How to Live a Meaningful Life

Just a little rant here:  philosophy classes turn off many college students for a simple reason — they never get around to saying how philosophy can shake your living.  Some classes might teach more on “how to think philosophically,” or “here are the old philosophers.”  Some may speak to ethics or arguments, logic or some other esoteric area.  But how to live, day-to-day?  That is often lost to the student.

(By they way, I would offer this as an issue with much of theology, too.  Lots of talk about what not to do, what God (or gods) might be like, and how to judge how others live… but not so much clarity on living day-to-day.  But that is a rant for another day!)

Anyway, philosophy, as originally taught in ancient days, was exactly for deciding how to live.  How should you act, feel, and think?  As different schools of philosophy might point out, that all depends upon your basic ideas of what a meaningful life might be.

Sometimes, we are already acting in ways that point to our idea of meaning, even without a philosophical basis.  I think of this as our “natural philosophy” — how we have made sense of the world.

After my first book, many people asked if I was a Stoic.  At that time, I had only a passing concept of that philosophy.  Just one of those old schools of philosophy from a bygone age.  But after hearing it a number of times, I started investigating.  Sure enough, much of my approach to living day-to-day was Stoic.  Huh.Vitali Katsenelson, author of Soul In The Game

Then, I started finding others that had this same experience.  One of those is Vitaliy Katsenelson.  He is the CEO of an investment company.  But his story goes back to his family’s immigration to the United States, from Russia, when Vitaliy was a child.  He was old enough to still remember those memories of a dying USSR (and to hold onto a bit of an accent), but young enough to find his way through American culture.

After writing several books on investing (including the psychology of investing), Vitaliy took to talking about life.  Not just professional life.  But other areas of life.  Art, music, chess, and family life were grist for the mill of exploring meaning.

This led to Vitaliy’s latest book, Soul In The Game.  While in the process of writing, Vitaliy stumbled upon Stoic thought and found a new home there.  He incorporates that into this book, to further his exploration into the meaningful life (a slightly different question than the meaning of life).

I had a chance to sit down and chat with Vitaliy about a wide range of issues and topics, all related to how life becomes meaningful, and how to find that meaning.  Listen to this episode of the Thriveology Podcast to find out more.

Vitaliy’s Website
Vitaliy’s Podcast
Find His Book Here
My Book on Thriving

Is Comfort Killing You?

Is comfort killing us?  What we can learn from discomfort.We all often seek comfort.

But is the comfort we find killing us?

Is the comfort, perhaps more subtly, holding us back?

Here is the problem:  we find something comfortable, something “better,” something bigger.  Then, instead of bigger, better, more comfortable, it just becomes the routine.

[tweetthis]Habituation is a bitch! – Lee Baucom[/tweetthis]

Habituation is the process by which anything becomes the normal.  Buy your dream home/car/watch/whatever.  Quickly, it is “just” a home/car/watch/whatever.  The dream disappears.

Or go the other way:  lose a job, have to downsize.  At first, it hurts.  Then, it becomes a new normal.  You “habituate,” either way.

The problem is, our insatiable move toward comfort becomes more and more limiting:  “I’ll only fly first class,” “I have simple tastes:  only the best,” etc., etc.

Food gets richer, exercise has to be “comfortable,” and we find ourselves unable to tolerate discomfort.

Here is the problem:  every life has discomfort and struggle.  When we are always looking only for comfort, we tend to avoid the discomfort.  And over time, we become uncomfortable about any discomfort.

But what if we could be more comfortable with discomfort?  What if we could take on some small discomforts as inoculation against big discomfort?

Listen below and see how that might help, and how to do it.

You’re Gonna Die!

You are going to die.Let’s just say it and get it out of the way.  You, I, and everyone else, is going to die.  An inescapable fact of life.  We will die.

A morbid thought?  I don’t think it has to be a morbid thought, as much as an organizing thought.


It brings things into focus.

Years ago, I met a man who was dying from cancer.  He was focused, determined.  His prognosis was terminal, so that was not his determination.  He was determined to live out the rest of his life to the fullest.  He spent his time working on projects dear to him.  He made apologies and amends to those whom he felt he had hurt.  He was letting his loved ones know they were loved.

His imminent death gave him focus.

One day, he turned to me, after I told him how much I respected how he was facing death, and said, “What about YOUR death?”

“What?,” I asked.  I wasn’t the one dying, after all.

Then he said, “YOU are going to die, too.  Maybe after me, maybe before me.  But you will die, too.  Don’t wait.  There may be no waiting.”

Death has a way of rearranging your priorities.

Listen to this week’s podcast to ponder death and YOUR life.

2 Words To Thrive

2 words to help you thrive:  persist and resist.All the way back to the first century, one philosopher suggested 2 simple words to guide a thriving life (he didn’t really call it a thriving life, but that was what he described).  Those 2 words are still crucial for building a thriving life.  And they are 2 words that you can easily practice and build.

Think of each word as representing a muscle.  The more you practice, the stronger it gets.  More than that, think of these 2 words as coordinating muscles.  Kind of like the muscles you use to push and the muscles you use to pull.

In fact, one word is all about pulling something toward you, and the other is all about pushing something(s) away from you.

That first century philosopher?  Epictetus.  The 2 words?  To quote Epictetus, “persist and resist.”  Keep moving through the hardships to get where you want to be (persist) and keep resisting the pleasures that pull you off your path (resist).

Learn how to apply those two words in your own thriving life in this week’s podcast.