2020 has been a topsy turvy, upside down world for many of us. Our plans for the holidays have been cancelled. The presidential race is still ongoing. There are a ton of problems that are not within our control. This post does not wish to focus on the things we cannot control, but instead wishes to focus our troubles inwards to the problems we can control. For the most part, our lives are the result of our choices.
It is often easier to blame the rest of the world for the problems we face, but if one is to be honest with themselves, the best place to start for the source of our problems usually ends up being a result of choices one has made. The sooner one focuses on their own issues, the sooner we can focus on fixing what is within our control. The three quotes this post will present will focus on this argument from the perspective of philosophy or psychology and their meaning.
“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”Sigmund Freud
Freedom is something every person claims to cherish. Nobody will willingly call themselves a slave or a servant. Yet what does one’s actions tell the world? If one is to always blame fate for the choices they made, are they really the master of their own destiny? Freedom requires responsibility. People will vote in a politician in hopes of a positive outcome yet refuse to focus on themselves and their own failures.
If one were to take a look in the mirror and reflect on where they went wrong instead of blaming others, tehy would be closer to the freedom to choose. The freedom to act. Actions the most basic path to free will. If you want freedom, look no further than your own choices. That requires responsibility. Responsibility is freedom.
“Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.”Marcus Aurelius
Everyone has criticized the acitons of others based on appearances and attitude, but fewer people will hold themselves to a higher standard. You’ve probably seen people talking behind someone’s back at work or anywhere else. How many of those same people live up to their expectations of other people? If you ever find yourself criticizing others, try instead to stop and think of your own shortcomings.
Marcus is simply reminding us to focus on our own weaknesses and be nicer to others. We cannot control the actions of others. We don’t know their story. One cannot understand another man’s struggles or circumstances. What we can do is show compassion and learn from them. If you find yourself crticizing others, stop and think of what you can improve within your own behavior. Lead by example and those who see you may follow your example.
“Do you want to improve the world?Lao Tzu
I don’t think it can be done. The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.
If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.”
As stated previously, this quote focuses on people trying to change everything around them as opposed to focusing on their own behavior. We all believe we’re the hero in our own story. We all sometimes feel as though the world revolves around us and our decisions will influence everything else. Most of the time, this simply isn’t true. What Lao Tzu is implying is that we need to accept our insignificance in the current of the rest of the world.
It is better to accept things as they are in terms of global events and focus on ourselves. Focus on our own communities. It is far better to have self control than it is to attempt to control others. The world is too big for us at times and that’s okay. As long as one does the best they can for themselves, it usually ends up being more than enough on its own.