When I first I had the idea for this article it was to be about my philosophy that we should take action on how it affects this life and not the next. I was all set to call it simply ‘Act For Now, Not Later’ but then I realized I had written something akin to that already – in the Well-Met Code. It dawned on me that since I came up with the code I haven’t written much about it or even referenced it that much other than using it’s Virtues as categories for posts. Seeing as they play an important role in how I look at what I create here at Well-Met, I should expand on them. So I will start here with the code in general and over the next weeks highlight each of the four virtues separately.
The roots of this started today with a social media platform where I saw a quote by Mae West (okay she’s a woman and I normally only quote men here, but wait for it):
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
Knowing a little about Mae West I am sure she meant something else by it, like living life to its fullest, but I immediately took it to be a rephrasing of my own maxim of ‘Act for now, not for later’. What I really mean is act for what you can be or do in this life, not what you may be or do in the next (after) life. Too often I get the impression that people do things because of worries about what their religion or philosophy or lack thereof says will happen to them after they die. But to me whether you believe in an afterlife or not, and whether that afterlife means heaven or hell, reincarnation, or any other means of living past death, none if it matters. To me those things will take care of themselves if you take care of things now. If you think this is the only life you have then make sure it is a good one. If you think your next life is dependent on how you live (coming back as a higher being, going to heaven, etc.) then make this one a good one. Look, in the end – okay bad choice of words – all we know is that we have this life.
Feel, Think, Act, Repeat. That is another way you could state the code. The four virtues of Compassion, Decision, Enterprise, and Sincerity alphabetically listed there are in perfect order for the previous phrase. First we need to Feel, to have Compassion, to Be Well-Meaning. Then with those feelings we need to Think, to make a Decision, to Be Well-Considered. Then we need to Act, to be Enterprising, to Be Well-Applied. Finally we need to show those actions can be expected and so need to Repeat them to be Sincere, to Be Well-Trusted.
I want to stress again that I think we need to be good now not for what it may mean later, but for what it means now. Otherwise what I see is people putting things off thinking – as long as I am good at the end, things will be good after the end. A lack of immediacy makes itself present as people think – what’s the point if this is just a small part of the bigger picture. Well, for one thing, we don’t know how long we have, so if you put it off you may never get to it. Plus, being good for any other reason than just being good to me diminishes the value. If you do something ‘good’ because you ‘are supposed to’ or ‘have to’ is it really good? Why can’t be people do good, do the right thing, just because as human beings- humane beings – we should, not because we think we will get something out of it? Why can’t people realize it often makes good, logical sense to be or do good?
Here’s an example. You are on a freeway ramp and there are multiple lanes merging to get on. Many people would just keep driving, tailgating the person in front and not allowing anyone else in. Inevitably there are cars that try to drag out merging and keep going as far as they can. Suddenly someone thinks – I should let this guy in – usually because they should ‘be nice’. Now they have to come to a complete stop to create space and back up everyone behind them. It’s easy to blame the person that wouldn’t merge, but in many cases they didn’t have an opportunity. But what if people left space between and allowed other cars – even if it ends up being multiple cars – merge in. Going may be slow, but it will be steady and continuous versus start and stop. I myself try to practice this. I am sure I get looks or people thinking ‘why did this idiot just let three cars in front of him?’ but you know what? The entire drive down that ramp I am driving, yes slower than usual but I am still driving. Not only have I been nice to those drivers merging, but I have actually been nice to everyone behind me as I saved them all from stopping every time those mergers try to sneak in between two cars that wouldn’t let them in and then one has to come to a complete stop to make space. Things could be worse, an accident could occur at the merging, or behind them at a point where things got so backed up someone rear ends another.
Circling back to the beginning, we need to see how this relates to the Code. ln the case of the merging lanes first we feel everyone’s pain that the situation is less than desirable but everyone needs to get on and merge at some point, then we need to think of the solution and we notice that when we just let people in the experience is much better for us and them and others, next we need to do it – to make space and let them in, finally we and others need to do it every time. If we all start to do it then it becomes en expectation and we can go into the situation with a better feeling which means we will probably come out with a better feeling. Can you think of other situations where Feeling, Thinking, Acting, and Repeating could make it better for everyone involved?
That was a very specific scenario but I hope you can see how it can apply to a way of living. Understand how your actions will affect people, think of the best way to act, then act, and be trusted upon to act or react the same way each time. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone else did that? If you are thinking that then someone is thinking it about you, so don’t use the excuse that others don’t be why you don’t. Follow the code because everyone should, and everyone starts and stops with you. If you act that way then someone else might and so on.
On the Code page I have many quotes that I categorized under each virtue, but here is a sampling as inspiration on the overall code and the concept of acting now, to be good now, to Feel, Think, Act, and Repeat.
- I think the purpose of life is to be useful, responsible, honorable, compassionate. It is, above all, to matter: to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all – Leo Rosten (1908-1997) Writer, Teacher
- Doing is the great thing, for if people resolutely do what is right, they come in time to like doing it. – John Ruskin
- Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching- even when doing the wrong thing is legal. — Aldo Leopold
- We are here to add what we can to, not get what we can from, life. – Sir William Osler (1849-1919); Canadian physician, founding professor at Johns Hopkins Hospital
- Don’t wait for extraordinary circumstance to do good; try to use ordinary situations. – Charles Richter (1900-1985); American seismologist and physicist; creator of the Richter Magnitude Scale
- The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. – Neil DeGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist
- If something comes to life in others because of you, then you have made an approach to immortality. – Norman Cousins (1915-1990); editor, writer
- So act that your principle of action might safely be made law for the whole world. – Immanuel Kant (1724-1804); German philosopher
- Cease being intimidated by the argument that a right action is impossible because it does not yield maximum profits, or that a wrong action is to be condoned because it pays. — Aldo Leopold (A Sand County Almanac)
- Do not think of your faults, still less of other’s faults; look for what is good and strong, and try to imitate it. Your faults will drop off, like dead leaves, when their time comes. John Ruskin
- If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. Men will believe what they see. ~ Henry David Thoreau
- Let the noble man Be generous and good, Tirelessly achieving What is just and useful: Let him be a model For those beings whom he surmises. – Goethe
- Every great person is always being helped by everybody; for their gift is to get good out of all things and all persons. – John Ruskin
- A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait. – Goethe
and as a last note
- Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. – William James (1842-1910);psychologist, philosopher, author
Act now, make a difference now. You may not get the chance later.
Wait I think there’s an acronym in there ‘Apply Code Today’, or not, stupid acronyms…