The devotion that has resonated most with me this week comes from the 2019 Daily Stoic Meditations. I share it with you in hopes that it will resonate with you as strongly as it did me and give you something to reflect on this coming week.
According to the great Jesuit Monk, Anthony De Mello, there are three intellectual feats that we struggle with on a regular basis, that are harder than just about any physical activity on the planet. They are, in this order:
- Returning love for hate
- Including the excluded
- Admitting you are wrong
This is not a modern affliction. De Mello was also tapping into an ancient idea with which the Stoics would have wholly agreed:
- “If you must be affected by other people’s misfortunes, show them pity instead of contempt. Drop this readiness to hate.” -Epictetus
- “No school has more goodness and gentleness; none has more love than human beings, nor more attention to the common good. The goal which it assigns to us is to be useful, to help others, and to take care, not only of ourselves, but of everyone in general and of each one in particular.” -Seneca
- “If anyone can refute me – show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective – I’ll gladly change. Its the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-defeat and ignorance.” -Marcus Aurelius
When I want to get stronger, I join a gym. And if I want to compete in weightlifting, I hire a trainer/coach. I watch videos of professional weightlifters to learn their techniques and see if I can replicate it in my own. I work at it. And work hard in training. That’s how muscles are built, and it’s how we get stronger in this sport.
When I am ignorant about a certain topic or looking to get smarter, or simply get sharper mentally, I read books and listen to podcasts on these topics. I’ve taken classes and/or hired a tutor. I even like to play brain games and solve puzzles. I work at it. This is how knowledge is accumulated and intellect is built.
This week, think about how to strengthen the soul. Be courageous. Search for ways to be kinder, more inclusive, and more open-minded.
Build your spirit as if you are sculpting your body or filling your mind.
Be the light that you, yourself, sometimes need.