Make Yourself Memorable

What do you want to be remembered for? In 10, 20, 30, 100 years’ time, what are people going to think about when they hear your name? Have you built yourself a legacy? In my opinion, if you have a goal, or a passion, or even just an idea you’re unsure about, you owe it to yourself to wholeheartedly make sure you manifest that to the world. Even if, and in actual fact, especially if other people are telling you it won’t work. In general, people are good at shooting down concepts and ideas, and listing all the negatives, and saying why it won’t work, but your goal has to be so clear, and so ingrained into you, that what other people say, doesn’t affect you. Because in years to come, other people aren’t going to be the ones that regret never trying, you’re going to be the one that spends their whole life wondering “what if…”. Nobody owes you anything, the only person that owes you anything is yourself.

I talked in my last post ‘the modern stoic’ about the idea of self-actualisation, and if you can be happy and content living your normal, average life, then that’s great, but if not, then you need to make the changes, you need to hold yourself accountable, and make sure you’re accomplishing all of your goals.

I have goals, I have passions, I have dreams, and I know for a fact I’m going to work relentlessly until I get to the point where I can look myself in the eye, and honestly say to myself, “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.” And I’m not here to preach to you what my goals are try and convince you that you should have the same goals as me, because we’re all different, and the fact that we all have different goals and different dreams in life is the very nature of what makes us all human, our individuality, and what makes us all unique, I believe is the biggest thing that connects us all.

I’m a big fan of nature, and biology, and psychology, and philosophy, and within philosophy, especially epistemology, the theory of knowledge. Arguably one of the most famous philosophers, René Descartes once said “it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” And recently, I’ve been doing that a lot, and quite honestly, doubting the world around me has inspired me in a weird way, to not doubt myself, because my passions and my dreams all revolve around nature, I don’t really care too much about money, I don’t care about many material things, as nice as new cars and big houses are, I care about life, mine, other people’s, animals, anything with sentience, and consciousness, that’s what I enjoy, and when I look at certain things happening in the world right now, I think doubting myself, and my ability to accomplish what I want, would be doing a disservice to not only me, but the world around me as well.

And I’m not putting down anybody who’s goal in life is to make a load of money, if that’s what’s important to you, and that’s your passion, what you want to dedicate yourself to, then I’m in full support of that, but to me, money has no intrinsic value, and I’m a realist, so I know that money does have value, and to accomplish my dreams, money is a necessity, but to me it’s nothing more than a tool that can be used to fulfil my passions. It’s not money I’m interested in, it’s freedom, my biggest personal goal, is the freedom to travel the world, and see everything that’s out there, but also to have a positive impact on the places I visit. I firmly believe that life has no inherent meaning, it only has the meaning that you choose to give it, and so to me, living a life where I can make as much positive change to not only myself, but everybody and everything else, is my value, that’s the meaning I’ve assigned to my life, because personally I’ll never be self-actualised with a ‘normal’ life, I won’t be able to get to 50 years old, and look myself in the mirror and be genuinely, completely happy, if I know I still get up every morning and have to put on my hard hat and high-vis vest.

And again, this isn’t an attack on people that can be happy with that, I know a lot of people who work in my current job that are very happy, and do enjoy their life, and I’m happy for them, but it  isn’t for me, until the day I can look around and see the positive changes I’ve made to the world around me, I won’t let myself stop trying. I was watching a video recently, and Eddie Hall (world’s strongest man 2017) said something along the lines of “Not everybody wants to go out and swim all the way around great Britain, not everybody wants to deadlift 500 kilos, some people just want to go to work every day, and come home afterwards, and that’s what they’re happy with.” And that’s true, your passion might just be having a family, a wife, a couple of kids, a dog, I don’t know, but if you’re at that point, then that’s great. But on the other hand, I want to open wildlife sanctuaries, and help educate people in less developed countries, learn new skills, travel, see the world, I want to inspire people to achieve their personal dreams whilst I’m achieving my own. I just want to see more happiness in the world. I want to help fight against poaching and deforestation, I want to help to fight climate change and global warming, and this website and this blog and what I’m basically hoping to do with this is create a community of people that want to better themselves, that’s my passion, and if, by doing this, I can inspire even just one or two people to go out and accomplish something they’ve always wanted to do, then that’s when I’ll be able to start looking myself in the mirror and feeling a sense of pride.

And I know it’s common advice, but you can’t let other people’s opinions stop you from chasing dreams, and I suffered with pretty bad social anxiety for a long time, and I know for a fact there’s people out there that will judge the things I say, and they might make fun of the fact I have a blog, but on the path to doing what you want to do, you just have to accept that people will form their own opinion of you, and that’s okay, because you don’t have to care what other people thing, not everybody is going to like you, those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

And I had to go through therapy to realise that, and there’s still times where I feel anxious, or nervous around people, and the fact it scares me to have my voice heard, and out there, is part of the reason I decided to do it, I’m not going to advocate going out and doing things that scare you, if it’s not something I’d do myself, but this was step one on my way to accomplishing all of my dreams and all of my passions, and in the end, the thought of getting older and looking back on my life and knowing I never even tried to achieve my maximum potential, was a lot scarier to me than having such an insight into my mind out there for the world to see will ever be.

So, I hope that from this you take away that if you’ve been on the fence about starting something new, or trying something you’ve always wanted to try, then just go for it, because the worse case scenario will never be as bad as never trying in the first place.

Ryan

The Modern Stoic

Modern life is stressful, there’s an abundance of information and opportunity available, and it can often times be difficult to trowel through all of the distraction and focus on the things we should; sometimes there’s even that much of an overload of possibility, it’s overwhelming trying to make a decision about what matters to you and what to prioritise. There’s so many menial, pointless events that we dwell on, and we could better spend our time focusing that energy into other things. 

I can’t cover every detail of Stoicism in this post, but it is an interesting topic, and it does bear discussion, there are a lot of reasons why, along my personal journey, I started to embrace the ideals of the old Stoics. One of those reasons was how simple the philosophies of it were, and how adaptable it is to modern culture. The Stoics embrace the idea of the Logos, which is how the universe is structured, it isn’t necessarily a God, but Stoicism is inclusive. The Logos is a respect for all things human and natural, there’s no place in Stoicism for transcendental beings, it’s merely a quest for a happy and meaningful life by embracing all things natural.

The origins of Stoicism date most famously back to, Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor, and Epictitus (which translates to “acquired” – nobody actually knows his real name) who was a slave that educated himself highly enough to be set free by his master. But you don’t have to read the meditations of Marcus Aurelius in order to be a stoic, you aren’t committed to going to a sacred building at arbitrary intervals in order to prove your faith. And although it has its ancient foundations, the Stoics openly embrace that scientific advancements can dismiss old beliefs, and this philosophy actually embraces the advancement of science, they embraced being proved wrong on a quest to better their own knowledge and understanding of the world around them. The original stoic philosophy actually included specific approaches to logic and epistemology (the theory of knowledge).

Being a stoic sounds like some secret club or society, but due to its inclusivity, there are a number of famous people that have taken on some of its philosophies: Bruce Lee; Theodore Roosevelt; Tim Ferris; Ross Edgley. And there’s more that display this way of life, maybe without even realising it. 

Another thing that enticed me was its approach to the unknown, death. Growing up it was something I always had a great fear of, but the Ancient Roman philosopher Seneca said “A man cannot live well if he knows not how to die well” and, amongst a few other things, I looked into this, and I like the interpretation of it that life is an ongoing project, and death is just a natural and logical end point, there’s nothing special about the event itself, and it is nothing that we should particularly fear. This was the understanding of Massimo Pigliucci in the book “How to be a Stoic”, which I would highly recommend. But I quite like the outlook of seeing death, something we often fear or shy away from, as something that doesn’t even have enough significance to bear thinking about, possibly even something that should be embraced just as much as any other part of our lives. 

Along the seemingly morbid train of thought, Marcus Aurelius said “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.” To me, what he’s saying here is that you don’t have control over the outside world, but you do have control over your inside world, which is even more powerful, you cant always be in control of what’s going to happen, but you can be in control of how you react to it (and it might be worth noting that this, and a lot of other stoic beliefs are similar to a lot of the Buddhist beliefs as well). 

And this leads me quite nicely onto my next point, as said by the renowned psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck “The philosophical origins of cognitive therapy can be traced back to the stoic philosophers.” And this is something I found really interestingdue to the fact I have actually had cognitive behaviour therapy, relatively recently, and I found it really helpful. So, to hear that its origins lie with the stoics was a surprise. Although it did catch my attention when during the therapy we discussed how my thoughts inside my own head are the only things I have complete control over, and the reactions of the outside world don’t matter, the only thing that matters is how I choose to deal with what other people think. 

Of course stoicism, like all philosophies, ideas and religions, won’t appeal to everybody, for some people it just isn’t practical for them, it can be quite demanding in the sense that it teaches moral character is the only thing worthy of constant growth and cultivation and things such as education, health, money, marriage, family, all fall under the category of “preferred indifferents”, and as much as stoics don’t practice ascetism, and giving up all earthly goods the way monks do (and in actual fact, a lot of the ancient stoics enjoyed the effluent lifestyles they lived) those things don’t define who we are as a person, and therefore don’t actually matter. But for the same reason it has its pitfalls, by nature this increases its diversity across all races, social statuses and walks of life opening the door for anybody.

The only real true goal of stoicism is ataraxia, achieving tranquillity of mind, and for anybody with an interest in psychology, it’s noticeable that this, essentially is interchangeable with “Self-actualisation”, the top tier on the pyramid of “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs”. Self-actualisation, or ataraxia, was best described by Ross Edgley as the ability to look yourself in the mirror and to just be content, to be content with who you are, where you’ve come from, where you’re going. To just be able to look in the mirror and appreciate yourself for who you are and what you’ve achieved. Ataraxy is defined as “a state of serene calmness”, it’s to just simply be, as the Buddhists might put it “enlightened”. And that is the beauty of stoicism, you don’t have to fully commit your life to something in which the end goal is based on the probability of an afterlife, defined by a two thousand year old book, laced with inconsistency and pure science fiction. But instead, for a stoic, the end goal is just to be the best version of yourself imaginable, to be able to look yourself in the mirror and be content with what’s looking back at you. 

And that is why I embrace this ancient philosophy.

Ryan

Politics Part 2: My Issues with Democracy

Democracy is a system that’s fundamental to the society that we live in during this day and age, however there are some intrinsic issues with a voting system that relies on the ability of the general population in order to make a well informed decision about who should run a country. In the United Kingdom, he have a Prime Minister voted in by the public, much in the same way that the Presidential election works in the USA, I don’t have an issue with the idea of a group of parties putting together unique manifestos and debating to let an outside group of people determine which of them is going to be most suitable for the role of running a country. The problem I have is that the people in charge of making that decision, are the general population…

During my research for this article, it became apparent that this outlook has been argued since democracy began, Aristotle was noted as being against this kind of democracy as well. The thing is, the average person isn’t well enough equipped to make this decision, it’s a vote in which they aren’t well trained enough to predict the outcome and make a logical decision (this isn’t a dig, I’m included in this). But the average person doesn’t spend enough time studying the similarities and differences of all the parties, they don’t understand fully what each competing party will realistically be able to achieve, and what constitutes an ‘empty promise’ because most people don’t know facilities and what budget the ruling party will actually have access to.

I’ve found some statistics online and I just want to reel a few off for you (bearing in mind that most of these surveys were conducted in America):

  • 1 in 4 adults believe that the sun orbits the earth.
  • 48% of people don’t accept common ancestry of humans and other animals.
  • 61% of people don’t accept the big bang.
  • 2% of people are firm believers in the “flat-earth” theory.

And although that might just be testament to a failing American educational system, and not a survey of the general world population, my point is still valid that these people can, and most likely do, vote in a democratic election. And I’m not calling the average person stupid, just unprepared to vote in a democracy.

Let’s scale the issue down, say you’re about to be on a commercial space flight, something really incredible, but also something that could put you, and other people in danger. Well when it comes time to choose the pilot of that spacecraft, would you rather a group of 100 random people taken off the street read very biased reviews towards the candidates, and make the final decision based, pretty much solely, on who was most likeable and persuasive. Or would you rather a team of 20 people, all with a history of work pertaining to space travel, look at all the data, figure out all the statistical advantages and disadvantages of each and every candidate, and make a well-informed and well-guided decision on who is going to be the best and safest choice?

And that is exactly my point, making a decision about politics is extremely difficult to do correctly, and deciding who is capable of running a country is something that should take years of training and education, not something that should necessarily be a god given right because you’ve reached the threshold of a certain age.

However, as much as I see the fundamental flaws in the current system, I think giving the power to the people is a hallmark of a society that has faith in its constituent population, and their educational system. And I think that, for a lot of instances, the average person does have every right to be able to have their say in who makes them feel most secure and happy in the country that they live in.

There are three options when it comes to fixing this issue and seeing as one of the options is a dictatorship (which I strongly object to) we’ll skip that one and focus on the other two.

The first of those options is to vote for individual members of a board / committee who are in charge of choosing the next candidate, we see their credentials, they put forward why they should be allowed to make that choice, and argue with each other about why they should be given that power. Although this does raise the issue of how easy it would be for somebody wealthy to bribe a team of relatively few people, and this sort of works in a similar fashion to the system already in place where the members of a party can vote for the party leader.

So, the second, safer, option: We invest more into the education system, we teach politics to people more thoroughly before they reach the voting age, and then when they do get that option to vote, they can actually think for themselves in the most logical, well-informed manor possible. And for a country that relies heavily on the population to decide who’s going to be in charge, I personally don’t think it’s too much to ask that in return, the government that we elect will put measures in place to constantly improve our decision making process.

Ryan

Modern living

Modern living is almost too comfortable. I think it would do us all well to get back into a powerful, primitive state now and again. Something that activates our “survival mode” as Ross Edgley (the inspiration for this post puts it. There’s a lot to be said about our old style of living, and how we’ve lost a lot of the attributes and experiences that made us the humans we are today. And although evolution has taken its course, it’s hard to progress even more if we lose track of where we’ve come from what and who we actually are.

Dream killers

There are 2 main things that kill the dreams of 99% of the population. And those two things are laziness, and complacency. A lot of people will tell you that they wish they had more money, or they wish they had their own business, but then tell you they don’t have the time or energy. Yet they know everything that’s going off in all the soaps, and have finished 3 box sets this month; that’s laziness. And then there’s the people that accept mediocrity, they are happy to live a “plain” life and have no motivation to strive for anything more, this is complacency. And if you can be happy not fulfilling your dreams, then let those two things be a part of your life, but I’d say you owe it to yourself to succeed.

Motivation

It’s hard to get motivated to provide for a society that gives us the bare minimum in return, your motivation should be selfish, even if your motivation is to help others, do it because that’s what you want to do, not because that’s what you’ve been told to do. It’s okay to put yourself first, as long as it’s not detrimental to anybody else.