Self Discipline

Do or do not, there is no try” – Yoda

Self Discipline is often the one single element that determines success in life. The act of self control is the ability to move in a direction despite internal resistance. Self discipline provides the momentum and drive to keep going and to follow through in the promises that we make to ourselves and others. When others are not looking or directing us to do something it is self discipline that we draw on.  We may not want to get out of bed in the morning to shiver in the cold, the thought of working when we could be resting might not appeal yet we do it.  The only thing preventing us from making the wrong or most preferred decisions and taking the easy option is Self Discipline.

 

“With self discipline almost anything is possible” – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Hard Benefits

The benefits of self discipline extend in to all aspects of our lives and lead to success in virtually every endeavor. Self disciplined individuals are more focused on their task. They are committed to achieving desired outcomes and will stick with a task to the end. Being driven they will often lead from the front. Self disciplined people are less impulsive and more in tune with their emotions, they are less likely to lose their temper or panic. Being motivated and mission orientated means more efficiency and productivity; time wastage is reduced. The self disciplined often seem to have more free time and are less stressed and more in control of their lives than those that are ill disciplined. Besides being successful, those with self discipline are also happier.

Self Discipline is the ability to conquer one’s self and to hold that fort indefinitely. It is about owning ourselves and taking charge of our thoughts, words and actions.

 

In reading the lives of great me, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves…self discipline with all of them came first” – Harry S Truman

 

Taught not enforced

Self Discipline is a key Jedi Trait. Without it a prospective Jedi would be unable to complete the rigorous training and character formation required to be a Jedi Knight. Luke Skywalker lacked self discipline when he first met Obi-wan Kenobi on Tatoouine. He was impatient and impulsive and highly idealistic.

By the time Luke met Yoda on Dagobah he was no longer a young and inexperienced farm-hand but he still required training in self discipline. Luke had been through some adventures and had lived through some close calls. Among other things Luke had destroyed the Death Star during the Battle of Yavin. Quickly ascending the ranks of the Rebel alliance Skywalker continued to see action including a decisive battle on the frozen planet of Hoth. Despite his military rank and  war experience, Luke still lacked self discipline until Yoda began to train him on Dagobah.

Although some people have inherent self control, self discipline is generally inspired and taught by others. We see the benefits through positive example and with guidance from good mentors we learn the art and skill of self discipline. A Karate instructor  for example will teach his students self discipline through constant positive reinforcement, mentoring and instruction. The students observe the instructor and through example and encouragement begin to apply the skill in their training. With time and practice the skill translates in to other areas of life such as study, work and relationships.

 

I think self discipline is something, it’s like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets” – Daniel Goldstein

 

 

“Disciplined”

When I was young I was impatient and ill disciplined. I also had beliefs and opinions on things I largely knew little about. Schooling was disciplined. Corporal punishment was still used then and I was no stranger to the cane. My father also had very strict rules and did not hesitate to enforce them with a heavy hand. In the Army the practice of “hazing”, “blanket bashing” and physical punishments from NCO’s including beatings was still common practice. The culture still a few years from being pushed in to the shadows. As in school I continued to learn lessons the “hard” way and after a while became numb to the abuse.

In order to function I turned to booze. Alcohol became a readily available means of blocking out the world; I could care less when I was drunk. My mind would no longer torment me and I neither could the world. This was not an environment for self discipline. I was bent till I snapped.

 

Tenacity

Despite being served up plenty of discipline I was never taught self discipline. Many years later I came to realize that even as a mature adult I was completely devoid of self discipline, it had never been instilled in me. Not by teachers, parents or my superiors in the military. Yes, I could get out of bed in the morning and go to work, even inebriated from the night before, but that was fear in action, not self discipline. I could take order begrudgingly but that was because I had to, not because I wanted to. Making my bed every day and having a “clean cut” appearance despite hangovers was not self discipline it was habit.

Being able to have the self control to drink in moderation and go to bed early enough to wake up in a condition “fit for work” is “self discipline”. I failed there many times and eventually ran out of chances with frustrated and exasperated employers who had given me many chances. Allocating time and setting priorities to ensure assignments were submitted on time and being fully prepared for exams at University is self discipline. Procrastinating until the last minute and then cursing my stupidity through the fog and misery of a hangover was not. By some miracle I was able to complete my studies and earn a degree. Tenacity is also trait common in Alcoholics.

 

Self disciplined begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can control what you do. Simply, self discipline enables you to think first and act afterwards” – Napoleon Hill

 

Will Power

Trying to get sober on will power alone taught me an important lesson; self discipline is not enough especially when you don’t have any. Where alcohol is concerned, the moral and intellectual will power that is required for self discipline is often missing. Alcohol tends to short fuse that part of our brain. Every good intent is thrown out of the window for no rational reason. It just does, we cannot explain it.  We can have the most important day of our life planned and prepared for and then someone hands us a drink and we fail to show up.

On the night before my wedding, my best man was wise enough to cut my supply of booze and insist I get to bed early. I never realized it at the time but he knew that he would have had hell to pay if I’d missed the ceremony or arrived red eyed and stinking. Compliance was granted because I could follow orders easily when they made sense, I was lousy at regulating myself if left alone without someone telling me what to do.

It was not my fault, I just didn’t know. People would say “you were a professional soldier, didn’t they teach you discipline?” If that meant blind obedience to orders, then yes; the Army wants people who unquestioningly follow orders especially when instinct is screaming no. For a start, pointing a rifle at another human and firing “center of body mass” is not a natural thing for most people. Self discipline is different and based on what we want to do, not what we are forced or compelled to do due to fear or blind obedience. One cannot have self discipline forced on or beaten in to them. Even the indoctrinated can eventually see through falsehoods.

Being self disciplined is being able to self regulate. No one need look over our shoulder or check what we are doing. The assumption is that a person with self discipline and integrity can be left alone to do their task or fulfill a promise. With recovery we start to learn the benefits of self discipline. Like any skill it takes time and practice to become second nature. Once we develop self discipline we find we are able to do things that previously we were unable or unwilling to do without being pushed or forced to do. The mental barriers that prevent us from our goals start to fall down as we apply ourselves and follow through with our commitments. Self discipline becomes the engine for positive and continuous change in our lives. Self discipline then equals success.

 

“Whether you call it Buddhism of another religion, self discipline,  that’s important. Self discipline with awareness of consequences” – Dalai Lama

 

Try it

Challenge yourself to being more self disciplined. Even for a few days try one or some of the following if it is not already part of your routine. See if you can make it a habit. These are daily activities that I started and stuck with applying the Jedi principle of Self Discipline:

  1. Exercise daily: Do 30 minutes or more of exercise within your physical limitations. This might be a brisk walk, a jog, a fast paced run or a strength or endurance based activity in the gym or at the park. You decide, the key is to get moving especially when you don’t feel like it. Just Do it.
  2. Meditate: Sit for 15 minutes or more. Focus on the breath. If your mind wanders to stray thoughts or you are distracted gently return to the breath and continue. There are free meditation apps and podcasts as well as guided meditations on Youtube* to assist. It take self control to sit for more than 5 minutes without being distracted by the “monkey mind”.
  3. Fast: Cut one temptation from your life for a period of a week. It may be junk food, soda, alcohol or tobacco or another food item you have been wanting to cut back on. A week long sugar fast may be one that will challenge you. Try extending it longer. Intermittent fasting also takes self discipline however before you start fasting a day or two a week or change your diet speak to a health professional and listen to your body. Health and Safety first.
  4. Shut it Down: Social Media (Face Book, Twitter, Instagram) is distracting and can be a huge time waster as well as introduce toxic energy in to your day. The news media is another source of negativity that demands our attention and emotional response. I find taking time out from Face Book and switching off the news when it comes on spares me potential anxiety or anger. Leave the TV switched off and leave your cell phone on silent for a day. The world can function without us being tuned in 24 hours. You won’t miss much if you media-fast for a week.
  5. Don’t Wait: Have you been putting off a health kick for a while waiting for the right time? Are you thinking about starting martial arts but have been making excuses and keep passing up the “try before you buy: three free lessons” offer at the local Krav Maga class or Karate Dojo? You bought a guitar but don’t seem to ever be in the mood to pick it up and start learning? Well, just start, stop procrastinating and do it. These things will not happen by themselves, you have to decide and act accordingly.

 

“Do or Do Not, There is no Try”

Yoda reminded Luke Skywalker that it was entirely up to him whether he chose to succeed or fail as a Jedi. Luke had been taught much by the Jedi Master and was shown the path that he needed to take to fulfill his destiny. It was now all up to Luke what to decide and how to act. Self discipline was going to be the virtue that took him there.

What will you do?

 

 “No person is free who is not master of themselves.” – Epictetus

Jedi have a mission in Life

Jedi are devoted to their mission in life.

Jedi are devoted to accomplishing their mission in life. Sometimes this requires great discipline, sacrifice, incredible focus, patience, inner strength, and a strong sense of duty for accomplishing the mission. But first, a Jedi must determine what his/her mission will be by deep soul searching and meditation. You determine and choose what your mission will be; you decide it for yourself. Then you prioritize or decide how important it is for you to accomplish your mission.

(33 Jedi Traits)

Life’s Purpose

If you were to ask anyone what their life mission was you would probably get blank stares or garbled responses. Most people would not have one. Sure they can convey their hopes and wants. They can describe their ideal life and include words such as “happy, wealthy and healthy”. This picture can include a comfortable existence in a nice home with a loving partner. Perhaps a family and pets to complete the dream. Does all of that really define who we are?

All of us want to feel validated and achieve a sense of self actualization. We want to feel valued and make a contribution. For many, their career is an important part of life. Your profession no matter how humble or high profile defines much of your life. We are remembered as much for our work life as we are in our family and personal life. Political leaders are remembered for their time in office, Actors for their acting and Musicians for their music. Is any of that our true purpose, our mission in life? What do you want to be your epitaph? What do you want to be remembered for?

Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” – Viktor E Frankl

 

Purpose and Plans

People can identify their aspirations and their desires easily enough. Career paths can be mapped out. We can set ourselves new year resolutions, specific goals and one year and five year plans. A financial advisor can draw a road map that takes us to comfortable early retirement with a generous income to age 90 (too bad if you live to 100). We can schedule our lives and set measurable goals. How many of us can actually define our mission in life, our purpose?

The company I work for has a mission statement. Most publicly listed companies do. Shareholders expect to see a mission statement in a company AGM document. They want to read what the company stands for and where it wants to take their money and hopefully make it grow. Read your companies Mission Statement if it has one. What does it say? More importantly what does it say about the company you work for?

From my very first day as an entrepreneur, I’ve felt the only mission worth pursuing in business is to make people’s lives better.” – Richard Branson

 

Don’t let others Dictate

To expect people to write a mission statement for their lives in 20 words or less might be seen as ludicrous. But is it? Conor McGregor the UFC champion has a personal mission statement along the lines of being the “greatest UFC fighter to have ever lived and who will ever live”. The statement is very bold as it assumes that no one will ever surpass his career and that he will continue to dominate the sport until retirement. McGregor knows he cannot control the sport and knows that someone may come along who will challenge him but he has the self belief and the confidence  to believe anything is possible. McGregor’s mission is to prove him right and his detractors wrong.

Conor McGregor’s philosophy is to train to win, all the time, no questions, no doubt. Losing is not in his vocabulary and he won’t let other dictate any different. McGregor refused to accept his defeat to Mayweather as a loss calling it a lesson instead. Love him or hate him, McGregor’s mission is to win. That mindset and approach to business has put him on Time’s list of most influential people in 2017 and made him a billion dollar brand name. There is a lesson to be learned in that.

 

Mission Success

The Jedi had a life mission to serve the Order in any way required. Anyone who has ever served in the military and law enforcement will understand the concept of duty and mission focus. Everything is geared towards ensuring mission success. Training and rehearsals are conducted. The right people are allocated tasks that best reflect their skill set and compliment the team effort. Objectives are set, equipment is obtained, tested and checked. Plans are reviewed and improved. Intel is checked and verified. Risks are identified and assessed. Controls are implemented and contingencies applied. The collective effort is dedicated towards achieving desired outcomes with minimal loss.

How does this apply to our personal lives? Consider that every day is a chance to progress towards success in our own mission in life. A practical philosophy for life is one of the tools we can use to help us achieve our mission, whatever we choose it to be. After all, being on a Path or having a personal philosophy for life is not much use unless it serves in some way.

Our mission in life may simply be to uphold our principles and apply virtues that we value at every opportunity. It may be as simple as getting through every day without succumbing to the temptation to drink. Taking care of our family may be our sole mission. We may choose a mission that is more personalized to what we want to achieve in our personal or professional life. That mission may be to achieve personal milestones such as academic, health, sporting or business success. It may be to help others or make a significant contribution to a cause you feel is important. Whatever it is only you can define it and make it happen.

 

To what service is my soul committed? Constantly ask yourself this and thoroughly examine yourself by seeing how you relate to that part called the ruling principle” – Marcus Aurelius

 

Mission Statement

My mission statement is simple; “Strive to be the best version of yourself everyday”. That’s it. Nothing fancy. I just have to act in accordance with my principles and commit on a daily basis.

Your own mission is yours and yours alone to embrace. In order to achieve your mission you must be 100% committed to it. To be even close to achieving the milestones on that mission you must be prepared to focus 80% of your energy or more towards it. This means dedication, commitment and sacrifice. It must also come with an unbeatable attitude. Without the correct mind set you may step in to the ring and last a couple of rounds but you will never win the fight or take the title. This formula applies to any type of mission in life. For me it is about sobriety and self improvement. Everything that I do somehow relates to my personal mission to become a better version of myself.

“Half measures availed us nothing” – Alcoholics Anonymous

Our Mission in life, our purpose need not be the stuff of legends. Luke Skywalker’s mission was to bring balance to the Force.  It was not a purpose he chose, it was thrust upon him by fate. Never the less his actions resounded across the entire Galaxy and changed countless lives. Our mission may not be as grand or predetermined as Skywalker’s but once we define what our mission in life is it can be still be significant in our lives and can also impact on others.

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history” – Mahatma Gandhi

Define your Mission

Realizing our mission in life need not be difficult. Once we understand ourselves and know what our values are and commit to those a mission statement really only validates our purpose and takes it one step further. Grab a piece of paper and write down the answers to the following questions:

  1. What are my values?
  2. What are my core principles?
  3. What do I want my life to stand for?
  4. What are my unique qualities?
  5. What do I believe my purpose in life is?

Create a mission statement that reflects all of the above. Remember that we need not get it right the first time. In time it may change. Once you have a mission statement your purpose in life, whatever it is, becomes clearly defined.

A mission statement can be used as a constant reminder, a mantra for motivation and a defense against complacency and despair. Some days we question the point to everything and apathy can set it. Other days people will challenge your purpose and try to steer you away from it. Revisiting the questions above and thinking about your mission statement can serve as an anchor and a compass needle. Sometimes that is all you need to get up and keep fighting for another day.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”- Theodore Roosevelt

 

Jedi believe in Service

Jedi believe in service to others, and are selfless

The path of the Jedi teaches us the importance of service. There is a lot of joy in serving others, and the Jedi believe in volunteerism and in service. Why? Because that’s the way of the Force; the Force is always giving, giving, giving without expecting anything back in return. The Jedi are like this too. Some of the practical benefits of serving others include diminishing egotistical thinking, removing energy blockages, increasing positive energy flow, and re-connecting us with other human beings

 

A Part of Us

Service to others is a fundamental part of being Jedi. Likewise, service is also integral to the 12 Steps. Both paths recognize the value in extending ourselves to others in selfless service. Service, giving to others is also a intrinsic human trait, we are wired to work together and to help each other.

A study by the University of British Columbia showed that Toddlers were happier giving to others than they were receiving. We feel it every time we do something for another person. It can be as simple as giving up your seat on a bus or holding a door open. It connects us to people. Likewise every time we plant a tree or help an animal we feel connected to our environment. Service put us in to the spiritual flow of the Universe, the Force.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35

 

One cannot keep what they do not pass on. We have an obligation and a responsibility to pass on what we have gained and to “pay it forward”. The flow of energy must be kept vital and the only way to truly improve is to get out of ourselves by putting the focus on others. Some of us provide a form of form of service as part of our jobs. Whether we serve customers, work in the military, security and law enforcement or emergency services the way we apply ourselves in our profession and how we treat people in carrying out our duties says a lot about ourselves.

Even though we get paid for the time and effort we put in, it is still service. Whether we take benefit from it will largely depend on our purpose and the meaning that we attach to the task. Some Policemen love their job, some don’t.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Volunteer

Volunteerism is by definition unpaid and voluntary without reserve. There is real commitment. We donate our time and skills to a particular cause. Activism and advocacy are also forms of service which serve an important function in raising awareness and making important changes in society. The opportunities for service seem endless. There are countless causes one can involve themselves in.  If what we choose to do adds value to our lives and others, the direct benefits can extend beyond material, there are many intangibles as well.

What is the essence of life? To serve other and to do good” – Aristotle.

So what about Jedi? They served the Republic, they were guardians of peace. The purpose of the Jedi was to protect, defend and support citizens. Jedi were chosen for the path, they barely chose it. The Jedi were not paid for their efforts but they were rewarded in intangible ways. They were raised in to a meaningful existence and grew stronger in the ways of the Force for example. There was a mutual benefit.

The Jedi made mistakes of course but their intent was never selfish until the needs of individual Jedi became more important than the needs of the whole. The Jedi were not above reproach and neither are we. We are only human after all but we still have a choice.

 

Just Rewards

Why do it then if not for purely selfless reasons. Psychology Today lists a number of mental, physical and spiritual benefits in getting involved in the community and helping others:

  • Reduced stress and better stress management, we are able to better cope with life;
  • Appreciation and gratitude of what we have through better perspective taking;
  • Greater awareness of the world and the people in it;
  • Cultivated empathy, compassion and solidarity with others;
  • Provides greater life meaning and purpose of being.

Studies have also shown that volunteerism can improve overall contentment and happiness in people. Older volunteers have been shown to  extend life span in older people. The brain actually develops new pathways and neurons. Our brains respond better to selflessness and altruism than selfishness and meanness. It is an evolutionary trait which stems from the basic human need to belong and to care for others.

 

Motive is everything

Does selfless service truly exist? How often have we done something for others to make ourselves feel better or to gain some sort of reward or recognition? To give anonymously or with discretion with no selfish motives is different to giving with the intent of receiving some sort of recognition. Some religious people feel that if they donate money to the church or to worthy charities they will be rewarded for their generosity in the afterlife. Many students feel compelled, even forced to undertake “voluntary” community service in order to be accepted in to universities or to pass subjects.

Some people may recognize the intangible benefits of altruism such as working with the disabled or caring for injured animals, but not all will. Offenders will be awarded community service by a Judge. The hope is that service to others will help them adopt a change in attitude and reduce the likelihood of re-offending. The work may be beneficial but the person on “community service” may view it as a punishment rather than the privilege that it is. Is a large donation made by a multinational corporation sincere or a conceited form of self promotion?

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” – Philippians 2:3-4

 

Bad Service

Years ago I did conservation volunteer work in South America and Africa and spent many months on a Kibbutz in Israel as a volunteer. These were important experiences and I went with the best intention however once there I soon fell in to bad habits. I took advantage of my hosts, avoided the worst jobs and would get so drunk is the evenings at the inevitable volunteer parties that I was too hungover to work. The experience soon turned in to an opportunity to indulge in all the excesses you would find on Spring Break in Cancun without the luxury.

In Israel I was politely asked to leave on one occasion and simply moved down the road to another place that was looking for volunteers. Many places seek volunteers because they need cheap or free labor and do take advantage. Some volunteers forget that they volunteered. They begin to question the entire experience seeking only to derive personal benefit.

 

Pay if Forward

Being in recovery has taught me how important service is as part of the 12 Steps. One alcoholic will help another through sponsorship or by taking on a role in meetings. The motivation is selfless but the work is done as much to maintain sobriety as it is to help others find or keep theirs.  Only service keeps the movement alive. The real world Jedi community also relies on people willing to give up their time, money and skills to keep the movement alive and growing. Most are anonymous and seek no recognition. Think of all the millions of people in the world right now quietly and selflessly serving others with no expectation of reward. They are Legion and bring light into an otherwise grey and cynical world.

Through service we begin to think more about others than ourselves. Getting out of our own self indulgence is a good way to avoid falling into the mental traps of self doubt and negative self talk. The point of service is not necessarily to serve without any direct benefit to ourselves. A mutual benefit can and should be derived. Service should make us feel good knowing that we’ve made a small difference. That simple pleasure can be its just reward it can also completely transform the way we see the world and others. It can transform the world.

You are the vehicle of change in this world. How will you pay it forward today?

Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world” – Howard Zinn

Practice what you Preach

“Prove your words by your deeds.” – Seneca the Younger

The only worth a philosophy has is whether it can be applied in life. If our philosophy can be applied then we should practice what we preach. A practical philosophy means not only knowing what must be done but actually doing it. Without practice, a philosophy is conceptual and not a tool. We can sit in a university café (or online forum) for hours and debate the merits of one philosophy over another. One can bring forward the moral and ethical strong points of their chosen philosophical flavor but unless they have practiced it in real life then there is nothing much to say.

We go to a doctor or psychiatrist if we are feeling physically or mentally unwell. A psychologist or therapist is visited for counseling. Some of us visit a Priest, Rabbi or Spiritual Advisor to help us grapple with problems or questions. Who these days goes to a Philosopher for advice on how to live in accordance with a particular philosophy? We do not live in ancient Greece or Rome where we can engage in conversation with Socrates, Epicurus, Zeno, Seneca or Epictetus. We will not find Stoics, Skeptics or Ascetics to confer with and take away a formula for living.  If I were to walk in to the Philosophy Department of the local University and ask a professor for some sage advice on how to manage my affairs, handle cravings or deal with emotions he would probably not be able to offer anything practical.

The Philosophers

The ancients had words of advice on all these matters. Today we have many philosophies to choose from. The libraries are full or books written by the classic, renaissance, contemporary and modern philosophers. One can easily create an account on an online forum and engage in debate on Philosophy. The Stoics hold an annual conference and a “Stoic Week”*. The event draws people from around the world in an online experiment on living like a Stoic for a week. I participate in the event and continue to apply many of the practices as part of my own Jedi training throughout the year. You only get out of philosophy what you put in.

I consider myself a student of Jedi Philosophy. This means not only do I read widely on Jedi Philosophy but I broaden my knowledge in others as well. I participate in online forums and read posts to understand what other followers of the Jedi path think and how they live their lives.  The fiction is also there to draw inspiration from. Jedi philosophy is a recent phenomena and an evolving trend. The focus of Jedi Philosophy is similar in many ways to the ancient schools of philosophy. Students are encouraged to study and question but most of all to practice what they have learned every day. The Fictional Jedi was all about action and deeds, not words.

Deeds not Words

This emphasis on a practical philosophy for life agrees with recovery from addiction. The 12 Steps is also all about action. By accepting our disease and embracing certain principles in to our life we embark on a program of recovery that requires action. Reading books, speaking to people and attending meetings is not enough. Recovery occurs outside of that, in the day to day things that we do. We commit to mapping our faults and doing something about them. Addressing the past and seeking to make amends. Action includes daily maintenance of our practice through meditation, prayer and study. Service to others is also a form of direct action that helps us.

It is the same for any philosophy. One can say they are a Stoic but yet live like a Hedonist and allow their emotions and desires to govern their every decision. We are judged by our actions not our words. I can not say I am Jedi if I am rude and obnoxious to people, dishonest in my dealings and commit illegal acts like theft or physical assault no matter what the reason. Would I be able to stand up in a meeting and tell people I follow the 12 Steps and the principles of honesty and humility if in fact I continue to drink when I’m not there?

You are the Master

We can argue and debate about how one should act and what one must do to live a “Good Life” however unless we do these things none of that matters. It is only a rhetorical practice. No one is watching us all the time but ourselves. If there is a “God” and it resides within then the old scripture which tells us “God knows all that we do” is true. It may not be some deity outside of us looking down but our own inner conscience. If I question whether I am consistent with my personal philosophy of life usually checking in with my heart reveals the truth. We can fool ourselves in to thinking that we are something but deep down we know we are faking it. We can be dishonest with others, but to be dishonest to our self is far worse.

If I am unsure of how I must think, speak or act in any given situation there is usually no sage standing by. There are books and forums but usually we must decide on how to proceed from advice given in general terms. We must also filter what works for our unique circumstances and what doesn’t. I know what my principles and values are; I know which virtues to practice when faced with challenges. My philosophy for life gives me that tool kit and I decide how to use apply the tools.  There is a general rule of thumb when we get stuck or are caught with our pants down; we can react and possibly go against our principles or we can stick to the basic rule that Marcus Aurelius set him self every day:

If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it

Jump In

The practice of Kabbalah teaches students to just go out and practice; “first do it, then understand”. Don’t get lost in the detail or the semantics just pick up the tools and get to work. Trying to learn everything there is to know before practicing means never practicing. One must simply jump in. I did not wait to read the Big Book and the 12×12 and a myriad of other literature before I decided to abstain from alcohol, I did that first and then read the books.

At the moment I am trying to learn the guitar. A part of me thinks that I will be able to learn simply by reading the books, understanding theory and watching some you-tube videos. Unless I pick up a guitar and play I will never learn. Philosophy is no different. Even mistakes are useful, in fact making mistakes is essential.

Go out and practice being the person you want to be. There is no need to be a Philosopher or even to have a firm philosophy of life. Simply be the person you want to be and the rest will fall in to place. Practice what you Preach.

*http://modernstoicism.com/stoicon-stoicism-conference/