Ease your mind, ignore everyday villains

Written by: Liberty Miller | Lifestyle Editor

When I was in high school, I went to a bookstore near my hometown and purchased the prettiest book I could find at the reasonable price of $14.95. I had preemptively placed myself in the philosophy section of the bookstore — in the hopes that I could find a small gem of knowledge that would be more valuable than the allowance I was spending on it. What I wasn’t expecting was for that book to shape one of my most treasured life philosophies — one that I would carry all throughout my years leading up until this moment. 

When I opened the book, I was met with undecipherable chinese characters and an introduction to “The Way.” 

It was a translation of an ancient Chinese philosophy created by Lao Tzu, and when I flipped to page 122, entry 67, I read, “I myself have three treasures at hand; I keep a firm grasp on them, and protect them as I would a child carried on my back. The first, I say, is nurturing love. The second, I say, is unpretentiousness. The third, I say, is not pushing myself ahead in the world. Because of nurturing love, you are capable of courage that flows forth; Because of unpretentiousness, you are capable of being expansive; Because of not pushing yourself ahead in the world, you are capable of having the stature of an elder among people of ability.” (Tao Te Ching) 

The translation of the book, and perhaps the clear and precise manner in which Lao Tzu originally created his work, seemed to be applicable even thousands of years later in the life of a 15-year-old girl. 

The first principle, nurturing love, can be presented in many ways. Unconditional positive regard, loyalty, kindness, compassion and affection are some ways to demonstrate nurturing love in your everyday life. 

As an athlete, I do my best to show this by speaking positively about opposing teams. In my everyday life, I refrain from speaking spitefully and instead, praise and include others with kind regard. 

This is an incredible principle to incorporate into daily life. In a world where there is an abundance of criticism, negativity and needless bullying, one has the power to reject these ideals, reject the idea that complaining or talking badly about others is a rite of passage or means of assimilation. 

There is nothing more satisfying than having love and appreciation for the world and the people in it; it is there that we can find peace. 

The second principle, unpretentiousness — living life humbly and without status. We live in a world where our accomplishments and social standing are measured constantly by those we know or people who live across the world. 

Social media, academic and athletic awards, jobs, internships, houses and apartments, relationships, friendships, money, age and beauty — countless ideals and standards that hold everyone hostage on a daily basis. The way to freedom is to let these things go. 

When ego takes over, it’s easy for one to forget where they started, see where they are and act as if it is their right to be there. How I think about it is, the world is not, in fact, my oyster; instead, it is my classroom. If I let go of my ego — my need for status and adopt the mindset of a beginner — I will be leaps and bounds ahead of those who don’t want to learn, only to achieve. If I lose my need to be better, I can become the best as an individual, NOT comparing myself to others and unattainable standards. 

The third principle — not pushing oneself ahead in the world. Going hand-in-hand with the previous principle, what this means to me is prioritizing the “we”: supporting other human beings over self interest. 

Biologically, our species depends on each other for survival, whether we like it or not. Bonds are what make up what we call life. In the process of putting myself first, I would tend to forget those around me who built the staircase of life that I climb. 

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it wasn’t built by one person either. The credit for who we are today goes to those who supported us along the way. In this manner, we can follow this principle by giving credit to those who helped build our staircase, helped write the chapters in our story. 

As a disclaimer, no one born on earth in any era will fully claim to have mastered this philosophy. 

We are fickle, we are human and we are flawed. Everyone has been a Regina George — been the opposite of everything we’ve discussed thus far. But, even the smallest of actions can be the building blocks towards a more rewarding and happy life. I think one will find if they try their best to go about life with love, gratitude and friendship, they will be more at peace with themselves than ever before. 

Contact the author at howllifestyle@wou.edu