“Nothing will come of nothing.” ~ William Shakespeare (King Lear).
The concept of ex nihilo nihil fit originated with Parmenides, (Greek Philosopher pre Socrates), regarded with Heraclitus as the founders of Ontology.
Happy New Year folks! It’s generally that time of year when our thoughts turn to the year that lies ahead with excitement and anticipation. Many of us may have taken the opportunity over the holiday period to reflect on 2018 and focus on what we wish to achieve and become in 2019.
Last year was really intense, challenging, tumultuous and exhausting for me, with virtually no let-up. I just couldn’t see the wood for the trees, and in the end accepted that I was kind of lost. The barrage of challenges seem to be spilling into January, with a major plumbing problem that urgently needs sorting – most likely at great expense.
Perhaps I should get my violin out and play a sad tune…
I am more than happy to consign 2018 to history as a ‘stinker’, but upon further introspection I have realised that even though I found it extremely hard, I made considerable progress and positive change, (physically, emotionally and mentally), and experienced some memorable moments that I’ll never forget.
I’m filled with hope that the growth I went through last year will pave the way for a more productive and successful year in 2019.
If 2018 proved to be something of an ‘annus horribilis’ for you also, fear not, for a fresh energy now pervades the universe and you can create a new story. This is what I am planning to do; both literally (with a new novel to write) and metaphorically, with my dreams and plans.
I’m hoping that my new-found creative frenzy does not abate, and that I’ll be able to look back this time next year, and be able to say that I achieved some things my future self would thank me for at the start of 2020.
Someone I respect very much shared three pragmatic and inspiring ideas during his closing speech at a conference in October last year, and they really struck me as I reread my notes recently, as being the perfect focus and wisdom to live my life by for January and beyond. They remind me why I get out of bed every morning.
These actions, when undertaken on a daily basis can propel you forward, no matter your current circumstances, to greater fulfillment, abundance and happiness. Over the span of a lifetime they can create a legacy.
There are numerous helpful articles floating about the net on how to be successful, almost endless distilled nuggets of wisdom on just about any subject.
To me, these simple (but not necessarily easy), three daily ‘dos’ are broad enough to encompass the profound complexity of all human experience, deep enough to embody whole philosophies, and straightforward enough to remember and therefore implement.
So without further ado, here are my three daily doses of wisdom, a kind of philosophical manifesto for life:
- Do something hard every day
- Do something fun every day
- Do something to serve others every day
Of course, all three actions could be combined into one, two or three different actions, depending on what you aim to achieve on a given day.
Do something hard every day
If we don’t do something that’s out of our comfort zone we don’t grow, and life can get stagnant and therefore can’t expand into the greatest version of the vision we have. This ‘do’ requires us to be brave, because we are undertaking activities outside our comfort zone. The level of difficulty may be higher on some days than others. I learnt to put myself out there with public speaking last year, and this activity will require continual growth and effort on my part to finesse and feel more comfortable.
Public speaking is the second biggest fear most people have after death, so that is a biggie for me. Any kind of creative output requires courage.
It may entail making a call or series of calls (not my favourite thing to do either), taking a series of steps to complete a project you have, learn a new skill, or create new habits around health or lifestyle.
The conservationists, naturalists, environmental scientists and eco-warriors will have their work cut out…
Unfortunately the hard list is endless. Some days just thinking of three things to be grateful for can be a challenge!
It’s best to do this hard thing as early in the day as possible while you still have the energy and willpower. I have found that the longer I leave it procrastination tends to kick in. This has happened to me more times than I can recall: I’ve told myself, I’ll do that later, and life has ended up getting in the way. I either end up forgetting, or have to do it another day, when more hard tasks are piling up.
It takes discipline to do the more challenging or unpleasant items on your agenda, but they are essential to progress. I find this quote by Jim Rohn helps spur me on when I feel like letting myself off the hook:
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” ~ Jim Rohn
I also love Bob Proctor to metaphorically kick my butt! Where the magic is:
Do something fun every day
Life can get rough – not just on a personal level, but in our communities, nationally and globally. There will be dark days no matter what. There are always negative headlines dominating the news. Lightening up brings relief, which I covered in my post about humour recently.
Joy is an essential ingredient in life’s multi-layered cake, so make time for whatever floats your boat and brings you joy. For me that’s playing the violin, writing, reading, doing a Zumba dance class, taking a long hike in the countryside or watching a good drama, or spending time with my family. Set sail on a sea of enthusiasm and people will want to steer a heading with you.
Even on bad days, give yourself this gift.
“The language of Play is a language that we all spoke fluently in childhood. By the time we become adults, most of us have forgotten the language of play. Matt uses play and joy to open people up, allowing them to be creative and impactful – even in places one might expect play to be the last thing on a person’s mind. His analogy is that we should be so lucky as to work like our dogs. Enjoy this creative, fun-filled romp through airports, dog parks and even prison.”
Matt Weinstein is my kind of speaker, he loves to dance and have fun:
Just in case you need more convincing about fun!
Do something to serve others everyday
Being a mum this one comes naturally to me. Whilst having a large family brings immeasurable servings of joy, (and a helping of worry), it also contributes to an immense work load, and when I’m feeling the pressure I don’t always do it with good grace. Such is the lot of a working mother.
I console myself that my list of things to do will never be short or accomplished in the time frame I want, as it’s more important that my family are taken care of before my own work is completed. Motherhood is an essential, yet undervalued and underrated job. If collectively we don’t do it to the best of our ability society will suffer. Mums especially know the true meaning of sacrifice.
Service to our family and friends and to our fellow man/woman is a sacred calling. The teaching of ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is as erudite and instructive today as it was over two thousand years ago.
When I can conquer imposter syndrome and take my mind off myself and focus on another person my ego gets bypassed, and the energy I expended on self-doubt is used in the action of service.
I try to fall in love with the process rather than obsess about the outcome. With hindsight I have found I need to detach myself from the results. What matters is the act of giving of one’s time, talent and love.
“You can’t pay anyone back for what has happened to you, so you try to find someone you can pay forward.” ~ Spokesperson for Alcoholics Anonymous (Christian Science Monitor c. 1944)
It could be a small act, and very often those seemingly insignificant random acts of kindness mean more to someone than the really big gestures.
I don’t advocate forcing a certain kind of help on another if it is unwelcome. We’ve probably all witnessed or experienced the interfering nature of Do-Gooderism. Service is more effective when undertaken in a collaborative spirit. The film Pay it Forward explores the concept of service to others.
Sociologist Wayne Baker offers insight into the concept of generalised reciprocity or ‘paying it forward’.
The world needs more sagacious and integrous leaders, in short: servant leaders. If service comes from the heart it is never in vain.
If I’m honest, I don’t always manage all three actions every day to the level I would like, but the beauty of each new day is to start with the right intentions; and then at least our hearts and minds are open to opportunities and ways to fulfill these actions.
Our daily habits are the checks and balances that add up to a meaningful, purposeful, healthy and happy life.
At least this post has accomplished them for today!