I say these words pretty loosely There's so much more to life than words
-- Over the Rhine
In general, I would like to live in a way more intentionally aligned with my personal beliefs and aesthetic. For me, that means treating myself, others and my environment (collectively what might be considered the Other) with respect and gratitude. Respect primarily for shared resources like time and energy, those being large umbrellas covering everything from email length to fossil fuel consumption. (Perhaps I will attempt a list someday.) It also includes respecting intent (believing the best about the other), emotion (understanding we all occupy a shared emotional environment) and space (an appreciation of the physicality of our existence).
Control of consciousness determines the quality of life.
-- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
There has always been a desire to live within an ethical framework defined by said beliefs. Earlier in life, this desire was largely constrained by a faith in a mainstream (and often conflicting) Christian theology. As those beliefs solidified, they began to require a structure of their own. This document might be considered a bit of the timber.
In no particular order.
Humility is often thought of as weakness when in fact it is a strength. It is the ability to wait out the storms of others' egos. It is the strength and confidence to not be heard. It is a lack of need or desire for recognition or acceptance. As the antithesis of ego, it builds instead of destroys, illuminates instead of blinds. Humility is required for effective leadership, for it is the underpinning of understanding, clear thinking and confident action.
Authenticity can be thought of as the opposite of hypocrisy. To be authentic one must first have an accurate view of oneself. Most of us are blind to our own hypocrisy.
Humility allows for simplicity. Simplicity is a cornerstone of not only good product design, but the design of a good life.
Being simple can make you feel vulnerable. But simplicity is really an achievement--it follows from hard-won clarity about what matters.
Modesty is the opposite of being showy. It is part of a broader ideal of service--which is a central ideal of good capitalism. One is not there to attract attention; one is there to help the customer to live a better life.
True modesty comes from confidence. Modesty is a lack of anxiety about being ignored.
Complexity and Mystery
Part of humility, acceptance, appreciation and eventually the embrace of the unknown and unknowable must be considered core to a satisfying life.
Sonder and Anti-exceptionalism
Sonder is "the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own--populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness--an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra..."
Maintaining a sense of one's place in the world, and an understanding of one's lack of significance even within the context of those we pass by on the street every day is paradoxically a key component to unlocking the thread of true meaning available to all.
The Immutability and Amorality of Suffering
I have suffered the loss of a child, something not uncommon but a loss I grieved with particular affect. While I hope to never experience that kind of personal tremor again, I live with the understanding that suffering visits all, regardless of their nature, behavior, thoughts or beliefs.
Unconcern for Fairness
Life is not fair in the ways humans are accustomed to measuring.
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches...so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
-- Paul writing to Timothy, New Testament
Faith and Numinous Experience
Otto writes that while the concept of "the holy" is often used to convey moral perfection--and does entail this--it contains another distinct element, beyond the ethical sphere, for which he uses the term numinous. He explains the numinous as a "non-rational, non-sensory experience or feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self."
I am not a believing Christian, but I am a practicing Christian.
-- Freeman Dyson
At the same time, it is important to me to believe in some existence beyond what any one person can see or feel, a thread that connects us in a transcendental way. The Wholly Other is often found in the Other, and in the struggles of life. The concepts and principles of spiritual practice are ancient and varied but at the same time evergreen and universal. To deny them is not only futile but an act of ignorance. Wisdom would suggest that we remain open to the possibilities of that beyond our senses and intellect.
Hope and Abundance
Of those qualities of that which is beyond, a sense of hope and an abundance mentality are of significant importance.
Hope is like why you tread water when your ship sinks. Even though you know that in most cases you have no chance of being picked up, everyone who was ever picked up tread water until rescue arrived. And so it's this necessary but insufficient precondition for a better future. Hope doesn't require that you know how you get from A to Z. Hope only requires that you know what your next step is.
-- Cory Doctorow
An abundance mentality is necessary to combat zero-sum thinking, which separates and inhibits cooperation.
Gratitude and Generosity
Out of this abundance comes both gratitude and generosity.
Assuming Best Intentions
Most humans are not malicious actors. Words and deeds that I perceive as threatening are often at worst not intended to be, and typically not even directed towards me in the first place. If I assume the best intentions of others, it protects me from my own manufactured slights and the resulting resentments and unhappiness.
Grit...is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual's passion for a particular long-term goal or end-state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment and serves as a driving force in achievement realization. Commonly associated concepts within the field of psychology include "perseverance", "hardiness", "resilience", "ambition", "need for achievement" and "conscientiousness".
Honesty and Faithfulness in Relationships
Minimalism and Consumption
To disallow the consumption of objects to change my enjoyment of life. Much of American happiness revolves around the dopamine release precipitated by shopping or acquiring new things. But science suggests lasting happiness is unchanged by these activities.
Further, the relentless pursuit of such pleasures locks one into a cycle of earning and spending that can lead to long-term unhappiness, if not aligned with higher-order values.
Further still, having more objects to keep track of can add stress and anxiety to life.
What does it profit if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
-- James 2:14
To remain sober from drugs and alcohol one day at a time.
What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?
It is by being fully involved with every detail of our lives that we find happiness.
-- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Providing for my Dependents
To provide for our collective needs, but not in excess, remaining within my own ethical guidelines.
To use an automobile as little as possible.
Use of "Social" Technologies
I do not use so-called "social software". I require my technological tools to respect my time and attention and my social communities to be intentional, respectful and as unmediated as possible.
Reading and Contemplation
To set aside time to read and write. To be well-read. To be well-spoken.
To set aside time to exercise. To consume foods responsibly and with intentionality towards my physical health. To have healthy habits in regards to consumption, rest, etc.
To communicate clearly with those around me and, when appropriate, with a broader audience.
To accept change and difference gracefully; to remain flexible.
The Products I Build and the Services I Provide
To build things of enduring value, that honor the other in both intent and execution.