Principle #10 – Goal Setting & Interconnectedness

Goals tend to artificially single out a specific aspect of life without regard to the the interconnectedness of all aspects of life. Think goal-induced blindness. The pursuit of a goal necessarily affects many other areas of life. Example: by setting a goal to exercise more, you dedicate resources to achieving this goal (time, money, effort, mental capacity, etc.), and while this goal seems noble, you end up having less time, money, energy, and mental capacity left for other things.

Consider the worth of the goal and the cost of what it takes to achieve it. Pick the things that are net positives. Example: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot

Principle #9 – Be still

Be still. Perceive and understand. Contemplate and behold. Be immersed in the real.

This is the kind of stillness Psalm 46:10 is talking about in its instruction to “be still and know that I am God.”

not the attitude of the one who intervened but of the one who opens himself; not of someone who seizes but of one who lets himself go, and “go under,” almost as someone who falls asleep must let himself go… The surge of new life that flows out to us when we give ourselves to (knowing and surrendering to God as God) – is this not like the surge of life that comes from deep, dreamless sleep?

-adapted from Josef Peiper’s Leisure – The Basis of Culture (parenthetical added and replaced other content)

Principle #8 – Learn from the past

Most of all, perhaps, we need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present, to remind us that the basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods and that much which seems certain to the uneducated is merely temporary fashion. A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age. -C.S. Lewis, Learning in War-Time

Principle #7 – Formative influences: friendships

Everyone will tell you that having deep and meaningful friendships is a good thing, but that is an oversimplification.

You first need to recognize that those with whom you spend significant time will change you. Friendships are formative in relation to both your character and actions. Be selective in who you allow to have this kind of influence on your life.

Find friends who are different from you in admirable ways, and they will enrich your life as you begin to see things through their perspective and their character begins to shape you. Seek to be a the kind of person who makes the lives of those around you better because of the richness you bring to their lives.

Principle #6 – The best things are the hard things

There is a way of living that seeks the path of least resistance (and it’s pretty popular). Life filled with ease and comfort and numbness. Stuck on the couch with the tv on waiting for the next notification from the phone; eyes glazed over and dissatisfied hearts. Believing what everyone else does to fit in and because it is easy. Living in isolation with only digital relationships and UPS deliveries. Life is meant to be so much more.

The best things are the hard things.

I don’t have a good memory (you probably already knew that), but the best things stick and they were hardest to do. Getting up too early to ski up a mountain in high winds and low temps, bikepacking through Colorado with 6 adults and 8 kids under 8 yrs old, elaborate holiday celebrations with too many good friends and too little space.

This principle is not just about making memories though, it’s also the path to true and full life. “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Mt 7:14

Principle #5 – The wealth-happiness correlation distortion

Would you be happier if you were wealthy? You may be able to guess the answer from the title, but let’s consider the following:

“As a person’s levels of wealth increase, their feelings of compassion and empathy go down and their feelings of entitlement, deservedness, and ideology of self-interest increases.”

“With increased self-focus and increased control (which are correlated to higher levels of wealth) you become less attuned to other people in your environment, less cooperative, less ethical, a whole slew of other things.”

“Lower income households give proportionately more of their incomes to charity than higher income households. So, proportionately speaking, the less well-off you are, the more charitable you are.”

– Paul Piff, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology and Social Behavior, UC Berkeley

(parenthetical added to clarify context)

and

“It does have, consistently, in experiment after experiment, a positive affect on your happiness to spend on somebody else.”

“Spending money on yourself doesn’t do much for you, and spending on other people seems to have an impact on how happy you are.”

– Michael Norton, Ph.D., Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

So, what do we learn? If increasing wealth leads to less charitable giving, and spending money on others tends to increase happiness, then does increasing wealth actually decrease happiness? Mo money, mo problems…

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this is also vanity. – Ecclesiastes 5:10 (esv)

Principle #4 – Two truths and a lie

You know this game. But wait, let’s change it up a little. Same concept same rules, but let’s apply it to widely accepted wisdom and beliefs, things that have come to be known, not revealed.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Turns out, there is usually a lot of truth, but also some slight distortion. This distortion often completely changes the implications and trajectory of the belief.

You will learn a lot about humanity, others, and yourself. You learn about our longings and disappointments, about hope and needs, and how to love well by pointing towards what we were created to be.