In a culture where people compete with one another for the status of “greatest victim,” we seem to be concerned mainly that others haven’t given us what we deserve. But if our lives as a whole were considered, would we really want what we deserve?
Whatever we do, we do it better when we do it eagerly rather than reluctantly. Obstacles are overcome more easily, cooperation from others is gained more freely, and satisfaction is experienced more deeply when eagerness is a part of our approach.
Often without realizing it, the thing we share with others is fear, rather than courage. But folks usually have enough fears of their own. So Robert Louis Stevenson gave good advice when he said, “Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage.”
Finding worthy things to like and fully appreciating them is worth the effort. So let’s set ourselves a goal: let’s aspire to be people who’re defined by both the goodness of the things we love and the depth of our appreciation for every one of them.
It makes a lot of sense to do three things: (1) nourish high expectations of ourselves, (2) surround ourselves with friends who’ll keep our expectations high, and (3) influence others to expect higher things for themselves. Let’s encourage hope!
I like Calvin Miller’s suggestion: “Joy intrigues.” That’s it, isn’t it? Aren’t we most powerfully intrigued by those who, despite the ups and downs and the occasional unhappiness of life, drink deeply of a joy that seems to be theirs no matter what?
We’re only here for a short time, so it makes sense to work efficiently. If by working efficiently, we can reach the end of our lives having done more good than by working any other way, that’s a pretty sound argument for being efficient.
Anytime we make a choice, our lives expand. As we move forward along the path we’ve chosen, new elements are added to our experience that weren’t there before. But also, our lives contract. The path that we didn’t take is no longer a possibility.
While the difference between the polite and the impolite may sometimes seem too small to be significant, that’s not an argument for discarding the idea of politeness. In fact, it may be the little acts of politeness that matter the most.
It’s important that we engage in self-examination. When Socrates said “the unexamined life is not worth living,” he wasn’t talking about making someone else’s life more worthy by examining it! Our progress in life depends on scrutinizing OURSELVES.