how to live

We are all born the same — naked, scared and clueless — and the situations, circumstances and people around us shape our beliefs and our lives. We don’t get a manual on how to live; it’s something that we have to figure out by ourselves. Some of us do and make the most of life, and some of us don’t and in Henry David Thoreau’s words live a life of quiet desperation.

In Discourses, Epictetus wrote, “What, then, makes a person free from hindrance and self-determining? For wealth doesn’t, neither does high-office, state or kingdom–rather, something else must be found… in the case of living, it is the knowledge of how to live.”

So, how do we learn the most important skill of all — how to live? 

At its core, this comprises of doing four key things in our life:

  1. Being a good human: No matter how diverse and different people are, look at everyone with the same eye. Treat others the way you would hope to be treated. Don’t let your selfish interests come in the way of your interactions. Be kind to others, especially during those times when you have every reason not to be. Be willing to give, without any expectation of getting anything in return. And be willing to receive as well, acknowledging and appreciating the generosity of others. Help the people in need, serve noble causes. Have an open mind, a large heart, and let your higher self shine. 
  2. Doing the right thing: The Stoics believed that acting virtuously is doing the highest good. If you act virtuously, everything else that’s important, including success, happiness, meaning and contentment, would follow. Let’s be real, this path is neither easy nor popular. It’s not comfortable, and in almost all scenarios, our efforts won’t be appreciated or rewarded. But it’s essential to living a life that reflects meaning, courage and greatness. To become a person of strong character, integrity and trustworthiness. As Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations, “Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honored. Dying… or busy with other assignments.”
  3. Constantly improving yourself: If you want to live your life to the fullest, then you have to embrace continuous self-improvement. Most of us think that our education ends as we graduate from college or grad school. But if you want to live an exceptional life —  a life that reflects excellence and greatness — then you must never stop learning. If you want to win over the obstacles and challenges that come your way, whether in life or in the marketplace, you must invest in self-education. In these ever-changing times, if you’re not improving, you’re falling behind. Personal development simply makes our personal and professional life overall easier and more efficient. In other words, to design a life of success, abundance and meaningful contribution, you must focus on constant self-development at every stage of your life and work to become a better version of yourself day in and day out. As Jim Rohn said, “The purpose of this human adventure is productivity — pursuing the full development of your potential. To see what all you can become with all you have been given.” 
  4. Pursuing work that you love: You have to ask yourself these important questions: What are my unique strengths and where those strengths can be used? What are my core values? Who I want to become? What is the best use of my finite time on this planet? Developing self-awareness and acting in accordance with your gifts will help you figure out the kind of work that truly fulfills you and gives you the opportunity to make your unique contribution to the world. You are a lionheart at your core and you are here for a mission, a special purpose. Instead of living a mediocre existence, you have to step up, be the exception and live your personal legend. After all, you are the hero and it’s your journey.

So, just do these things, it’s as simple as that. All the rest is nothing but squandering your time, your energy, your essence, and your potential. 

In truth, doing these essentials tasks is easier said than done. But if we discipline ourselves to adhere to the fundamental principles of philosophy and personal development and say no to incessant noise, negativity and bad influences, we’ll be able to execute them, no matter what we go through.