Masterful Living

The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.” ~ Edward Gibbon

Wise is the man who uses every type of circumstance to greatest possible advantage. When others complain, he handles the discomfort quietly while looking for the openings. When others curse he gives thanks, no matter how grim the outlook. When others fold up and blow away, he stands steady and assured, his face to the wind.

Nothing that comes your way will ever be greater than your ability to handle it gracefully, courageously and with dignity. Some have resigned themselves to “losing it” when the slightest winds of misfortune blow, while others bite their tongue, hold back for as long as possible yet finally lose it when their self-assigned “breaking point” is reached. Rare is he who stands serene, remaining poised to deliver the right thought, word or deed at exactly the right moment. The world needs more of the latter and less of the former two. Wouldn’t you agree?

If you do agree, you have taken the first step in becoming such a person.

The next time you find yourself under pressure in any field of circumstance, instead of reacting mindlessly or habitually, take as much time as you’d like (or can) to watch how others around you are handling it. Does their expression change? Are they kinder or meaner, more alert or more distant? Does their temper shorten or their patience deepen? Are they “acted upon” by exogenous forces or do they take great care to assess the forces and factors at work and “act upon” them when the time is right?

Distancing yourself slightly from your habitual patterns of reaction can go a long way, much farther than most would assume. Your observations of others in the situation can provide you with starting points for handling the situation creatively rather than reactively. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll likely be able to see your own habits more objectively, which will give you more room in the situation to think, talk and act prudently if not wisely.

Masterful living requires that you navigate the seas of life with poise, humility and reason. You don’t “try” to do the right thing, you do it. You don’t “hope” to be a good person, you be one. You remain calm, cool and collected, not so much by steeling yourself against what the world is throwing at you, but by giving thanks for the privilege of representing the voice of assurance, by allowing your inner resources to find their way to the surface without being distorted by fear or victimization and by waiting upon the small, still voice of wisdom that says “speak” or “act,” invariably at the perfect moment.

6 thoughts on “Masterful Living

  1. Colin

    This is a formula for living excellently, without excuses. You either do it or you don’t. I’m not saying that there is no improvement, but there is a standard that each of us can meet, and then exceed, etc. I really want to be a person who only gets better when more us thrown at me, and I can really see a no bs path to make that a reality, even further than I have already achieved. Thank you so much, because words like these are a priceless gift.


  2. Joshua

    Thanks Gregg,
    It’s not the pressure in our lives that’s causes these things to happen…’s us.
    Nothing changes without pressure,
    You have my agreement, that I will step aside and observe at greater depth, giving thanks for the priveledge of the awareness, and hold steady for a longer duration poised to act when the time is right, from a place of peace.


  3. happytobehere

    Well said. Your description is the person I always admire the most. It seems there are a few archetypes to this behavior and none of them are helpful in tough circumstances. Fear and victimization are trump cards for misery.


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