If you’re like most people, you probably like to think that everything in your life is up to you. This is completely natural and a product of the philosophical construct often referred to as free will which has endured for the past two millennia. I’m not here to debate the veracity of this philosophy (not today anyway), I’m just laying the conceptual foundation for today’s conversation.
You see, a lot of people take this notion of free will to mean that literally everything that happens to you is because of something you did which can lead to a lot of shame and self-loathing if you’ve had anything other than a Disney World experience of life.
I really like the concept of fate and I’m currently nerding out on the concepts of determinism and freedom in Stoic philosophy. While this episode is also not going to be specifically about those concepts, it’s important to understand that just because the concept of free will is now a...
There are things you need to know about me. Need is probably a strong word. There are things I want to share with you that will help you get to know me better.
The first one is, I love the rain the way most people love the sun.
There’s a Garbage song, I’m Only Happy When It Rains that I love and adore (and which is also not the musical selection for today).
I love it not because of the rest of the lyrics which are a little too emo for my current reality, but because it’s the only song that really speaks to how I feel about the rain.
The second thing is, I love Stoic philosophy. I find it endlessly fascinating on so many levels. It blows my mind that issues people were talking about more than two thousand years ago are still relevant.
It highlights for me how similar human brains are and how little the way they work changes, despite the drastically different circumstances and even vast amounts of perceived time between now...
Do you ever think about thinking? I do. I think that’s why I love philosophy and the field of life coaching so much.
The word philosophy is derived from the Greek word “philo” which means love and “sophos” which means wisdom. It’s the love of wisdom.
I really like the explanation of philosophy from the Department of Philosophy at Florida State University:
“In a broad sense, philosophy is an activity people undertake when they seek to understand fundamental truths about themselves, the world in which they live, and their relationships to the world and to each other. As an academic discipline philosophy is much the same. Those who study philosophy are perpetually engaged in asking, answering, and arguing for their answers to life’s most basic questions.”
As an academic pursuit, it is broken down into four general categories:
I’m not what most people consider overly emotional. If I’m being honest, they probably don’t think I’m even moderately emotional.
In fact, I often joke that I’m Vulcan.
If you’re a Star Trek nerd and you get that - I love you. If you’re like ‘a what now?’ I still love you but for the love of the Federation, go watch some Next Generation, Voyager, or Discovery.
Back to Vulcans. They are well-known for their logical and dispassionate approach to life. But what many people don’t realize is that they embraced logic as a form of self-preservation.
Surak introduced the principles of logic to his people in the hope that through embracing and cultivating logic over emotion, the Vulcan people would be able to rein in the savage nature of their emotions and create a stable and orderly society.
All nerdom aside, they weren’t emotionless. They felt things deeply but they...
I do things a little differently most of the time. For example, when I was in college I decided to major in history and become a history teacher.
I’m sure that sounds perfectly reasonable to the average person, but the thing about the field of education is that it’s not always reasonable. You see, if you want to become a teacher, you’re supposed to go to college to learn how to teach and maybe also learn a little about your subject area. So, I did it backwards.
I was technically in a prelaw program because that’s what was interesting to me and I had a minor in social sciences because philosophy and ethics are fun.
Happily, all of these subject areas are also ideal if you want to have a solid foundation in historical concepts and methodology - things I’d have missed in a traditional education program.
The whole time I was working on my degree I was told by pretty much everyone that it wasn’t the way to get a...
There was a period of time when I was teaching that I was very unhappy and didn’t even realize it.
Is that hard to believe?
It is for me. The “me” I am now is so much more aware of her own feelings that it’s difficult to remember the “me” that ignored them entirely for years at a time.
This episode is actually inspired by one of the songs I’d listen to on repeat during my hour-long commute each day. Not every day, but there was a long stretch where it was - Every. Single. Day.
What I know now looking back is that I didn’t feel as though I had a purpose. I didn’t see the point in teaching students how to pass tests for a system that was inherently broken rather than teaching them how to think for themselves.
To be fair, I did also try to teach them to think for themselves but most of the time it felt like bailing out the Titanic with a teaspoon.
I had a...
I’ve mentioned before that when I’m not sure what to talk about, I listen to music - right? Sometimes I get lucky and I’ll know what I’m going to talk about and the soundtrack is already in my head. Other times it takes two hours of listening to music and dancing around my office before everything comes into focus.
Hard. Work. I am all about it ;)
I started by browsing a few of my playlists where I listened to Of Monsters and Men, Jack Johnson, Florence and the Machine, and lots more. Then I made my way over to the new music section of Apple Music and listened to Ariana before finding out Evanescence has a new album coming out. Of course, I played all of that - at full volume - before seeing the new album by Andra Day and time stopped.
I love a lot of her music, but Cheers to the Fall is an anthem for living life on your own terms. That starts with knowing what you want and going after it full force despite the...
Do you ever think about time and chance? I do. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about time because everyone needs a hobby.
Time fascinates me on nearly every level. I love astrology - no seriously - which is essentially the study of time on the micro and macro level with bonus points because it crosses over into the categories of chance and fate.
Let’s start with fate.
I believe we all have a path laid out before us and that the potential contained within a natal astrology chart is real. However, it’s just potential and it does require effort on our part to achieve the greatest expression of that potential.
Let’s say you’re more likely to have a peak in your career at a certain point in your life. The upper level of potential can only be reached if you’ve put in the work ahead of time. If you’ve been writing a book for the past ten years in your spare time, maybe that looks like a...
I was having a conversation with someone I like and respect recently and they said something that sent me off down a rabbit trail of thoughts around what is usually called the Golden Rule.
I feel certain I learned this in Sunday School and the version I was taught goes something along the lines of ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ but I couldn’t remember exactly so I asked the great and powerful Google for a little help.
A tiny little disclaimer that what I’m about to read to you came from Wikipedia and the history teacher in me feels I must remind you of the importance of doing primary source research and verifying everything. BUT I was already familiar with the concept in a broader historical and philosophical context and I just wanted an easy way to explain it. In all seriousness though, trust but verify ALL THE THINGS - even if they’re my things.
Ok, moving on.
I have good news and I have great news. Are you ready? I believe it is absolutely possible to achieve anything you really want and I know how to help you do it - you break down the steps you need to accomplish and then add them to your calendar. Yes, that really is the secret to the universe.
It sounds simple right? Identify the dream you want to reach out and grab, break it down into bite-size little pieces, and then poof you’re on the New York Time’s Best Seller List, getting married, losing the weight, graduating from law school, dropping a habit, or getting along with your father.
Of course, that means you have to want it bad enough to follow through and do the research, make the plan, follow the schedule, and be willing to revise and retry as often as necessary to make it happen.
The thing is, while it sounds great in theory - brains are funny things.
I’ve worked with a LOT of people who have told me they...