Taskmaster

There’s a British TV show called Taskmaster. It’s creative and hilarious at times.

Celebrities are given a task and often a time limit of sort and they have to perform the task.

Examples:

  • Create an image using a GPS device to track your route.
  • Get an egg as high as possible without breaking it.
  • High five a 55 year old.
  • Make the biggest splash.
  • Destroy a cake in the most impressive way.

What’s so interesting is that each one of the five contestants can interpret the instruction in their own way, producing a high variability in outcomes and some truly creative solutions.

It’s a metaphor for any task in life – there isn’t one way to do something right and the definition is not watertight in most cases.

You can get creative and achieve a superior outcome to the normal, obvious way to do something.

Be kind be useful

The purpose of life is not happiness, it’s usefulness.

I think nobody can define the meaning of life in a general sense. Everyone lives their own life and defines their own meaning.

In September 1965 Leo Rosten published an essay titled “The Myths by Which We Live” in “The Rotarian” magazine, and he included an instance of the saying[1]:

Finally there is the myth which gives me the greatest pain: the myth that the purpose of life is happiness, and that you ought to have fun, and that your children ought to have fun. Where was it written that life is so cheap? Where was it written that life is, or should be, or can ever be free of conflict and effort and deprivation and sacrifice?…

…the purpose of life is not to be happy at all. It is to be useful, to be honorable. It is to be compassionate. It is to matter, to have it make some difference that you lived.

Source: (google books) “The Myths by Which We Live”, The Rotarian(Evanston, Illinois) volume 107, number 3 (September 1965) 32–33 etc, page 55.

A version of this quotation is sometimes attributed, falsely[2], to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

The purpose of life is not to be happy.
It is to be useful,
to be honorable,
to be compassionate,
to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Got similar advice while listening to an interview Barack Obama did with Bear Grylls, when asked what advice Obama gives his daughters, he rhymed off this mantra: they should be useful, and be kind.

Be kind, be useful.

It’s a piece of advice that’s simple, easy to remember and internalize, and one that helps you consider other people as you act and make decisions. And it’s a nice reminder to consider what you’re able to contribute to any situation.

As far as sayings go, it’s a pretty good one to live by.

Be kind, be useful.

Read more:

[1] https://books.google.co.in/books?id=tDMEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&lr&rview=1&pg=PA33#v=onepage&q&f=false

[2] http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/11/29/purpose/