As everyone is celebrating the holidays, people are taking time to focus on others, on giving and being kind to those around us. It’s sad to think that this mentality only seems to last such a short time out of the year. Jean Jacques Rousseau questioned, “what wisdom can you find that is far greater than kindness?” All the knowledge that you strive for, the wisdom you seek, the work you put in to become better; isn’t it ultimately for the good of others? Whether it’s those in the future or those who live now, people will undoubtedly be affected by the good we are doing right now. So if we are working to make the lives better of those we don’t know, why not strive to be kind to those we see on a daily basis? Let us put aside political parties, views, and ideas and just see each other as people. In order to better yourself and increase your own personal virtue, you must first, as Ghandi put it, “lose yourself in the service of others.” As we go about doing service for others, we forget about the things in our lives that weigh us down and are lifted up in seeing the joy we can bring to the lives of those around us. As you continue to celebrate the holidays, strive to keep that feeling of charity and kindness in your heart throughout the year. Ultimately, it will bring you closer to your goals.
Today, there are a lot of things that pull your attention all over the place. While some of these distractions are based on an unvirtuous pillar, some are just that: distractions. People today never sit still. It’s one place to the next with ten thousand jobs to take care of along the way. I know I myself am guilty of being swept up in one endless task to another with no moment where I simply stop. But how is this affecting us? Well, primarily in two ways. 1) It prohibits us from having any true deep reflection. Never do we sit down in pure silence and stop to recall the day. We don’t have commonplace books like the founders where we could recount the things we heard, saw, and learned. When we have a break, we pull out our phones to check social media or play a little game or text our friends. The problem is that this reflection time is when some of our best thoughts are had. In the silence we can think more deeply and process more clearly. If we are constantly running, how will we ever stop to think about what is really going on? And this leads to me to 2) we are distracted from seeing what really matters. Because of everything that is being thrown at us, it gets harder and harder to look through to the important aspects of life. You don’t see or hear something truly amazing because you don’t stop to look around. The biggest things we miss due to all of our distractions are the government’s actions. There is a reason our attention is pulled one way then the other, and it is because they are trying to shield you eyes from the evil that is happening. We become so caught up in unimportant things that we never stop to ask what is really going on. We must eliminate the unimportant distractions from our lives if we ever want to focus on what really matters. It’s not going to be easy. Mindless nonsense had been pumped into our heads for decades now, and it has only gotten worse. If we take a minute to slow down and turn everything off, we can bring ourselves closer to the truth. Stop and smell the roses, sit down with yourself and think. It will only help in the long run.
I’ve written before about what it means to truly be happy. And that we can choose for ourselves if we want to be that way. But the world constantly tells us otherwise, so I feel like it’s important to address once again.
We are constantly confronted with lies promising happiness, or telling us that with our circumstances happiness is unobtainable. While it might be easy, we cannot buy into these lies. We are the only ones responsible for our happiness and no one can take it away, or even give it. The word happiness does not refer to our worldly pleasures, but our virtue. As we strive for virtue and knowledge, we are in the pursuit of happiness.
George Washington said that “happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.” But why? Because as we do what we are meant to be doing, we are fulfilling the job we have been given and accomplishing our purpose, and nothing can give us a greater sense of joy than this. No one can tell us our circumstances restrict us from true happiness because we are in charge of our own moral character. And no one can promise us happiness from worldly pleasures because they bring only temporary satisfaction, but soon die away and we feel the need for something more. Though today’s entry may be brief, the message is true. You can be happy. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. As you work toward what you know to be right, joy, real joy, will undoubtedly come.
“There is a wisdom of the head and a wisdom of the heart.” -Charles Dickens
What is the wisdom of the head? This is fact. We know one plus one equals two and nothing can change that. It cannot be argued or disputed, it just is. Some of this wisdom can be argued, however. Wisdom of the head may also include ideas that can be debated using logic and reason. Whatever it is, wisdom of the head does not come from feeling and emotion, but from fact, logic, and study. We gain this type of wisdom from simply reading books. We take in the knowledge that comes from them and keep it in our memory. Though important, this is not the only type of knowledge we require.
Wisdom of the heart is very different from that of the head. It is emotion. Everyone can feel differently in this wisdom, and most of the time, no one is entirely in the right or entirely in the wrong. It is often debated and fought over because people usually tend to be more passionate about this type of wisdom. It cannot be proved by looking in a textbook or typing numbers into a calculator, it has to be studied and thought over. In order to gain wisdom of the heart you must not only read, but you have to ponder and consider as you do so so you can form opinions and ideas based on the heart.
While both of these types of wisdom are beautiful and needed, they cannot exist alone. If we truly want to gain knowledge and make a difference we must use them hand in hand. We need to be able to see the facts of things. To know what is actually true or actually false. But we also have to be able to feel. We can take that knowledge we gain from learning facts and use them to think deeply into important matters and form opinions and beliefs based on what we feel as we study them.