Personal Excellence

I've been thinking a lot lately about why we strive for personal excellence. I've also been thinking that personal excellence is often confused with perfectionism. Because we're a curious species, I've been wondering why we bother striving for personal excellence (or perfection.) 

Obviously there's a mythos around personal excellence. Your religion tells you to be excellent in all your actions, deeds, and thoughts. Your philosophy likewise inspires you to it. Societal pressures us into being the best we can as well. These are all indicators that we need to go in a certain direction in order to be better/best/great/awesome (fill in your adjective here) human beings. 

Now if you turn the question of 'why' on its head and ask, how does my personal excellence change the world? Does it change the world? Does it even matter? Time and perspective play into this. In a hundred years from now, in two hundred years from now, all our actions and excellence probably won't amount to very much. That would depend on the type of legacy you leave behind when your body dies. In a thousand years from now, if there are still human beings on this planet, all your personal excellence and or perfectionism won't amount to anything. 

However, what you do now, today, and for the next year, the next five years, the next ten or twenty years, all your actions of personal excellence does influence your sphere of people. You might be thinking, well, that's great for my sphere of people, but what about the larger world around me? If you think about it, all your friends and acquaintances also have friends and acquaintances that you don't know and so on and so forth. So there is a ripple effect. The more personal excellence you strive for every day, the more love and compassion you show others, the more of your time and attention you're willing to sacrifice away from your own small concerns to give your time and attention instead to your friends and acquaintances, the more of a direct impact you'll have on your sphere of influence. This impact is whatever you decide to make it each day. People and circumstances rarely ever have the true power to dictate how you act, think, and speak during your day. You are the only one in control. Yet so often we give away our power, our personal responsibility to personal excellence, by outer circumstances and other people's words. We may even give in to our own inner state of mind, the way our bodies feel (which may be uncomfortable for numbers of reasons.)

So personal excellence requires some tools for the sake of clarity and practice. You can decide to be personally excellent all you like, but if you have no framework or tools to deal not just with what the world offers you, but with your own inner state, you can't truly hope to be all that effective. 
This is why people turn to philosophy, religion, a spiritual path like Buddhism, or self-help books by accomplished self-help teachers (like Tony Robbins or Carol Dweck). The point here is that none of us ever learns how to effectively be great at anything without turning to people and or ideas (lifestyles even) that support and have a framework off which you can use tools to actually become personally excellent. It takes a great deal of effort at first, and then like using muscles, it becomes easier to sustain, and then push it even further. 

What does all this personal excellence actually end up doing?

At least for the interim your personal excellence becomes an inspiration for those in your community, your workplace, and has an enormous (if at first subtle) impact on the world at large. These will all be positive gains to the world. Because we are social creatures everyone likes to talk about something that inspired them. People also like to talk about things that made them upset, turned them off, or made them feel unhappy. And because this is such a prevalent and pervasive issue already, with bad news the norm on television and social media, you might consider it your duty to aspire to personal excellence to begin to turn the tide.

Happy 4th! May Freedom of Speech Reign!

One of the greatest qualities of our country, America, is the right to free speech that we all have. I can write a novel, or a short story, or a blog article, and it's not an illegal act to do so. I can say whatever I want to anyone I want...of course, there are consequences. We have the right to choose our words and our deeds, but not what happens as a result.

Today I celebrate this freedom, even though too many have abused it for so long. We can use words to create, or destroy. We can use words to heal and bring union, or poison and divide people. Words are our choice and they are our freely given right as human beings. 

I choose to use words in a way that create diplomacy and delight. I choose to use words that bring honor and careful consideration. 

I choose to use words that can uplift and entertain the spirits and minds of everyone who reads them or hears them from me.

Happy Indipendence Day! 

Emotional Terrorism and the Right of Free Speech

At the end of the day, we're all human. I think about the hippocratic oath doctors take. I think about how, in this day and age especially, they must be careful to keep all political discussion out of their wheelhouse and keep the focus on their patients and their patient's health. They cannot be too outspoken on public social media platforms without the risk of judgment and a potential loss of business, but more than that, I think they may be forced into a total acceptance of where anyone stands; and despite their potential misgivings about anyone's viewpoints or affiliations or even if they happen to be terrible criminals or despots, they still have to view the humanity in anyone and treat accordingly. Can we regular every day people treat everyone we meet, regardless of political affiliation, religious belief, sexual orientation, social or economic status with civility and dignity?

Unfortunately, I believe the answer to be 'no', as evidenced by the sheer volume of people who lack the capacity to see past their own desires and conditioning in stupidity. 

“I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:...

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can but I will always look for a path to a cure for all diseases.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”

When you see young people on street corners openly punching disabled persons in the face, and then proceeding to further beat him, because they think its funny...when you see an angry white man on the beach accusing a family of people from the Middle East of being the problem with the world and being connected to ISIL (false accusations) and screaming at them to leave...when you see an older white woman in a major shopping store cursing out a woman and telling her to go back to her country, mistaking her ethnicity, and saying how we'd be better off without them, and when the woman being accused fires back with, "you're an immigrant too, you're not Native American"...

What is lost on the people who live in "Flyover Country" is that emotional reactions like this, without real education, without compassion, IS terrorism. It's emotional terrorism. Terrorism in any form is something we as a world populace need to see as cancer. It's a cancer to fill ourselves with hatred for what is perceived as 'the other'. We're all human beings, and at the end of the day, we all need the basics to survive. And that includes healthy emotional support and responses. 

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

Warmth, sympathy, and understanding are doctors tools. More than that, they are human tools. Tools which rarely in this country ever get explained, learned in school, or even taught in life. These are, in fact, the antidotes to emotional imbalance, and these are all innately within us. Yet again, I point to capacity. Some people can change if they are willing to do so. Not all people can change; primarily because they have no interest. It can be addicting to stay stuck in one's point of view, to never see it another way. It feeds itself and becomes a sickness. We have a president whose only real viewpoint is that life is a business, and that to be number one means making sure that everything goes one way: his way. Which does not include OUR way. 

The president is very adept at bullying. Fire the guy who's investigating your potential ties to Russia. Threaten to fire the guy who wants to see your tax returns. Call news reputable news outlets fake, and make fun of people less fortunate (materially) than you are. Those are schoolyard bully tactics. And so you can guess who voted this emotional terrorist into office: schoolyard bullies and their parents who support them (or were/are themselves bullies.)

This post isn't a plea for people to wake up. If people were going to wake up, they would have done so by now. This is just a post to illustrate a point of view I have, because I live in the land of a free press: the digital land. I can post this here, and I mean no disrespect to anyone in particular. Exercising my right to free speech. Let's hope that doesn't go away. Because if it does, we're ALL in bigger trouble than anyone can imagine. 

I hear some people's argument already: "If you can write all this about the president and emotional terrorism, then other people have the right to say whatever they want to other people in stores or wherever about where they belong."

True, we do have the right. Look, Trump used words to put himself where he is. People voiced (via ballots) their opinions that Trump belonged where he does. I may have misgivings and disagreements with that fact, but its still a fact I can't refute. A totalitarian regime is usually how wars are started, by the way. But here's the problem. If our voices get taken away, if we no longer have the first amendment right, the freedom of speech, then we couldn't say what we did or didn't want anymore. At all. We would be told what we could or couldn't have and when to shut up and how high to jump. It would be a prison country. We already know what that's like. We're investigating whether or not right now a corrupt government regime (the people of Russia are amazing and beautiful, the government...not so much, in this writer's opinion) is overtly dictating the US governments next steps and maneuvers...I don't think we want to end up that way.

People want their phones, their internet, their television, and to be left alone. They want the right to practice free speech, they want the right to a good lifestyle, and they want to be left alone. If we're suddenly under a regime in which the government dictates your every move, all our freedoms in the pursuit of happiness evaporate.