Updated: May 23, 2020
My dearest friends: when life gets really difficult, you sometimes consider desperate options. Remember this: always do the right thing.
Why? Because when you lay down to sleep at the end of a challenging day, week or year. it doesn't matter if you survived or thrived if you did so via unscrupulous means. It isn’t survival of the fittest any more and we're more than just very intelligent animals.*
How do you know what's "right"?
Devote yourself to endless study and development of your moral and ethical framework. Read the great religious, philosophical, and secular works. Continuously wrestle with hypothetical thought exercises around the grey areas to hone your chops for when the real grey areas come. Work to strengthen both your critical thinking and intuition.
And, yes: there will be far more grey areas than the black-and-white ones. In those instances, all you can do is just do your best to choose rightly. And when you don't do the right thing (because you'll inevitably err more often than you'd like), admit it and try to make it right as quickly as you can.
The fact is: the world respects the bold and courageous, not the cowardly. And the "right" thing is often the far bolder & more courageous thing to do. Conversely, those observing or receiving poor treatment will remember, and treat you accordingly in their dealings.
In my eyes, all other lessons in Surfing the Chaos come after this one.
Do the right thing.
“Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn't matter." - Marcus Aurelius
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*Some may want to debate the point of whether we are or aren't purely intelligent animals, but the fact remains: humans recognize the concept of "rightness," thus it's a real factor to be dealt with in the calculus of our living.