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Stop Fighting Yourself

Stop Fighting Yourself

October 25, 2022


Aristotle thought happiness, or fulfillment, should be the main focus of humanity.  That’s easy to say.  Harder to do.  But why?

Are you unhappy because you don’t have enough money?  We’ve all heard the saying, “money doesn’t buy happiness.”  Do you feel alone?  Laurence Sterne said, “In solitude the mind learns strength and to lean upon itself”.  He lived in the 1700’s, but I feel like he was talking about cellphones and social media.  The point is, you could add any other reason to this list, and you know what?  You might be right.


20 years ago I lived in Bahia, Brazil, in a very poor area called a favella.  I met a family of 5 with a home no larger than a 15ft-by-15ft room.  It had the necessities, a bed for the parents, mats on the floor for the kids, a sink, a small cabinet and stove, and a few chairs.  It might seem bleak, but they were some of the most generous, honest, and happy people I've ever met.  They had an idea about what a successful person was, and their values and principles reflected that worldview.  Their values consisted of hard work, family, community, and integrity, to name a few.  And they lived in alignment with those values!

Now consider the person who seems to have it all.  They have the career, the money, the fame, the romantic partner, all the hallmarks of success.  But happiness eludes them.  Why?  It’s a tale as old as time.  You might be tempted to say they aren’t paying attention to what’s most important.  And there’s the rub.  It’s not about what’s most important.  It’s about what’s most important TO THEM. 


We all have fundamental principles and values that govern our self-image.  Some can be universal, but many are personal.  The problem is, often we let the chips fall (our values) when the going gets tough.

How many of you have the value of health, but after trying to eat healthy and work out you decided it just wasn’t for you.  Did your value change?  Of course not.  But now you have what we call “Cognitive Dissonance”, wherein you actions and your values are out of alignment.  You find yourself frustrated, depressed and with a feeling of failure and stagnation.

However, if you can take actions, even very small ones, that are in alignment with your fundamental values and principles, then everything clicks.  You feel accomplished, successful, virtuous, fulfilled.  I’ve seen this for myself.  Small steps, 1% better every day, make a world of difference.


Often we put off many of those values till the day we retire.  We tell ourselves we “have to” invest this way, work that way, neglect this, and put off that.  We feel like we need to bury our value in the ground, so that one day when we dig it up again it’ll still be there. 

Instead, learn to make those financial, career, family decisions that align with your values, and you can have that fulfilled life.  Not just when you retire, but now!