thoughts on life lessons from an old personal journal

You can impart knowledge – facts, but how do you teach or impart understanding?

That is one entry in one old journal of personal thoughts of mine from 1994.  Last week, while reviewing our many paper files, I came across many thoughts written down during and after a very rough patch in my adult life.  Life has its many ups and downs, and there are rough patches most of us have to endure and pass through.  Sometimes, it is only through difficult and trying or challenging experiences that we grow.  As the old zen master said “this world is a forge.”

Unfortunately for me, I may have not learned the lessons well that life’s experiences were trying to teach me.

Here are some of the thoughts (from 25 years ago) that I can share now as these may prove helpful to a few readers (those who will take the ten to 15 minutes to actually read this post).  Of course, much of the following is significantly easier said (or written) than done.  Constructive living and personal growth do require continuing, ongoing effort and personal sacrifice.

character traits worth cultivating over time

Poise, reasonable caution, temperance, and patience.  Humility and honesty with one’s self are quite helpful.

We might also add here some factors for success: perseverance, motivation or morale, and discipline (to stay the course).

on problems and problem solving

It is important that we learn from our mistakes.  We can also make use of strategies in our daily living to help us avoid costly mistakes.

Do not be reluctant to seek trusted counsel when you are faced with serious challenges or crises in your life.  This is when trusted loved ones, family members, and good (as in reliable) friends can be invaluable to you.  You do not have to face a serious problem or crisis alone.

Changing how you view a problem or challenge can make a big difference in the types of solutions you will come up with.  Therefore, try looking at problems and obstacle from different angles or perspectives.  Consider creative solutions, alternative solutions.  Your point, or angle of view can often times be the biggest “problem” or impediment to finding a constructive resolution.

But first, you must identify and recognize there is a problem or obstacle that must be resolved.  Sometimes, the problem behavior or mindset is inside you, inside your thinking.  Problem recognition is thus the big first step to be taken towards problem resolution.  After honestly acknowledging there is a problem, admit and accept the need to change in order to correct this failing in yourself.  You are responsible for your actions.  But, you must also take responsibility for your mental/emotional state of mind.

While weighing alternative courses of action, consider the long run effects or consequences of these actions.  The feel good, short term, quick fixes often carry serious long term consequences.

Realize and accept that there are going to be defeats, mistakes and failures in life.  Accept that fact.  Learn from your mistakes and then move on.  Do not remain fixated at the point of defeat.  Let go of the past.

on self-control and avoiding impulsive behaviors

Reckless or impulsive behavior can yield the same destructive results or consequences that purposeful (intentional) malevolent behavior can produce.  Intentions may differ, but results are often the same.

Do not indulge someone in their “interests” if their interests are risky, dangerous, or ethically wrong.  You do not do anyone any favors by going along with them if what they are doing, or planning to do, is wrong or potentially destructive.  (This bears on being an “enabler”, and co-dependency issues.)  If someone close to you is impulsive and/or reckless, try to get them to step back and practice better self-control.

emotional versus rational mindset

Do not sabotage your goals and plans by being emotionally reactive to stressful situations each day.

When you are emotionally distraught, it is very easy to delude yourself.  When you delude yourself, you are not realistic in your decisions and expectations, you are not fully rational in your thought processes.  Hence, you make, or are likely to make very bad decisions (in a deluded, agitated state of mind).  Therefore, control your emotions so that you can remain rational in all situations.

internal balance or peace of mind and the chaotic, stressful outer world

Since you cannot control outer circumstances, you must practice self-mastery, or control of your inner self (and of how you respond to that uncontrollable outer environment).

Stay focused, control your mind, and do not allow your emotions to gain control over your judgment.  Practice a certain degree of emotional detachment.

You are in an imperfect world.  The others with you in this world are imperfect.  You, also, are imperfect.

You’ll likely never have peace of mind from external conditions or circumstances.  Peace of mind can only come from within – from an inner calm.  Therefore, do not predicate your mental state of happiness upon external events/conditions.  Conversely, do not let external events unsettle your inner harmony.

Thus, there is the need for daily inner work (on your mind and spirit).

As difficult at it often is in daily living (to do this), do not condition or base your internal state of mind upon external conditions.  Patience.  Temperance.

parting proverbs or aphorisms

Bear in mind the old Chinese proverb (possibly Taoist in origin): A wise man can learn even from a fool.

As well, there is another old Chinese proverb that can help us be more humble and honest with ourselves.  It goes like this:  A man who knows he is a fool is not a great fool.

From Mark Twain (American), we have this observation:  The young have the capacity to enjoy life but not the opportunity.  The old have the opportunity to enjoy life, but not the capacity.  (Bear in mind that he was writing at a time of less affluence and shorter life spans.  He was likely considering the demands of earning a living and child rearing on the young of his time were so great that the young did not have much opportunity for enjoyment.  Today, the pressures on the young are great although these may be qualitatively very different from late 19th century America.)

Lastly, if your work group or department gets a new boss who has serious deficiencies in people skills or is temperamental or mean to his/her subordinates, or just a bully to others, you might in private conversation call his/her hand by saying thus: “What makes you think there is a need for a hostile work environment here?”  Use your own words tailored to the specific situation.  If nothing else, your boss will know that you see through his/her facade, and he/she will likely avoid victimizing you so much in the future.  Working in modern office environments can be so very stressful, especially when you have to deal with abrasive personalities on a daily basis.

Our feature image today was received (earlier in April) from a relative travelling in Asia Minor.  Perhaps it is a view of jelly fish.



copyright 2019 –

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s