You are about to read what I believe to be 10 of the wisest concepts, ideas, or philosophical frameworks that a human being can adopt for becoming their most effective, efficient, adaptive, and joyful selves.
I know, it’s quite a statement. But hear me out. Time and time again, I see that whenever people adopt and act on any one of these concepts, life begins to really work for them.
That is to say, they achieve more in less time, are less dominated by fear, guilt, or regret, embody greater confidence in being and expressing themselves, are more adaptable to change, and experience life with more gratitude, acceptance, joy, and meaning.
Now I’m not saying that these are the only, best, or most accurate concepts one can live by. Nor should they be confused as my attempt to define what the true/right way to do things is.
Truth be told, I don’t really care whether they’re true or not. Because for as long as they serve or work for me, as they have, I’ll keep living by them. Hence the first precept:
1. What Works is Right and What is Right Works
What’s more important? Getting things to work, or looking for ways to be right?
To assume the position of the former, is to think in terms of functionality, instead of wrong vs. right morality. That is to say, you judge things based on whether something works for you or not (relative to your outcomes), rather than whether they square with some arbitrary authority figure’s set of black and white principles.
To take the position of the latter on the other hand, is akin to asking, “Which way is the right way to build an aircraft? The Christian way, or the Buddhist way?” It’s neither. There’s only one way to build a plane. In the way that it works. And because there is more than just one way to build a working plane, all of them are right.
Adopting a functional approach allows us to collaborate, and even healthily compete, in coming up with ever-evolving solutions (better ways of doing things). It’s only the ego that has a vested interest in being right, but when did being right ever work for anyone?
Message: Am I saying that to be functionally oriented is better than to be morally oriented? Not at all. In fact, it just so happens that doing what works is usually the right thing to do and to do the right thing is the only way that works
2. Nothing is Permanent, Lasts, or Stays the Same
Acknowledging the fact that nothing is permanent, or that things are constantly changing, gives us the advantage of doing/remembering 3 things: 1) to make the most of the present moment, 2) that we can overcome almost anything, and 3) that no decision is permanent.
When we know that this moment, however enjoyable, will come to an end, like all good things, the more we tend to embrace the present moment.
When we know that whatever we’re going through right now, no matter how physically or psychologically challenging, won’t last forever, we are more likely to overcome it.
And when we realise we can change our minds/things at anytime, we will stop obsessing over making the so-called right decision and simply choose again.
Because to the degree that we become attached (and refuse to let go of) to that which we want and to the extent that we believe that our pain or decisions are permanent, is the extent to which suffering, in one form or another, will dominate our experience.
Message: if you’re going through something unimaginable right now, know that nothing lasts. If you’re enjoying life right now, remember not to take it for granted. And if you can’t make up your mind, remember, you can always choose again.
3. A Master Prefers What Occurs
To prefer what occurs in your life, is to not only accept things as they are, but to prefer things as they are. This means that instead of wanting what could be, you want what is.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have any goals or aspirations, but because you have goals and aspirations, you know and trust life enough to bring you what you need most in every single moment of now for their felicitous fulfilment.
Your present experience is the result of life mirroring with perfect accuracy your perceptions and actions as feedback relative to your intentions for it. That is to say, in any given moment, you are receiving the exact feedback necessary to establish one of two things: whether or not your current approach is working or if you even still want what you say you want.
So to prefer whatever occurs, is to want what’s best for you. And what’s best for you, is whatever helps you break through the illusions surrounding your intentions and/or efforts in your attempt to fulfil them. To the extent that you can use the feedback from your efforts to get or change what you want in life, is the extent to which you can prefer, what occurs.
Message: life knows best, and works perfectly exactly as it is. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to get anything to work. Its feedback is as consistent as our ability to learn. If something isn’t working, we haven’t yet figured out how things actually work. So to the degree that we put our feedback to good use, we will get anything to work.
4. You Are Always Led to The Truth For Which You Are Ready
This statement follows directly from the previous one, a master prefers what occurs as he/she is always led to the truth for which he/she is ready.
I believe that your experience of life right now is a direct reflection of your actions (as sponsored by your perceptions) and that life is constantly bringing you the opportunity to break through whatever illusions you may presently be entertaining as truth.
Message: everything is exactly as it should be and comes to you at the perfect time relative to your intentions and actions. You are experiencing exactly what you’re experiencing as a reflection of where you’re at in your life. If this wasn’t true, you wouldn’t be experiencing it.
5. Nothing Is a Waste, Everything Serves
Nothing you do is a waste of time. Every experience, no matter how distorted, dissociative, or fragmented, can and does serve you in one way or another. The only reason we feel something is or has been a waste of time is because we’re not happy with the outcome of a choice we made. One that usually had an alternative.
But if you remember my previous point, this is exactly as it should be. Because at its worst, you learned and reinforced in one way or another what you want and/or don’t want, who you are and/or who you aren’t. Making it easier and more efficient for you to choose better.
Because the nature of our experience is fragmented, and thus only see and focus on a few things to the exclusion of others, we don’t always have a balanced perspective. So the reason we feel that something is a waste of time is because we don’t see the value of our current experience as compared to what we thought we could’ve or would’ve experienced.
Message: nothing is a waste, not your money, time, or efforts. Every experience serves and is of equal value, you just gotta look for it and learn to just go with it. The only waste would be to fail to take anything away from your experience.
6. You Can Learn, Create, and Re-create Anything
We have the capacity to learn how to do, be, or have anything we want. And whatever we learn about we tend to create or bring about, and whatever we’ve created once, we can create again. This is astonishing as it speaks of our true capacity as human beings.
Because the more we learn the more we can create, and the more we create, the more we can recreate. And the more we learn how to recreate, the more we realise that we are the source of whatever it is that we want.
Which is probably the most powerful thing you can realise as this liberates you from the fear that you are going to or can lose something. Even though the idea of loss is itself an illusion, to know that you can simply recreate whatever you think you’re missing or have lost, is to become your most powerful self.
Message: the greatest human skill is learning how to recreate what you love to do, be, and have most. The more you learn how to recreate, the less you fear losing anything and the more you become the source for everything you want in your life.
7. There Is Only This Moment, All Else Is Illusory
We’ve all heard this before. But very few grasp the importance and implications of this truth.
When we realise that the only moment in which we are is the only moment, no experience apart from this present experience, and no other time than right now, we begin to feel liberated from our insatiable need for better, more, and other.
Again, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aspire for better, more, and other, but so long as we remain attached to living in the past (memories) and/or thinking about the future (imagination) at the expense of the present, when so-called better, more, and other arrives, we won’t even know it as we’re always where we never are, the present moment.
But neither do I think we should be living in the present moment all of the time either. Learning, retrospection, comparative analysis, planning, and imagination are capacities of the human mind almost exclusive to our species of primate and should be explored and developed to their fullest capacity.
Our ability thus as humans to live in the moment, and to explore, use, and develop the mind to its fullest degree, is to master the human experience.
Message: there is no experience or moment other or better than this one, there is only your ever-changing judgements of it. But judge it we must, for if we are to change our external conditions, we need to compare what is with what could be.
8. You’re Only Competing With Others When You’re Not Being Yourself
Because superiority is a hierarchical conception existing only in the mind, and that not one single human being is or can be the same, in any way whatsoever, as another, the idea that one’s worth can be determined relative to others against some arbitrary and so-called gold standard of life, is ridiculous.
To understand this is to realise that to compete for reasons other than the improvement of self by way of using those above you for inspiration (to push you beyond your own limitations) and those below you for affirmation (to remind you of how far you’ve come), is to miss the point completely.
Taking competition therefore too seriously in your attempt to imitate or one-up your opponent is symptomatic of having confused self with other, uniqueness with uniformness, and is thus a futile attempt to be that which you are not. Hence the saying, you can only truly compete when you’re not being yourself.
Message: the purpose of competition, is not to imitate or one-up our opponent, but to bring out the best and unique version of that which we admire in others in ourselves. We use envy of those above us and humility of those below us to fuel this process.
9. Everything is of Equal (Or Of No) Value
What we value in life is determined by our perception of lack. So to the degree that you perceive something as missing in your life is to the degree that you will value it. And what you see as missing in your life is unique to you and you only as dictated by your perception.
So because nothing in life has any real intrinsic value (or is of equal value, depending on how you look at it), except the value as projected by our needs, desires, and perceptions, the idea that there’s something superior or inferior to do, be, or have is an utter illusion.
There isn’t anything more important than anything else, except to the unique individual. When you get this you stop judging yourself for the things you deem important and you begin to honour where you’re at in your life relative to others.
Message: whether you discovered the cure for cancer, cooked someone a meal, or made someone laugh, to the right person, at the right time, it means the world. It’s all valuable. What you do isn’t more or less important than what anyone else is doing.
10. You Are Not What You Do, But What You Enjoy
If you are what you do, then you’ll have to take into account everything you’ve ever done and achieved for that assessment to have any merit. Because what you’ll find is that you’ve done and achieved a gazillion things in your life starting from birth. Which ones are you exactly?
That’s right. All, and none of them. But it gets more interesting than that. If you are the sum total of everything you’ve ever done and not done, then what you ARE really, is that which gives rise to the doing. Because it’s the only thing that seems to be ever present, or constant.
So if this is true, which I believe it is, that we are not what we do or achieve, but that which gives rise to the doing, then it’s crucial that we realise that we are always that, and that there’s never a time that we aren’t who we really are. How cool is that?
Message: you already are everything you seek to be, all you’re doing is finding a way to experience that. And experience we must. The only difference is that your efforts are now sponsored by desire and love instead of fear and lack.
You don’t run around trying to prove yourself to anyone anymore, rather, you’re seeking the best possible way to experience the joy of who you really (already) are. It is thus more accurate to say: you are not what you do, but what you enjoy.