10 Concepts of Self-Mastery
Welcome to Self-Mastery — a place for exploring timeless ideas to become the architect of your mind, create yourself, and do less, better.
“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”
— Leonardo da Vinci
There is no greater victory than the mastery of our selves. Self-mastery is the concept of becoming a form of yourself that manifests strength into your pillars a good life. When you practise self-mastery, you narrow your focus towards the core elements of what makes you think, move and live better. The same way a monk uses meditates, exercises, and reads scripture to develop wisdom, mastery and strength.
Self-mastery is a life-long journey. It’s never quite fully reached as there will always be ways you can live better. But it’s the happiness you reach through acceptance in your life that makes self-mastery a worthwhile journey. When you improve the things you can control; say, how you react, the way you speak, the way you listen, how quickly you make effective decisions, and how well you find peace in the things you do—self-mastery shines through you.
On the path to self-mastery, we need to grasp the lessons, teachings and ideas that better shape the way we think. Here are ten concepts of self-mastery and living well that I believe will help you with this.
1) Master your stories.
Whether you believe it or not, one of your greatest gifts is your ability to tell stories. To weave through our past and share something meaningful and interesting to others is the essence of what makes us human.
Share your story. But don’t let your story take hold of you.
2) Chronic busyness kills productivity.
“Keep sharpening your knife, and it will blunt.”
We spend our lives trying to be busy as if it makes us feel (and look) productive. This is counter-intuitive, as we end up avoiding genuinely productive work because it feels unenjoyable.
Learning happens when you rest. You have more time for both than you think.
3) Avoid perfection. Seek excellence.
“Excellence does not require perfection”, said Henry James. Success doesn’t require you to get everything right. No, it’s rather the opposite. Success requires you to focus on progress and getting just a few things right.
Perfection is for amateurs. When you chase it, you realise that it’s a moving target. View perfection with compassion, but strive for excellence.
4) In your imperfections appears potential.
With constraint, comes creativity.
With vulnerability, comes strength.
With humility, comes power.
5) Let go and relax.
Self-mastery is knowing when to let things go their own way. Awareness, acceptance, and self-belief, then, should remain at your centre.
The same way you don’t work hard to fall asleep—you have to let sleep happen. Don’t walk through life thinking hard work is your only tool.
6) Challenge your own thoughts.
Most of our thoughts are incorrect or unhelpful. The way you think is not always with your best interests in mind.
Learn to see your thoughts for what they are: just thoughts. Then judge them accordingly.
7) Face loss with courage.
Failure and loss are inevitable. It’s not a bad thing—unless your thinking deems it so. If you open up to them, you become at one with them. And acceptance is then far easier.
We waste our time and energy on the illusion of what we think is in our control. But there’s no need to hide from uncontrollable situations or failure.
8) Your constant need for control will be your downfall.
Self-mastery is seeing problems as they are—without trying to always control them.
Your greatest weakness is your unwillingness to tolerate helplessness. If you work towards a life which accepts your rougher edges, you will always keep growing.
9) Train your self-awareness.
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
— Lao Tzu
Self-awareness is one of the most powerful things of this age. To build your habits, improve your life, be happier with yourself, you need self-awareness. You need to be aware of where you go wrong and the decisions that help fix it.
10) Learn to be comfortable alone.
Most people hate solitude. Why? Self-mastery embraces it.
It’s because we are afraid of our own minds.
There is no need to fear bad thoughts, painful memories or illicit desires. Prove to yourself that you’re in control of your thoughts—and not that your thoughts are in control of you.
What’s on My Mind
What truly generates long-term results and greater progress is doing things when I don’t feel like it. Motivation is important—it’s the powerful turbocharger to our engine. But it’s not something we can rely on all the time. Discipline is far more important for long-term growth, as is our focus. Without them, we run blind into the mist.
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
— Kurt Vonnegut
Article of the week
This week’s piece is focused on patience and slowing down time. I used to be very impatient and easily frustrated with my problems. But over the years, that behaviour and mindset have slowly dissolved into the air thanks to practising patience.
Interesting thing of the week
A podcast I really like by Dr Rangan Chatterjee, a British physician who talks about feeling better and living more. A perfect fit with Self-Mastery’s values.
Question of the week
What are you working on when time fades away?
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