Aristotle characterized friendship into three types, an interesting framework to consider: friendship of utility, friendship of pleasure, and friendship of the good.
Friendship of utility might be our relationship with our favorite hairdresser. It is a relationship established on mutual practical benefit and may terminate as soon as that benefit is over for whatever reason, but we behave in a friendly manner while it lasts.
Friendship of pleasure would pertain to those we spend time on a shared activity like golf, bridge, movie going or wine club If we lose interest in that particular hobby or location, the friendship of pleasure may also end once the ease to get together is gone.
Friends of the good is when two people enjoy each other for their own sake because they find in each other an affinity of character that does not require externalities like a business exchange or hobby. In those cases, as Aristotle puts it, our friends become mirrors to our souls, helping us grow and become better persons just because they care about us. This kind of distinction could also apply to our relationships with family members or with our companion.
Aristotle was not a Stoic. The Stoics would have said that the only friendship that truly deserves to be called a friendship is that of the good.
from Massimo Pigliucci’s “How to Be a Stoic” pg 198
Even if these aren’t exact Budda Quotes when they were found online they struck a chord.
“Be where you are otherwise you will miss your life.”
“Be a good person but don’t waste time to prove it.”
Maybe as we come out of isolation from the intensity of the past pandemic year and a half, having some sage ways or words is a way for us to consider ourselves. Or maybe nature is a way to self soothe, and bring ourselves back to our own calm center. Or engaging in an art form, like music, writing, painting or innovating some creative idea. If we each find our ways or words to self soothe, when we interact with others, our curiosity and kindness may feel most natural.
Summer solstice represents a time to reflect upon the blessings we have received in seasons past and look toward new growth.
Just as the summer solstice is symbolic of agricultural growth, so is it symbolic of personal growth. It is a wonderful time to nurture your potential as you would nurture a tiny seedling and let your creative energy express itself fully. On the summer solstice, you may feel compelled to emulate the noontime sun and be at one with the world around you or to let your inner brilliance shine forth at full strength, if only for a single day. Your life, like the seasons, follows a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and summers, whether literal or figurative, can always be celebrated.
The book by Angela Santomero ” Radical Kindness” talks to the idea of, well one, we need more kindness in the world. She describes what she calls Heart Brain or Heart See as the kindest place for humans to act. To act from our heart brain in all things of this world. The idea that our heart does have intelligence (she cites studies) and is faster to know, intuitive, simplifies and is connected to our body and mind/brain responses. She claims the true power, life-changing power comes from kindness and the act of giving and receiving in our living years. For her this heart brain energy, practice and choice would result in more harmony and fewer conflicts.
Many of us are weary of the conflicts and lack of harmony all around us, wishing someone else would stop it or be different, or let go of old stories, or current disagreements. The practice and challenge seems to be to treat ourselves with kindness and consideration too. And treat and see everyone else from that same place as well, be it family or a stranger. Act from our hearts. See with our hearts. Heart See.
In reading about the philosophy of Stoicism it can offer a person pause. Pause to consider one’s motivations in this modern world, how one might operate, and maybe ways to self-regulate one self. Being a stoic is not about the stiff upper lip definition many of us might think, but rather a philosophy about how to live, how to treat others, and the basis stems from one’s ethics, morals and integrity having priority in how one is motivated.
Stoic philosophy fits with the Serenity Prayer of accepting the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. During a pandemic like covid these are lessons we are facing over and over. Having a philosophy to practice acceptance, courage and wisdom seem important.
The Philosophy of Stoicism is ancient and seems focused on the individual practice of how one lives one’s life, rather than joining an organized group. The practice is in the doing. The core essence is in bringing ethics, morals and integrity into the day to day living of one’s life. One can have material bounty too, yet the ethics and integrity of how one is externally driven and acts would have priority to a Stoic, not gaining the externals like money or power themselves.
Many of us seem to have lost our ways, or gotten gobbled up by external dramas and devices. Could practicing Stoicism offer another way to connect with one own’s internal compass, that sense of rightness for oneself? When one is lined up with one’s own integrity and ethics, one often finds a joyful sense of groundedness, comfort, and even purpose. May we have the courage to change the things we can.
As we age, we have a new kind of perspective, a hard earned one in many ways. And investing in what we want more of matters. Be it money, time, people, where we invest those things, says a lot about what we value. And now in aging deliciously, there are some better choices emerging of how we can invest our time, money and energy.
As for money, there are options for impact investing, to invest in areas that we want to support. There are world funds, banks and organizations that are focused on elevating businesses and communities wanting to solve social or environmental problems. Investing your money in organizations supporting your values and the world you want to live in empowers those businesses that do good in the world.
Thankfully this is a growing trend, especially of a new generation leading this charge. It is exciting and makes sense to have more and more funds, banks and organizations focused on socially responsible and sustainable investing, be it a local community or farther afield. As money gets directed towards these initiatives and away from old financial models, we lift up new industry, growth, communities and possibilities.
How come some books are ageless, meaning their content is valid for seemingly decades? A simple book generated over one summer, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, is such a gem. Written in 1955, it holds truths, wisdom and relevance to this present time. Initially she was just writing down her own musings, gaining clarity for herself during a few contemplative weeks on her own, separate from her busy life as wife and mother. Getting away on one’s own in 1955 seems a progressive notion for all involved to make that happen. Out of her contemplative time came Gift from the Sea, where Anne compares her daily beach treasures such as moon shells, sunrises and oyster beds to human life and the challenges which are universal and still valid more than 65 years later. Few people take the time, or have the contemplative nature to see patterns, articulate them and then share them in ways that can be illuminating for others.
Here’s such a Gift from the Sea, page 37-38
…For it is not physical solitude that actually separates one from other (people), not physical isolation, but spiritual isolation. It is not the desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you from the people you love. It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others…..Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude.
Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 18, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an American educator, author, orator, and adviser to multiple presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African American community and of the contemporary black elite. Washington was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants. They were newly oppressed in the South by disenfranchisement and the Jim Crow discriminatory laws enacted in the post-Reconstruction Southern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.