We’ve all been told not to covet what others have, and we all know that feeling of desire. However, have we ever stopped to consider if our past selves would be covetous of the lives of our present selves? If the answer is “no,” then it’s likely that we don’t actually feel covetous because we truly know the difficulty of the work that went into our current lives. Hard work tends not to get envied as much as its fruits. If the answer is “yes,” then we are probably motivated by the wrong things.
Performance is defined as “an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment,” or “the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function.” We can consider every day we live as a performance; not for the sake of entertainment, but as vocation. If we choose to look at our life’s work as self-employment (the state of working for oneself rather than for an employer), then our focus is inward in regards to our performance evaluations. If we only look to the audience for validation, letting their applause or boos judge who we are, we are missing the point of performance: self-expression. The more honest our self-expression, the less we concern ourselves with viewer ratings.
We can talk at length about good intentions, but it’s our reactions that put our habits on display. Reactions are fueled by conditioning. Good conditioned responses result in good choices. Poor conditioned responses result in poor choices. Life, people and moments will sometimes be unkind – our habits will surface in these moments, either in the same manner or in opposition to how we are treated.
If we are easily flattered, so too must we be easily fooled.
Choices made without reason are akin to the absence of strategies in war. Playing chess blindfolded is not advice we would care to heed. Being fueled by instinct and emotion alone is an end game that needs no prediction.
Doing good work all day is half the battle. Reflecting each night on the work we’ve done and considering how we can do it better is the real work! If we constantly use our nights to be unjust, working hard only to feed our vices, we are missing the mark – aiming to be just, but only before dark.
Smiling when life is good is equivalent to a shopping spree when we have a little extra money in the bank. It’s nice, but neither are a measure of true wealth. Wealth is defined as “an abundance of valuable possessions or money.” However, the most valuable “possessions” are not material; they are “things” such as integrity, courage, reason, choice, kindness, compassion, and empathy. A smile is a wonderful asset, and holds even greater value when possessed and proudly displayed by those looking up from the ground.