These Are The Most Important Things In The World

Know your priorities.

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Here are four things I never worry about:

1. What might happen to me after I die.

2. Why Lime-flavored candy does not taste anything like a lime.

3. How molecules feel about global warming.

4. When the word “boogie” will make a comeback.

I am not saying none of those things are important. I am just saying they are not important to me. Now here are 4 things that are more important than nearly anything else to me (in order of importance):

1. Philosophy. Without philosophy, I have no sense of values, ethics, moral character, or what it actually means to be human. In other words, without knowing how to think, I am of no value to myself or anyone else. This is paramount in my life–it is, to me, the essential element of being alive, of living.

2. Physical Health. After learning to be human, the next most important thing to me is to protect and value my life as a human. Understanding that my body is a bioelectrical machine means understanding it requires care and maintenance like any machine. If I am neglectful of that, I can not enjoy my life fully and, worse, I rob others of theirs by forcing them to have to care for me and worry about me.

3. Family. If know I am a decent human being and I have taken care of myself, then I know I can take care of Family and be of value to others. “Family”, to me, is not just people with the same bloodline. My family are the very close circle of people who contribute value to me, align with my goals, challenge my shortcomings, and make me want to be a better person according to my ethics and standards. My family, bloodline or not, are the people I know I can trust with the most important thing I have… my life.

4. Freedom. Once Philosophy, Physical Health, and Family are taken care of, I can turn my attention to personal freedom. Who owns my life? If it is not me, then am I okay with whoever is behind the wheel, making decisions on my behalf over the relationships, finances, and beliefs in my life? More importantly, why is it not me in any of those areas?

 

Knowing my priorities are important. These are always my priorities, by the way. I never “finish” one. They are all in flux, progressing at different speeds at different times. The point is these are the things I worry about before all else.

If I am strong in these four areas, then maybe I can start worrying why turtles try to cross highways. Don’t they know how slow they are?!?

 

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Efficient Or Together?

Is being highly effective or enjoying what you are doing more important? Well… I think it depends.

 

I love being efficient. My passion for minimalism comes from my passion for making life less complex and freeing time for things that are important.

For example, I only buy clothes that are machine washable and can be machine-dried.

This choice limits my options (being vegan and minimalist limits them even further). You might think this would make it harder to shop and choose clothes to wear but I often find limiting options grants freedom. It seems counter-intuitive but consider that limiting my options to machine wash/dry only clothes means I gain freedom over time not spent sorting laundry, finding a place to hang my wet clothes until they dry (which means more hangers or a drying rack and that means more stuff accumulating more space). Also, I don’t have to make a trip to the dry cleaner each week which frees money (dry cleaning adds up), time (no travel time to the washing machine), and space (no extra hangers and bags from the dry cleaner–no extra waste)!

Nonetheless, there are some areas where I am happy to give up efficiency. Although Nicole and I can be more efficient with weekend chores by splitting up tasks like shopping and cleaning (maybe she could buy groceries while I clean the apartment) or cooking (maybe she could cook and I could wash all the dishes after), but most of the time we do these things together. It provides us time to chat, and sometimes play or just enjoy each other’s company. Even something as mundane as grocery shopping can be a time to bond, or flirt, or laugh for us (or sometimes all three!).

Today’s lesson is: it is good to be efficient and work to simplify life… the better you are at this, the more effective you become. Just remember why you are doing it. For me, it is in part so I can be less efficient with other things, slowing down where it counts to enjoy the good (but necessary) stuff more.

 

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Today’s Lesson: Nice Shirt. [140921]

My cheap shirt annoyed me the whole time I was walking today.

 

At first thought, there was a small bug caught in it or something. With every step, something pointed seemed to rub against my chest, making me itch. I realized it was the shirt itself.

 

I have slowly been upgrading my wardrobe over the last year, replacing two or three older (usually inexpensive) items with one high-quality (usually higher-priced) item. Paying more for something is not always a smart thing to do but it does seem that better quality often comes at a higher price.

 

Adopting a minimalist approach has allowed me to have more freedom by buying less stuff (which means less stuff to store, clean, repair, upgrade, and maintain). Being minimal also allows me to spend more on the stuff that really matters to me and I am learning the difference that quality can make is astounding!

 

One thing is for sure: I am excited to put a better shirt on as soon as I get home!

 

 


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Are You Really Free (2 of 2)

Freedom is not defined by your ability to do whatever you want when you want to do it. Rather, freedom is defined by the boundaries set for you.

Put another way, the amount of freedom you have in your life does not come from not having any rules to follow—that’s Anarchy. Rather, the amount of freedom comes by clarifying the rules by which you choose to live. Freedom is not the lack of a fence to keep the wild stallions in; freedom is where you choose to build the fence.

Freedom, whether for a man or nation, is a moral and philosophical principle, then. A fence can be scaled or jumped, but there is often a penalty for doing so. Perhaps more importantly, it should be recognized the fence is there to safeguard the freedom, not to imprison or prevent the stallions from living a full life. The structure the fence provides can increase their lives and expand their livelihood not only by offering form and stability, but also by keeping the wolves and men on the other side out.

An obvious point I have not made yet is to be wary of who you allow to keep your fence. If you are giving control to another, your freedom is defined by their wisdom, ethics, and benevolence (true of man or nation), so choose carefully.

For me, personal freedom is not determined by what I can do, but by what I choose not to do. I must carefully examine my choices and actions, always, to determine if my life is working for me—that is, that my life is moving in a way which is consistent and healthful to my goals. Moreover, I must examine those choices before I make them. When faced with a moral choice, it is up to me to use foresight by considering the future I am determined to build and make a stand for it,  knowing and adhering to the defined limits of my freedom. For example, consider the following “freedom statements”, the situations that may have prompted them, and how they affect the freedom of my life (by imposing the rules by which I choose to live).

“I do not kill.” (I am not a slave to/ I am free from… my anger.)

“I do not cheat.” (I am not a slave to/ I am free from… my whimsy or unqualified desires.)

“I do not over-eat.” Or “I eat healthy/I eat consciously.” (I am not a slave to/ I am free from… my low self-esteem and negative habits.)

“I do not betray.” (I am not a slave to/ I am free from… my excuses to rationalize bad choices before I make them.)

Notice the present-tense of the statements. They do not begin with, “I will not…”; they are not a future goal I wish to achieve after the point of decision. I must, at every moment I am faced with a choice, begin with “I do not…” My freedom happens right now, right here, in the present.

I am not a slave to/ I am free from… the false luxury of an impossible future.

It is too easy to believe freedom means living without penalty or a high price for your choices, but if freedom cost nothing, it would have no value; it would be worthless to be free. Choose your boundaries and build your fences carefully, or choose carefully who will. Either way, in the end, your freedom defines what you are… or what you are not.

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Are You Really Free? (1 of 2)

Freedom does not mean doing whatever you want whenever you want and justifying it by telling yourself you are “free” to make whatever choices you wish.

Freedom is defined by the boundaries you set for yourself.

It is what you are unwilling to do that determines what you are free from, and what parts of your Self you are loyal to.

In the matter of “freedom of choice”, remember this: you do not have to keep making bad choices before you start making good ones.

Set yourself free by choosing your values and sticking to them.


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