These days, there is no shortage of books, TV segments, Netflix specials, workshops, courses, online classes, lectures or thought leaders. They all share ideas about how to be healthier and wealthier.
And then there are the lists. Endless lists…
- Top 50 places to retire
- Top 50 cheapest places to live
- Top 50 restaurants
- Forbes 500, a list of the “richest” billionaires
- Top 40 under 40.
I’ve always wondered why there wasn’t a Forbes list of the most satisfied people on Earth, or the 500 most fulfilled humans on Earth. If they ever publish one, let me know. I’d be the first to read it.
In truth, most of what’s been published and promoted misses the fundamental key to a capital-R Rich life.
It’s one that’s been around for thousands of years…
The ancient Greek philosophy Pyrrhonism, which emerged over 2,000 years ago, has the aim of achieving ataraxia. Broken down, its origins are a, meaning “no,” and tarachē, meaning “disturbance or trouble.”
Simply put, ataraxia is a state of mind. It’s equanimity. It’s tranquility. It’s a mind free of worry. And it’s considered the ultimate goal of both Pyrrhonism and the philosophy of Epicureanism that followed.
The ancient Greek philosopher Sextus Empiricus explained it this way:
The person who believes that something is by nature good or bad is constantly upset; when he does not possess the things that seem to be good, he thinks he is being tormented by things that are by nature bad, and he chases after the things he supposes to be good; then, when he gets these, he falls into still more torments because of irrational and immoderate exultation, and, fearing any change, he does absolutely everything in order not to lose the things that seem to him good. But the person who takes no position as to what is by nature good or bad neither avoids nor pursues intensely. As a result, he achieves ataraxia.
Isn’t that what influences our life more than anything? Expectations… and judgments?
More wealth, more material possessions, more comparison, more seeking… None of this leads to inner peace.
The more we practice releasing our judgments and accepting the current moment for what it is, the freer we become. The more we move toward ataraxia.
Try it for yourself. What is something in your life that’s bothering you or that is not in alignment with your expectations? Or that you have judgment toward?
Are the expectations you have necessary? Are they helping you? How about the judgments?
Wrestling to find a Rich Life
As I write this, I’m sitting on my back porch here in Maryland. I’m outside because my wife and both kids have COVID-19. My wife was pretty sick for a few days.
This weekend, I’m supposed to fly to Colorado for a private, one-on-one training. It’s a trip I’ve been planning and looking forward to for months.
I don’t want my wife to feel sick. I don’t want her to be burdened with the kids this week and next week. I don’t want to wear a mask all day at home. I want to go on my trip.
I want things to be the way I want them to be.
All of that is my expectation of what I want and judgment of what is…. and I could allow myself to be trapped in anxiety and concern and disappointment.
But today I’m thinking of ataraxia. And I’m suspending judgment and expectation. Instead of worrying about what might happen, or whether I’ll get COVID-19, or what will happen tomorrow, I’m focused on being here today.
I sat outside today and enjoyed a beautiful 68-degree day as I worked. I supported my wife and my kids and was as safe as I could be.
What will happen will happen. And it will be okay.
What about you? What judgments are holding you back? What expectations are preventing you from living your life fully, peacefully and richly?
What is a billion dollars without peace of mind?
Ataraxia holds a reward greater than all the money in the world. And it has for over 2,000 years.
So drop your judgments.
Drop your expectations of the world and of other people.
Then breathe and feel alive.
Until next time…
P.S. What did this bring up for you? I’d love to hear from you. Shoot me an email here.