Over the last couple of days, I’ve been having a conversation about politics with some friends on Facebook. That sounds like a bad idea, I know. One of these friends, who identifies as extremely right-wing and extremely liberal (versus authoritarian) claimed that by my age I should have formed political opinions and that if I had not then I must be either uninformed or unprincipled or both. I assume that it’s generally considered “bad” to be either “uninformed” or “unprincipled.”
This got me thinking about principles and I wondered what my principles actually are. So here we are with a set of principles that I seem to consistently apply in living my life.
Reality Trumps Beliefs
This is a kind of meta-principle. Principles are great, but they’re just concepts. It often seems to be true that a principle or a belief is related to how I think the world should be, rather than how the world actually is. By questioning beliefs, they usually fall away and reveal the infinitely deep and rich reality that they mask. I am pragmatist, which means I’m focused on what works, not on what I wish worked nor on how I think the world should work.
Everyone Is Doing The Best They Can
No matter how incompetent or dysfunctional people seem to be, no matter how poorly they seem to be performing, I have to assume that they’re doing the best they can given the knowledge, resources, and inspiration they have. I’ve never met a person, including myself, who was not ultimately trying to do their best. If I can do anything—as a leader, partner, or friend—it’s to encourage and support them, to help them to enrich the menu of options that they have available, so that they might have an even more optimal choice to pick.
Reality Is Benevolent
I’ve been through what most people would consider some pretty terrible situations, some of which I have already written about. It’s easy to create a story that reality, and the people in it, can be fundamentally malicious. However, when I look back at my life, I am unable to find any true maliciousness in people and nothing truly bad has ever happened. Sure, people have behaved in ways that I could label as malicious but, when examined closely, it’s clear that they were just scared, angry, or triggered. Even terrible situations, such as my father dying when I was a child, are just what happened; life went on. Yes, there is grief, but what can make life horrendous is only the resistance to it in all its wild variation. Knowing this, there is a confidence that nothing terrible is coming, because nothing terrible could come.
Right now, that seems like the main principles by which I live my life. This is not right or wrong, not the best way (there is no best way); this is just what I seem to do. Perhaps my sharing is helpful to you in some way. I’d love to hear your thoughts.