How to Be Strong in a Dangerous World

by Chris on August 23, 2012

Those who follow this blog or know me personally know that I’m a big fan of the idea that there is no such thing as “too strong”. And while this blog often focuses near-exclusively on the physical elements of strength and conditioning, I’m a firm believer that strength and health are holistic elements. In other words, being strong in one facet of life and weak in another means you are broken. Who cares if you can lift 1000 pounds if you get out of breath tying your shoes?

But I’d like to take that one step further. What good is being in peak physical shape if you are ethically and mentally weak? I don’t care if you are the greatest athlete on earth – if you are a shitty person with poor ethical values, you are weak and broken.

I was flipping through a book I read when I was in college by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman called On Combat. To this day one of the best books I’ve ever read, it examines the “psychology and physiology of deadly conflict in war and in peace”. In the back, as an appendix, there was listed Erasmus’ Twenty-two Principles on How to Be Strong While Remaining Virtuous in a Dangerous World. It’s a great list and I wanted to share it with all of my readers. Read them, look to yourself and ask: Are you really that strong?

First Rule

INCREASE YOUR FAITH

Even if the entire world appears mad.

Second Rule

ACT UPON YOUR FAITH

Even if you must undergo the loss of everything.

Third Rule

ANALYZE YOUR FEARS

You will find that things are not as bad as they appear.

Fourth Rule

MAKE VIRTUE THE ONLY GOAL OF YOUR LIFE

Dedicate all of your enthusiasm, all your effort, your leisure as well as your business.

Fifth Rule

TURN AWAY FROM MATERIAL THINGS

If you are greatly concerned with money you will be weak of spirit.

Sixth Rule

TRAIN YOUR MIND TO DISTINGUISH GOOD FROM EVIL

Let your rule of government be determined by the common good.

Seventh Rule

NEVER LET ANY SETBACK STOP YOU IN YOUR QUEST

We are not perfect – this only means we should try harder.

Eight Rule

IF YOU HAVE FREQUENT TEMPTATIONS, DO NOT WORRY

Begin to worry when you do not have temptation, because that is a sure sign that you cannot distinguish good from evil.

Ninth Rule

ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR AN ATTACK

Careful generals set guards even at times of peace.

Tenth Rule

SPIT, AS IT WERE, IN THE FACE OF DANGER

Keep a stirring quotation with your for encouragement.

Eleventh Rule

THERE ARE TWO DANGERS: ONE IS GIVING UP, THE OTHER IS PRIDE

After you have performed some worthy task, give all the credit to someone else.

Twelfth Rule

TURN YOUR WEAKNESS INTO VIRTUE

If you are inclined to be selfish, make a deliberate effort to be giving.

Thirteenth Rule

TREAT EACH BATTLE AS THOUGH IT WERE YOUR LAST

And you will finish, in the end, victorious!

Fourteenth Rule

DON’T ASSUME THAT DOING GOOD ALLOWS YOU TO KEEP A FEW VICES

The enemy you ignore the most is the one who conquers you.

Fifteenth Rule

WEIGH YOUR ALTERNATIVES CAREFULLY

The wrong way will often seem easier than the right way.

Sixteenth Rule

NEVER ADMIT DEFEAT EVEN IF YOU HAVE BEEN WOUNDED

The good soldier’s painful wounds spur him to gather his strength.

Seventeenth Rule

ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN OF ACTION

So when the time comes for battle, you will know what to do.

Eighteenth Rule

CALM YOUR PASSIONS BY SEEING HOW LITTLE THERE IS TO GAIN

We often worry and scheme about trifling matters of no real importance.

Nineteenth Rule

SPEAK WITH YOURSELF THIS WAY:

If I do what I am considering, would I want my family to know about it?

Twentieth Rule

VIRTUE HAS ITS OWN REWARD

Once a person has it, they would not exchange it for anything.

Twenty-first Rule

LIFE CAN BE SAD, DIFFICULT AND QUICK: MAKE IT COUNT FOR SOMETHING!

Since we do not know when death will come, act honorably everyday.

Twenty-second Rule

REPENT YOUR WRONGS

Those who do not admit their faults have the most to fear.

 

References

Grossman, D., & Christensen, L. W. (2004). On combat, the psychology and physiology of deadly conflict in war and in peace. Millstadt, IL: Warrior Science Group Inc.

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