“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” —Matthew 5:42
A man came to me today and asked for help.
- I did not fear him.
- I did not judge him.
- I blessed him.
- I gave freely.
The world is only as treacherous or as sad as we choose to make it. Just as we can make our own lives more difficult through poor decisions and bountiful with wise decisions, we have the same power to do so for others.
Leave judgments of all kinds behind. It matters not how well you can debate or reason anyway. You cannot change the mind of a person who does not desire change. It is better then to be silent and hold your tongue.
So, people remain the same until they are finally ready and willing to question everything around them. Harbor no resentment. Treat them with kindness and always better than they treat you.
- Do not give with the hope to change the world—it will always be as it is— full of fortune and misfortune.
- Do not give to feel better about yourself. You cannot purchase a lasting purpose.
- Do not give in the hope of recognition. You cannot buy admiration—you can only inspire it.
- In all ways, I say give to relieve suffering. That is enough.
It’s not a responsibility of ours to determine who deserves favor. Generosity is a gift you can give to whoever you please. But it is a gift, and the greatest acts of kindness are given in unexpected and compassionate ways.
“When you look to nature you never find perfection. You find beauty. You find organization. You find purpose.”
You must stop looking for perfection in your life. You’ll just end up wasting time chasing an impossible dream.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek excellence. Push yourself and others to perform better, stronger, more amazing feats, but recognize that excellence is what you are seeking and not perfection.
Excellence is about overcoming obstacles by creating systems of success.
When we focus on perfection as our goal, we can only be disappointed and fail in our endeavors. This is because perfection can only be achieved in the imaginative minds of men and women and not in our waking world. So, stop setting yourself up for failure.
Try searching for purpose instead, and use that to drive your performance to new levels of excellence. Don’t forget, all good systems of success are based on a solid foundation of good habits.
- What’s one habit you can’t commit to accomplishing?
- What is the driving force behind your desire to change or grow?
“The universe seldom give us everything we want, but it always provides a means to get what we need.”
You don’t always have a choice of where you start in life. Sometimes you get a second chance, often you won’t. In many ways, you’re simply a garden seed thrown upon a patch of soil and left to grow or wither at your own leisure.
Nature isn’t all that concerned with the individual. You’re one of many, and therefore nature spends its time making life better for the many—evolving resistance to disease for example, but not planning you a happy life of pleasure.
You of course have the choice to lie down and wait for the good things to come your way—but they won’t. You could also recognize that there is no grand universal agenda holding you back—that’s a start.
Well, there is one agenda holding you back—but’s that’s you. It’s your prerogative to decide how you wish to frame your life. Are you a victim or a warrior? Are you resilient enough to own your life and pilot your way through the rough and stormy seas?
So, that’s where you are today. You’re in a sea of possibilities. For many of you there is a tempest brewing and your life is on the edge of despair. What are you going to do? Your life is in danger of falling apart.
- Do you remain motionless in the storm and hope for the best?
- Do you prepare for the storm to get worse and adjust your heading as to avoid some likely danger ahead?
- Do you abandon ship, friends and family and hope things are better in the sea alone?
“Who are you and what do you want? These are the defining questions of this age.”
These are the important questions we answer in life through the choices we make. It’s not about who we say we are or what we say we believe. It’s about how we choose to act in the face of suffering.
- Do we separate ourselves from others?
- Do we provide reasons why others suffer?
- Do we justify our good fortune?
So, what do the answers say about you? How are you answering these questions in your mind? Do your thoughts and intentions answer these questions or is it your actions toward others (strangers, those in need, the ill, the homeless, the poor) that define you?
There is a third question that is just as important.
- Why is there a difference between how you think of yourself and the actions you take each day?
What are you going to do to become the best version of yourself?
- Who are you?
- What do you want?
“The worn stone of a statue always reminds me quite clearly that all things will fade with time.”
When we talk about what we want to leave behind when we leave this world we often talk in terms of possessions, memories and good intentions. We spend so much of our lives trying to build up this ethereal concept of “success” but the challenge is that success as a possession is unattainable.
Success can only be achieved when we recognize it as a value and not as a possession to be bought or acquired. When our focus is on merely material possessions and acquisitions we end up with nothing to leave behind.
Sure, you may leave wealth, a home, maybe even an endowment for a university, but because all you ever gathered in life was money, that’s all you’re leaving behind. Eventually, your money will be spent and your memory will fade. Then, like the unnamed gladiator’s tomb, all we will ever know of you is your tombstone, until that too fades.
There is an alternative. Live your values and teach them to others. If you leave values behind, with or without wealth, though you may be forgotten, and your money may be spent, the values and principles you teach will continue on for as long as people walk the earth. Your thoughts can be shared and live on when taught to others.
When we look back in antiquity, what has more influence today? Are the empires of even a millennia ago still here? Is their wealth still being spent by their children? No, these empires are gone. There wealth is spent and even their memorials are slowly fading.
However, their values and principles still live on as the foundations that our religions, philosophies and educational systems are built upon. That’s how you build a legacy. You create and share values and principles which bring people together and help the world—as a single community—prosper.
“I set my intention for the day: that this day should be meaningful. Meaningful means, if possible, serve and help others. If not possible, then at least not to harm others. That’s a meaningful day.” —T. Gyatso
Today, I did intend to start my day with the purpose of being meaningful. These are words to live by—inscribe then on your heart. There’s so much truth to Gyatso’s words that a meaningful existence is framed by our actions toward others.
We cannot serve meaningful lives when our focus is self-serving. That marks a significant difference between the 21st century American obsession with wealth, self and health. What I want to share is that it’s okay if things don’t go as planned.
- It’s okay to fail.
- It’s fine to mess up.
- And it’s going to be alright if you have a bad day.
We can’t control what the world throws our way. As long as we learn from mistakes we make or choose the best response to actions outside our control, there’s no point in stewing over misfortune or failure.
Today, I’ve finally surrendered to either some new seasonal allergy or an elusive summer cold and it has me struggling to breathe. It has made my last few days inconvenient, but that’s just something that happens to you like so much in life. It’s beyond my control, and as such I allow it no influence over my emotions or decision-making.
All this means is that stuff happens in life. We have to rise to the occasion and choose to respond better, kinder and wiser to these situations than others act toward us. If we don’t work on improving our response to these situations, all we can hope to contribute to the world is more discord, anger, resentment and frustration for our children to resolve.
“One day of neglect is the first sign of the beginning of a lifetime of failure.”
We have to be mindful in life of the choices we make. When we give in to our desire for comfort and convenience we are making a definitive choice to neglect responsibility. All the great rewards in life require dedication and hard labor. There are no exceptions.
The danger when we neglect our responsibilities lies in the law of consequential returns. When we make a decision or an exception to not to live up to the highest standards—even if only for a single day—we begin to build a life based on convenience.
Each decision we make in life is like tending the lawn of a great garden. When we make responsible decisions to build our success—like working out or researching an assignment—it’s like mowing the garden’s lawn, and thus, you keep everything in your life well-tended and easily accessible. It’s a great position destined to make your life more productive.
Now, let’s say you decide to skip this weekend on mowing the garden. Then, you’re called out of town or maybe it rains the following week. Before you know it, you have a field where a garden once stood. The benches are now hidden in the grass. The rose bushes spread into the weeds, and your life has gotten more difficult. What would have taken you an hour to mow, will now take you an entire weekend. Some will just give up on the garden at this point.
That’s the risk you take when you choose convenience. You set the expectation that at some point success is not worth pursuing.