Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. I believe living a wise life is a skill and we can be excellent at it, but it has to be a priority. Actually, it has to be the priority. That’s what this newsletter is about.
My whole life I was running somewhere. On the surface, I looked like I had it together. I checked all the boxes. I was blessed with a bright mind. I never struggled to get good grades or excel in school. Things came naturally.
Despite going to traditional religious schools where we barely studied secular subjects, I managed to get three degrees. I went to Harvard for law school, did well there, and got a job at one of the best law firms in the world.
On the surface, I looked like I had it together.
I was a roiling cauldron.
You see all that stuff is absolute nonsense. It doesn’t actually matter if you don’t know how to lead a good life (and if you do know how to lead a good life, it’s utterly irrelevant, if not far worse).
You can be excellent at school, at your job, at running companies, teaching, writing books, or at whatever, but if you don’t know how to be excellent at living a good life, your life will be mediocre or just plain suck. You’ll get into fights with people. You’ll have mediocre relationships. You’ll be running after all the wrong things — prestige, status, honor, possessions, money.
And I had no idea how to lead a good life.
I was cerebrally smart, but unbelievably stupid.
I had no idea who I was or where I was going. I was driven by a sense of deficiency. I felt so insecure, so deeply ashamed of myself, so worthless. My life and identity depended on that “A” grade, on proving just how smart I am, so I could pick up some scrap of recognition. I needed to argue and always be right. I couldn’t listen to the views of others.
Hanging on to my intelligence as a life raft, I was afraid of anything challenging, procrastinating in school and at work until the fear of not completing something was strong enough to force myself to do it.
Everything was threatening. My body was in a constant state of alarm. My mind filled with continuous worry, non-stop rumination, clouds of overwhelm. There was very little room for joy or love or life.
But it sucked for a reason. It sucked because I was existentially stupid. Because all the things I’d been studying had nothing to do with how to lead a good life. How to be a wise person. How to cultivate a mind that sees the beauty in the world.
It was all external knowledge.
And I needed internal knowledge.
I needed an instruction manual for how to operate my mind and lead a good life. I missed that course in school. That degree wasn’t offered by the fancy institutions I went to.
But underneath it all, there was a flicker. A flicker of awareness that something was awry. Some deep and wise part of me knew something was wrong.
I’ve been nurturing that flicker for 15 years or so. For many years I was looking for the thing that would “fix” me. The thing that would get rid of all these difficult sensations. The thing that would make me happy and comfortable in my own skin. The thing that would solve my “problems” for once and for all.
It took me a long time to start realizing there was nothing wrong with me. (A teacher of mine likes to say: “The only thing wrong with you is the fact that you think there’s something wrong with you.”). To realize that all of these difficult sensations, thoughts, and emotions, were all just a part of my human experience. That the alarm signals were the problem and not the thing they pointed to. That they weren’t “me” in some fixed sense and that I could learn to meet them gently, to give them the space to be seen, felt, understood and experienced. That I could tap into something underneath the roiling cauldron, something that could hold it all.
That nothing needed fixing.
If that seems pat or like I’m beating around the bush, good. That’s what this newsletter is for. I promise you I am not going to hide the ball. This isn’t one of those epiphany stories of a new age guru who had a flash of insight on a park bench. I wish.
I’m writing this newsletter because I want to be excellent at life and I suspect that many of you do as well. I will use this newsletter to share critical insights that I have learned along the way and new lessons as I learn them.
There is a tremendous amount of work and skill involved in learning to be excellent at life. If you’re serious about it, you’re in for a lot of hard work. It’s not going to be easy. But, like for anything worth it, you gotta be willing to pay the price. And what’s more worth it than your life?
Life is a skill and we can be excellent at it.
I don’t have it all worked out and I still live with plenty of the chaos I described above. That’s okay. It’s not about cleaning it all up or creating a perfect self. It’s about learning to be with life as it is and finding a place within that could hold it all with wisdom and kindness.
We are all okay. Sometimes we just get lost and need to learn to find our way back.
I’d be honored if you’d join me on the journey.
Connect with me on LinkedIn