We are social creatures, are we not? With that leads to downfall as well because we are constantly trying to impress someone else. My grandparents called people who like to impress others “Show Offs”. While raising my children I heard, “Hey Dad, look what I can do!” quite a few times. So it is natural for us to be impressed, impress ourselves and impress others.
“Show Offs” did not impress my grandparents because such a person lacked humility and other virtues valued by Stoic’s. “Show Offs” diminish their character by putting too much stock in one thing. They believe that the facade of the “latest and greatest” house, car, job or physical ability is the very reason for their existence. They never really grasp that the most valuable thing they posses are their virtues.
Self Satisfaction Inner Fulfilment
As a hiker, I enjoy pushing myself to new extremes. Colder temperatures, inclement weather, steeper higher climbs and so forth. I cannot help but get a little inner self satisfaction when I conquer those new challenges. I cannot brag about such things because there are others that go higher, further, faster and so on. So what I can do would be a disappointment for someone else with greater ability, and then maybe to another person who cannot do such things it may be inspirational.
This is where I like my influence to lie. You may not be the best, but you will not be the worst if you only try. Inner fulfilment needs to be your goal, this is the mountain we all need to climb.
Being The Best
What or who is the best, really? Will there not always be someone faster, stronger, smarter and so on? By being humble you find that inner fulfilment and it will bring you much joy. My son David has a delightful saying, and I think that I will use it here. He tells others, “You do you.”. At first that kind of pissed me off, I thought it was selfish because in effect he was telling me I should only worry about me. Well, being a father, I cannot do that when it comes to him. However, after thinking about it for a while, I realized that his point is that he was going to impress himself and not worry about what others do. Wow, I thought to myself, “Damn, I’m a brilliant father!” Pun intended.
Marcus Aurelius On Inner Fulfilment
It is helpful to read what Marcus Aurelius wrote on this issue.
“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others. If then a god or a wise teacher should present himself to a man and bid him to think of nothing and to design nothing which he would not express as soon as he conceived it, he could not endure it even for a single day. So much more respect have we to what our neighbors shall think of us than to what we shall think of ourselves.” -Meditations 12.4
How To Impress Yourself
There is no greater way to impress yourself than by practicing humility. First recognize you will not be the greatest and best at a certain activity. You will not be the richest and you will never reach the apex of financial wealth. The most important thing in your life are your virtues.
Carl Peterson & Alan Watts
There is a man that taught me many things as a young lad. His name is Carl Peterson, and he is a good man. One day Carl and I were talking about accomplishing a lot of things. He looked at me and said, “How do you eat an elephant?”. I replied, “How?”. He said, “One bite at a time.”.
Alan Watts was an inspirational speaker that I enjoy listening to. You can still find his recordings on YouTube. His philosophic terminology deals a lot with living in the moment. He illustrates doing a truck load of dishes and how overwhelming it is to even think about a task. However, you must realize that you need to do those dishes one dish at a time. So in effect you are not washing a truckload of dishes, you are only washing one dish.
So now getting back to this business of impressing yourself with humility. Recognize that you like everyone else in the world have 24 hours in a day, in those 24 hours you have 1,440 minutes and in those 1,440 minutes you have 86,400 seconds.
Now the best of the best can only take how many steps in 1 second? Probably not much more than you. So let’s take this one second at a time, shall we? Whatever goal it is that you have, whatever thing you want to accomplish, do it one second at a time. Do not do it 2 seconds at a time, that is impossible like we discussed before. You only have this moment to live, so live it; accomplish your goal and impress yourself!