Throughout the year, the students of FMA are exposed to heroic and inspiring ideas from around the world. As part of the curriculum each student analyzes and interprets the idea in his own words. Following are each student’s selection of the ideas he found most powerful, and why he intends to incorporate these ideas into his own life. 

Joshua B.

“At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees it boils, and boiling water become steam, and steam can power a locomotive, and it’s that extra one degree that makes all the difference.” —Mac Anderson.

I have to work harder to achieve that extra degree that makes great things happen. When this one extra little degree is achieved I can do more than I have even dreamed. It’s that one degree that makes the difference.

With my one degree I can do many things. If the difference of a degree can make a locomotive run and keep a factory running, imagine what I can do in my own life with this one degree.

Jordan B.

Compassion is comforting those who are hurt. It is caring for others, and feeling their pain. When I am compassionate I understand others and am trusted more by friends. The Bhagavad-Gita states that by being compassionate I can stay strong in my heart. I shall be compassionate and have strong relationships. 

I chose this virtue because it is something that I wish to possess. Compassion is a very important trait in strong relationships, and it is especially important to me because I wish to have strong healthy relationships throughout my life. By showing compassion to others I will gain trust and respect and will earn the relationships I seek. 

Jacob C.

Detachment is learning to act upon my emotions in a constructive way. It is the process by which I force myself to hold fast the dish I was about to fragment. When I exercise detachment, I am able to step back from what I want to do and reflect on whether or not it would be worthy in His eyes. The Bhagavad-Gita states that I should perform all actions as if for the Divine. It is of vital importance to take a breath, to breathe slowly, and to reach a true understanding of my self. 

I chose this virtue because detachment is a trait with which I find myself struggling. When I have been in the grip of emotions, I have often acted on them in ways that have been detrimental to my psyche. Detachment requires a high degree of self-discipline. I must first recognize my emotional impulses, think carefully, and then only act on what I decide is the best choice. Detachment is a virtue that, while simple to understand, can be difficult to practice. Look. Choose. Act. These three short commands can change my life.
Aiden F.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” —Helen Keller

Something of strength and depth cannot be derived from something of frailty and shallowness. Similarly, an inner character of great strength and solitude can only come from experiences of the like nature. How I lead my life, the challenges I choose to face and overcome, or wither under, is what dictates the proud fortitude or weary timidity of my soul and character. The vast importance of maintaining determination and courage through the hardest of times in order to reach top potential is supported when Helen Keller says “Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened…and success achieved.” Gold cannot be, and never has been, created of lead, and this is precisely why an enduringly strong character and soul must not be sought at the end of an easy road.

The topic of character is important to me. My own character is an aspect of my self in which I find a dissatisfying weakness. My character encompasses my attitudes, morals, ethics, and intrinsically, my thoughts. Pondering the lifelong struggles of Helen Keller, especially during her early years, automatically makes me more appreciative and thoughtful of the many things and abilities in my life, which I have habitually taken for granted. More than this, however, I find invaluable wisdom in her explanation that a strong character only truly comes from a victory over the toughest experiential opposition in life. As dwindling confidence and inner drive are weaknesses from which I suffer, I hope to build my character through perseverance in tough times so it will have the strength I will need to draw upon in the future.

Mitch D.

“It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” — Unknown Author

If a problem presents itself, do something instead of complaining about it. It can always be solved if I will get to work on it. When a problem seems impossible, the solution is usually something so terribly obvious that I have overlooked it. This quote, attributed to a number of authors, says that it is always better to find a light source in the darkness than to whine about how I can’t see. So I will not go overlooking obvious answers. 

I chose this quote because my problem-solving skills still leave something to be desired. It illuminates my usual approach to problems: find the most complicated solution, attempt to pull it off, fail, and then complain. When I am shown the obvious answer that I completely disregarded, I usually try to justify my lack of effort. To incorporate this idea into my life, I will try every reasonable and profitable solution, and if I can only think of one, I will ask for help in thinking of other viable ways around my problem. In this way I will be much more likely to be able to solve my own problems. 

Liam L.

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” — Marcus Aurelius

The happiness of my life depends on the quality of my thoughts and whether I choose to be happy or not. It is important for me to protect my happiness and not let it be affected by other people’s input. When others are unkind or disrespectful toward me, I must not allow myself to be affected by their behavior. Marcus Aurelius states here that being happy in life depends upon my choices and the quality of my thoughts. This quote reminds me that my happiness is in my hands, and, no matter what may happen around me, I can still choose to be happy and grateful.

The extremely valuable idea that I am in control of the happiness in my life is of great importance to me. It helps me make choices that will lead me to succeed in what I do and to excel to be a better person. When I put in the time, intelligence, and energy to make my thoughts of high quality, I am happy doing whatever I am doing. This Marcus Aurelius quote stands out to me because it instructs me to prioritize what I want in life and helps me recognize what true happiness is. When my thoughts are focused on what is right for me, I will be happy and will not need to wear a “mask.”

Ralph R.

“Adversity introduces a man to himself.” – Horace

Hard times force me to truly get to know myself. They show me my strengths as well as my weaknesses. When faced with difficult times, I fall back on the character traits I have been practicing. Horace states that only when circumstances are challenging do I actually see what is within me. How important it is to practice developing the strength I seek.

This quote is important to me because it reveals a greater truth. It is an idea that applies to every human being. When I have faced adversity, I have realized my potential and what I truly need to work on. I will seize the moments of adversity in my life to become stronger and wiser.

Carlisle W.

“Excellence is caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.” —Winston Churchill

Following my own ideas of what is best for me and not trying to impress others, will lead me to exceed expectations. It will benefit me to soar above the rest. When I let what others think of me get to me, I choosing my own downfall. Churchill says that I should be different and be proud of it. Be yourself and don’t let others’ expectations hold you back.

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