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Today’s Thoughts

May 9, 2008

I spent this morning wondering how I’d reply to someone if they were to ask me, “So Jason, you study all day long, and are always searching for answers.  In all these years of searching, what does it all boil down to?  What have you found?”

Naturally, if I’m to claim to always be thinking on what’s important, I should have a good answer, so this is my answer.

I figured this sort of thing is something I should write about periodically, so that I can chart my own development of views in this area.

Since I want this answer to be short, I’ll state this very succintly.  There’s basically two main things, which I have discovered, which I find to be of the upmost importance.

1)  Who is in control?
2)  Valuation – What do you value?

Now we’ll briefly discuss these two points

Who is in control?

My first discovery is that the world is a constant barrage of “you can’t”.  From every angle, we are attacked with a, “So and so is in control”, or a, “This circumstance is in control”, or “This government is in control.”  The most difficult mental barrier to overcome is to convince yourself that your dreams are possible for you to achieve.

Not just possible for someone else.  Not just possible for someone brighter than you, better looking than you, or with more money than you.  No.  It is the ability to overlook current circumstances, and say to yourself, “It doesn’t matter how things look now.  All that matters is how I want things to be.”

There are a million ways to run.  A million ways to escape.  A million ways to complain, and a million excuses.  There is every force imaginable to make you focus on your problem, and oh so few forces to help you focus on the solution and overcome.

Even more difficult than control of the world around you is control of yourself.  This brings us to what’s valuable.

Valuation – What do you value?

Life will attack from every angle.  You will have something you want out of it, and you will be met with the fiercest resistance.  You’ll begin to think, “Why are things so hard?  I’m not even asking for much.”  The world will be completely unsympathetic and not care about your desires, your dreams, or about you at all.

In life, most people seek respect.  They seek fame.  They want to be admired and loved.  We think famous people, who are loved and respected are the valuable ones in society.  This may or may not be true.

Another way of stating this incorrect mindset is to say that life is good if circumstances are ideal.  In other words, money, good looks, and other circumstances are what make life good.  But wise men always tell us to be a person of value.  What does this mean?

Think of a basketball game.  Who are the valuable players on the team?  It is those who can defend, and those who can score.  But is that all?  No.  They are the players who can have the most difficult defenders guarding them, trying to keep them from scoring, and they can score anyways.  In other words, though the defense is trying to make things unfavorable for a person attempting to score, the person is able to score anyways.

In this case, though there are intentional forces trying to make circumstances less than ideal for a person wanting to score, the person is able to overcome these obstacles.  This player, who has this ability, is valuable.

When your business in in turmoil, who do you call?  Any business man can run a business when everything is all set up and running smoothly.  That is not a person who is valuable.  A person of value is the “ultra guy” who is snuck in the back door, who bails you out of the crazy mess because he knows exactly what’s going on, and can fix things.  He’s the person who can take a mess, and after his work is complete, can leave you with a smooth running, profitable company.  This man is valuable.

A person of value is a person who is unmoved and unhindered by difficult circumstances.  They blow off him, and are unable to touch him.  They do not stop him from the world he wishes to see, or what he desires.

Let’s take some everyday life circumstances, and show how a person of value handles the situation, versus how most people handle things.

Most all of us want a world of peace.  A world where people love one another, think of each other, and help one another.  Where people treat one another with mutual respect, simply because that’s the world we wish to live in. Now the question arises, how much of other people’s “shit” can you take before you give up on this dream and instead do the very opposite?

Say you are a guy, and a girl leaves you for another guy.  You two were very close.  Do you do like most people, and start to attack the girl?  Do you chase her down, make scenes everywhere she goes, leave hate emails and hate voicemails on her phone?  Do you give her nasty looks every time you see her?  Do you gossip about her to everyone, and try to justify yourself by running her down to all your friends, telling everyone she was no good anyways?

Or are you a man of value, who does not let the girl’s behavior destroy what you want out of life, and the world?  Do you refuse to speak badly about her?  Do you choose to respect her decision, even though she didn’t handle things well?  Do you choose not to hate the guy she left you for?  A man of value lives this way.

A man of value can be buried alive in problems, but will tunnel his way out, and refuse to speak badly about any of those who buried him in there, and will only love them, because that’s the world he wants to see.  A world of respect and love.  He creates this world, even when the world around him shows no sign of anything he wishes.

However much life can attack, and you be left unhindered, is a direct gauge of of your value.  Complainers, whiners, and murmurers are the opposite of people of value.  Men of value are men of change.  They create.  They are life itself, because life is the ability to create change.  Complainers only bolster the problem, and magnify it’s difficulty by removing confidence.  No problem is worthy of glorification.  State the problem objectively, and immediately begin an action game-plan to obliterate it.

Whenever a lumberjack chops wood, the wood simply sits there, and lets him chop it.  It does not fight back.  It does not resist.  It does not try to run away and protect itself.  It is dead.  It is not alive.

A person of value protects what he wants out of life.  He does not let his life be destroyed as the axe of his attacker comes down.  He moves out of the way.  He escapes the evil around him, or he defeats it.  Either way, he does not let himself be destroyed by it.

Men of value are men of life.  They create and protect what is valuable.

Those who are dead, they simply get depressed, and no longer resist.  They give up.  The axe comes down and they say, “What is the use?  I’m tired.”  And they are destroyed.

Just around a month ago, I had a company call me up which I had developed software for in the past, and they had done me wrong.  I had that natural inclination like anyone else has just to ignore their phone call and say, “I want nothing to do with you.”  But then I thought, “Is that the world I wish to live in?  People ignoring one another?  People hating each other?”  I answered the phone and treated them nicely.

The man needed my help to get one of the software projects I had developed running in a firehouse.  I treated him with respect, asked him how he was doing, and how the others in his company were doing.  I gave him the information he needed, and I wished them well.  And I can honestly say, I do wish them well.

If a woman is ever to enter my home, I tell her, “Hello [Name], this my home.  Feel safe and comfortable.  My home is always peaceful. There is no fighting here, and everyone is always respected.”  Women have instinctual desires to be protected, and safe.  Men wish to be respected, and have territorial instincts.  This is a nice balance of the two.  This immediately puts the woman at ease, because the place is foreign to her, and she doesn’t know the “rules”, or how things are dealt with there.  In this way she is nicely informed that however the homes she had visited in the past may have operated, things work how they’re supposed to in my home.

In this situation, I am asserting my reality, and the way I live.  When the company that did me wrong called me, I was doing the same thing.  When I treated them well, even though they treated me poorly, I was asserting my reality, and who I am.  It’s no different than the girl coming into my home.

What is truly valuable is what’s inside, not outward appearances.  The world values outward beauty, and things that are already ideal.  They value the product, but not the engineer which creates it.  Wise men value that inner strength, that can hold you firm in position once the storms of life begin to blow.  The ability to create something out of nothing, and do not care how things may be at present. As Jesus said, a wise man builds his house upon the rock, but those who build their house on the sand, their house will be blown away.

You may wonder what that inner strength is.  It is the ability to love that which is unloveable.  The ability to forgive, no matter what has been done to you.  The capability to believe in things even when circumstances don’t look well.  The confidence that whatever you see in your mind will eventually make it into reality, even if you have to traverse hell and back to make it happen.

Everyone believes in Barbie beautiful, Steve stunning, and all those who were voted “most likely to succeed.”  These people have the outward appearances of success.  You see them and think, “They have it.  They will do well.  They get straight A’s.  They look good.  They have rich parents.”  All these things amount to is a small head-start in life, nothing more.

Real men of value are not neccessarily voted most likely to succeed.  Some are born gifted, but others make themselves.  Men of value not only see the unseen potential which exists in others, but also see the potential within themselves, refine it, and develop it.

If you wish to be valuable, you must learn this concept.  Jesus calls it faith.  Business men call it confidence and determination.  I suppose others may call it courage.  It’s all very similar to me.

If you wish to be valuable, you must learn to love the dog that bit you.  You must be patient with the person who doesn’t get it the first time.  You must be gentle to the person yelling at you.  You’ll have to find an inner joy deep within you even when you don’t have everything you want.  All these things are life.  They are creating something out of nothing.  They are the ability to dodge the attack, and to assert and shine the reality you want to see.

There is nothing better for you to be doing than creating a better world, so be patient.

If you’re ever going to lead, you must learn how to be slow to anger, because people will fail you.  You must learn to appreciate the contributions they bring, and respect them, and help them develop whatever it is they may lack.

All these things are stating, “I am in control.  This is my world.”  This is the correct way to combat the storms and problems of this world.  You do so by being the change you wish to see in the world.

If you master and understand these two principles, you’ve mastered everything.  If your mind comes to only know, “I can”, and can no longer hear the winds of doubt, I literally think you’d be God himself, or at least, his direct image. Though each of these breaks down into all knowledge itself, and this pursuit is never done.

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