Dominating Chaos

Posted on April 7, 2017 by Robert Ringer


Will Durant, best known for his eleven-volume masterpiece The Story of Civilization, died in 1981 at age 96. But John Little, founder and director of Will Durant Online, produced yet another Durant book more than twenty years after his death.

Just a little over a hundred pages in length, the title of this little gem is The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time. Though compiled and edited by Little, there is no question that the words are those of Will Durant.

I found Chapter 5, “The Ten ‘Peaks’ of Human Progress,” to be especially fascinating. Durant defined progress as “the domination of chaos by mind and purpose, of matter by form or will.”

Included among what Durant believed to be the most important developments of man’s “climb from savage to scientist” are such advances as speech, fire, the conquest of animals, agriculture, social organization, morality, tools, science, education, and writing and print.

Thousands of years of human history make it apparent that man is genetically programmed to move forward — to make progress. Nevertheless, as with all things in life, it’s only a small percentage of the world’s population that moves the human species forward on a macro level.

But it isn’t necessary to make macro progress to improve your own life. The fact is that you have the capacity to make a great deal of progress on a micro level and do things that can dramatically change your life. To do so, however, it is necessary for you to consciously focus on making personal progress.

Progress toward what? I believe what most people want above all else, consciously or unconsciously, is happiness, and everything they do is merely a means to that end. Some of the more obvious aspects of life that lead to happiness are good health, purpose, and wealth. Thus, a life worth living is one in which you make a conscious effort, on a daily basis, to make progress in important areas such as these.

I purposely listed health first, because without good health everything else is moot. That being the case, I would urge you to make a conscious effort to do at least one thing to improve your health every single day of your life.

It may mean not eating that bag of taco chips you so enjoy while watching television or foregoing a hamburger and fries for a salad. It may mean doing thirty minutes of exercise when you believe you just can’t afford the time. It may mean conjuring up the self-discipline to miss a big sporting event on TV in favor of getting to bed early. But whatever it is, just be sure to do something every day of your life to make progress toward improving your health.

As to purpose, the only way you can be certain that you have a meaningful purpose in life is if you can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning and greet the rising sun. Each and every day, you should give serious thought to what your main purpose in life is and make periodic adjustments as needed. Making the decision to do what you enjoy and what you’re good at is always the best way start moving in the right direction.

Finally, wealth-building. There are idealists who don’t like to admit it, but the reality is that progress in wealth-building makes it much easier to make progress in most other areas of life. And remember, wealth-building is a hands-on process. Forget the Internet ads that try to convince you that wealth is possible without a huge investment in time and effort. It’s not.

Borrowing from Will Durant, to make consistent progress, you have to become adept at “dominating chaos.” In today’s world, chaos comes in many forms — texting, e-mail, voice-activated runarounds, nonstop picture taking with your cellular computer, and, of course, the sensationalism that dominates the news — from rapes and murder to terrorism to natural disasters to stomach-turning political rhetoric.

The challenge is for you — as a healthy, purpose-driven, wealth-building human being — is to be so focused on making meaningful progress that you are not thrown off track by the chaos that surrounds you.

If you are not vigilant about dominating chaos, you can be sure that chaos will dominate you. And the result of your being able to dominate chaos is that you become increasingly able to control your environment and thus your destiny.

Your time in this secular phase of your eternal journey is limited. Use it wisely by focusing on making consistent progress in such areas as health, purpose, and wealth-building. If you do well in these areas, you can take pride in the knowledge that you are among those individuals on this planet who are not adding to its problems.

Whether you’re thirty, sixty, or ninety years old, you should seek to grow every day of your life. Make no mistake about it, progress is your destiny — and you owe it to yourself to fulfill that destiny.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

31 responses to “Dominating Chaos”

  1. Sean Baltz says:

    Ringer is brilliant as usual in this writing.

  2. texas wolfie says:

    One of my goals in life was to learn a new language every year for 10 consecutive years. What a waste of time and energy .I only know one Polish person, and the Mexican people here in Texas laugh at me. Now it is easy, at least with todays technology. Lesson learned. Now the priorities have dramatically in my later years.

  3. Reality Seeker says:

    “But man's capacities have never been measured; nor are we to judge of what he can do by any precedents, so little have been tried," mused Thoreau. " What people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can."

    Yes, I agree with RJR. Get out there everyday and greet the sun, and be thankful that a mushroom cloud isn't eclipsing your view.

    Man's "capacities" have come a long way since Thoreau walked this beautiful earth. I wonder what he'd say about Trump, Putin, Xi Jinping and their capacities for nuclear destruction?

    Yes, indeed, get out there and greet the sun, and hope The Donald can close the biggest deal since JFK and Khrushchev decided not to find out what happens when the ambient temperature in Washington and Moscow suddenly rises to 4000F……

    Frankly, Trump is turning millions of his supporters against him. Limbaugh, Coulter, Savage and many other top Republicans are wondering: what the hell Trump is doing bombing Syria? Of course CNN, the Dirty Dems and the warmongering Neocons are praising Trump. What's wrong with that picture?

    I know precisely what Trump is doing. Trump is making a political statement. Bombing Syria is a continuation of Trumpism by other means. This act by the Trump administration is a page right out of Clausewitz's book: "War is the continuation of politics by other means." This is how Trump is going to carry out the "art of the deal".

    As I said days ago, before the missiles launched, and before the meeting with Xi Jinping, Trump is focusing on the big fish he needs to fry.

    Watch Korea. And start asking your congressmen and women why America no longer has a Civil Defense plan? After all, if North Korea, Russia, China and Iran pose such a clear and looming danger, then why aren't we preparing the Homeland for nuclear war?

    Buy gold. Buy silver. Buy guns, extra food and water. Dig a deep fallout shelter. And have faith.

    • Richard Van Der says:

      Could be, maybe, Prez Trump did a little aggressing to show N. Korea what could happen to them if they don't stop screwing around with America & other threatening missiles. Could be. You'd rather live in your shelter instead of taking the aggressor out first?

      • Reality Seeker says:

        "Maybe, Prez Trump did a little aggressing to show N. Korea what could happen to them if they don't stop screwing around with America & other threatening missiles……"

        Maybe? No maybe about it. That's exactly what Trump did. He used a "big stick", as Teddy used to say.

        What I'd rather do is follow Ludwig von Mises advice and win the Cold War economically by means of free-market capitalism and a robust U.S. defense. Ludwig also wrote extensively about how important a free-market is for national defense. The key word is "defense". What America has instead of a free market and national defense is a rip-you-off, take-you-to-war and kill-your-sons-for-no-good-reason system.

        I pose again pose the question: if North Korea, Russia, China and Iran pose such a clear and looming danger, then why aren't we preparing the Homeland for nuclear war? Americans should demand that the government harden the power grid against an EMP attack and reactivate the Civil Defense program.

        Trump isn't going to change the system. The system is changing him. As just one example, look closely at Trump's administration. National Security Advisor H. R. McMasters is going is advising Trump to do what a Neocon would do…. Trump is being isolated by the Neocons. This means a showdown is coming.

        I'm actually one of the few Libertarian-types who support Trump's strategy. Not because I want nuclear war; I support Trump because I know both Putin and Xi Jinping are engaged in a military buildup. And from what I've recently learned, I believe the longer Trump waits to deal with the Chinese and Russians proxies, North Korea and Iran, the worse it shall be for the US and EU and Great Britain…

        No, unfortunately, North Korea has to be delt with now. America is an empire. And an empire I had got to do what an empire has got to do…..Xiinping is more important than Obama, Clinton or any other domestic issue.

        Watch Korea, and hope the Chinese blink.

      • Bill Thomas says:

        You are assuming that taking out the aggressor(North Korea) can be contained, and there will be no unintended consequences to come from that action. I have serious doubts that would be the case.

        • GaMbaJd says:

          Aggressor? Maybe I missed something?
          When did North Korea threaten to INVADE the US?

        • Reality Seeker says:

          "I have serious doubts".

          Me, too. In fact I think the dye has already been cast. Americans are hated by hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of people worldwide…. The following video shows what kind of people are hating us. Watch as the mop tears down the cross right after today's terror attack in Egypt… Ron Paul was right. When America entangled itself in the Middle East, the result is blowback. Now Trump has the whole mess to deal with. And I'm afraid that the hatred of America and Christianity has gotten so bad that war seems unavoidable. If The Donald fails to negotiate peace, then WW 3 is a near certainty…. Reports are coming in that Washington is amassing an invasion force in Syria. Trump isn't going to tell the ignorant masses about a Syrian invasion until after there's boots on the ground….

          As I said days ago. The next few months shall determine whether or not America wages yet another major war….

          Trump is looking at the following video and much worse videos. How do you think he feels? Trump wants to kick some ass, that's how he feels.

          • Jim Hallett says:

            The real problem with "kicking some ass" is that it never ends, and it is a continuing spiral downward. The U.S. and its bully interventionist polices over many decades have helped create the monster that is now ISIS (or whatever terrorist mentality is the featured specialty de jour). Hatred comes from occupation and other interference (witness what the US and UK did to Iran in the early 1950s by exiling Mossadegh and imposing the Shah). We do not need any more wars . . . in Syria or anyplace. N. Korea has a lunatic in charge, so it is imperative that China rein him in. Trying to solve any problem in the Middle East will never come to any good end. As Trump said, "I am going to be the president of the USA, and NOT the world." When neocon scum like McCain and Graham praise you, not to mention criminal Dumbocrats, Trump must realize he has NOT made the right choice.

      • saintquinn says:

        Richard…WAKE UP…..NO ONE is "screwing with amerika"….It's the OTHER WAY AROUND….

        • Whattabout North Koreas stated intent to send a nuke to America once they develop one that will fly, then explode? That's not "wanting to" screw with America? And same turn of mind in Iran… so the word goes on The News.

  4. Rick G says:

    How many people really and truly make an effort at improving their life? Really! Not many. I find that most would rather sit around and talk endlessly about stopping smoking, eating healthier food, getting a better paying job, going back to school, and/or getting a gym membership. How many times do I hear this! Or you will hear, "someday I'll do this" and "someday I'll do that". The problem is "someday" never seems to roll around. And you hear it most around New Year's only to have all this go down the tube by the third week of January, if that long. And when the next New Year's comes along, the same old "resolutions" begin to resurface all over again. People find it easier to let the chaos just close in and overwhelm them. It takes effort, perseverence, determination, and a strong will and desire to change. And, sad to say, most people just don't have it. They would rather just to lay around in misery, and complain and whine endlessly which are so much easier and don't require much effort. Or maybe the "chaos" in their lives is just not that great to force anyone to exert effort to make a change. I believe thst urgency has a lot to do with it. If lightning were to hit your house and set the house on fire, you won't say, "Well, maybe I'll call the fire department next month, maybe". No! It's urgent! You call immediately! The chaos will otherwise cause you to loss your home. On the other hand, if the physician tells you to quit eating foods high in saturated and trans fats or you will risk a coronary event, you might say, "I'll wait until the holidays are over and think about it" or "That only happens to other people". One way that I personally found to change is to set goals and break them down into individual steps to reach them is to get a Franklin Covey day planner. This handy device keeps me on my feet and prevents me from slacking off whenever I get the urge.

  5. larajf says:

    I use GoalsWizard to stay on track. It has Brian Tracy giving instructions. But in all my career, I've done best when I know where I'm going and can make fast adjustments when I have to take the detours.
    And I need to focus more on health and get the extra weight off. You're right to point out that it's the linchpin.

  6. Gary Waltrip says:

    Another inspiring essay from Robert Ringer!
    This is what I have come to love from RR over the years.
    Wonderful accomplishments are possible with the right attitude.
    There is a kind of mental magic that anyone can tap into, but it requires focus and effort over time, as well as belief. Robert has always been cognizant of this magic, and so when he speaks, I listen.

    Thanks Robert. Again.

  7. edda says:

    Thank you, Mr. Ringer, for a truly spiritual beginning to my week. I've learned a lot about 'dominating chaos' while rereading your essay. As I'm 75 and battling the harsh realities of aging and illness and 'where do we go from here,' I will keep your words close.

    • I know what ya mean! I'm 81, and I love looking back and knowing I did NOT put chasing money first. I did what gave my life MEANING and PURPOSE, and consequently fulfilled. Now I spend most of my time writing about all that, and publishing my reflections. Money is important yes, but, having only a little more than enough allowed me to concentrate on what I regarded as more important, especially to my personal growth… which is… I believe, what life is basically about, at least for those of us lucky to be born with talents.

  8. I appreciate the wisdom in your words… And the timing is perfect!

  9. ivan says:

    Yes indeed, Number one is ourselves and our health that requires work and time. I find that I have to say NO to a long list of the chaos created by technology, the media, and social pressure. Then lastly, the general BS of politics, food companies and unhealthy products. I still remind myself of K.I.S.S.

  10. Jurgy says:

    the attainment of health, happiness and wealth requires sacrifice, something most people don't want to give, which is why there are only a few who actually get what we all want …

    • Richard Van Der says:

      RIGHT CHOICES more than SACRIFICE, in my opinion. I could never see trading 20-30 years working a "job" for a lotta retirement money.
      But, depends on one's talents and alternatives, I suppose.

      • Jim Hallett says:

        It's all about PRIORITIES and then focusing on the most important things. I am so glad I was not raised during the cell phone, Twitter, social media age, as it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE for most to focus on anything with the constant interruption of brain farts, breaking news, and other drivel. Taking time to disconnect from the chaos and focus on what is most important is essential. There is "sacrifice" in the sense that one cannot accomplish all things at a time, and sometimes foregoing the cocktail party, sporting event, or some leisure time is wise if one wants to accomplish a greater goal. If one is excited and committed to that goal, it will really not be viewed as a sacrifice, but just a necessary part of the journey to success.

  11. Scott theczech says:

    I appreciate the "secular" message and believe it to be true. Let's not forget that to love and be loved is the foundation of human happiness.

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