“You’ve wandered all over and finally realized that you never found what you were after: how to live. Not in syllogisms, not in money, or fame, or self-indulgence. Nowhere.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
You don’t fill the void by fleeing from it or by compensating with externals.
You don’t fill the void by trying to understand it or even trying to fill it.
According to the Stoics, we satisfy it simply by living our life as nature demands. And by, while doing so, being good, being true to ourselves, focusing on the moment, not wasting a second wishing anything was otherwise or caring what other people think of us.
We just live, as well as we can.
Painting: “Marcus Aurelius Distributing Bread to the People” by Joseph-Marie Vien
“Whenever you hate something, it hates you back: people, situations and inanimate objects alike.”— David Cain
It’s not animism, nor paranoia. It’s neurology and psychology.
Everything that is our consciousness is perceived by our senses and decoded through our mind. And a lot of the processing done by this filter is automatic. I write “pink elephant”, and your mind helplessly manifests a colourful pachyderm.
For some people, this elephant will appear as a barely visible ghost, present for but a moment, exorcized after the comma; for other people, it will not have left yet. But for everyone without exception, it was an involuntary creation that was real enough inside the head, as a passing thought. And it was summoned by a mere couple of words.
If a couple of words lead you to involuntarily generate a large technicolor mammal, what kind of havoc can a strong emotion – such as hatred – wreak in your mind? How much of your consciousness goes through that filter, when you carry such an emotion in the center of your mind. How will it color your experience as a human being?
Karma is instant – it is literally built in – and hate consumes everything as fuel, until nothing is left.
As I was preparing to interview Judy Rees, I came upon a beautiful (and useful!) quote about meetings:
“What do I want to happen at this meeting, and as a result of this meeting?”— Judy Rees
It sounds like common sense, but the truth is that common sense is often in short supply, and we hold meetings just “because” – as a default response when we lack ideas on what to do, or, worse: because of habit.
Formalizing our intentions is a first step to take so that the meeting is not a waste of time. It’s a light version of goal-setting.
But I think we can go further with this “rule.” We can benefit from it beyond meetings. Judy’s rule can be applied to every action we take on a daily basis.
Consider it a way of establishing mindfulness. Doing so will force us to refine our focus, and we will stop running on auto-pilot; we will instead proceed to work through our tasks with clarity. And doing so can only improve the quality of our actions.
And often, setting a clear goal is enough to inspire a solution. Not always…
But often enough to justify developing this habit: before any action, think of the intention, think of what would be the ideal result.
Ask yourself: “How do I want to undertake this action, and what do I expect as a result of this action?”
Painting: “Diana and her Nymphs” by Domenichino