Your only lever to move the world is to move yourself

According to Jonathan Mead

The biggest benefit to working on a revolution is that it gives you an insane amount of energy.

According to Tolstoy

There can be only one permanent revolution — a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man. How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.

The only lever you have to significantly improve the world is to improve yourself.

That doesn’t mean beating yourself up, or changing your essence. Your essence is OK. It’s just the bad habits, rough edges, priorities that need straightening out.

According to Jules Buccieri

And (magic fact) if you aren’t real, you aren’t powerful.

Improving yourself gets to the root of the problems that are in your power to fix and enables you to engage effectively with the world.

Looked at another way, you’re your most valuable capital asset. Your brain, your skills, your sharpness, your knowledge, your health and appearance, etc.

When I moved out of a townhouse a few years ago after ten years residence, the wooden floor in the kitchen still looked new and the roses were big and full of flowers. But what is the asset of a townhouse compared with the asset of me or you? Yet, we all fill that asset with poison of one kind or another, such as alcohol, stress, caffeine, pornography, mindless entertainment. (Don’t “choose your poison”, choose life.) And we forgo the physical and mental training that we need to maintain and grow ourselves.

Instead, with the right priorities, we could grow healthier, stronger, smarter, and more skillful each day. (Of course, you also need a thrilling purpose. On what should you set loose this glorious machine? It’s seem unlikely you could get and sustain that “insane amount of energy” without a compelling purpose.)

According to Joseph Epstein

Some years ago I read a brilliant essay called “Prosaics,” by Gary Saul Morson, a teacher of Russian literature at Northwestern University, in which he showed how Tolstoy believed in the prosaic life and Dostoyevsky in the dramatic.

Things happen to Tolstoy’s characters — they go to war, have vastly disruptive love affairs, suffer unexpected deaths — but they are most interesting in their ordinariness: a strong case in point is Natasha’s family, the Rostovs, in War and Peace. Her brother and father and mother, with their rich but normal passions, appetites and family loves, are people who gain moral stature through an endless series of small acts.

In Dostoyevsky, on the other hand, nothing is ordinary: passions turn into obsessions; gambling addicts and epileptics are at the center of things; men are beating horses to death on the Nevsky Prospect; poverty has wrenched people’s lives into little hells on earth. The question isn’t really who — Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky — is the greater novelist, for both are great, but which shows life as it is more truly is.

As Professor Morson puts it: “Dostoyevsky believed that lives are decided at critical moments, and he therefore described the world as driven by sudden eruptions from the unconscious. By contrast, Tolstoy insisted that although we may imagine our lives are decided at important and intense moments of choice, in fact our choices are shaped by the whole climate of our minds, which themselves result from countless small decisions at ordinary moments.” At some point in life, I think, one has to decide if one is, in one’s belief in the shape of his or her life, a Dostoyevskian or a Tolstoyian.

Is your life decided at critical moments, suddenly erupting from the unconscious? Or is your life shaped from countless small decisions at ordinary moments?

The power of positive action

According to Jim Grady on Facebook

“If you want to change your behavior focus on the thinking that causes it.” ~~ Brahma Kumaris”

I commented

If you want to change your thinking, focus on positive actions. “Move your ass and your mind will follow.”

Background: According to Funkadelic

Free your mind and your ass will follow.

You may be just as likely to free your mind by moving your ass. The power of positive action.

According to Knarf Rellöm Trinity,

Move your ass and your mind will follow.

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1 Comment

  1. According to Darragh McNicholas

    When the Hutu Power movement led mass killings of ethnic Tutsis in the mid-’90s, the true measure of allegiance was not belief, but action. “Everyone was called to hunt the enemy,” says Theodore Nyilinkwara, a survivor interviewed for the book. If a Hutu was reluctant, the militias required him to attend massacres, then, later, to kill a Tutsi. “So this person who is not a killer is made to do it,” says Nyilinkwara. “And the next day it’s become a game for him. You don’t need to keep punishing him.” Once a person has killed for an idea, their ethical opinion of themselves relies on embracing that idea. Vicious, conspiratorial state radio broadcasts spoke of outlandish Tutsi plots against the Hutus that people readily believed because they partially justified the violence.

    In the language of the Mafia, says Gourevitch, “a person who has become invested in the logic and practices of the gang is said to be owned by it.” When Jason Beghe, an actor and ex-Scientologist featured in “Going Clear,” describes the strange sensation of self-policing — “the best traps are when you get a guy to keep himself in jail” — he sounds remarkably like Nyilinkwara. Once a person has acted on a belief, they don’t need to be continually pressured.

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