154. It is hard to touch that which brings pain by mere contact.
Wise words from Publius Syrus to start the week with. Many of us learn not to touch fire or very hot things as a child. Perhaps we listened to our parents’ warnings, or perhaps we had to feel the burn for ourselves. Either way, once we associate intense pain from mere contact with something, it is easy for us to avoid it in the future.
But what about when this isn’t such a good thing? When it isn’t beneficial, and is in fact detrimental, to avoid something due to a past association of pain?
Some people claim to hate exercise. How this can be I’m not sure. It’s akin to saying you hate air. Or water. Try going without either for long and see how that works out. Our bodies evolved to move. And we know now that sitting is the new smoking. It is only due to the relatively recent revolutionary improvements in agriculture, industry, and technology that we are able to live a sedentary lifestyle. But with this perpetual life on easy street, traded for even the slightest physical hardship, comes a grim repayment — increased risk of death from nearly all causes.
So pick a sport, join a club, take up a challenge. Get a standing desk, take the stairs, walk instead of Uber. Just get moving. Find a way to reframe exercise as fun and necessary — your life depends on it.
Some people say they hate talking about money. They get uncomfortable when the subject arises. But this anxiety is driven by an unhealthy relationship with money, not by money itself. What if instead we think of money as simply a store of value (and for today we’ll skip a detour into the wrongs of fiat currency). Money doesn’t feel. It has no emotion. It keeps a silent record of our credits and debits, of our assets and liabilities, of our future plans and past indulgences.
Your relationship with money has the power to greatly influence the life you end up living. Do you want to be eulogized as one afraid of money? As one scared to balance their checkbook? How about one who lived a balanced life within their means, who wasn’t sucked into the consumerist culture of more, more, more?
Educate yourself, pay off your debt, live within your means. Get a bank that helps you instead of hurts you. Save for a future that is guaranteed to come one way or another.
Some people complain about the dating market. About their inability to find a suitable romantic partner. How they have to use a combination of dating apps to meet people. How they’re scared to talk to people in real life.
Oh wait, they don’t actually say that last part out loud. But the truth is etched in their faces and revealed in their actions. Sure, the “pain” is brought by “mere contact” — it can be anxiety-inducing and quite uncomfortable to go up and talk to a stranger. But this isn’t a hot stove that will never get cooler the more you touch it. On the contrary, the more you “exercise” your “approach” muscle, the easier it gets and the less unnatural it feels. Might not ever be easy, but the pain subsides to a dull ache. And then you find a wellspring of strength and resolve from within. Confidence. You conquer yourself.
So be proactive in your dating life, even if the short-term pain is difficult to bear at first. Your long-term happiness depends on it. Not to mention your genes’ long-term survival.
You may have recognized the 3 topics called out above — health, wealth, and relationships. These 3 topics comprise some of our most primal needs. They dominate our consumption-based culture, permeating our lives with ads of quick fixes and the endless latest-and-greatest breakthrough discoveries.
But what if we were to turn a light inward, to seek to truly understand our own hang-ups and misgivings — is it exercise or dating we find painful, or do we find our current self reeling when bathed in the light of true nature?
Compared with the miracle cures and alluring quick fixes, we’ll get an infinite amount more value and improvement in our own lives if we are able to build our own habit around daily exercise, or sensible banking, or proactive dating.
Your future self will either thank you or curse you. The choice is yours.
Until next time,
Reading philosophical musings written 2,000 years ago by a Roman slave does your body (and mind) good. So you should do it. Every morning.