“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” ~Roger Staubach
1.) Live a courage-based lifestyle:
“The secret of reaping the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment from life is to live dangerously.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Courage is foremost. Before any other virtue can be actualized, courage must be self-actualized. There must first come a courageous deviation or there is no “first.” Period. Maya Angelou said it best, “Without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
Challenge yourself. Be bold. Be daring. Most people are risk averse. Most people are living fear-based lifestyles. You want to stay ahead of the curve? Don’t be risk averse. Face your fears instead. Live dangerously. Punch Fear in the face.
Better yet, transform fear into fuel for the fire of a life well-lived. Focus on what makes you come alive. Because what makes you come alive is the best way to reap the greatest fruit and joy from life. Everything else is moonshine. Everything else is smoke and mirrors. Split the smoke. Shatter the mirrors. Let your aliveness boldly blast through it all.
2.) Integrate your Shadow:
“This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.” ~Terence McKenna
In your youth it was necessary to repress the shadow to achieve discipline; in your maturity, it is vital that you integrate it to achieve providence (enlightenment). The alternative is bitterness.
Shadow integration is facing the bitter truth, and then being radically honest about what you discover. When you face the bitter truth within, your capacity for truth outside you expands. Your once puzzled Self clicks together because the missing pieces become self-actualized. Honoring the shadow births honesty, which gives birth to humility, which gives birth to humor. Bitterness falls away because a sense of wholeness now holds sway.
You are now ahead of the game. You gain a fierceness. You finally have teeth. The ability to transform a negative into a positive becomes manifest. You’re able to transform pain into power, wounds into wisdom, setbacks into steppingstones, tragedy into teacher, loss into laboratory, and shadow work into soul craft.
3.) Inflict yourself with philosophy:
“Philosophical thinking that doesn’t do violence to one’s settled mind is no philosophical thinking at all.” ~Rebecca Goldstein
Use philosophy as a chisel for the hardened beliefs within you. Use it to humble yourself. Use it to destroy your illusions and murder your delusions. Unsettle your settled mind. Shock your chakras. Reevaluate all your values. Practice self-overcoming. In short: use philosophy to conquer yourself.
There’s a terrible joy in self-conquest that those idle and stuck behind the curve will never know. Use philosophy to propel you ahead of the curve. Inflict it on yourself to break through your barriers, biases, cognitive dissonance, cultural conditioning, political brainwashing, religious indoctrination, and, most of all, to stretch your comfort zone.
The philosophies that came before you are mere steppingstones to the philosophy hidden behind the walls you’ve allowed to stand between you and your most authentic self. Leap from stone to stone, from one giant’s shoulder to another, until the walls crumble and you finally see that the horizon was never a boundary.
4.) Transform your fallibility into absolute vulnerability:
“I err, therefore I am.” ~St. Augustine
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Especially after adjusting to a courage-based lifestyle. And especially-especially after integrating your shadow. And extra-especially after inflicting yourself with philosophy. These are likely to leave gaping wounds. Psychological wounds, but nonetheless painful.
These wounds should be honored. You are a fallible creature after all. You are an imperfect beast. You came from a laughably young species attempting to evolve on an extremely old planet which is hurtling through an unfathomably ancient universe. You are a clumsy naked ape with an overactive frontal lobe that probably tricks you into thinking you’re a god above nature. These wounds are a painful reminder that you are Nature—with a capital N.
The sooner you can square that circle, the quicker you’ll get ahead of the curve, and the quicker those wounds will become a source of power—vulnerable but vital, primal but provident, full of suffering but sufferable, sensitive yet sacred.
5.) Keep curiosity ahead of certainty:
“What one needs in this universe is not certainty but the courage and nerve of the gambler; not fixed conviction but adaptability; not firm ground whereupon to stand but skill in swimming.” ~Alan Watts