
Mr. Taylor has four daughters and each has a brother. In total, how many children does Mr. Taylor have?
This Week’s Journaling Prompt
Take some time to think through the following journaling prompt.
Why is it important to accept things you can’t control? How can you make better use of things you CAN control?
This Week’s Challenge
Find one way to take action on something meaningful to you. Maybe, for instance, you start recycling. Or maybe you find a charity to donate to regularly. Or maybe you start volunteering at a local food bank. Whatever it is, use it to prove to yourself that you’re the type of person who takes action on the things you care about.
Until next week,
Mike & Alec
Riddle Answer: Five children because all of his daughters have the same brother.