"These words, written by Marcus Aurelius nearly two millennia ago, cut to the core of what it means to live a good life - it isn’t what we say that defines our character, it’s what we do.
Today, in a society obsessed with content, outrage, and drama, it’s easy to get lost in the echo chamber of the debate of what’s “better.”
We can have endless discussions about what’s right and wrong.
- What’s a ‘man'?
- What does it mean to be a feminist?
- What should we do in this hypothetical situation or that one?
- How can we encourage other people to be better?
Of course, this is all a distraction. A blog comment takes a lot less work--and means a lot less--than living those ideas to the best of one’s ability.
If you want to try to make the world a slightly better place, there’s a lot you could do.
Only one guarantees an impact.
To lead by example is what Aurelius was trying hard to remind himself when he wrote these words in Meditations, originally intended only for his own reflection. Centuries later, we could all use more ways to remind ourselves of this universal truth." - Ryan Holiday
The man on the ladder seems lost. He's looking down, maybe asking himself how he got here, and if he should continue on.
It is only in these times of feeling lost that we find it acceptable to doubt everything, regardless of how much time and effort we've already committed.
It's self-defeating, so why do we do it? Because our brains are constantly looking to rationalize and protect. It was designed for survival, not struggle in the unknown.
So when we are lost, or we've had a pitfall or setback, or someone said something mean or discouraging to us, our own brains seize the opportunity to stop us.
This usually happens through a short state of panic, followed by doubt, and a misdirected need for a rationalisation of all of our actions leading up to that point.
Like Marcus, I aim to cut out the bullshit. When doubt arises, I remember his words, and roundhouse kick doubt right back to where it came from.
It will come again, and it will be warded off again. The important piece of the puzzle is to have a such a clear uncompromising vision that, even when lost, is impossible to lose sight of.
Trust yourself. Trust those who know better than you. Don't rationalize, act.