Showing posts with label self-help. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self-help. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Ancient Greek Art of Happiness That May Surprise You

We live in a world more depressed, anxious and unhappy than ever, which makes no sense because, historically, humans are living better than at any other time. We have far more in the way of necessity and luxury than our ancestors of a hundred years ago even dreamed of. Yet, we are led to believe they were happier. Why? While many of us are overworked and underpaid, the fact of the matter is that life is significantly better than ever before. Over all, there is no good reason for so many people to be so worked up. 

In my life as a Hellenist, there has been immense joy, but also a lot of unique hardships and challenges, some that the average person will never go through, such as having a premature child. But Hellenism has also taught me how to live happily, and it is that knowledge, in part, that I wish to share with the reader of this entry. 

Before I begin, I want to say that I think I am different than most other people who claim to champion the subject of happiness. I will not tell you that wealth and riches won't make you happy. As Dan Pena would say, "If you think money can't buy happiness, you don't know where to shop." These things certainly can bring you happiness, it's just that they are not the only things that can. There are many other avenues to the goal. A mansion is a wonderful way to have a home, but you don't have to have a mansion in order to still have a nice home. 

Now an art is always a practice throughout your life. I have certainly not mastered this yet. However, it has helped me internally a lot more than most people may realize. One beautiful summer day, I was driving down a Wisconsin country backroad when a revelation came to me that put most of my worries and fears to rest forever. Most of us find ourselves in mental and emotional anguish because we try to fight the universe. Life can get so hard and frustrating that we want to just swing at the air, knowing that we will hit nothing. In other words, it's out of our hands.

The Greeks believed in the concept of Fate. Now before you presume to know what I'm talking about, read further. Fate does not mean we have no control over our lives. It means we are created each for a unique purpose. Just because you haven't done what someone else has, doesn't mean you're stupid or worthless, or that you cannot accomplish other great things. It just means you have a different purpose.

I began to realize that there is a significant level of peace with accepting Fate. It doesn't mean you should sit on the couch the rest of your life or let your friend drown. It means to understand and accept that there are certain courses for our lives that we cannot change. The pivotal moments are already ordained. For example, it was meant for me to move from North Carolina to Illinois. That was my fate, and there's nothing I can do to change the fact that it happened or that I am now here. So what can I do? I can take this road that has been laid out for me, accept it, and do great things with it. 

Whenever you feel yourself getting mad, scared or frustrated, try saying this to yourself, Don't you fight the universe. You won't win. Just go with it. You may just find that this affirmation sends a wave of peace and wisdom over you that you've never felt before, and relieves you of the emotions that make you feel the worst. Secondly, you'll stop beating yourself up over successes that other people have, and that you yourself haven't achieved. 

When I wake up in the morning and have to take care of my son and work on my home and career, it gets tiring and annoying really fast. Sometimes I want to lash out. But I try to stop and understand that I am here for a reason. This is what Fate has laid out for me. The Gods are not against me, and neither is life. This is just where I am supposed to be at this time, so how can I take what I have been given and make it the greatest that I can? Or, at least, understand that the Gods are wise and be at peace with my life? Equally important, are there things in which I can find peace? For me, that's my temple. There will always be something there for you as well. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Life Lesson From A 9 Year Old

My son has a very special story, as many know. But his premature birth isn't really the topic of this discussion as much as his attitude about his life and circumstances. Most people are aware that he was born severely premature with the worst chances of survival and overcame it all; there's no need, at this point, to recount that. What's equally astounding is my son's view on life and how he decides to live each day, and I think the Gods, in part, gave him to us so that he could be an inspiration to the world. 

Many of us complain about more than we should from day to day. We don't like the weather, our jobs, our home life, whatever it may be. We might even let the traffic lights or the jerk tailgating us send our mind and emotions into rage and frustration. The First World, especially, has no lack of complainers. But people like my son, I think, are unique for two reasons. One, if anyone has a legitimate reason to be angry and sad, it's him. Life did not give him an easy start. He has lifelong problems and has been through painful surgery in the past. He also, for the most part, can't talk physically (although he has found other ways of communication), and at this point, we don't know if he'll ever have the typical life that normal people do. Of course, that's not to say he isn't a very smart boy, he is. But he is still special needs.

However, for two, my son is unique because he doesn't complain about it. He doesn't let anything slow him down. He doesn't care that he was born premature or that he has issues. In fact, on the surface, it appears as if he has no problems at all. He still runs in the open, laughs joyously at the sunlight, plays with his toys, and generally enjoys his life every day. He doesn't even demand anything from others except the food and drink he needs. All he wants is the energy to keep living. You won't find my son sitting his room lamenting and pouting over the cards life has dealt him, no. He finds the good wherever it is. He's the freest and happiest person I myself have ever known.

We should all be more like my son, who is brave enough to not let his circumstances define him. Who takes this life every day and makes it a happy one without letting anything stand in the way of that happiness, no matter how big or troublesome. He just loves life, and delights in all the wonderful things around him. Most importantly, he does this by choice. He could decide to not be joyful very easily, but I think that somewhere inside him, he knows life wasn't meant to be dismal.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, July 14, 2017

If The Gods Care, Why Is My Life So Hard?

Why do bad things happen to me if there are Gods who care?

It's one of the oldest questions in the book, even asked by some Hellenists today who are having a difficult time with life. I by no means pretend to have the answers to life and the universe. Sometimes, the wisest thing you can say is, "I don't know." But in my own life, I have had no shortage of bad or seemingly bad experiences and tough times throughout all of my years on this Earth.

I was born into poverty, physically and mentally abused growing up, bullied in school, failed grades, lost several close relationships, lost jobs, worked ones I despised, lost my vehicles, had a son born severely premature, and ended up losing everything I had ever known living in North Carolina all together when my home was taken from my family and I left the state to pursue a better life. For years, I also suffered from severe depression and anxiety disorder. Only recently have I found medication and therapy that have quelled the issues. So do not take me for someone who has had a good life and is trying to tell others in bad situations that life's not so bad. I'm not the born-billionaire telling the trailer park that they can make it if they try. Believe me, I have had no easy life. Quite likely, I understand what you're going through. 

But I also still sincerely believe in and love the Gods. No matter how hard things have gotten, I have never cursed or turned on them. Ever. And what I've noticed is that things progressively improved for me because I am always inviting in the blessed presence of the Gods. We don't worship the Gods because they need or demand it. We don't do it to satisfy them. They can get along perfectly fine without us. We connect with the Gods to bring bliss into our lives. The more we do things to take ourselves out of the presence of the Gods, the worse things get. I know this also from personal experience. As I have said before, I used to be an extremely negative and angry person, and bad things kept happening to me left and right, because that negativity and hate was keeping me out of the presence of the Gods who are always positive and joyous.

When looking at our lives, I think the first question we have to ask ourselves is, What is bad? Often, what we may perceive as bad or a struggle is actually working out for a greater good. It can be impossible to see at times, but it may indeed be the case. When I left North Carolina, for years I thought I had made the worst mistake of my life. And indeed, I asked the Gods, Why did you let this happen to me? But now, the reality of my family's situation has been made clear. If we had remained where we were, my son and our family would have greatly suffered financially and in the educational system. North Carolina jobs don't pay as well, there's basically no protection for workers and minorities, and healthcare access can be a stand-up comedy. The educational system also wouldn't have worked as well with my son's special needs. Living in Illinois has brought us a great deal of help and opportunity that we would have otherwise probably not had. So while my situation for many years seemed like a terrible disaster, it was actually for the best that we went through that journey.

Speaking of journeys brings me to my next discussion on the matter, purpose. Aristotle said that nature does nothing without need, and the Gods control nature. Therefore, we can also say that the Gods do nothing without need. In giving us life, they gave it for a reason. In our struggles as well as our triumphs, we find meaning, purpose and wisdom in life. If the Gods just gave us every single thing and didn't allow us to actually strive and experience, there would be no purpose to human life, and thus, we ourselves would have no purpose. The things we experience in life are part of that journey and that purpose. It's like when we go through schooling. Some classes are easy, others are very hard, but they all teach us what we need to know, and we are the better for it. My experiences in life have helped me understand what it means to be poor, to feel empathy for people who are abused and mistreated, to seize opportunity, and to be grateful for the things I have instead of squandering them. Had I grown up rich and privileged, there's no way I could have possibly understood those struggles or the people who go through them. It has actually made me wiser and more humane.

As humans, we are very reactive creatures, and we're so quick to categorize things into joy and sorrow, success and failure, or good and bad. Because it's so easy for us to seek the extremes of something. And we are so quick to assume that the Gods don't care about us even at the slightest sign of trouble. I don't believe any evil comes from the Gods. Democritus said that the Gods give all good things. They are the ultimate good in the universe, the order against the chaos, and in some cases, that battle still rages today. That's why we invoke the Gods in our times of need, because we understand that any evil or harm that is happening to us, isn't coming from them. Deep down, we know that, and we know we have seen them answer us in the past. I certainly have. My son is alive today because the Gods cared. Otherwise, we wouldn't pray to them for rescue, and the more we bring that ultimate goodness into our lives, I can say from experience, the better chance we have of life getting better. 

Pray to them every day, and delight in all the beautiful things around you that they have given. When you learn to look, you will see the love of the Gods. You will see it in the bright sunshine on your face, the fresh breeze in the air, the soft grass beneath your feet, the beautiful smell of the flowers, the shimmering fields and towering forests, the peaceful flow of the passing streams and rivers, the children playing happily, and the friends and family who dearly love you. This part of life can be hard, but the Gods are not against you. If they were, you wouldn't be here. And if you choose to live a life where you hate the Gods, or where you serve them one day and spit on their statues the second something doesn't go your way, you're never going to experience their full goodness in your life. And if you choose to always look at the bad side of things instead of finding good and the inherent purpose of all that comes to you, you'll never be happy or successful.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How Do I Love Myself?

Many people ask this question unsuccessfully, pondering to themselves how they can love who they are instead of living in a state of self-loathing. And I think a lot of people confuse an attempt to love themselves with an attempt to love everything around them, or everything that is part of their life.

I don't know if we're necessarily meant to love ourselves because everyone has things about them that they dislike. The idea that you should try to love something that you, in fact, don't love, is absurd. Besides, having an over abundance of self-love results in arrogance eventually. Having a head that's too big can and does bring out the worst in a person. What we're meant to do is a system of weights and measures.

From the years 2009 to 2012, my entire life completely changed. My grandmother lost her beautiful home in Thomasville, North Carolina, a house I had grown up in during my teenage and young adult years and come to love as my true place of belonging. I also ended up leaving my home state and immediate family entirely and moving half way across the country. The choice now is simply that I can either choose to dwell on something that will never be again, or I can look at what has happened in my life as a result of the tragedy or the change. In other words, can I place parts of my life on a scale and either balance them out or make good things outweigh the bad? And if so, can I love those things instead of hating the others? When it comes to my life personally, one thing I certainly dislike is the fact that I spent so many years wasting time instead of making a future for myself. A lot of pain and dead ends have resulted. But the choice is to either hate myself for all that, or focus on the life I have now and what I am doing in present time to indeed obtain a better life. And, most importantly, am I grateful that the opportunity still exists and will I now take it as far as I can?

The reason so many people have no sense of self-love or self-satisfaction, is because they base their self-worth on all the things they don't like about themselves, and/or on the opinions of others concerning them. We may not be meant to love ourselves as much as we're meant to love the lovable things about our lives. Many things can't be loved, but love can be found in many things.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.