I have been focused lately on how evil arises throughout various stages of life. I wrote about evil being a compound of the little, microscopic actions that while seem just and reasonable at the time, instead become self-defeating or malicious in nature. Evil seems to arise onto well intended individuals who make decisions that are thought to be the decision that best alleviates the situation. While there are always exceptions to this rule of evil, the majority of actions and individuals become evil not by intent, but by outcome.
Therefore, we must ask the question, do we judge a behavior or action based on intent, or based on consequence of outcomes? If evil arises by hitching a ride on the tiny well intended behaviors throughout the day, then we must judge someone based on the outcomes of their actions, or the consequences, despite their intentions.
This is a tough line to walk, that creates a slippery slope. Obviously, as we know from the Stoics, outcomes are out of our control. Therefore, to judge ourselves based on outcomes puts the weight of ourselves into the hands of a universe that we have no control over, so that can’t be right either. If we can’t judge based on intent, due to intent being obsolete, and we can’t judge based on outcome, due to outcome being out of an individual’s control, what do we judge?
There was a premise of a book I read recently that said that there are not seven deadly sins, but just one, and that each deadly sin or evil behavior is just a product of the deadliest sin: laziness. Laziness, or essentially a lack of effort, seems to be the lining of every coat of shame that we wear. If we had to judge behaviors (which is another slippery slope), then instead of focusing on intent or outcome, we should instead focus on effort put into the behavior.
I focus on evil because I know how easy it is to become someone who spends too much time on that side of the line. I understand how quick and sudden the world can become enveloped in chaos, and how fast any order in life can be depleted. I want to be a strong, morally just person, I want to be someone people are proud to say that they know. I want my parents to be proud that I am their son, my friends to be proud that they have a friendship with me, my work to be proud that they hired me, and my girlfriend to be proud that I am her boyfriend.
How do I become this person? How do I become the right person? The right person for my family, for my relationship, for this world? How do I lift those in my life up, and make them feel good about themselves? These were the questions bouncing off of my mind this morning as I wrote a list under the title: “How To Be The Right Person?” I’d like to share it here. These ideas are solely for the purpose of helping me become the person I know I can be, and helping me be the person those in my life deserve, and the ideas come from previous readings, teachers, and life experience. While each point could be an essay in and of itself, I’ll try to keep it brief.
The Four Agreements lists to “Never Assume Anything” as it’s third agreement. I wrote this for myself to remember that my lens on the world is not often what the world truly is. Never assume maliciousness or cruel intent in actions, never assume that someone is purposely trying to hurt you. Along that, never assume that you fully understand. Ask questions until everything is clear.
Keep Pride and Fear Out of Decisions
It is easy to become prideful when you feel slighted, feel hurt or feel as though your back is against the wall. It is easy to think that since this person hurt you, you must hurt them more. Pride tells us that we won’t look stupid, or weak, or vulnerable, and therefore turns us into a person unwilling to humble ourselves enough to learn, to apologize for our mistakes or to right the wrong. Fear forces us to compare our current situation to the past, thus creating a cycle of avoidance of pain. Remember, “pride cometh before the fall.”
Take Responsibility For Your Actions
Everything that you do is your own fault. No one has the capacity to hurt you, to upset you, to make you angry or jealous, because it is always a choice. Often times things occur that rattle around in my mind like a maraca, and I feel the need to blame someone, but the truth is, these feelings are my own, and I must take responsibility for them. Along those lines, take responsibility for your own life. Clean your room, stay organized, make time for what’s important, and set aside deep work windows to become the person that not only you need to be, but that other’s need you to be too.
Be Careful Processing Your Thoughts Out Loud
Oftentimes the process of thinking ebs and flows. It goes up and down from good to bad as we think or learn more information. Sometimes we are in a thinking rut, and need space or time to work that out. Processing out loud has its perks, and is appropriate at certain times, but be careful of processing touchy subjects out loud, because oftentimes our minds need to think through every available option and decide what is best. If you share those, and share the painful options that you must think through, if you share the knee jerk reactions, the scary false but seemingly true realizations, and the fears you need to work through, you may end up unintentionally hurting those close to you.
Let Go Of The Things That You Can’t Control, This Includes The Past
Sometimes I feel the need to control things that are way out of my control. This could be due to a disruptive past that has forced me into a place where chaos seems painful, so order is a necessity. Regardless of why, there are certain things out of our control, and we just have to accept that. “Choice Theory” states that we can never straightforwardly change others, but accept them for who are and try to work forward. Therefore, other’s actions, behaviors, words, etc can be talked about, but never controlled. Accept that. Along those lines, the past is also out of control. This includes your own, as well as someone else’s. Draw hard lines, accept what has occured, and move forward. Because if you don’t do this, if you don’t accept what you can’t control, not only will you spend fruitless time and effort attempting to control people and situations, you’ll push those you care about away.
Say Only The Words That You Mean
Along the lines of processing outloud, be precise with your speech, as Jordan Peterson tells us. Say what you mean, and do not say things that you do not mean. Obviously, leave room for joking manners, but do not say words meant for malice, to cause a reaction, or to mislead others.
Tell The Truth
I was once told, “If you lie, you die” by the former Chief of Police of Brentwood. Never lie, because, What would the world be if we only told the truth? Acknowledge dragons, share how you feel, speak the truth, and accept the consequences of doing that, no matter what they are. It is always better to face rough consequences for the truth, than to be praised for lies.
Aim For Meaning
I talked about meaning over expedience before. Sacrifice what doesn't matter in the hope that you can get what does metter. Keep those who are meaningful in your life, and let go of those who only aim for expedience. Help others, sacrifice what is necessary, and invite meaning into your life, because it is the only way to make the suffering of life worthwhile.
Do Not Aim To Hurt Others
Never allow pride, fear, anger, resentment, or any other emotion lead you to make decisions or actions that hurt those you care about. I know it feels nice to win, but if you win at the cost of hurting those you love, did you really win?
Accept Feedback Openly and Always Be Willing To Change (Someone May KNow Something That You Don’t, Listen)
Don’t assume that you always know what is correct. The arrogance of the intellect leads to close mindedness, and top-down conversations. Listen first, and accept that often times, you may be wrong.
Always Give 100% and Go All In
“Throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow”. Go all in on things. On love, on work, on people, on pursuits. Give everything your best, and remember that your regrets will not be effort related.
Accept That Pain Is Part Of The Process
NF states that if you want love, you’re going to have to go through the pain. This is as true as it gets. Meaning comes with the pain of sacrifice. There is no way around pain, except to live a life where you never aim for meaning endeavours. The pain will be there, fear it not. As the tools authors say, lean into the pain, because everything you’ve ever needed is on the other side. So have the painful conversations, go the extra mile, and live in a manner where the pain is present, because it means you are going the right way.
Trust Others, Wholly and Don’t Interrogate
Assume the best and let the world prove you wrong. Because, if not, what is the alternative? That those you love walk on eggshells around you? That you interrogate others because you feel there is something that they are hiding? Trust, and when your trust is broken, learn to trust again. Because, if not, again, what is the alternative? You don’t want to be that person, and others don’t want to be with that person.
Never rely too much on anyone to the point where you couldn’t function without them, but never become so independent that there is not room for others in your life. Find a balance.
Be Grateful In Spite Of Your Suffering
This comes from Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules of Life. As we know, life is a form of suffering in many points, but be grateful in spite of it. You get to spend your time with people you care about, and you have to opportunity to make other’s days better. The one thing we know about hell is that no matter how deep you are, you can always go deeper. Be grateful, because it can always be worse.
Find The Right Person
Obviously becoming the right person is a personal endeavour, but find the people who make it worthwhile. Find the person who allows you the space to do this work, while providing you the support, feedback, and love that you need on the journey. Find someone who loves you for who are you, and for who you can become, and find someone who you can do the same for. Find someone to love who not only makes you you better, but makes you want to be a better person, who pushes you to the peaks of the mountains, who establishes a trustworthy basecamp with you. Because this journey is hard, but having those in life who you love make it all the worthwhile.
Thank you for allowing me to share.