Hi, this is Brian.
Welcome back to another Areté +1°, one of the 451 micro-chapters from Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential.
7 Objectives, 451 ideas, I hope any one of which may be able to help change your life and, in aggregate, we can fundamentally and permanently change your life.
Here's the idea for today.
A QUICK TRIP TO HELL
WAKE UP! THIS ISN’T A DRESS REHEARSAL
That last time-traveling reflection exercise was inspired by two of the world’s leading positive psychologists.
Tal Ben-Shahar offers a time-traveling exercise of his own in his great book Happier, in which he tells us that we ALL ALREADY HAVE ALL THE WISDOM WE NEED—we just need to tap into it and then live in integrity with it.
It’s time to invite another one of my all-time favorite positive psychologists to join us. Then we’ll take another little trip in that time-traveling machine.
Hero, meet Caroline Adams Miller. In my opinion, Caroline is one of the most practical positive psychologists in the world.
In her great book Getting Grit, she walks us through the science of grit and helps us apply it to our lives.
One of the main lessons from her book is the fact that gritty people don’t fear failure. They KNOW (!) that to do great things they will, inevitably, fail. A lot.
As she says: “They have to go outside their comfort zone over and over to get where they want, all the while with no guarantee of success. That doesn’t stop them, though; they’d rather bet on themselves than accept a life in which they’ll never know what might have been.”
That last line about preferring to bet on themselves rather than accept a life in which they’ll never know what they might have been reminds me of two things.
Short story: We have a weird ability to adapt to whatever hardships we face in our lives. So our failures don’t actually wind up bothering us as much as we think they will.
We’re poor “affective forecasters” as the behavioral economists like to say.
The stuff we never really went for? That has the potential to create a bunch of regret over the course of our lives—which is one of the reasons why people on their deathbeds don’t regret their failures as much as they regret the risks they didn’t take.
All of which reminds me of this…
“Someone once told me the definition of Hell: The last day you have on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.”
With that in mind, it’s time to take another trip in our time-traveling machine. This time it’s not going to be as pleasant.
We’re going to the very end of our lives.
Take a deep breath.
Hold on tight.
We get out of our magical time-traveling machine and… We see you on your deathbed.
Only, gulp, something’s not quite right…
It’s clear that you DID NOT listen to the advice you got from that heavenly Heroic version of you with whom we just spent some time.
Eek. You can feel the pain of regret that this version of you is experiencing.
Right as you are about to take your last breath…
The door to your room opens…
In walks that best, most Heroic version of you. Aged, but just as vitally alive and joyful and loving as ever. That version of you looks at the other version of you with compassion and sadness.
Some would say that that is one definition of Hell—to meet the version of you that you COULD have become right when it was too late to do anything about it.
Good news. It’s NOT too late to do something about it.
It doesn’t matter how long we might have allowed ourselves to get hypnotized by the power of poor choices and bad habits.
TODAY IS THE DAY for us to step up and decide to activate our Heroic potential.
Wake up!! This isn’t a dress rehearsal, Hero.