Author Archives: Lyman Reed

A Note on the Self-Reliance Series

The Self-Reliance series hasn’t been abandoned – it’s on a hiatus for about four more weeks.

I’ve decided that this six-week study of the pivots from Dr. Steven Hayes’ book “A Liberated Mind” will add more value to our lives.

I’ve also decided that there’s nothing wrong with stopping something that is less valuable, no longer valuable, or going on a break. Emerson doesn’t care. I may be flaky when it comes to my interests, but that’s OK. More variety can be a good thing!

But I’m also keeping in mind that too much variety can keep us from going deep – which is why I’m focusing on one thing at a time, with a plan to return to my previous project in the future.

Just another example of my heart vibrating to that iron string.

Now you – go and vibrate the fuck out of today!


A Week of Defusion – Working on “A Liberated Mind”

[This is a crosspost from a community on Reddit discussing the book A Liberated Mind. Made sense to post it here as well.]

Like I said in my previous post, I’m working through the six pivots from A Liberated Mind over the next six weeks. And I said I would apply these both to everyday situations, as well as my specific issues related to nicotine, sleep, and the “other thing.”

Nicotine – holy shit! I haven’t vaped in 75 hours! WTFF! I am using the gum (4mg), but I’ve used the gum before with little to no success. For me, 75 hours does not constitute a “little” success. After 30+ years of Marlboro Reds, then about 5 years of ecigs (the last 6 months on the Juul), this is freakin’ huge. I have to constantly defuse from Ms. Mind (I’m a male, but calling my mind female gives me a little more distance) because she doesn’t think I’m really doing it since I’m using the gum – she’s just trying to be helpful.

Sleep – meh. Maybe a little change, but dropping the vapes is probably interfering with it as well. Not so much defusion on this one as some of the exercises from Guy Meadows “The Sleep Book.”
“The Other Thing” – No real application, so no real change.

I’m posting an edited version of my highlights and notes below. Hope there isn’t too much – the last thing I want to do is violate Dr. Hayes’ copyrights.

Highlight from pg. 178, Kindle location: 2,406
We learn to become more cognizant of the automaticity of our thoughts and to watch the ones that aren’t helpful from a distance, as if to tell the Dictator Within, “Thanks, but I’ve got this covered.”

Highlight from pg. 178, Kindle location: 2,407
The critical voice and its commands don’t go away, but we see them more as the products of our mental mechanisms, like the pronouncements of the contraption created by the Wizard of Oz. We don’t need to argue with our thoughts. It’s more like putting the mind on a leash.

Highlight from pg. 179, Kindle location: 2,415
This is the yearning to create coherence and understanding out of our mental cacophony.

Highlight from pg. 180, Kindle location: 2,431
Not only is the desire for coherence natural, but ACT can satisfy it if we stop expecting “untidy” thoughts and feelings to go away.

Highlight from pg. 180, Kindle location: 2,433
If we’re seeking to make our self-story coherent so that it conforms to social expectations, it’s time to stop investing in that goal.
My Note: Even if it’s too rebel against social expectations, simply for the sake of rebelling

Highlight from pg. 181, Kindle location: 2,435
But there is a constructive kind of coherence that is just a pivot away: that of paying attention to the thoughts that are useful to us for living in accordance with our values, and letting go of a focus on thoughts that are unhelpful.

Highlight from pg. 181, Kindle location: 2,439
trust function over form.

Highlight from pg. 181, Kindle location: 2,439
accept how chaotic our thinking can be and direct our attention and our behavior toward thoughts that are useful.

Highlight from pg. 185, Kindle location: 2,504
watching her thoughts from a distance with a sense of open curiosity.

Highlight from pg. 187, Kindle location: 2,516
function over form.
[“function over form” really struck me… obs]

[Since I’m using the Kindle version of the book, I highlighted my answers to the Cognitive Fusion Questionnaire (pg. 188) on my first read through. I’ll give it some time and take it again in the future. I scored myself at 5, 4, 7, 6, 5, 6, and 4, which gave me an overall score of 37… doh!]

Highlight from pg. 191, Kindle location: 2,552
Your thoughts seem predictable. You’ve had them plenty of times before, so much so that they seem to be part of who you are. Make a note of these thoughts, actually writing them down, and you can practice defusing from them over time.
My Note: “they seem to be a part of who you are” – highlight this one twice!

Highlight from pg. 192, Kindle location: 2,559
highly comparative and evaluativeH

Highlight from pg. 192, Kindle location: 2,559
When your mind is just noting what is effective—seeking functional coherence—once you notice it, the review quiets.
Note: again with the functional coherence – I think that concept has really helped me. My thoughts can be completely jumbled in the background – just develop the ability to be coherent in the foreground.h

Highlight from pg. 192, Kindle location: 2,564
overbusy mode

Highlight from pg. 192, Kindle location: 2,564
lots of contradictions

Highlight from pg. 192, Kindle location: 2,564
(“You are wrong, you do not need that donut! It will make you fat. Well, even fatter. That’s why people avoid you. Oh, come on, it’s just a donut . . .”).
My Note: replace “donut” with “hit off of my Juul.” replace “fat” with “sick and addicted and in chains to the man.” The man – lol.

Highlight from pg. 194, Kindle location: 2,594
The goal is not just to make the specific pivot, it’s to learn the dance.

Highlight from pg. 195, Kindle location: 2,597
literal coherence

Highlight from pg. 195, Kindle location: 2,604
The goal is progress, not perfection.

Highlight from pg. 195, Kindle location: 2,607
Disobey on Purpose

Highlight from pg. 196, Kindle location: 2,617
the mind’s power over you is an illusion

Highlight from pg. 196, Kindle location: 2,618
You can easily build this into your life as a regular practice (right now I’m thinking, I cannot type this sentence! I can’t!).
My Note: I can’t take this note. Nope, can’t do it. I can’t type this, I can’t form a coherent thought about this! And I especially can’t save this note…

Highlight from pg. 176, Kindle location: 2,624
Even Mr. Mind or Ms. Mind will do.
My Note: Since I’m male, maybe I should start calling it “Ms. Mind” just to provide a little more distance?

Highlight from pg. 197, Kindle location: 2,626
Appreciate What Your Mind Is Trying to Do

Highlight from pg. 179, Kindle location: 2,629
“I really get that you are trying to be of use, so thank you for that.
My Note: Ms. Mind is just trying to keep me alive and functional, the best way it knows how.
Add-on: Not an it!

Highlight from pg. 197, Kindle location: 2,633
Sing It
My Note: First one I started to use from “The Happiness Trap.” Really powerful for me, but I find that sometimes I’m trying to use it to push away the thoughts rather than defuse from them. Pushing them away is just another way of fusing.

Highlight from pg. 197, Kindle location: 2,635
My default is “Happy Birthday.”
My Note: My default is the Brady Bunch theme song – “Here’s the story – of a man named Lyman…. who was thinking that he was gonna fail again….”

Highlight from pg. 197, Kindle location: 2,637
The measure of “success” is not that the thought goes away, or loses all punch and becomes unbelievable. It is that you can see it as a thought, and do so just a bit more clearly.
My Note: Again – I was going for the “go away!” or “get weaker!” – sometimes it happened, sometimes it didn’t.

Highlight from pg. 199, Kindle location: 2,657
The Hand Exercise
My Note: I’ve tried this one a few times, completely in my imagination. Not a regular part of my toolkit yet, but I’m going to try to remember to use it more.

Highlight from pg. 199, Kindle location: 2,668
These words are an echo of your history.

Highlight from pg. 200, Kindle location: 2,672
The Little Kid
My Note: Tried this one a few times too – not a whole lot of success – I’m never sure what I should be saying to the kid.

Highlight from pg. 200, Kindle location: 2,674
You are not ridiculous.

Highlight from pg. 202, Kindle location: 2,709
quite a pile of these badges:
My Note: add “addict” in there, along with the highlighted ones. “lazy” too. and “stupid”. and “retarded” (sorry, that’s the label that comes up.) Add On: “Evil” just popped up too.
These are the badges/labels that I highlighted: unlovable, sick, shameful, untrustworthy, fraud, cruel, liar, pervert, anxious

Let The Raft Go : Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson : 027

Continuing our discussion of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“This should be plain enough. Yet see what strong intellects dare not yet hear God himself, unless he speak the phraseology of I know not what David, or Jeremiah, or Paul. We shall not always set so great a price on a few texts, on a few lives. We are like children who repeat by rote the sentences of grandames and tutors, and, as they grow older, of the men of talents and character they chance to see, —painfully recollecting the exact words they spoke; afterwards, when they come into the point of view which those had who uttered these sayings, they understand them, and are willing to let the words go; for, at any time, they can use words as good when occasion comes. If we live truly, we shall see truly. It is as easy for the strong man to be strong, as it is for the weak to be weak. When we have new perception, we shall gladly disburden the memory of its hoarded treasures as old rubbish. When a man lives with God, his voice shall be as sweet as the murmur of the brook and the rustle of the corn.”

This reminds me of the parable of the raft from Buddhism. A person uses a raft to cross a river, but once they don’t need the raft anymore they leave it be. Why would they continue to carry it? They can point others to the raft, explain how they used it to cross the river, but carrying it around for the rest of their life? Not necessary.

Sure, maybe they’ll encounter another river. But there will usually be another raft, sometimes exactly the same as the previous one, sometimes different.

Some may not even need the raft – maybe they can swim well enough to cross the river without it.

Some may need a different raft, one that is larger or smaller, with bigger or smaller oars.

Some may need to strap themselves in more tightly than others, holding on for dear life when the river gets rough.

Some may may prefer to pitch and yaw with the rolls of the river.

I’ve consumed a ridiculous amount of self-help material in the 49 years that I’ve been alive. Some of it served me after encountering it, while much of it was complete crap. But even most of the useful stuff has had a shelf life – useful at the time I read it, but when I got across that particular river in my life, it was time to put it down.

What do you think about this passage? Have an opinion you’d like to share? Feel free to drop your own thoughts in the comments.


Stop Trying to Pick Out The Salt

On August 27th, Steven Hayes’ new book “A Liberated Mind – How to Pivot Toward What Matters” will be released, and I couldn’t be looking forward to it any more than I already am.

Dr. Hayes is the originator of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), which has been a literal lifesaver for me – it taught me how to (finally!) recognize that my thoughts often don’t reflect reality, how to unhook from the unhelpful ones, and take action toward the things that I value.

It’s been a much better way to live.

This post isn’t a recommendation that you buy the book – how could I recommend a book that I haven’t even seen yet? But I can recommend ACT itself, and this promises to be a work that will both introduce people to it’s power, and help those who have already been using it continue to improve their psychological flexibility.

ACT is really big on metaphors, and this post is about one that Dr. Hayes talks about in a video he offers as one of the bonuses you can get if you purchase the book.

Imagine you have a glass of salt water. The water is undrinkable because, well, it’s salt water. So why not pick all the salt particles out of the water so that you can drink it?

Because that would be frickin’ impossible!

Wouldn’t it be easier to add more water, and add more water, and add more water, until the salt is at such a low concentration that you can comfortably take a sip?

The glass is your mind, the water is the ability to take action toward what’s important to you, and the salt is the unhelpful thoughts and emotions that get in the way.

Rather than trying to remove the “negative” thoughts and emotions, ACT takes away their power. They’re still there, but they stop getting in the way of you living the life you want to live.

And here’s the thing – this glass can hold more water (and salt!) and we can imagine. It is, for all intents and purposes, bottomless. You can keep adding water, and keep adding water, and keep adding water.

Yes, you’ll get a granule of salt from time to time. It’ll suck. Sometime it’ll suck real bad. And it never won’t happen again until you’re dead. Those unhelpful thoughts and emotions will always be there. That’s life. But you’ll be so full of water that you’ll notice them less and less, and you’ll know that the solution isn’t to try to get rid of them – but to just add a little more water and take another drink.

I apologize if the above metaphor isn’t exactly right. I’m not a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or any kind of mental health professional – just a guy who was really sick (still is in many ways)  but has made so much progress with ACT it’s astounding to both me and the people who’ve known me at my worst.

If, like me, you’ve tried traditional CBT or other therapies and they just haven’t worked for you long term, maybe give ACT a try. My first real introduction to it was from the book  “The Happiness Trap” by Dr. Russ Harris. I’m looking forward to learning how to add even more water to my from the creator of ACT himself.

Follow this link to learn more about “A Liberated Mind – How to Pivot Toward What Matters”.


Enough As You Are : Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson : 026

Continuing our discussion of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say `I think,’ `I am,’ but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.”

Doh! This whole project is about quoting a “saint or sage.” But don’t they have something to teach us?

Sometimes. But often, instead of learning, we just parrot what they say and follow them blindly. Sometimes they only appear to be spiritual leaders, and following them can lead to horrifying  results.

Those roses he mentions don’t appear out of thin air. Every single stage of their existence depends on something that came before, as far back as there was a before. And now, they depend on and are fed by the soil, the sun, the rain, and the air. But they don’t become them – they grow from them, becoming themselves in the process, each one unique no matter how similar they appear.

“There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence.”

I’ve never liked the phrasing of this idea – the word “perfect” has too many associations with it for me – I think of a perfect circle or a perfect square. But there isn’t an equivalent when it comes to a perfect human being. But a complete human being? Hell, a complete being, with no need to improve? That’s something that I can get behind.

Not that we shouldn’t want to improve – but we don’t have to. At all. You are what you are right now, and that’s OK. There’s a word for something that continues to grow unchecked without regard for anything but it’s own increase – cancer.

What do you think about this passage? Have an opinion you’d like to share? Feel free to drop your own thoughts in the comments.


Four Mantras To Help You Become Who You Want To Be

Back in November of 2018, I wrote about my personal experience with positive affirmations – Don’t Affirm – ACT. (TLDR – affirmations bad, action good)

Over the past few days (well, it’s actually been weeks now since I started the first draft of this article), I’ve been thinking about something – I do use affirmations, but I wouldn’t call them positive ones.

Instead of “affirmation”, I prefer using the word “mantra.” I’m not the first to call them that, and there are other words that you can use as a description if “mantra” is too woo-woo new-agey for you.

I like it because of one of the definitions I’ve heard – “Mind Tool.” These phrases are tools to condition your mind and help you to become who you want to be.

Here are a few that I’ve found useful. All were passed on to me by Brian Johnson via his Optimize program. Maybe you’ll find them useful too.

1. “Bring It On”

This is my go-to when I need to get myself to do what I don’t feel like doing because of the fear of pain. The full mantra is:

“Bring it on! I love pain! Pain sets me free!”

It’s done at the top of my mental lungs – yep, I yell at myself in my head. In a kind way, of course.

It originally came from a book called “The Tools”, and it’s supposed to activate some sort of life force or somesuch thing (way too woo-woo for my taste, honestly).

Regardless of the explanation for why it works, it does work for me. But…

What about the whole “Lying to ourselves is the reason that affirmations don’t work? Do you really love pain?”

Depends on how you look at it. I definitely don’t love pain for pains sake. I *do* love pain when it helps me to grow as a person. When we look at pain in this way (not as something to be avoided, but as something to be loved) it changes the dynamic of the mantra. It changes the life we live.

Here’s a great video of Brian explaining the whole process.

2. “That’s Like Me!”

This one is used whenever we do something that you want to do again – anything from correctly performing a practical skill to acting in a way that lines up with your values.

This is an affirmation in the original sense of the word – We are reminding ourselves of the truth. When you do something right, in that moment, you are like the person you want to be. And by affirming that, you are telling your brain “More of that, please!”

I’ve written more about this particular mantra (as well as the next one) here.

3. “Needs Work”

The sibling of “That’s like me”, Loki to it’s Thor. When you do something dumb, unskillful, something that violates your values – that one “Need’s Work.” Do NOT use this to beat yourself up. It’s not a huge deal, but enough of a deal to recognize that what you just did needs to be improved in some way.

So again, an affirmation in the classical sense – yup, you done messed up. Useless to take a hammer to your psyche. Useful to recognize that you are off course and need to correct.

For consistency’s sake, here’s that “Needs Work” and “That’s Like Me!” post one more time.

4. “Do It Now”

This is the newest of my mantras. It’s a little different than the others, since I’m specifically working with it every morning (I keep forgetting to in the evenings – more on that below). It only takes about a minute, two minutes max, and is practiced when you first get up in the morning and before you go to sleep at night.

This is a specific directive to your mind – a direct order to Do It Now.

(Whoops, I forgot to do it this morning! And when reviewing the material on it I realized that I haven’t done it in the evening in a while. That’s the hardest thing about all of this stuff – remembering to put it into practice. So I’ll do it now and be back in about a minute… OK, I’m back. It’s been less than a minute.)

Here’s how to do it:

Repeat the phrase “Do It Now!” to yourself at least 50 times, immediately after you get up in the morning and just before you go to bed at night. The minimum number of times is 50. When you forget to, you Do It Now.

I’ve been doing it since I first saw Brian Johnson’s (hilarious!) video on the subject. I also installed an app on my phone (Tap Counter Manager) to help me keep track of the number of times I repeat it.

A funny thing is happening – when procrastination hits, sometimes the phrase pops into my head and gets me moving. It doesn’t pop into my head all the time, and I don’t always follow it into action (a great time to “Bring It On!”), but I’d be willing to bet that … no, I’m positive that I’m getting more done because of one.

Those are my four favorite mind tools for become who I want to be: Bring It On! – That’s Like Me! – Needs Work – Do It Now!

Do you have any favorites that you like to use? Feel free to drop them in the comments – I’d love to learn about them.

Seriously… Do It Now!


My God Is Bigger Than Your Box : Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson : 025

Continuing our discussion of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“The relations of the soul to the divine spirit are so pure, that it is profane to seek to interpose helps. It must be that when God speaketh he should communicate, not one thing, but all things; should fill the world with his voice; should scatter forth light, nature, time, souls, from the centre of the present thought; and new date and new create the whole. Whenever a mind is simple, and receives a divine wisdom, old things pass away, —means, teachers, texts, temples fall; it lives now, and absorbs past and future into the present hour. All things are made sacred by relation to it, —one as much as another. All things are dissolved to their centre by their cause, and, in the universal miracle, petty and particular miracles disappear. If, therefore, a man claims to know and speak of God, and carries you backward to the phraseology of some old mouldered nation in another country, in another world, believe him not. Is the acorn better than the oak which is its fulness and completion? Is the parent better than the child into whom he has cast his ripened being? Whence, then, this worship of the past? The centuries are conspirators against the sanity and authority of the soul. Time and space are but physiological colors which the eye makes, but the soul is light; where it is, is day; where it was, is night; and history is an impertinence and an injury, if it be any thing more than a cheerful apologue or parable of my being and becoming.”

“We’ve always done it that way!” The siren song of stagnation.

“Our way of doing it is the only way!” Ego run amok.

“You must believe as we believe, or off to eternal burning you go!” Sorry, but God is bigger than your box.

Find the Source for yourself. Of course, take the advice of others who have been there and done it. In the beginning, you may need to take a whole lot of advice, run nearly everything by someone else – I had to do this in order to quit alcohol and drugs. But don’t get stuck there.

You may be an acorn now, but if you take care of yourself and allow others to help, you can become a tree.

What do you think about this passage? Have an opinion you’d like to share? Feel free to drop your own thoughts in the comments.


Justification for Self-Reliance : Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson : 024

Continuing our discussion of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“The magnetism which all original action exerts is explained when we inquire the reason of self-trust. Who is the Trustee? What is the aboriginal Self, on which a universal reliance may be grounded? What is the nature and power of that science-baffling star, without parallax, without calculable elements, which shoots a ray of beauty even into trivial and impure actions, if the least mark of independence appear? The inquiry leads us to that source, at once the essence of genius, of virtue, and of life, which we call Spontaneity or Instinct. We denote this primary wisdom as Intuition, whilst all later teachings are tuitions. In that deep force, the last fact behind which analysis cannot go, all things find their common origin. For, the sense of being which in calm hours rises, we know not how, in the soul, is not diverse from things, from space, from light, from time, from man, but one with them, and proceeds obviously from the same source whence their life and being also proceed. We first share the life by which things exist, and afterwards see them as appearances in nature, and forget that we have shared their cause. Here is the fountain of action and of thought. Here are the lungs of that inspiration which giveth man wisdom, and which cannot be denied without impiety and atheism. We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activity. When we discern justice, when we discern truth, we do nothing of ourselves, but allow a passage to its beams. If we ask whence this comes, if we seek to pry into the soul that causes, all philosophy is at fault. Its presence or its absence is all we can affirm. Every man discriminates between the voluntary acts of his mind, and his involuntary perceptions, and knows that to his involuntary perceptions a perfect faith is due. He may err in the expression of them, but he knows that these things are so, like day and night, not to be disputed. My wilful actions and acquisitions are but roving; —the idlest reverie, the faintest native emotion, command my curiosity and respect. Thoughtless people contradict as readily the statement of perceptions as of opinions, or rather much more readily; for, they do not distinguish between perception and notion. They fancy that I choose to see this or that thing. But perception is not whimsical, but fatal. If I see a trait, my children will see it after me, and in course of time, all mankind, —although it may chance that no one has seen it before me. For my perception of it is as much a fact as the sun.”

I’m a skeptic when it comes to spiritual things. Not a “Nope, if there isn’t any real, peer reviewed, accepted by authorities in the field evidence then it’s a bunch of bullshit” kind of skeptic (although there’s nothing wrong with that in some areas), but more of the “evidence is necessary, but experiential, anecdotal, personal evidence must be considered” type. Claims must be tested – but testing them in light of my own experience is sufficient if they produce the results I’m after. People (like past Lyman) tend to talk about things like the Placebo Effect in a pejorative sense – but why not use it to your own advantage? Without harming others, of course.

We are all one, and by “We” I’m referring to everything, not just human beings. It’s all connected in the same way that your little finger is connected to your big toe – all part of one body. My understanding of this passage is that we are connected to a Source that is greater than ourselves. It isn’t that it guides us like some old man in the sky letting us know what to do next – it is a part of us, like a child is a part of their parent.

Like a wave is part of the ocean.

We are all, literally, children of God (for lack of a better term).

*That* is the Self that I think he’s referring to. Brings a whole new dimension to the title “Self-Reliance”, don’t you think?

That is where the justification for relying on yourself comes from – your connection to this higher power, whatever you want to call it.

Examine your thoughts and feelings – don’t discount even the most seemingly insignificant of them – even the “bad” ones, even the painful ones. They all have something to tell you, whether you want to get the message or not.

What do you think about this passage? Have an opinion you’d like to share? Feel free to drop your own thoughts in the comments.


Greatness : Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson : 023

Continuing our discussion of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“The world has been instructed by its kings, who have so magnetized the eyes of nations. It has been taught by this colossal symbol the mutual reverence that is due from man to man. The joyful loyalty with which men have everywhere suffered the king, the noble, or the great proprietor to walk among them by a law of his own, make his own scale of men and things, and reverse theirs, pay for benefits not with money but with honor, and represent the law in his person, was the hieroglyphic by which they obscurely signified their consciousness of their own right and comeliness, the right of every man.”

This one difficult for me to understand. I think that he’s saying that royalty is the symbol for the greatness (even if they aren’t really so great) we know, at some level and to some degree, exists in every human being.

Celebrities… they’re just like us!

What do you think about this passage? Have an opinion you’d like to share? Feel free to drop your own thoughts in the comments.



Your Action Matters : Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson : 022

Continuing our discussion of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“Our reading is mendicant and sycophantic. In history, our imagination plays us false. Kingdom and lordship, power and estate, are a gaudier vocabulary than private John and Edward in a small house and common day’s work; but the things of life are the same to both; the sum total of both is the same. Why all this deference to Alfred, and Scanderbeg, and Gustavus? Suppose they were virtuous; did they wear out virtue? As great a stake depends on your private act to-day, as followed their public and renowned steps. When private men shall act with original views, the lustre will be transferred from the actions of kings to those of gentlemen.”

Status. Doesn’t. Matter.

It’s our actions that matter. Public or private, with or without fanfare.

It’s our day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment collective actions that create the world we live in. The single actions of Donald Trump, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or Bill Gates, or any other person with power may reach further than ours ever could. But our own actions, right here, right now, have more of an effect on the world we live in, right here, right now, than theirs ever could. Especially if the action we take is capitulation to their power.

Did anything in that passage resonate with you? Have an opinion you’d like to share? Feel free to drop your own thoughts in the comments.