I recently reread The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman and as with other great books, I ended up taking many notes on the truths I found within its pages. I’ve collected them below. They are simple, profound and can immediately improve our lives. Here goes:
1. Most of our entertainments are addictions, not enjoyments. They are temporary ways to distract us from our underlying fears.
How many times have I delayed writing, working out or dealing with difficult situations because “I need to decompress” by watching TV or Youtube for large chunks of time? More than I care to admit. But it’s so much easier. And so much less fulfilling. And my fears and challenges haven’t gone anywhere. They lie waiting for me after I turn off the TV.
2. When you sit, sit; when you stand, stand; whatever you do, don’t wobble.
No one enjoys—or respects—wishy-washy people. Be reflective and thoughtful and then be decisive. When you do something, no matter how small or insignificant, do it and only it (no multi-tasking). Be present and aware of what you are doing.
3. There are no ordinary moments.
Every morning that we wake up, see, breathe, walk, talk, touch, and love is an amazing thing. Just being here as a human on this planet at this time is having won a lottery against unfathomable odds. The gratitude that comes from remembering this makes every moment, even the seemingly ordinary, shine with magic.
4. Satori occurs when attention rests in the present moment, when the body is alert, sensitive, relaxed, and the emotions are open and free.
Satori can be interpreted as “awakening” or “enlightenment,” but perhaps with less heavy connotations. Moments of satori are what we live for, the times when we are so present with ourselves and our world that experiencing awe is inevitable. We can’t find this state when we are fretting over the past, worrying about the future or consumed with anxiety.
5. A fool is “happy” when his cravings are satisfied. A warrior is happy without reason. Beneath sorrow, joy, everything is the innate perfection of your life unfolding. That is the secret of unreasonable happiness.
As the Buddhist saying goes, whether good or bad, “this too shall pass.” Like everyone, I have experienced frustration, failure, grief and loss. For much of my life this would invoke self-pity and unnecessary suffering. Looking back now, many of the events I found terrible at the time resulted in growth and wisdom I would not have otherwise obtained. Now when disappointment occurs, I focus on being content with my unfolding path and it has made all the difference.
6. Deny your nature and it will erupt in other, uglier ways.
I manage to stay calm and controlled throughout much of my life, but my Sunday afternoon soccer games have been my chance to, well, “mix it up” a bit. I decided that such feistiness was inappropriate and curbed my aggressive play. This not only made it less fun, but my aggression built up and one day I exploded on an opposing player in a way that crossed the line of good sportsmanship. I needed the steady release of my competitive nature that I had allowed myself previously, and holding back resulted in an ugly eruption of fury. Find outlets to express both your light and dark sides, and you will find healthy balance.
7. Practice abundance by giving back.
Recent happiness studies have shown that altruism plays a crucial role in personal happiness. Find a way to do something for others everyday, no matter how small. Drop a quarter in a busker’s guitar case. Let someone cut in front of you in traffic. Offer unsolicited but honest compliments.
8. Nothing works out according to plan, but it always works out.
This concept can be the hardest to accept at times, but is no less true because of that. Lives are messy, unpredictable and filled with joy and sorrow, peace and tragedy. Embrace it all. Detach yourself from the outcome and offer your gift day after day after day.
Do you have thoughts or opinions on The Way of the Peaceful Warrior or the ideas expressed above? I’d love to hear them at firstname.lastname@example.org.