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How much distance is found between the fool and the genius?

or. . .

How much change is real, and how much is just in our head?

Those of us that recognize our own inherent imperfections and strive for improvement are burdened with so much folly.

broken plate

Photo by Chuttersnap

Meditation, reflection, reading, and writing with the aim of bettering ourselves will cause an inflated sense of the weight caused by these acts. It’s a natural progression. After all, we are the blessed ones that are doing something to better ourselves.

But what good is meditation if inner-peace is devoid in later moments of conflict and compromise? And what good is reading about how to become a better person if no action or adjustments are made after the book is closed and set aside?

chair in water

Photo by Daniel Jensen

It’s easy to lose sight. Many become lost in the midst of their own self-congratulation. The pride of a perceived job well-done becomes the cloudy cataracts of the closed-mind.

I myself have been exposed in this recently.

After a wonderful day of community building and practicing resistance of base impulses, and finally ending in a peaceful family dinner, my gratitude and contentment gave way to a dense cloud of negative emotion.

It was far too easy to set aside all the love and happiness I was experiencing in favor of arguing with my wife and daughter. I became cold, distant, and downright mean. I could watch myself slipping into this downward destructive spiral, but could not control my descent.

falling

Photo by Tom Sodoge

I blamed my failure on them.

Only after I settled down did I recognize that I missed the opportunity to put into action the learnings and skills I’ve acquired.

I had been so busy congratulating myself  for all of my perceived improvements that I forgot to remember the lessons when I most needed them.

In some, possibly even many, ways I’ve changed for the better, but in many others I still have so far to go. The concepts are there. The ideology of responding from a place of love, and resisting malice, envy, and frustration, is embedded deep within me, but too often my actions do not match. My discipline lacks.

There’s a concept in the Kung Fu school I attend called martial intent. Martial intent means visualizing the purpose of what one is attempting while attempting it.

In other words, if practicing punching, kicking, or grabbing, one must treat the practice as if their my life may one day depend on these skills.

Martial intent prepares me to execute my learnings efficiently and devastatingly should I ever need to use my skills in such a situation.

kick

Photo by Thao Le Hoang

In answer to the questions set forth earlier:

Meditation only has value if the mindfulness is carried forth after the act of meditating is completed.

Reading personal development books and listening to self-improvement podcasts will only be worth anything if the learning is shaped into action.

Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, sagely stated,

You can’t think your way into right action, but you can act your way into right thinking.

What he is saying is that any of us who wants to be and do better must just be and do better; not just talk, write, and learn about it. I’ll do better to remember this most the next time I consider how great I’ve become.

Written by John Andreula

Edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk

Title photo by Sandro Katalina

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