[August 2, 2022] Buddhists say don’t be too attached to things. Like so often, I misunderstood what they were trying to tell us. It doesn’t mean denying the world, except if you are too in love with material things that prevent you from seeing yourself. The fundamental lesson of the Buddhists is don’t let what you are, stop you from being what you could be. Now, that is more profound and more true.
The capacity to continually transcend what you are on the right path. That is humility. You recognize that you are error-ridden. And it would be best if you wanted to put yourself into a situation where you can discover one of your errors. You seek error. You seek it out, not in a way that you are destroyed. You seek out a challenge. Find out where your limits are located. Find out where there is not enough of you yet. And do that in an engaging way.
You can wear yourself out fighting the obstacles in life and your career. You can exhaust yourself completely, and I’ve seen that exhaustion take control and destroy good folks. Dr. Jordan Peterson tells the story of when he coached high-end lawyers to be more productive. The individuals had an unending workload. They worked flat out, so there was always more work that they should do. These are lawyers who worked 80 to 90 hours per week.
Dr. Peterson recommended that they take four days off every three months. Plan it in advance, and make no change. This way, they could recuperate and then go back and work as hard as they could. He was able to prove this worked by the measurement of billable hours. Dr. Peterson notes that this is playing the game properly. The rule is, play the game. By taking some time off, these lawyers could play the game today and, importantly, continue to play the game (of their profession) indefinitely into the future.
This is a very solid idea. Very optimistic. It says you can use your sense of meaning to calibrate your progress through life. But there are rules. You have to aim at the highest possible good that you can conceive.
Don’t sacrifice who you could be for who you are. If you choose to transform or maintain your current position, it’s better to transform in a positive direction. You become the thing that transforms who you are. You are who you are, but you are also the transformative agent for your future.
This is a moral rule. You are the thing that is today, and you’re the thing that becomes who you could be. And you should put the thing that becomes at a higher place than the thing that is. That means you also have to allow yourself to rid yourself of the things you are pathologically attached to, habits and people, ways of thinking, and material goods.
Don’t let those things in your life prevent you from being who you could be.
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