How the Wisdom of Your Ancestors Can Make This Your Best Year
We are now 2/3s of the way through the year 2018. For some people, this may be crunch time, for most, they waltz past the milestone without any thought or reflection. Plato says, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
For me, one of my more abstract goals for 2018 is to live a more mindful life. At first glance, mindful sounds like a buzzword with little meaning. Now if you have followed this blog and my twitter profile, you likely have seen a lot of progress into a more mindful way of living.
One thing I do differently this year, is I keep a few inspirational books at my desk. One reason I do this is so that I can read through all of these books, as I have yet to finish a couple classics. Another reason I do this, is to get tidbits of inspiration and stir my creative juices when my day begins to stall, as it inevitably will do at some point. Perhaps the most important reason though, is to remind myself to live a meaningful life that I can look back on fondly as I grow older. The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is one of the greatest reminders to live a life of meaning. One of his greatest and most inspiring quotes is the following:
“No one can stop you from living according to your nature – from thinking, saying and things that benefit all.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
It resonates with me not only for its infinite wisdom, but also because it is a sentiment that I have felt deep within my heart for most of my life. You see, I didn’t grow up in a house that went to church on Sundays, though I find this ironic since my mother has grown very fond of the Christian church in the last few years. My parents grew up with different religions, so they decided to not push anything on me or my siblings and to let us find one on our own. In many ways, this led to a spiritual void in much of my childhood but it also afforded me the freedom to seek one of my own choosing and not blindly follow my ancestors. This liberated me on this front and likely had an impact on other aspects of my life. It granted me the ability to think critically and to choose what I believe to be right when so many others simply choose what is popular. So when I pursue wisdom of the ages, I do so of my own volition and that gives it much more meaning.
As a result of this, I have always felt the ability to appreciate all religious beliefs and cultural ideals. Now obviously I favor certain belief systems and have found one that resonates with me: Norse Pagan. If you ever see me in public, you’ll see a Helm of Awe or a Mjolnir ring on my right hand. Norse Paganism came to me at a time in my life of great conflict and helped through many of my struggles. In a world where so many religions ask you to be meek, humble and subservient, I found Norse Pagan to be refreshing as it seems to be one of the few that promotes self-reliance and individual strength while also encouraging community. At a time when the world around me seemed to be conspiring against me, giving it up to God didn’t suit my nature. I needed a system that would encourage me to strengthen my resolve and to grow into the very best version of myself. Today, I am unrecognizable from myself a year ago, so I have clearly found something that works.
Why do I bring this up? Well, because one of my main goals for this year has been to read as many ancient and sacred texts as I could to gain a greater understanding of a multitude of beliefs and to gleam what wisdom I can from a variety of cultures. Too many people today are so closeminded that they steal from themselves this opportunity to learn from some of the greatest and wisest minds that have ever lived. Some of these works include The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Meditations and The Poetic Eddas.
Though I had many feelings of resentment toward a family court system that is corrupt and seeks to redistribute wealth a la socialism and sees people as children that can’t get along rather than real human lives, my thoughts are towards the future rather than the past. Marcus Aurelius has shown me how stoicism can help move one past these frustrating times as there is nothing to be gained from dwelling on perceived slights.
While I was angry over the divorce and how despite a drastic difference in character between myself and my ex, the court seemed not to care. I have taken the experience as a wake-up call to reexamine my life and see what improvements I can make, and as a result I am a much better man for the effort.
As the year is drawing to a close, I have found more constructive ways to spend my time as I have swapped out too much time playing video games for more time out in nature where I can appreciate this beautiful life. I have traded out mindlessly watching sports for more time being active with riding my bike or training in martial arts with my son. I drink considerably less and my life is less cloudy as I am now more mindful of each passing moment. I eat better and have lost 16 pounds so far this year. I have a purpose and that purpose has given my life clear direction. Having kids is another wake-up call as they notice all of your habits, faults and redeemable qualities. It has led to a better and healthier lifestyle which I can only hope will rub off on them as they grow up.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle
Take this milestone of the year as an opportunity to refocus your efforts on your goals. There is plenty of time left in the year to accomplish many meaningful tasks and to reach 2019 with a sense of accomplishment and to be able to begin the new year as a new you. Share with me below in the comments what goals you have accomplished and what you have left to complete.