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How should we live?


Remember that life is short: thirty thousand days is an average lifetime, and as of today how many days do you and I have to live until our time is up? How will you and I use these remaining days? What is the purpose of these remaining days?

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. ~ Steve Jobs

How we feel is important as a sensation and as an indicator for the present moment, but is uncontrollable: we don’t create feelings, feelings happen to us. Since feelings do not cause our behaviour, we can coexist with unpleasant feelings while still taking purposeful living action (accepting our emotions as they are and doing what needs to be done).

We are responsible for what we do no matter how we feel at the time. Feelings don’t control our behaviour. Blaming our feelings for our behaviour simply excuses unkind or irresponsible habits. Discarding such excuses, we create more space for healthy living habits: Accept all your feelings, know your purpose(s), and do what needs to be done. This approach, of course, overturns aspects of conventionally accepted wisdom.

The direction and purpose of individual lives are a function of the work that an individual puts into creating them. When people ask “What is the meaning of life?,” the answer is that it’s the meaning you impose on it. It’s the aim you set for yourself. There are many different kinds of good lives, and many kinds of valid meaning in life — as many as there are talents for living them. Discover meaningful purposes for your life and once discovered live purposefully so you can accomplish them.We’ve all got different such talents.

The challenge we’re offered is as old as Socrates and probably older. He said that the “considered life,” in effect meaning the “chosen life,” is the good life — always of course, under the government of principles that stop us harming others or preventing them from being able to form a good life for themselves.The golden rule:

Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same. ~ George Bernard Shaw

So the idea is that we have to think about what we want to achieve, why we want to achieve it, what our capabilities are for achieving it, what we value — and then the pursuit of those values is what makes our lives good to live. How best to live, how to form good relationships – for these lie at the heart of good lives — especially friendships and affectionate relationships.


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