Practice Common Sense

“Our wealth of common sense fails to become common practice.”

Eric Greitens, Resilience

It has never been easier to acquire knowledge. Yet, this knowledge rarely becomes wisdom.

While knowledge means knowing, wisdom means doing – maybe even living.

We have unprecedented abilities and opportunities to learn. We can learn from the wise philosophers of Rome, the great rulers of centuries and the present. But learning is often confused with acquiring and reproducing knowledge. This isn’t learning.

Learning has to lead to action. If we truly learn something, it affects our behavior, not just our thinking. But all too often learning starts in the brain and stops in the brain. We fail to apply our knowledge to life.

To apply it to life, we need conscious practice of whatever we want to learn. We need to stop gathering information and start applying knowledge. We need to start living what we know.

Our common sense has to become common practice.

Better or Worse – You Decide

“The diminutive chain of habit is scarcely heavy enough to be felt, till it is too strong to be broken.”

Samuel Johnson, The Vision of Theodore (Modified)

Every day we make countless decisions.

Every decision is the result of a conscious or subconscious internal argument. These internal arguments do not need to only be about doing something. They can also be about not doing something. Whatever we let win these arguments, becomes more likely to win again in the future. Whatever wins our internal argument grows stronger – whatever loses shrinks.

This knowledge helps us realize, that every decision matters. They stack up over time and are likely to become habitual. In this way, every decision influences our future in a very subtle way.

If you don’t take conscious control of your everyday decisions, you will develop detrimental habits.

If you do take conscious control of your everyday decisions, you will develop beneficial habits.

Every single day:

You decide!

On Mentors

When we think of mentors we think of wise sages or highly successful people.

But mentors don’t have to be people, nor do we need to talk to them.

We can learn from people who are where we want to be. We can find personal mentors. But we can also learn from our idols and seek guidance through reading and listening.

If I have a question, I look up what Jocko Willink, Gary Vee or Jordan Peterson have to say about it.
If I look for solutions, I consult books, podcasts, and blogs.
If I feel stuck, I talk to people who I feel close to.

I think of all of these as mentors.

This opens up many different sources of learning, some of which are more than 2000 years old. I can enter a critical dialogue with Socrates, understand my mind better by listening to a lecture by Jordan Peterson or bounce ideas off of people who are close to me.

If you shift your perspective, you can find mentors in unsuspecting places.

Don't Underestimate What You Know

Over the last year many friends told me:

“Why do you write about this?
It’s common knowledge.
Everyone knows.
It’s unnecessary.”

What they failed to understand is that what is self-evident for you might blow someone else’s mind.

Share what is self-evident for you with others. You might be surprised by their response.

Surprised by Improvement

While you are on the Meaningful Path, improving your life every day, it’s often hard to notice progress.

I have written almost every day this year.

I journaled, finished my thesis, wrote on this blog and interacted with this community on social media.

When I read some of my writing from one or two years ago I was surprised by how much my craft has improved. It’s something I rarely notice in my daily practice.

My writing is more concise. My thinking is clearer and my understanding of my craft grew.

When you are absorbed in the daily tasks of life you tend not to recognize how much you have improved, especially when you practice your craft daily.

Now that 2019 is coming to a close, take a few hours and reflect on your progress this year.

You may be surprised by what you find.

Find Meaning in Suffering

After undergoing hardship, people have new knowledge to offer those who go through similar experiences. It is a unique source of meaning because it does not just give our lives purpose – it gives our suffering purpose. People help where they’ve been hurt so that their wounds are not in vain.

Sheryl Sandberg and adam grant, Option B

My desire to write in public originates from my own struggle. I went through tough times and I learned some valuable lessons that I genuinely want to share with you. I hope that what I’ve learned in the past and what I continue to learn in the present helps you wherever you are in your own journey.

Looking back, these reasons for starting this project gave and continues to give my suffering purpose. It’s very humbling and demanding at the same time, to know that hundreds of people look to me for advice, direction, and inspiration. It’s humbling because I am – and forever will be – a student. I haven’t fully figured things out and I never will. At the same time, it’s demanding because great responsibility goes along with knowing that hundreds of people consume your content.

It’s something that can give your suffering meaning: to know that you can decrease or alleviate the suffering of other people by sharing what you’ve learned by overcoming your struggle. It’s a light at the end of a tunnel and it will always be there.