What passes for modern-day, productive discussion COULD actually have a 'corrosive effect,' claims ancient Roman philosopher Epictetus - upon your psyche, and thus, your life purpose:
'It's not necessary to restrict yourself to philosophy all the time, but be aware that the common babbling that passes for worthwhile discussion has a corrosive effect on your higher purpose. When we blather about trivial things, we ourselves become trivial, for our attention gets taken up; you become what you give your attention to' (Epictetus, The Art of Living, 1994, Harper Collins).
True, I believe.
Yet there are a handful of simple techniques, which will help you avoid this 'corrosion of the mind.' Use them consistently, and you'll reinforce your identity, avoid distraction, and find it far easier to stay on the path to your higher purpose. Plus, you'll find yourself taking action - where once you may have been waylaid by minutia.
How exactly, does 'common babbling,' as it's called by Epictetus, compromise your life purpose?
It consumes your time. Have you ever sat down to watch 'just a few minutes' worth of television (most of which can easily be construed as 'babbling')? Your intent may have been to limit your viewing. Yet soon, 'a few minutes' becomes hours.
It begins innocently, yet transforms into habitual behavior. Have you ever become friends with someone who engages in daily, meaningless gossip? Have you then, after even just a few days with that person, found yourself engaging in the same type of gossip? As claims Epictetus, that which you focus upon, grows.
It undermines your vision of who you wish to become. You begin with a vision, a goal, a perception of your ideal self. You act in accordance with that vision. Then, for an instant, you engage in 'common babbling' or other behavior contrary to that self-perception. In that moment your identity, along with your higher purpose, becomes compromised.
How do you avoid this?
Here's my simple, yet highly effective, list:
First, turn off the TV. And turn off any other device that distracts you from your life purpose. This will not only save you time. But it'll naturally redirect your focus. With TV, social media, parties, gossip, and other 'devices' that are not in alignment with your values eliminated from your life? You'll find that your mental focus becomes attracted - as a magnet to steel! - to that which you love most. That which empowers you. And that which defines your higher purpose.
Second, don't gossip. Get rid of friends who do. Eliminate, as Epictetus termed it, 'common babbling' from your repertoire. If you have friends who spend time gossiping, or engaging in other activities not in accordance with your life purpose? You'll find that their lower standards may begin to 'infiltrate' your own. Befriend only those who share your ideals. You'll save time. And free yourself of any pain you may incur from having to end an unhealthy, unwanted friendship in the future.
Finally, reinforce your vision of who you wish to become, daily. Meditate on that vision, in complete silence, for several minutes each morning. Then act in accordance with that vision throughout your day. Take actions which, you know intuitively, will cause your ideal self to become a 'flesh and blood' reality. Before sleeping, meditate upon that vision again. Do this daily. And soon you'll find your vision has become true.
That is all!
In summary: How to avoid the all-too-common minutia that can be so corrosive to your life purpose? Turn off the TV - and any other device not supportive of your values. Don't gossip. Get rid of friends who do. Reinforce your vision of who you wish to become, daily. Do this. And as Thoreau once claimed: You'll find yourself living, 'with the license of a higher order of beings.' You'll have to sacrifice TV. You'll have to forgo meaningless gossip. You may even have to give up on unhealthy friendship or two.
Is it worth it?
Jeff Sekerak, 2015
Copyright 2015, J. Sekerak. All rights reserved. Consult your doctor before engaging in any diet or fitness plan.