Over the next few weeks, CatholicMatch will be running a series of articles I wrote on the Cardinal Virtues. The Introduction went up today:
When we only have ourselves to consider, we can (and many do) distract ourselves with hedonistic indulgence, with ever more novel and transgressive pleasures, or, failing that, with the bitter delights of resentment towards a world that has ‘cheated’ us and so live what seems a tolerably happy life even without virtue. But when we share our lives with someone else, when we’re responsible for not just our own but another’s happiness, it’s much harder to fake contentment.
The other person generally doesn’t let us get away with it, and, assuming she’s just as bad as we are, we get to experience the abrasive, sandpaper-like results of vice without the anesthetic of self-approval. This is one reason why so many relationships fall apart, and why they often end so acrimoniously.
Basically, to have good relationship requires good people; you can’t live well together if you don’t know how to live well in the first place, any more than you would suddenly be able to draw well just because you’re partnered with someone who doesn’t know how to draw either.
Read it all.
It’s rare to find good advice these days, especially on the internet, where everyone and anyone suddenly becomes an expert toting batches of statistics in service of advice that is typically shallow or obvious or both.
That’s one reason I like Chad Howse of Be Legendary and Average 2 Alpha: the guy actually seems like a legitimate thinker who believes what he says. More importantly, his advice actually has some substance and moral intelligence to it. Like this 20 Things Every Man Should Be Able to Do post. Most of the time, if you found a post like this on the internet, it would start off with something like “Make Mistakes and Keep Trying,” or “Express His Emotions,” or something equally trite. The first entries on this list?
1. Find meaning in suffering
To be a man is to endure what others cannot. Every man should read Man’s Search for Meaning, for an explanation of what it is to find meaning in suffering, but also Unbroken, to understand that no matter what we’re going through, it could be both worse and others have endured worse and come out better for it. Whatever you’re embroiled in, seek the meaning of it, seek the challenge within it, and turn it into something that strengthens you.
2. Bear any burden
We’re asked to not only bear our own troubles but to take on those of others and aid them in their difficulty. Know this. It isn’t just about you, but about those who depend on you.
The list goes on from there, with no token “silly” entries (i.e. “Put up with chick flicks”). Every entry is about either a practical skill / ability or a virtue. The whole list is, as the title indicates, about being the best man you can be, and actually has an idea what is meant by that.
You can see why I like this guy’s writing; it’s rooted in eternal values (he often cites classical and historical sources) and offers little conciliation to modernity. After you finish this list, you should stick around and check out more of it.