To Live a Good Life

To live a good life:

We have the potential for it. If we can learn to be indifferent to what makes no difference. This is how we learn: by looking at each thing, both the parts and the whole. Keeping in mind that none of them can dictate how we perceive it. They don’t impose themselves on us. They hover before us, unmoving. It is we who generate the judgments – inscribing them on ourselves. And we don’t have to. We could leave the page blank – and if a mark slips through, erase it instantly.

Remember how brief is the attentiveness required. And then our lives will end.

And why is it so hard when things go against you?  If it’s imposed by nature, accept it gladly and stop fighting it. And if not, work out what your own nature requires, and aim at that, even if it brings you no glory. 

None of us is forbidden to pursue our own good.” – Marcus Aurelius

Many precious moments are wasted through the obsession over trivialities. I myself have been guilty in times past of getting upset about being cut off in traffic, cut in front of in line, misunderstood, falsely accused, under-appreciated, overlooked and so on, matters which, in retrospect, amounted to nothing more than struggling with that which made no difference.

When you give your attention to that which makes no difference, you:

  1. Waste your energy
  2. Don’t do that which you should have (and could have) done in that moment
  3. Fail to prepare for that which is yet to come

I have learned since that all circumstances are neutral. They cannot demand a particular perception or reaction, they simply are. To say that someone or something caused me to react in such-and-such a way is to deny my capacity of free will. To do so is to act in weakness, indecision and error where there ought to be strength, resolve and right action.

8 thoughts on “To Live a Good Life

  1. Zach

    The only actions we have direct and utter control over are our own. Our actions are both our highest leverage and our lowest hanging fruit. And the great thing is, in the end, regardless of whether or not our actions are recognized in any great way, they matter. They matter to the world and they matter to our future. A life of just actions builds momentum, and that momentum can be utilized for great things,


  2. Joy

    What a wonderfully muture stance you and Marcus Aurelius are proposing Gregg. A very good thing to remember in all situations, so that one can act effectively, rather than react habitually! Thank You!


  3. David R

    I noted today the gripping story of a woman office worker at the school in Decatur, GA who talked down a disturbed young gunman. The recorded incident is astonishing, not so much because of the cleverness of the woman but because of her loving, even-handed encompassment of the situation from start to finish. Rather than reacting to the situation and the gunman, as she surely could have been expected to, she enfolded him with calm and encouraging words to the point where he willingly gave himself up. It’s a great example, but how many daily circumstances give opportunity for just such heroism?


  4. Chuck Reddick

    This is the best example that I have seen in “majoring in minors” which all of us so often do. We usually think of majoring in minors as a physical thing having to do with tasks, and of course it often is that. However, the real majoring in minors is when we allow ourselves to get off track because we are thinking about the wrong things at the wrong time, or when we allow small insignificant things to monopolize our thinking and feelings.


  5. Lady Leo

    We assign the weight a circumstance carries in our heart. It took me many years to understand that even when others sought to convince me to adopt the value they believed, I still had the responsibility of my own response. Thank you for this excellent consideration. I love sharpening my perspective in this area as it affects every aspect of our lives.


  6. Carmen

    One of the biggest challenges that we face while we are here, is to be able to recognize things of importance, whether they be other people, actions of our own or others, or events of the earth. This recognition must come from a clearer mind and perception than most of us superficially shall possess. It requires that we begin to know ourselves on a deeper level. All begins with the recognized “me”. The individual self. When I change me, I change the world! Because when my heart is different, everything must and shall shift with the new perspective of living. Do not become lost within the small doings of Life, but learn to give yourself the opportunity to sit and become still. Viewing the world without judgment notice the life around you. Let the ways of right living become clearer in your own heart. And then, and only then, will ye know where true significance lies.


  7. Kierney

    This is so true. I have found the same thing in my life! We can make a bunch of drama about insignificant things or even significant things, but how does that add value or improve anything? We have feelings to perceive, to connect, to express – why not use them with our brains so that we can give attention to what does matter!


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