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Book 353 - A Year of Magical Learning

Reflection Title: Everyone is Doing Their Best!

Book – The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness by Epictetus

Book Description:

Epictetus was born into slavery about 55 ce in the eastern outreaches of the Roman Empire. Once freed, he established an influential school of Stoic philosophy, stressing that human beings cannot control life, only their responses to it. By putting into practice the ninety-three witty, wise, and razor-sharp instructions that make up The Art of Living, readers learn to meet the challenges of everyday life successfully and to face life's inevitable losses and disappointments with grace.


What is the difference between Elon Musk and the homeless person you see on the street corner begging for some change in 10-degree weather as you stroll by in your car?

Think hard about this one, and please for the love of God don’t tell me it is something like Elon is just a genius, or that he has more hustle, determination, grit, or some other crap like that.

Do you think that homeless person wakes up on any given day and says I’m packing it in and don’t want to try? If you are thinking that way then I wonder if you have ever tried to subject yourself to simply stand in one spot for 12 hours straight in the freezing cold with no access to food, bathroom, etc. Have you ever tried that? Of course not, and neither have I because that sounds like torture. Now think about doing that every single day of your life. We would probably give military medals to soldiers that had to endure something similar if it was in a war zone because that is not easy. And this whole hypothetical scenario doesn’t even consider the humbling and embarrassing nature of begging for charity while doing it. Think about all the how much humility, endurance, grit, and determination that person must have just to survive another day. To be able to even pull off the feat of begging in the cold all day must be truly incredible test of the human will to endure and push forward.

Now, tell me how Elon Musk somehow represents more of these same values with what he does each day? Exactly!

Have you ever heard the saying before that everyone, and I mean everyone, is doing their absolute best in this life every single day. The first time I heard this saying was from a Darren Daily years ago and I thought to myself…that can’t be true? There is no way a drug addict wakes up and thinks he is doing his best as he shoots up another dose of heroin. There is no way that a homeless person wakes up on a streetcorner and walks over to the intersection and pulls out his little “will work for food” sign and thinks he is doing his best…right?

After this Year of Magical Learning journey, I now think that saying is 1,000% accurate. No matter what your circumstances are in life, I truly believe that we are all simply trying our absolute best to survive and keep fighting for 1 more day in this magical world of the living. That is a remarkable to consider and I hope just might transform the way that you look at anyone you come across in each day of your life. Whether it be that annoying co-worker that “just doesn’t get it”, your best friend that is cheating on their spouse and won’t listen to anyone as you watch them throw away their life, the billionaire you hear speaking at a TED conference, or the homeless guy on a street corner begging for food…they are all doing the absolute best that they can.

Now, with that baseline established, let’s revisit the original question of what is the difference between Elon and the homeless man? My theory is that Elon has mastered the art of living and the homeless man has not. Elon Musk has probably spent, and I’m sure still spends, a whole lot of time studying and examining his actions to unearth the underlying values that have propelled him forward in the direction of his choosing. From that examined life he then takes his findings to strategically culture his character to fit the person he wants to be until he transformed into the person that we all know him as today. All along the way, he has still just been doing his best like the rest of us.

This is the power of the examined life and the art of living.

Keep doing your best, because I know you will, but make sure you squeeze in some time to zoom out and look at what you are doing.

Question: When was the last time you spent some time in reflection to better understand your actions?



What is The Year of Magical Learning? - An Introduction

YOML Podcast Discussion - Coming Soon

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