Tuesday, October 7, 2008

As You Like

In a complicated, quickly- and ever-changing world, it is helpful to have a clear guiding philosophy in life. This philosophy should be easy to remember, straightforward, and ideally have three parts to it (that seems to be universal - think 'Holy Trinity', tripod as the most simple-yet-stable structure, three Indiana Jones series, etc.). I've worked out a three-part mantra that I want to live my existence by and think I've just come up with the last part to complete the trifecta tonight.

The first principle I ascertained was that one needs to reduce suffering. I admit to borrowing this one from the Buhddists, as I think they have great stories and love koans. I try not to go out of my way to make life difficult for anyone, but at the same time I try not to increase my own suffering by doing a bunch of unnecessary work.

The second principle I try to follow is to let it go. By this, I mean to not fight against nature. That doesn't mean that I give up pursuing what I feel is right. It just means that you can step out of the way of much of the energy that is directed towards you, rather than stand in its path. I try to let things happen and redirect the bad energy and effort that are often sent hurling towards me into a positive result.

The third principle is one that I've struggled to put words to, as it seemed just too simple. Pursue fun. Pursuing fun needn't be about total hedonism and needs to run deeper than immediate gratification. You need to know what long-term conditions give you pleasure, then set up your life so that you can have them happen with reasonable regularity (but not to the distraction of the things that should be done in life). I know that my daughters struggle with putting a list of things that make them happy together - I've asked them. Once you have this list and know what has to be in place in order for your happy triggers to go off, you are set.

Here's some of the things that I find fulfilling:
  • being exposed to and having opportunity to create art
  • being able to be physically active
  • having an affectionate, considerate woman in my life
  • tinkering with and making things work (computers, bicycles, wires in walls, etc.)
  • listening to and being part of interesting conversations
  • being in and around water
  • having time to reflect and doing that reflection
  • having a home that I return to after traveling
  • having harmony and order in life, like having a simple set of rules to follow (See? See how these things are recursive?)

As a young person, you can strive towards having a life full of the things that you love, but you often have to do things that you don't love (school, manners, good posture, brushing your teeth) in order to get some of these fulfilling things. Having the foresight to keep doing the unpleasant things gets you to the point where you can do the pleasant things more often is the trick. As you get older, that gets easier.

Now that I have a lovely, well-set-up home, along with a bit of financial means and someone fun to share them with, I think I'm getting close to having things the way I want them to be.

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