First Principles

It cannot be when the root is neglected that what should spring from it will be well ordered.” – Bruce Lee

The vast majority of the game of life is played internally.  This can be perceived quite easily if one answers the following 2 questions:

1) Is it possible for someone to have all the riches, wealth, power and external pleasures that the world can provide, and yet still be an unhappy, lonely, and morally bankrupt person?

2) Is it possible for a person to possess very little, yet be truly happy, rich in spirit, abundant in friendship, and a great human being?

The answer to both of these questions is of course: Yes.

Which is not to say that to be a happy and great person one needs to pursue a life of poverty.  Far from it.  Money and riches make many things in life easier by opening up freedoms and opportunities (not least of which is the ability to help others).

It simply means that, of the two, cultivating the internal should be primary.

Besides, you will find that a garden properly tended will receive much more sunlight than one overgrown – whatever its situation.

Be well,

– J

Let’s Chat:

I’d love to know what you thought of this post.  Do you agree or disagree?  And did you enjoy the shorter format, or do you prefer longer form?

The comments box is just below – I look forward to reading your thoughts.

One Last Thing:

If you’d like some more, here are some other places you can connect and hang out with me:

Twitter – where I post quotes and thoughts,  answer questions, and generally hang out.

Instagram – Where I post original photographs and (sometimes) poetry.

And if you’d like to receive a short yet beautiful monthly letter from me you can sign up to the mailing list.

Thanks for reading.

51 Replies to “First Principles”

  1. I did not expect to see you so soon on my feed after reading your very beautiful newsletter – the words you write are always a gift whether your posts are long or short – the questions you pose above are intriguing, I often live my life internally, money and possessions represent energy. they flow into and out of my life like waves…as you know, the most important thing to someone like me is my health, without that, the rest means nothing!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree any written format is enhanced by succinct treatment of its subject matter. Some subjects lend themselves to brevity, others, not so much. I think post length should be whatever serves the communication of ideas, or the telling of a good story.

    In this post, for instance, you’ve addressed life philosophies touching on happiness as though we all agree on what it is, and then concluded that “cultivating the internal should be primary.” I’m wary of any generalization that prescribes how everyone should approach life even if I agree with the concept.. I suspect you are, too, but by choosing to use a brief format, you’ve opted for simplistic. It seems to me today’s world shows us that many do not share that value, but brevity edits a thorough discussion.

    To be honest, i feel irked. I feel as though you advertised a feast, and the entire menu turned out to be white bread. Yeah, kind of like Peppermint Patty at Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving dinner, but without the holiday. lol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is interesting – why do you feel irked? Is it because you felt that, as you state, it was too simplistic?
      Please explain. Also, thanks for reading and taking the time. I am genuinely interested in your view, and would very much appreciate clarification.
      Be well,
      – J


      1. I appreciate that you receive each of our responses with openness and a desire to understand our points of view. Thank you for that, James.

        One of the reasons I’ve followed your posts is that each one feels honest and personal — no one else could have written them because they’re yours. You tell your stories and share the lessons you’ve learned from them. You delve into yourself and share without lecturing, preaching, or getting all judgy.

        Reading the other comments, I realize I’m in the minority here, but it seems to me this post could have come from anyone, and the reason it’s so impersonal and anonymous is that your goal was not to tell a story, but to write a brief post. It tastes like other self-help, cookie-cutter philosophy bloggers’ posts, which are flavored with simplicity and brevity in order to retain readers happiest with thin, easy-to-swallow bite-sized ideas. I know there’s a place for those kinds of posts, and you certainly have the right to post whatever you choose, but my feeling of irk reflects my sense that — from what I believe I’ve learned about you — this isn’t you. It seems to me, if you had written the story behind what made you think about “cultivating the interior”, that would have been you.

        But I could be completely wrong. It is, after all, only my opinion, and I share it with you now only because you asked. <3

        ~~~ Sue

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I really value the fact that you shared it with me. I feel that, often people will write if they have something nice to say, but not if they have a criticism – in this, the little community I am lucky enough to be a part of is the polar opposite of most of the Internet! ;-)
          But I very much value negative feedback, as long as it’s genuine. I am happy that you felt able to write it to me and will think on it.
          Hope you are well, big hug, speak soon,
          – J

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I too like the shorter posts, mine are no more than 350 to 450, usually only weekly. I agree that both are not only possible but probably, the 1st one especially. I always thought it a strange thing however it is often attachment that creates the problem or detachment the blessing. It is also possible to be rich and happy or poor and unhappy, depending of course on a person’s nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed. We are in agreement.
      Thanks for sharing your impression of this – I wrote it in the bath in as much time as it took to read and was not sure whether I was going to post it.
      Have a great day,
      – J


  4. As regards the first, I have seen that it is very difficult for a person of wealth to preserve their tendency toward intimacy. Even when they receive wealth by happenstance, those that want money pursue them with a forcefulness that tramples on their other friendships. Their wealth is a curse.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is interesting – I have some examples of the opposite view. For instance, I have several intimate friends who are, what would be considered to be, extremely wealthy. It has not impacted our relationship at all.
      Personally, I think the way you react to it probably depends upon how you view wealth to begin with.
      It is an interesting question.
      Thankyou for reading, and for taking the time to comment.
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

  5. To the point and so true. One doesn’t necessarily evoke the other. I’ve met many a rich man that was happy as I have a poor man that was not. The poor man generally was grousing and resentful of what the rich man had and wondering why that couldn’t have been him. The rich man was an isolationist, only cultivating friendships that lead to more money or power.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have seen this dynamic as well. And also the opposite.
      It is fascinating to me that one person can enjoy all external successes, yet still be unhappy. It seems to point very clearly to the conclusion I reached.
      Thanks for taking the time to read, and to comment – it means a lot to me.
      Have a good one,
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree! And I think the post length creates itself, depending on what you have to say. The long form works great if you have a lot of detail. The short form works great if you have a quick thought to pose. Why limit yourself?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. HI James,

    There is a minimum physical requirement of wealth that allows for the physical existence of the body and the consciousness it contains.
    Having that minimum is essential for all else.

    Beyond that all is optional to a degree.

    I have no problem with some having Lear Jets if all are well nourished.
    I do have issues with a system that promotes market measures of wealth for wealth’s sake, while the vast majority of humanity struggles for basic nourishment, sanitation, healthcare and education.

    I agree with you in the sense that once the basic needs of existence are met, then the building of self is primary, and one’s ability to build is very much a function of having the essentials of food, water, sanitation, health, security present, so that one has the time and energy and tools to develop oneself.
    And the “tools” in this sense are mostly found in the teachings of others, books, audio, video, etc.
    And to become a part of self, the tools must be used, in practice, daily.

    And part of that is recognising how our many levels of choices impact all the many levels of systems we are part of – social, cultural, ecological, geological, cosmological.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. When we find ourselves living lives of “not enough,” whether it be monetary wealth, basic needs, or however it manifests, it’s due to our propensity in comparing ourselves to others…forever chasing that golden carrot. It can be, if we let it, a way to self-oppress ourselves. When we stop the “pursuit” of happiness, we begin to see our world as blessed and can lead the way to gratitude for the things we DO possess. Happiness isn’t a pursuit. It’s a state of being. At some point we must stop and admit that we’re not good at *everything,* and focus on those things we are good at. That is where true happiness becomes our state of grace.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Great post! I too agree the happiest people are not necessarily the richest. It depends on the source of one’s happiness; whether primarily internal or external.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thanks for the powerful message. I love the quote and your sentiment! I tend to be externally driven, always trying to be what others expect me to be and/or expect me to do. So, although it’s not quite the message I think you intended,the lesson I’ve received is that I need to take time to learn to be true to who I really am before I can be of use to others. It’s only taken me 60 years to start learning this! :) :)

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I have come to understand that pursuit of happiness is a flawed paradigm, a dream of an impossible life promoted by marketing departments to create a constant longing in people that drives consumption.
    Happiness is ephemeral and few have the ability to stop and recognise when they have it. It is most often valued in retrospect.
    Instead I now seek contentment with my situation, regardless of what that situation is. This has allowed me to spend far more time living in the now, appreciating what I have instead of longing for what I have not.

    Longer and shorter forms both have their place. Short posts can be powerful and poetic in their brevity. But if you need to build a complex argument it is hard to beat a longer form essay.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree with pretty much all of what you have said here – and I thank you for it.
      I think that we maybe have different definitions of the word ‘happiness’ and that, for you, the word is ‘contentment’.
      Either way, I thank you for your time, and your words.
      Be well,
      – J


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