Principles: 10 Imperatives for the Good Life

Why write out a list of principles?

For one thing, it’s my birthday. And, although I’m only in my twenties, I’m feeling a bit reflective.

For another, I’ve just been given a copy of Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio (affiliate link).

According to Dalio (ix),

Principles are fundamental truths that serve as the foundations for behavior that gets you what you want out of life. They can be aplied again and again in similar situations to help you achieve your goals.

With that in mind, here are 10 principles I’ve developed so far. I’ve followed Dalio’s lead in casting my principles as imperatives. No, I don’t always do an excellent job at these. But they’re worth striving for.

No, this is not an exhaustive list. And no, I don’t always do an excellent job at these. But they’re worth striving for.


1. Go to Church: Word & Sacraments

This principle, and the following one, are purposefully at the top of the list. Why? Because they will place you in a context where your desires, your view of reality, and therefore your principles will be formed in the right direction.

So, go to a church where you can hear the Word of God preached and where you can partake of the Sacraments.

Further Reading:

2. Do the Daily Office: Morning and Evening Prayer

NOTE: I realize that a WHOLE LOT MORE could be said with/underneath these first two “principles.” As an overarching principle, “Become More Like Jesus Christ in All I Think, Feel, Say, and Do,” is quite good. In fact, I’d consider most of the rest of this blog to be relevant in that respect.

However, I’m going to devote the next eight principles to various pragmatic concerns, such as productivity, physical fitness, and financial well-being.

3. Think on Paper: Keep a Journal and To-Do Lists

4. Read More & Take Notes

5. Ask More/Better Questions

6. Sit Less & Move Heavier Objects

7. Eat Less Sugar & More Vegetables

8. Turn off the TV and the Notifications on Your Phone

9. Get/Stay out of Debt

10. Invest a 401K and IRA in Index Funds or Lifecycle Funds


What principles would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

Christians and Wealth: An Argument for Downward Mobility

Great news! If you only have a minute to read about wealth, here’s my argument in a nutshell:


Outline of My Argument

  • Main Claim: American Christians should reduce their standards of living to what is necessary for human flourishing and give their excess resources beyond this standard to the poor and oppressed.
    1. God is the firmest advocate for human flourishing.
    2. The pursuit of wealth is spiritually dangerous and crippling.
    3. Our culture’s inclinations toward upward financial mobility go against the message of the New Testament and the life of Christ.
    4. God is revealed in Scripture to have a special concern for the poor and the oppressed.
    5. Christians will be held accountable for how they treat the poor and the oppressed.
  • Objections:
    1. This line of reasoning is advocating asceticism and is unbiblical.
    2. Christians have every right to keep what they have earned and to do what they wish with their excess funds.
    3. Because the poor are lazy, Christians should not feel pressured to give, in case their generosity is taken advantage of.
  • Warrant:
    1. Christians want to remain true to Scripture and submit to God’s way of life in order to find satisfaction.

(For more on Christianity, wealth, and poverty, see my topical study on what the book of Proverbs has to teach us about poverty.)

Still interested in reading about this contentious topic? Continue below.


Introduction

In our current context of wealth and poverty existing side by side in a milieu of materialistic consumerism, the Christian gospel of denying ourselves and making much of God is being abandoned for the American gospel of denying others and making much of ourselves.

American Christians have become content to live a baptized version of the American dream, a hollow faith that is about maximizing your earthly portfolio once your salvation is secured.

My main contention is that Christians in the United States should lower their standards of living to what is necessary for human flourishing and give their excess resources beyond this standard to the poor. In doing so, they will remain faithful to Scripture and discover a more satisfactory way of life.

Isn’t That Asceticism?

At this point, some may claim that I am trying to advocate for a form of asceticism. Continue reading “Christians and Wealth: An Argument for Downward Mobility”