There are those who surround themselves with costly and refined items, dwell exclusively in select and exquisite environments, and provide themselves with pleasant experiences in excess of what their basic and natural needs would be — those who, in other words, seek luxuries in their lives.
What counts as basic and natural needs varies, of course, with a range of historical, regional, and cultural conditions. While there are certain obvious minimal requirements with respect to nutrition, housing, health, and human dignity (which are still not met in many portions of today's global society) the bar might be even higher in some places, where the overall social and economic conditions have been so fortunate, over a long period of time, that the level of what is commonly taken as 'minimal' and 'basic' has raised considerably. For example, the ability to move around freely and easily every day, by car or public transport, in an area so large that it would take a whole day on foot, just to be able to get to work, school, or go shopping, is no longer the privilege of a very few that it was, just as access to information in books or news media (such as television or papers) isn't for a minority any more. (There is certainly also the aspect of inequality within societies, which complicates the question what exactly counts as luxury in a particular instance even more.)
Wherever the line runs, however, in a given society, there is a sense in which some go beyond it and indulge in what clearly exceeds the basic and the normal — and that's where luxury, in the sense we're discussing here, begins. Is it bad to seek luxuries, in that sense, from the point of view of reflection on living a good life? Does it reveal a faulty character, or misguided choices of what to aim for in your life?
Well, if you can afford it, why shouldn't you choose to have a beautiful house with an ocean view, with a white marble terrace, where you sit watching sunsets while drinking noble wines? (Or insert here whatever your idea of a luxurious life style is.)
Notice, however, that there is an 'if' in this formulation. That is the 'if' of reason. It would be foolish not to choose something that is a real option for you. (Unless, perhaps, other choices seem even more sensible.) Luxuries may be within your reach when you are, say, wealthy enough to develop an expensive taste (and you can't come up with other ideas to which use you might want to put it). As with any external things, luxuries can be selected, provided they are among your options; and selecting carefully among our options is precisely how we should use those rational capacities we're endowed with as human beings.
A conditional choice such as this, a choice under an 'if' condition, puts these abilities to good use; it all gets problematic, however, when the drive towards luxury becomes unconditional; when it turns its object into a value, something that directs your actions, views and feelings. A clear mark of this is when when people get emotional (be it suspiciously protective or exuberantly excited); or judgmental about the luxuries which they enjoy themselves or those they see others indulge in (jealous looks and sniding remarks speak the same language here); or even start taking foolish actions (buy things they can't afford, or take to excesses like bathing in Champagne).
That is because emotions include a valuation: an emotion shows that you take something as valuable. (And luxuries aren't that — they're indifferents, which may be rationally selected, but not unconditionally.) When people get emotional about something, this indicates that they care more about it than that thing probably warrants; emotions incorporate an uncompromising attitude towards something as good or bad, as opposed to seeing it as simply preferable or dispreferable under certain given conditions. Likewise, when people get judgmental, they again imply that something of value, something of import under all circumstances, is at stake; and once more: that's not the case with luxuries. Finally, people display their values in how they act; and actions plainly incorporate the wrong values when aiming at things that can be clearly seen, with just a minimum of consideration, as utterly out of proportion, or downright stupid and disadvantageous in the long run.
Luxuries, being externals, things that can come from blind accident and might be taken away by a wilful turn of events, aren't really of value; they're not of the stuff that makes a life go well (or badly), they're mere indifferents as far as that overarching goal is concerned. Treating them as anything else, in your emotions, views, or actions, is mistaken (and will hurt the way your life goes, in the long haul). Take care.

The goal

When we say that our goal is to live our lives well, what does that mean?
Think for a moment about different people's lives. I mean that. Take a minute and do think about whole lives: your grandparents, some relatives or acquaintances who've lived long ago but whose lives you know about, historical persons whose biographies you've read, characters in those epic novels that portray the lives of entire families through many generations; think of your friends, your children, your workmates and your boss, your neighbors and each of the people who sit on the same bus every morning, your hairdresser, your local MP — and think over all those people's lives: their childhood, youth, work life, parenthood, their best days and periods of illness, their special moments and dull everyday routines, their dreams and anxieties, wins and losses, triumphs and disappointments; think about what they would count as achieving their goals in live, and how they might rate their overall success or failure in achieving them so far (or having achieved them, if they've already passed away).
Now, after looking at all that diversity, there's one thing with which you surely would agree: it's not an unimportant question we're discussing here. In fact, there could hardly be anything more important for any one of us than finding and achieving the goal of our respective lives, wouldn't you say?
I hope you will also agree that such a goal can't spring simply from a moment's feeling. One can't have one goal of one's life today and a different one tomorrow, just to replace either by something else entirely next week.
(Perhaps the overall goal of our live can change from time to time, in large intervals — I won't rule that out. But if it changes, the new goal will then be the goal of your life; it will take the place of the old one as the overall aim, and should you fail to achieve it, then you've failed to reach the goal of your life, even if that previous goal has meanwhile been fulfilled. You can't simply 'fall back' on some former goal. That is so partly because it was your decision to change your goal; botching a decision as far-reaching as that is in itself a major failure, and that can hardly fit in any success story about the whole of your life.)
What, then, is the goal? What does it mean to live a life well? Of course, a detailed description will have to turn out differently for each of us: such a goal would have to be a guide to do the right thing in all sorts of situations, to being the person we should be, making the best of whatever has been dealt to us. Obviously, much of this will depend on the particular circumstances we'll find ourselves in. But is there perhaps a general description, a generic formula that covers what a goal would have to look like? (Even if that would need some spelling out for the various different circumstances.) Can we find some minimal criteria which a proper goal would have to fit?
In ancient times, there was a formula on which many philosophers agreed: they all found that 'happiness' was the goal in each of our lives. Of course, just as I said, what this would mean specifically might be different for you and for me, and then again different for anyone else. But still, so the ancient view goes, in each of the cases a good life would be one that makes you 'happy'.
Unfortunately, there is a widespread error in many people's understanding today of that ancient formula. The error stems from the fact that 'happiness' has come to mean something different in our modern time from what it meant then — it's come to mean a feeling; to be 'happy' means today to feel happy, and it didn't necessarily mean that in ancient times. And so people misunderstand the ancient formulation (that the goal of a good life would be to be 'happy') to the effect that they should live their lives so as to feel good as often, or as intensely, as possible. But that is not a sensible goal (and neither is it, in fact, what was meant by the ancient formula).
Actually, feelings are not a sensible goal of any achievement, much less a sensible goal for an entire life. To see this, take an example: suppose you want to climb the highest mountain of your country. That's an ambitious long-term project. It requires that you learn new skills, undergo hard training, practice many times by going up smaller mountains; often enough you'll have doubts that you will ever make it, you'll experience tough setbacks in your training excursions, perhaps you'll even get injured and have to endure much physical pain combined with fears of permanent incapacity that leaves you unable to make that ultimate ascent. And yet you go on stubbornly, until you finally face that big challenge. When you take the last few inches and realize that you eventually did it, that you've now mastered the highest peak there is, that all the hard work and determination have not been in vain and you've fulfilled your dream, then you will experience a feeling of deep and intense satisfaction, a feeling that is doubtless incomparable to anything you'll have experienced before.
But it is still a mistake to assume that it is this feeling for which you've lived and worked so long. The feeling isn't the goal; and it never has been. No doubt, it's an experience that is now part of your life, and your emotional memory will be all the richer and deeper for having felt it. And very probably, every successful life will have episodes of that sort of experience along the path, as side-effects of reaching important goals. Yet don't confuse a concomitant emotional coloring of experience with what is really valuable in those achievements.
Think just a little further into the future. For the rest of your life, you will be able to look back upon that great achievement. And when you do so, you will look back at the whole project, not just (not even especially) at that climactic moment. You will remember the moment you first thought about that idea seriously, the moment you decided to actually embark on the path, the enormous amount of energy you put into it, the greatest obstacles you had to overcome, the people who inspired or encouraged you, and much more. You may tell yourself now that you have managed to do something which only few others can claim to have done; you can be honestly proud of your strength of will, your long-term motivation, patience and determinedness, of your wise management of your training process, and much more.
Nothing of this depends in any way on what you felt in those moments on the peak. The strength of character you had to develop, just as the physical fitness you've gained, are still there! They're an achievement themselves in many ways — arguably more useful and even valuable than that fleeting feeling, which was gone after a short while and will never serve you again, save as a distant and shadowy memory.
Furthermore, think about how others may now see you. Imagine people choose to take your achievement as a source of inspiration for their own projects. Do you believe what they think about is primarily that they want to feel what you might have felt? Or isn't it more likely that they would admire your capacity to go a long way, to overcome difficulties and doubts, to follow through and finally make your dream happen? Think of people who've been an inspiration to you. What has made them so? Their qualities of character? Their extraordinary abilities, efforts or achievements? Their unfailing commitment to humanity in adverse circumstances? Whatever it may be, it's unlikely that you have been moved in any way by pondering how they might have felt at some point or other, is it?
It's an illusion, this idea that feelings have what it takes to make a good goal for a life; thus, 'happiness' can't be the goal, if understood in its modern sense of a happy feeling. (And, just to repeat, that was in fact not how it was meant at ancient times, when 'happiness' was used as a formula for what I have called 'the goal'.)
Still, we can take some results with us from our reflections on the goal: if it is to be a worthy one, it would apply to the whole of your life, and definitely so: neither could it be something you can have more or less of, nor could it be something today and something other tomorrow — you either have it in your life, or you haven't — and if you have it, you have it once and for the whole of it. Also, it should be something that can be seen with admiration and approval, with appreciation and applause: reaching the goal makes your life an inspiration and example for others.
Any life that has reached such a goal has some remarkable qualities: it's the best possible life; and this couldn't even be changed if it happens to be longer or shorter. Take a few years off, or add some more as you please, in the end it will be a good life, and not better or worse for that extra time more or less. A good life is marked by a quality, and doesn't depend on anything that can be added to or subtracted from (like more time, money, power, celebrity, or pleasant feelings). These things are just materials, and how much of those we have available is never fully in our control. It's what you make out of them that brings you towards the goal. Just like the goal of sleeping is to be eventually refreshed, awake and full of energy for your next day, and just like that goal is reached for some by sleeping long hours and for others by just a little nap — so is the goal of living a good life reached by some who live many years as well as by others who only have been granted a short lifetime. Nothing that is unable to fulfill that function for you could be an acceptable goal, a candidate for what it means to live your life well. Take care.

Consuming and producing

Doing philosophy means more than just reading books, or listening to lectures. One thing it means, in addition to that, is that you have to live your life according to your insights, that you have to put them into practice. Your actions, views, and emotions must be formed so that they incorporate the insights you gain from philosophy; and that is decidedly something that must come on top of just taking in things. But it's not what I have in mind this time.
Articulating your own ideas, both in conversation and in writing, is just as important as learning about those you find already. There should be a balance between reading and writing, consuming and producing, taking in and bringing out.
If you're taking in only, it may keep you current on all sorts of things, but it will make you merely a dead mirror of the (more or less arbitrary) sequence of events that rolls out around you as you sail through your life. You can quote as many thoughts of others as you wish, if you haven't got something to add to them, don't connect them with each other, or build upon them so that you have to say something of your own, then it's not really producing, just parroting.
On the other hand, producing-only will have you spin frictionlessly in your own thought. Philosophy, as every other form of intellectual project, is based on a tradition and its records, an ongoing exchange with others, and a constant testing of your insights in your everyday views and actions. Your ideas must be informed by what others have achieved thus far, or you'll be damned to laborously re-invent the already known; you must also strive to incorporate what counts as state of the art, to renew and refresh, remember and reinforce, recognize and at the same time critically adapt that which has been achieved so far; and finally, your insights have to stand the trial of their worth in practice — the practice of living your life, which is, in the end, the only practice that really matters.
Moreover, philosophy must not be ignorant of intellectual achievement elsewhere, in any of the other disciplines that matter to us: the sciences and arts, all kinds of inquiry in social and political matters, local goings-on and global trends — in short, since we're interested in reflecting on what matters in our lives, we have to be aware of everything that can help to understand what is going on and find the best available attitude towards it. Traditionally, philosophers have thought about the concepts and ideas in all these intellectual trends, their methodologies and terminologies, about what's presupposed in them and what's implied. More recently, there's also been a movement towards focusing once more on the art of living well, which looks back to older traditions particularly in ancient Greece and Rome, where this has been the the undisputed primary goal of philosophy. And all of this is worth knowing.
But then, once more, to counterbalance the risk of becoming a mere sponge that just soaks up a lot of interesting information, you always need to try and make a contribution: come up with your own ideas, fresh views and interpretations, new concepts and visions; discover shortcut alternatives to well-trodden paths; produce new substance for discussion and debate by finding good arguments for and against commonly held attitudes; be not afraid of critically opposing what you find unconvincing, but remember to acknowledge and appreciate excellence wherever you find it (even if it is in a defender of a rival view); connect, organize, and systematize results from different fields of inquiry; reflect on their terms and methods; be a translator and interpreter when you find yourself in a dialogue between two parties talking past each other, especially if you are proficient in both their languages. Above all, be serious about learning the truth — and honor it by being truthful in everything you write and say, even if it means you have to retract a former opinion of yours. (Covering up the truth for fear of losing face is shameful.) Not only will you find a deep satisfaction in this: you will also note that your own insights grow more quickly and your intellectual reach will extend further than you'd ever thought possible. Take care.

Self-relinquishment: intoxication

When intoxication is taken to the point at which you're losing hold of yourself, it becomes another form of self-relinquishment. And yet many seem to be drawn by a strange attraction to that kind of experience. It doesn't always have to be alcoholic intoxication: inebriation, drugs, sexual abandon, a love of driving at high speeds, dangers generally — all these ways of getting you away from yourself, of getting lost in an experience in which you are no longer in charge of what you think and do, are sought and sometimes even cherished by people. Why is that?
The more you think about it, the more difficult it is to understand: the experience we're talking about comes almost necessarily from an excess and is thus (in a sense) unnatural; the trail of its subject is often indecorous (let's not even mention how the subsequent hangovers feel); in the long run its effects will harm them physiologically, potentially also damaging the physiological basis for their mental capacities, and they can harm them socially, if they drunkenly misbehave and annoy people; it supports and increases temptations from all the other vices, prominently anger (it can lead to brutalization), by lowering the inhibition threshold for giving in to them that comes from shame and other social constraints (not that those are always good for you; at times you may even have to break them deliberately — but not out of drunkenness, of course).
It also carries a risk of becoming addictive. (Most addictions in this area are substance addictions that work on a physiological level, but even so, there's a psychological component to it: you wouldn't expose yourself to addictive substances in the first place if there wasn't some attraction to them that's no yet rooted in their physiological aspect — physiological addiction can explain why it is so hard to get rid of the habit once you're in it, but it can't be the whole story of why people get into it to begin with).
In short, that experience of losing yourself in intoxication confuses conscious perception and lowers control over your reactions, and it brings almost exclusively negative effects in the long run. Again, you might expect this to deter people from overstepping the line — whereas in fact it exerts a magnetic appeal. Some can resist that appeal (in which case we call it moderation and count it among the excellences of character), some can't. But almost everyone can feel it.
(There's a fine distinction we have to make here. It's most easily understood from the example of alcohol: up to a point, it sharpens the senses, gives interactions energy and a bit of an edge, increases the fun level. If overdone, of course, it pulls you away from yourself, and that reverses all these small benefits (which are nice, but still just that: nice, something external) into something genuinely harmful. If, in cases of losing control and relinquishing your grip on yourself, you merely haven't been careful or watchful enough and let yourself slip out of good measure, it's rather a kind of lack of skill than an escape from reality. But we're trying to identify the source of attraction behind the idea of getting away from yourself, and nobody is attracted by an expression of their own perceived lack of skill. Therefore, what exerts that pull of attraction must be in the promised escape from reality rather than in the unnoticed slip out of fine control.)
So what's attractive seems to lie not in the long- and mid-term effects, but in the quality of the feeling itself; it must be something that's contained exclusively in the moment. (Which explains also why it needs some excess: because the feeling must be so strong and sweeping that it eradicates most consideration of future consequences; a slight tipsiness wouldn't achieve that, you need to be heavily drunk.)
But then again, that seems not quite to capture it. It's not really so that the state is overwhelmingly pleasant: most of your sense experiences are blacked out; the detail level of perception decreases, at the same time response time increases; clarity of thinking goes down along with the capacity for articulating yourself; feelings get rougher and less discriminate. It's not really an exquisite feast of the senses: we disengage from sensuality just as much as from reasoning when we try to get away from ourselves.
So it seems that the motivation must lie in a kind of escape from reality, where the reality in question is more the reality of your own person than that of your surroundings: what you try to get away from is you, and perhaps your perceptions and views of the world, but not the world itself (nobody thinks that the world really goes away when you can't look straight at it any more). The whole thing is more about losing yourself than about finding yourself in the experience. (When you return to yourself later on, you're typically empty, not inspired, and you also have the matching bodily feelings during the hangover.)
In what sense is it still you if you're successfully got away from yourself? When you 'lost' yourself in an overpowering experience?
Legally, you are still held responsible for what you do; the grounds for this accountability aren't directly in an attributed responsibility for your actions, but in the fact that you got yourself into that state. Responsibility is inherited here, it's indirectly attached to your actions from a wider context which is still something you have to answer for. It's a case where you're responsible for things that you can't control, but rightly so, for that you can't control your actions is something that you are responsible for by bringing yourself into that state, or by allowing yourself to be brought into it. In the limiting case, where the surrounding context is wider than your entire sphere of control, you're no longer considered a full person in the legal sense anymore; you're no longer responsible, but you also lose any entitlements belonging to that status. Even most morality systems would still hold you responsible (although some moralities based on religion or cult actually assign a high moral status to some out-of-mind experiences, if they seem to convey some spiritual truth).
Thus, if there is still a recognizable legal and moral person in your actions and views while you've lost yourself, the sense in which you are 'away' from yourself can only be ethical: you take a vacation from your character as a person, from the project of making the best out of your possibilities, of living a good life, of becoming the best person you can. It's in this way that you give up yourself, and just as in all the other forms of self-relinquishment, it does go (attractive though it may seem for a moment) against your own best interests.
Life is worth living not because of the moments where we get out of it and let ourselves be swept away, or drowned in uncontrollable feeling. It's worth living because of what we do with our time: what we achieve in the world, contributions we make, insights we have; perhaps some value is also in distinct experiences, in variety, subtlety and nuance; certainly it's worthwhile to connect to others and form relationships. It's true that all of these, although they bring value and beauty into our lives, are inseparably bound up with effort, pains and disappointment. Taking charge and accepting responsibility for them means to accept, and to learn to deal with, these undesirable aspects as well. Trying to escape from that is cheap and cowardly, and not just because you would be timidly trying to get a vacation from those negative aspects — it's also because you de-value, at the same time, the positive values that make life worthwhile. Take care.

Self-relinquishment: softness

The softness which I have in mind, and which is yet another kind of self-relinquishment, is what you can observe in people who get used too much to warm and sunny, pleasant weather: they grow hesitant, after a while, to do things that would expose them to a harsh and cold wind, rain and darkness. (Obviously, not everybody who lives in favorable climates gets soft in this sense, there's no necessary causal connection between weather conditions and strength of character. But you know the kind of personal development, or rather personal decline, I'm here referring to, don't you?)
Just as an aversion to bad weather can be what makes you soft, it could be any other sort of disagreeable external as well: if you have a fear of conflict, a dread of poverty, a secret thirst of social standing with a corresponding need for recognition — each of these might lure you gradually into a habit of avoiding things. You're getting used to the pain-free zone so much that you become unable to thrive elsewhere, you shy away from anything outside the range of comfort, and finally wind up avoiding everything else just for your convenience, delaying initiatives towards goals that once were important in your live, finding yourself taking actions against your better judgment, developing self-deceptive views and self-defeating feelings.
Why is softness a form of self-relinquishment? Because it is dependence: it makes you dependent on externals, makes you rate externals higher than they should be rated, and so any accidental lack in externals could lead you away from what you should be doing to doing something to deal with that lack. Only if you gain independence from externals can you fully be yourself. (And in consequence, be free.) If inconvenience or unpleasantness, conflict or bad luck, unfortunate material or social circumstances can keep you from doing the right thing, then you aren't making progress on your path (that is: your path); and you don't live your own life quite as fully as you could. Softness is a way of losing sight of this, a form of giving up the focus on what matters most: how you live your life, and who you are — you, as a person.
There is nothing wrong with being sensitive to other people's feelings, and caring — that's not necessarily softness of the kind we're looking at. Softness means to be untrue to yourself, and you're not untrue to yourself if you care about other people. On the contrary, being kind and comforting can be the exactly right thing to do in a given situation; you're rather giving in to softness the moment you put on a cold face because a bully has just entered the room and you don't want to risk looking weak. That's softness. (However, being nice and smooth also can be a form of softness, if your main motivation for it is to avoid a conflict that you should be rather facing head-on.) The rule that tells if something's softness can't be simply found in descriptions of overt behavior; the fundamental indicator that you're getting soft is that you sacrifice your personal integrity for something that's external: you're relinquishing courage, kindness, honesty, or any sensible behavior in tune with good character in exchange for gains in money or in reputation, pleasure or convenience. Softness is an expression of valuing something external higher than the integral qualities of your person.
It is also self-perpetuating: you are getting soft and softer progressively, and you're gradually putting more and more priority on comfort or convenience, thus tacitly valuing them higher than doing the right thing, working on your character, living a good life (which all bring with them hardship, inconvenience, roughness, disappointment, danger, maybe even death). You'll get more likely to give in to resistance; you'll grow incapable of changing what goes on around you; fears and foolish hopes will get the better of you more and more. All that softness gains you will be more of it. But the flip-side of that process is a loss of what makes you into yourself. No convenience in the world is worth that. Take care.

Self-relinquishment: trust and overreliance

Let us now look at one form of self-relinquishment, of giving up our sense of our own self, and trading it for some sort of dependence: let's look at overreliance. What I mean by this is an attitude of relying on someone because we've done something for them and expect some reciprocation: waiting for others to repay favors, keep their promises, or merely treat us well as a consequence of some good judgment they've passed on us sometime past.
I call the excessive form I have in mind overreliance because naturally there is some reliance we must put into such situations: the game of give-and-take in social and business contexts that is based on this behavior pervades our lives, and there is nothing wrong with it, as long as everybody involved understands what happens, and where the limits are. Overreliance begins where we make it a habit to depend on others for central goals of our lives, for things that we take as important, things that have a personal significance for us — and where we consciously build on others' providing them for us. Then we start giving not for the sake of giving, but for the sake of receiving something in exchange: we start giving with an agenda in the background. And the badness of that sort of behavior again lies in that we weaken our own sense of self in the course of that change; by locating the source of success and happiness in the actions of others (however cleverly we think we've manipulated their motives for those actions, and however much we tell ourselves that this manipulation would be justified by the consequences, which are after all of supreme importance to us), we locate them somewhere else than where they should be located: in ourselves.
Overreliance does not just imply that you are constantly calculating what people owe you, you're on the flip side also checking with everything they do whether it counts as having paid you back already. This habit, however, prevents you from being grateful. Ungratefulness is a character fault; and as always, the reason why you should avoid character faults comes from your own best interest. It's better for you to be a grateful person than not being it, because being ungrateful weakens your character and thus puts you at a disadvantage in the long run. All badness of character damages the subject (the person who acts badly, thinks or feels badly) more than it damages its target. The target may suffer, but it suffers from something external, something it cannot control. The integral part, the character of the person who is the target, can never be damaged by suffering caused by externals. If that part is strong enough, it will be capable to deal with the suffering and display strength of character even within that suffering. (If it's not strong enough, then the problem lies with neglect of shaping a strong character rather than with the external influence. The external suffering thus would be at best an indicator for a weakness on the target's behalf, but not the real cause of it.)
Overreliance, then, is different from the normal reliance we trade in everyday life in that it goes further and deeper; it is also significantly different from trust. Trusting someone always means to take a risk. If it wasn't risky, there would be no value in trust. Let's look at this more carefully: what makes trust valuable, as compared to the overreliance I've defined above?
Taking a risk means to accept a possibility of loss (what you lose would be an external, such as money or convenience, property or reputation, even health or, in extreme cases, your life) and projecting into the other person the qualities of skillfulness, resourcefulness and courage, honesty and reliability needed to make sure, to the best of their ability, that you don't suffer that loss. (There is a sort of trust, a blind trust, which simply unthinkingly assumes trustworthiness and thus doesn't calculate the risk, but merely ignores it. That's not the sort of trust I'm talking about here.)
Trusting means that you still keep the responsibility. If something goes wrong, you cannot blame them, for it was you who trusted them, and whether they just failed or even betrayed you, there's something for you to at least take responsibility for, and learn from. You decide to trust, and you retain responsibility for that decision.
So in summary, one difference between trust and overreliance is that in trusting you remain responsible, and so you're in charge of your actions yourself; another one is in that you assume, or project, qualities of character in others whom you trust, instead of expecting a debt structure to work for you (which in general boils down to expecting social pressure to do the job for you, and in effect that's a mere manipulation of others); furthermore, when trusting someone you put an emphasis, in your actions and views, on the right sort of thing: on people's character instead of a fictional value calculation about externals (such as money or reputation). Not just do you highlight the right sort of value in others, you also express the right choice in your own behavior: you know what to treat as valuable and what as indifferent. This way you exhibit valuable behavior yourself. Take care.
Copyright © 2007-2012 by Leif Frenzel. All rights reserved.