Principle Centered Life

A paradigm is like a map. It is the interpretation of a place, it is not the place. Our paradigms are how we see things, our perspective on any given situation is a result of the paradigm we used to see the situation. Stephen Covey said, “We must examine the lens through which we see the world as well as at the world we see, the lens [through which we look] is how we interpret the world we see.” This means, to me, that it is more important to understand why we see what see than to understand what we see. The lens is the paradigm. To change our world, we must first change how see it.

Continuing the map analogy, if we have the wrong map we will never get where we want to be. Covey used the example of standing in Chicago with a map of New York City. The map of NYC may be accurate, but it has no relevance to Chicago so will not help us find anything in Chicago. So first, we must determine how we see the situation to determine if we have the correct map. The more aware we are of our paradigms the better equipped we are to take responsibility for our lives. In other words, we must know what experiences we have allowed to shape our lens so that we can compare that to universal principles.

Natural laws govern human effectiveness, they are absolute, fundamental and unchanging. Covey describes it this way: “It is impossible to break the [natural] laws; we can only break ourselves against the law.” This tells me that if I am trying to live outside of the natural laws my life will be broken, unproductive, and/or frustratingly unsuccessful. Our paradigms are a subjective reality that we use to describe objective reality – principles are the objective reality.

Principles are not practices or values. Practices are situationally specific. Paradigms are not values; values can and do change with experience. Principles are hard wired, universally true. Unchanging, fundamental truth. Going back to the map analogy, principles are the territory that the map is describing.

The Nine Noble Virtues are a set of principles to compare our paradigms against. While the 9NV are not an exhaustive list of all the principles I believe that any principle will fit into one of the 9NV. If I come across a principle not already covered by the 9NV I will add this principle. If I find that a principle fits more than one virtue, then that principle should replace both virtues.

If we align our paradigms with the 9NV our map will be accurate (we will at least be in the city that matches our map). Let’s examine the 9NV as they relate to the study of the 7 Habits:

  1. Truth (Wisdom)

You don’t know what you don’t know.

This virtue is our yard stick when we examine the lens through which we see the world. This virtue governs the seeking of truth in the myriad of information presented to us from all directions in the information age we find now find ourselves. When we have access to the breadth of the world’s knowledge in the palm of our hands yet have very little facts being shared. When everyone is telling us their opinion of the facts without giving the facts. We must know where the truth is and how to discern it. This applies to all information and should not be limited to the mundane but applied to the spiritual as well.

  1. Courage

Do it anyway.

This virtue is our strength to act on the truth and not succumb to the trending ignorance (willful ignorance in many cases) that is prevalent in our society. The strength to do the right thing even when the consequences of doing the right thing are not beneficial. Yes, courage also is the act of doing the right the thing even when we fear the consequences. It is not the absence of fear, it is the action despite fear.

  1. Fidelity (Loyalty)

Stay the course.

This virtue has many interpretations. In comparing it to the 7 habits, I see this virtue as being loyal to the principled center. Staying the course and always examining, measuring, the results back to the principles, the 9NV. Also, this virtue helps us to determine priorities. To assign the hierarchy of importance and to remain in align with those priorities.

  1. Hospitality (Generosity)

Its not only about you.

This virtue tells us not to be self-centered. When we live a principle centered life we are more connected to the whole. That connection to the whole lets us know that we are not an island but a part of a greater continent.

  1. Discipline (Self-control)

No excuses.

Discipline is needed to stay in the principled centered life. We should strive to live a life that would not require us to ask forgiveness of anyone. Being disciplined to always do the right thing every time. Of course, we are human, and we are not perfect, but we should work towards that perfection anyway.

  1. Industriousness (Work/Perseverance)

Never quit.

We are not owed anything that we have not earned. If we do not put in the work; if we do not pay the price, we will never develop the mastery required of any of this. If we aren’t doing things, making mistakes, we will never learn anything. Nelson Mandela said “I never lose. I win, or I learn.”

  1. Self-reliance (Strength)

If it is to be it is up to me.

We make our choices, whether we are aware or not we have a choice in everything in our live. No, we don’t have any choice in what happens TO us. We do have the choice in how we respond to that stimuli. We can choose to be proactive in those choices or we can be victims – either way we choose. No one has any control of how we think, how we respond, to anything. We must make conscious decisions.

  1. Frith and Grith

Don’t worry, be happy.

The attitude with which we face life determines the results we get from life. You reap what you sow. Being miserable, always seeing the negative, will bring negativity into your life. Bad things will still happen, sad times will still exist, but a positive attitude will help to get us through those times and to see the good in all things. If we believe that everything happens for a reason and understand that we are not always meant to understand that reason life is easier to deal with.

  1. Honor

Actions out weight words.

“What you are shouts so loudly in my ears that I cannot hear what you are saying” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Your character is not what you tell people you are but what you show them through your actions. Honor is acting with integrity in living a principle centered life. It is not an act, it is not something that we can pretend to have for very long. We don’t get to decide if we are honorable or not. Those around us determines this. Honor is the command of respect – not the demand of respect don’t read that wrong. When we do the right things for the right reasons and respect those deserving of respect, we are we are living with honor.

A common misunderstanding is that principles, any or all of them, are subjective. They are not. The value of the principle may vary, but we do not define principles. They define us. Align your paradigms to the correct principles.

January

I never lose. I either win or learn. [I always win.] – Nelson Mandela

 

One of the purposes I described for doing this blog is to create some accountability for myself and to help me focus on keeping my goals in front of me. As January is coming to an end I think it is time for a “month in review” post to update on my progress and failures.

In my planner I put a tracker in place to keep track of the stuff I want to track. Does that make it a tracker instead of a planner? This allows me to see how I did for the month. No guessing and no lying. This month was better than last month – that is the overall goal. It is not what I wanted, not what I set out to accomplish.

This month I set a goal to read three books. I read one cover to cover, one is intentionally a month-long process – one habit a month, one I started and didn’t finish yet, one I wasn’t worth the time I was spending on it. I have read 12 days – the goal was no less than 15 every day. I can rationalize (rational lies) that I do read every day, have spent hours reading standards and procedures at work this month. That isn’t what I meant, and I know that. So, opportunity to better next month.

I journaled 7 days of the 27 so far. Again, the rational lie is that I also blogged 6 times. The goal was every day and I didn’t meet that goal. Opportunity to do better in February.

I did the exercises 10 days so far. The goal, again, was every day. Now, this is 10 times better than December and I improved from 10 pushes barely pushed to 20. I had accomplishments this month in this; I failed to meet my goal.

I started my blog – obviously – which was one of the goals. I began making some leather crafts, playing with the leather to begin practicing. This is good. Overall, I feel that I improved my proactivity. I have been more proactive than last month.

 

I am trying to do my best, I don’t know what my best is.

I am striving to be better

Better tomorrow than I was today

Better today than I was yesterday

Better this month than last month

Better next month than this month

Better this year than last year

I will never be the best I can be because I can always be better than I was.

 

I will finish January strong and hit 5/5 for the last days. I will update this at the end of January – in the spirit of accountability.

Hamingja

When I started this blog, I envisioned becoming some type of guru about the application of the Nine Noble Virtues in daily life – for Heathens and everyone alike. So far, I have made five posts and barely hint on the 9NV. The ancestors had a concept we know as Hamingja – essentially luck but way more complex than simple luck.

In most tales the Hamingja is a guardian spirit that blesses a person based on their intent and actions in life. The more good a person does the stronger their Hamingja can become. Of course, luck can be inscrutable, and a blessing may not look to be that on the surface. For example, I have been blessed with a creative imagination. I can see fantastic images in my mind. I can see exactly what I want something to become. There is a disconnection between that imagination and my ability to apply it. Have you ever seen a beautifully decorated cake in a picture and tried to recreate that? Then end up with something that is edible, probably quite delicious, but you just don’t want to look at it? Well, that is my daily life only the picture is in my head.

This is what I am experiencing with this blog. I can see where I want it go and want I want from it, I just don’t know how to make that materialize, yet. Writing has always been something I want to get better at. I am an avid reader and one of my dreams is to write something that affects someone the way that my favorite authors affect me; that I could transport a reader to a different reality. The blog is a stepping stone in that journey. Here I can write something and publish it to that world, eventually I will get feedback – maybe confirmation that I am doing it correctly and hopefully some critique to help me improve. Mostly, though, the blog allows me to practice. It gives me a media in which to strengthen my Hamingja.

Part of the concept surrounding Hamingja is the ability to pass on the spirit to my descendants. I want to have a strong spirit; a mighty Hamingja. A person with a strong Hamingja can lend their blessing to others. When we wish a friend to have a safe journey home from a visit or when they go on a vacation – this is sharing our Hamingja to strengthen their own. The beautiful thing about this? When we do this, it doesn’t diminish our own Hamingja, but strengthens it.

I believe it was my Hamingja that showed me the Daily Prompts to give me an excuse to just write without the restraint of a specific topic. I will continue my research on the 9NV and I will write more on them, this is just an inscrutable interlude. The Daily Prompts are also a blessing that gives my blog exposure to an audience I would not have otherwise.

 

Daily Prompt: Dominant

via Daily Prompt: Dominan

While browsing blogs on WordPress, you know looking for ideas I could steal and make me look more clever, I found a post by The Daily Post. She does a daily prompt word and challenges (invites?) other bloggers to write a blog post on that word. This looks to be fun and interesting. The word today is “Dominant”.

The most important thing in my life, the dominant concern, is my family. My wife and three children. The dominant concern here is that I am doing it right. I’m sure most parents share my fear – am I doing it right…

This past November my wife and I celebrated 20 years of marriage, both of us still on our first. We have been together since 1995. We met in Japan (her native country) while I was stationed on the USS Independence (CV-62). Her friend was dating a friend of mine and thought I needed to find a good girl and stop being a “butterfly” that went from flower to flower. Now I would like to say it was love at first sight or some romantic bullshit like that…but it wasn’t. Another friend of mine was into her and I wasn’t going to fight my buddy over a woman (no matter how hot she was) I had just met. Long of the short – about a month later my ship was out on deployment and I got a letter. She asked me if I liked her and if I wanted to be her boyfriend…Yes, she regrets that letter now and then. She hooked me (I’m sure she was only after my money – because a junior enlisted Sailor rolls in cash).

Our children (20, 16, 11) are good kids. All do good in school, aren’t in trouble, don’t do drugs (as far as I know), basically I am proud of them. Sure, there are days that I have to sit down and remind myself of this when I am frustrated with having to tell them to do a chore…or take a shower. Seriously! The daughter (11) must be pretty much drug to the shower and forced to clean herself! This is a phase, right?

I think we are doing it right. Not perfectly, but adequately. This doesn’t mean that I will stop being afraid that I am screwing these kids up, but I don’t really need to be afraid of that.

Hospitality

Of the Nine Noble Virtues, Hospitality seems to be the one most in question right now in the US. Why would I say that? Well lets first define what Hospitality means, as related to the 9NV. Then we can discuss how it is relevant to the situation in the US.

The virtue of Hospitality is the idea that a Heathen does not tolerate nor practice self-centeredness. Hospitality means that I have the obligation to give those in my home a generous reception and to extend my hearth and frith to them. A Heathen provides our gifts and support to our ancestors, our wights and our gods. We do not accept any that would subjugate us. The Havamal tells us that once a man has enough he should not crave for more. A generous person is happier. (Havamal Verse 48)

In ancient times places of refuge from the elements were few for the traveler. There were not Inns every few miles. No Motel 6 keeping the lights on. When a traveler came upon a village or farmstead they asked for accommodation from the home owner. If that home owner extended that accommodation to the weary traveler – and most would because frith obligates one to be generous – they accepted responsibility for the safety of their guest. It was bad mojo indeed to let harm come to your guest. The guest had expectations also. The host would offer their best to the guest. The guest accepted this but did not ask for more than was offered. Often the gift of being hosted was repaid with news and good tales. The traveler brought information from outside the area to the host. The guest perhaps told stories of war and the gods and of their travels and the sights they had seen. The host offered warm, dry and clean clothes.  A warm bed was offered, food was served, and drink was drunk. The guest took his leave before he overstayed his welcome.

So how is this applicable to the US today? I bet you think I am going to make this about immigration, and I am, but not entirely. Think about what our country would look like if we all treated each other as if we are the host? If we were generous in our daily lives? Of course, each person should work and earn their way but why should we not also be generous in our abundance? I am not suggesting that we give to those who won’t do for themselves, far from that. If a person isn’t capable it is only right to help them, if we can. If they are old, we should honor them. Learn from their wisdom and make sure they are cared for, that they do not go hungry that their homes are kept up and warm. The old are an easy one to agree on taking care of. The young – the children – are also easy to agree on.

What of those of able body and minds? What if their best is not enough? They work hard and just aren’t making it happen, at least not yet? Students who will someday be the professionals, the high school graduate who is just starting a career, the young mother who was left by the male she thought was a man? I think we can agree that these are worth our investments. Let the lazy starve. Do not reward their choices. What if they have children? The children should be cared for, should be taught to break the cycle. Feed the children – give them food, buy them clothes, give them mentorship. Let them come work in your garden and learn to be industrious.

Should it matter where they are born? Should the side of some arbitrary line on a map change our obligation to be frithful, hospitable and generous? I think not. If they are industrious or incapable of caring for themselves, I say we have the same obligation. Should a child be removed from Disney World if their parents snuck them in without paying? I would not remove the child, I would seek restitution from the parents, but I would not punish that child. This is not a good business decision perhaps, but it seems to be the right thing for me. I would want to do my best to impress upon that child that this not the right way of getting what you want, that working for and earning your way is the best way, though rarely the easiest of ways.

Who am I?

For as long as I remember, which is an increasingly shorter time period as the years roll by, I have searched for a connection to my purpose. Like many, I looked for this connection in religion. I started, also like many Americans, with Christianity. I studied the Bible, I prayed and meditated, and I never felt the connection; the calling. Then I came across the Nine Noble Virtues (9NV). When I discovered that they were connected to a pantheon, even if only loosely, I began exploring this pantheon. The lore was appealing; I felt called by it. The catch was that most of what I found in the beginning ranged from covertly to blatantly racist.

I questioned how I could feel called to a group of deities that existed on a racist creed? I am married to a Japanese woman and we have three children. I was reading about furthering the white race and keeping the bloodlines pure. All while seeing the core, the gods and goddesses and the honoring of the ancestors, the premise of the belief system as belonging to me. I fit here if not for the racism. So, I searched and researched. I found The Troth, a group of Heathens united in the lore and deities yet staunchly inclusive – meaning they didn’t believe nor accept the racism as being an intrinsic part of the package. I joined this organization and soon learned that they go back to the beginning of the reconstruction of the ancient ways.

I began to see that I am not a reconstruction type. I believe the gods and goddesses want us to bring them into the modern world, not constrain our efforts to recreating what once was. I have experienced many personal gnosis that support my belief. This is a great thing about a polytheistic spiritual walk with gods that desire personal relationships, in fact who want to be known as kin folk to us, they expect us to find our own path.

Until I found this path, I have separated, in my thoughts, the pursuit of spiritual connectiveness and personal development. I have been reading books in the personal development for a decade or so. I have lacked consistent application of the principles and ideas I read about. Most of the authors tie their success to their God and celebrate the relationship in their writings. I always felt that was missing in my studies of their works. Since I have made the connection between the two I feel more inspired and seem to be more consistent in my application. At this point I am centering my studies around two sources. Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the 9NV.

 

The Nine Noble Virtues:

  1. Courage – doing the right thing despite any fear
  2. Discipline – self-discipline, forming good habits
  3. Honor – personal ethics
  4. Truth – sincerity, both to self and to others
  5. Fidelity – loyalty
  6. Hospitality – the relationship between host and guest
  7. Self-reliance – the ability and practice of being independent
  8. Industriousness – work ethic, finishing what you start
  9. Perseverance – never giving up

 

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

  1. Be Proactive – respond not react
  2. Begin with the End in Mind – know where you want to go
  3. First Things First – know your priorities
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw – its cyclic – keep refreshing and studying

 

Looking at these two lists there is some correlation that can be easily seen and with some study, and the right perspective, the correlation can be expanded so that each Habit encompasses a number of the 9NV. Habit #1 – Be Proactive, for example, utilizes Honor, Discipline, Perseverance, and Truth. Dr. Covey describes the first Habit as being proactive. He talks about acting within your circle of influence and choosing to respond to circumstances instead of reacting to them. When we react, we chose to be a victim of the circumstance. Discipline is required to make that choice. Truth (to self) and Honor guides us to knowing when are making a proactive choice and being honest when we don’t. Perseverance is the virtue that shows us how to keep doing the right thing, even when it is easier just be a victim of circumstances.

Do you need to follow any religion to make the changes that Dr. Covey described? Nope. Does it make a difference if you are religious? Only if you are religiously active in making the right choices. So, why combine the two? I believe in a higher purpose than just existing; in a purpose for my existence. This leads me to the divine. The gods and goddesses I follow are honored by my deeds and accomplishments. When I grow and advance my self I honor my ancestors, which includes the gods and goddesses.

 

Vincent Enlund wrote this poem to explain our purpose in life, or at least some of our purpose:

My name is not my own,

It is borrowed from my ancestors,

I must return it unstained.

My Honor is not my own,

It is loaned from my decedents,

I must give it to them unbroken.

My blood is not my own,

It is a gift to generations yet unborn,

I should carry it with responsibility.

Why?

I don’t make new year’s resolutions. Mostly because those always seem to be doomed to fail. Something in my psyche that just doesn’t mesh with this type of resolution. Probably the fact that most of the times that I made resolutions I was cramming some idea in before midnight. Some concept I thought I was supposed to have of who I should become. New year, new me! Bullshit. New year, same ole me but I wrote some list and now I have something to feel guilty about the whole year. I stopped doing this about 10 years ago. I replaced the resolutions with a list of goals…yeah, I know, semantics. Over the last 10 years I have accomplished maybe 3 of the 100(ish) goals I have set for myself for the new year.

In 2016 I began a new chapter in my life. We moved from Kansas to Arkansas. New job for me, great offer and opportunity that I couldn’t pass on. I loved my last job. I liked my co-workers and my boss was probably the best boss I have ever had. This job was worth the loss of that. In March of 2017 we closed on a piece of land – 5 acres with a nice (but small) house. I have wanted a small farmstead type of place for a while and I finally got what I wanted.

This lead me to realize that my sedentary lifestyle of procrastination would not get anything done around my little potential farmstead. Now, this was not a new realization this one just came with a little more motivation to actually take action. Along with this I began to see that I was becoming negative minded, complaining about situations at work – allowing my self to choose the victimhood mentality. This awakening prompted me to make changes. I pulled out some books I have had for a long time and began studying again.

You do not need the books to change your life. A decision and action are what you need. To decide that you will make changes and then do it. So, don’t think I am promoting a dependence on anything outside of myself for my growth and change. Charlie “tremendous” Jones’ famous quote applies here – “You will be the same person in 5 years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” I understand that I can make happen what I want without the books and spiritual growth – I don’t want to be the same person I am right now. I want to grow, intellectually and spiritually.

In December 2017 I decided to make a thought out, realistic, set of goals for 2018. I began with some tools: A custom planner, the book by Stephen R. Covey, and an attitude of getting it done. This blog is for accountability. If I publish this to the world I have to be accountable to everyone who reads this blog (hopefully someone reads it).

The list of goals for 2018 will expand – as one project is accomplished another one will be added. Projects will be added to the list whether one is done or not – that is the nature of living this lifestyle we are trying to accomplish: debt free and self-sustainable are the ultimate goals – but that is a 10-year plan. So here are the basic goals for 2018:

Create a project list when one project is accomplished replace it with another one – always have something that needs done and always be completing the projects

o   Break down the projects to schedule them each month/weekend

o   Add projects as they are presented

o   Prioritize the projects

  • Need
  • Saves money
  • Saves energy
  • Emergency use
  • Animal related (chicken coop)
  • Want
  • Anything that doesn’t meet the need criteria
  • Daily tasks

o   Read 30 minutes (or more)

  • Try for 3 non-fiction books a month
  • Something work related
  • Something spiritually related
  • Something in the self-development genre
  • Historical biography or history related
  • Philosophy oriented

o   Write in my journal

o   Work on a blog post

o   Exercise

  • Start in January
  • Push ups
  • Sit ups
  • Squats
  • Weekend (days off) tasks

o   Choose a project and complete it – or get as much done as I can in the days off.

  • Get some fishing/camping in this summer
  • By the end of the year

o   Build a chicken coop and get chickens

o   Insulate the house – seal up the drafts

o   Replace the heating system in our house

o   Get the generator set up

  • Shed for generator
  • Switch installed for switching to generator
  • Tie propane to the generator for longer use

o   Well house on solar power

o   Garden planted/set up

o   Build table for the wife

 

This list is not finished, and I will expand on it over the course of this year. I plan to combine some of the activities. For example, when we built the chicken coop I will write some blogs posts on that experience. I plan to use the blog to stay accountable to the plan and will write updates as things progress.