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Bob Mueller

Author

Wedding Officiant

Motivational Speaker

Catholic Priest

 

The Six Mistakes

 

When I was forced to become a master of the dead languages of Latin and koine Greek in minor seminary, I thought many times, “What a waste.”  In hindsight, how wrong I was.  Latin and Greek studies have provided me with an extensive vocabulary and a deep understanding of the etymology of words. 

 

Another benefit of studying Latin for six years was to discover the writings of Cicero.  Marcus Tullius Cicero was Rome’s most feared politician, one of the greatest lawyers and statesmen of all times.  No person has loomed larger in the political history of humankind.  So much of his correspondence has been preserved.  I would like to list and then expound on Cicero’s “Six Mistakes of Man.”

 

1)  The illusion that personal gain is made up of crushing others.   

I am never surprised when I hear that success-driven, stressed-out, win-at-all-costs individuals are miserable and only wish for a secure marriage and enjoyment of work.  Success is all about a life of integrity.  If we can learn to be content with our possessions, we will be successful.  I always feel like a success if I have a positive impact on other people.

 

2)  The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected. 

Almost everyone seems to worry about something and yet we rarely talk about worry as a problem.  Maybe that is because worry is so much a part of the way we have come to live and be in the world that we don’t even notice it.  We could worry about worry and then worry about our worrying about worry.  It has been said that anxiety disorders are America’s most commonly reported mental health problems.  We need some relief from worry.

 

3)   Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it. 

I am always amazed when everyone states that something is impossible and then it happens.  Our thoughts determine our successes.  If we approach an assignment for school or a job believing that we’re able to do it, that it’s not too hard for us, we’ll finish with ease.

 

4)   Refusing to set aside trivial preferences. 

You could also say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” or “Don’t major in minors.”  Each of us is a valuable part of the family.  When we treasure one another, and don’t waste our time finding each other’s faults and becoming trivial, we will begin to have fewer faults.  When we accept our loved ones as they are, and enjoy sharing our lives with them, our lives become more enjoyable, and our family love grows because we are each more loveable.

 

5)     Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and study. 

For me the four secrets of fulfillment for everyday are work, play, prayer, and study.  Years ago my parents used to say the following verse:

Books are keys to wisdom’s treasure.

Books are gates to lands of pleasure.

Books are paths that upward lead.

Books are friends.  Come let us read.

                        When we stop learning, we stop growing. 

 

6)   Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do. 

If hugs could melt, if kisses were made of nothing but pure air, if talkers always agreed, and if hearts all beat to the same drum, would we desire any longer to be truly each other?  No two leaves on a tree turn the same way in the wind; no two fish in a school tread the same water; and no two people can live the same life.  Therefore, when we hug let’s leave some space; when we kiss let’s allow each other to breathe; when we talk let’s permit each other to disagree; and when we love let’s honor each other’s rhythm and way.

 

These words of Cicero remind us that men and women in every place and time have pondered, struggled, succeeded and failed in much the same way as we.   In every case, they had the drive to begin their journeys anew, day after day.  Cicero is just like us.  We are just like Cicero journeying forth courageously one day, tentatively the next.  The real importance of the journey is simply that we’re making it, alone and yet mysteriously together.