"Know thyself." - Inscription at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi
A lot of the learning I do is an attempt to follow the ancient advice given at Delphi that starts this post. It's not as though it is an overriding thought in my mind or that I keep it at the forefront. It just seems to work out that way, magically, on its own.
A couple of the people that have helped me in doing this are Tim Ferriss and James Altucher.
In an interview with Leo Babauta of Zen Habits on living with and without goals, Tim Ferriss said that he believes in alternating between appreciation and achievement. He believes that a "good life" should entail both, not just one or the other. I agree with this completely. A life of achievement without appreciation seems hollow and a life of appreciation without achievement seems a waste of many people's drives, talents, and abilities to contribute to the world in a positive way.
However, even with my strong agreement, that still leaves the question, "What should be achieved?" Enter Altucher.
Altucher believes in achieving through what he calls the daily practice. The daily practice involves accomplishing four things each day. Becoming better physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Again, I have to agree, although these are still a bit vague for my liking. I love the idea, but think there is room enough to make the daily practice more specific to my personal beliefs and values.
My Daily Practice
Over the last couple weeks, I've been trying to figure out my priorities in terms of daily things I hope to accomplish. Perhaps I don't get all four each day and perhaps I do, but that's not the point. The process is the point.
In thinking over it, I have come up with my own list of four items as part of a daily practice; mine, however, are all actions instead of categories. They include:
I have found that by really examining the choices, actions and things that I appreciate and accomplish I become more aware of myself and gain a richer understanding of myself. For instance, by just looking at the four actions above it is clear that I highly value physical strength and health, education and experience, sharing with others, and connecting with people in a deeper way than simply watching sitcoms or sports together.
These actions are ones I try to accomplish each day, but also ones that I try to appreciate that I am able to do each day as well. There may come a day where I can't squat heavy, read complex texts, write my thoughts or personally connect with others coherently, but I can certainly take advantage of all those things while I can and learn much more about myself and others in the process.
I am by no means saying everyone should do these four things each day. They work for me. I do think an attempt to find out what you value and appreciate can help anyone live a fuller life though. Whatever it is, figure it out and apply yourself. The weeks go by to quickly to be passive about them.