on people who don’t practice what they preach

“My advice is really this: what we hear the philosophers saying and what we find in their writings should be applied in our pursuit of the happy life. We should hunt out the helpful pieces of teaching, and the spirited and noble-minded saying which are capable of immediate practice application – not far-fetched or archaic expressions or extravagant metaphors and figures of speed – and learn them so well that words become works. No one to my mind lets humanity down quite so much as those who study philosophy as if it were a sort of commercial skill and then proceed to live in a quite different matter from they way they tell the people to live. People prone to every fault the denounce are walking advertisements of the uselessness of their training. That kind of man can be of no more help to me as an instructor than a steersman who is seasick in a storm…” — seneca, letter cviii (108)

i think this post go could in a very finger-pointing, critique direction, but i’ll not take it there. although part of me feels like that could be a little fun, i’m more interested in what that passage means for me.

there are a lot of people who say a lot of stuff. but like seneca, i think little irks me more than when people say one thing and live a different one. it happens in individuals and in organizations. the number of organizations it happens in is astounding.

so the older i get, the more tuned i am to people and organizations that live their values & wisdom. in fact, i think what i’m noticing is that the only peple worth listening to are the ones who do that. anyone who doesn’t is likely teaching something that isn’t quite right.

i just finished the velvet rage and this idea connects to a great (and not at all unique) idea in there about integrity. integrity, by definition, is when all parts of something are connected. that applies physically but also to one’s character. if you’re teaching one thing, but living another, it’s difficult to have integrity and be authentic (genuine) because must be something untrue or unbelievable to yourself about your teachings in order to live a life that doesn’t match them.

so then i take a look at myself and think, damn. i can’t even count on my fingers and toes all the ways that i’m not living authentically.

in some other letter, seneca said that the truest pursuit in life is to find out how to live truly in alignment with ones values. maybe that’ll be my big picture goal for 2017: to be living more authentically by the end of the year than i am at the beginning.

i don’t even really know what that looks like, but i guess it’ll probably start with me making some lists. i think maybe i’ll review my vision statement, see where the discrepancies are between that and my life, and then work to close the gaps.


writing: 12:09
spell-check, link-finding, & formatting: 1:14