Learn more and laugh more

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In July 2016, Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and now a philanthropist, wrote a memoir on his 25 years of friendship with Warren Buffett, the world’s best investor ever and one of the most-followed businessmen.

Here is how Gates started his memoir –

I don’t remember the exact day I first met most of my friends, but with Warren Buffett I do. It was 25 years ago today: July 5, 1991.

I think the date stands out in my mind so clearly because it marked the beginning of a new and unexpected friendship for Melinda and me—one that has changed our lives for the better in every imaginable way.

Warren has helped us do two things that are impossible to overdo in one lifetime: learn more and laugh more.

Source: 25 Years of Learning and Laughter

I think the most important message from above paragraph is “learn more and laugh more”.

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Just Enough is Plenty

This post is inspired by the essay, Why the simple life is not just beautiful, it’s necessary, published on Aeon Magazine.

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Detail from Interior with Two Girls by Peter Ilsted, 1904. Photo courtesy Flickr

Apparently, ballpoint pens don’t work in space because of the lack of gravity. It is said that NASA, troubled by this realization, spent many millions of dollars designing a ‘space pen’ that could function in the absence of gravity. The Russians used a pencil.

Whether or not this story is true, it raises interesting questions about how technology is used in modern society. Are we, like NASA, complicating life and wasting money on superfluous technology?

To what extent could we, like the Russians, find much ‘simpler’ solutions to the problems we face?

What role should technology play in living the simple life? In the 21st century, are there times when our lives could be improved by using less technology, not more? Or by using technology smarter?

My love/hate with technology is around communications. I love my computer/internet connection and have acquiesced to having a mobile phone, but the trick is not feeling like you have to be available 24 hours a day to people. They’re just tools, not the master you’re enslaved to.

To be sure, there is no ‘rule’ to follow, as such, that can tell us when technology is appropriate and when it is not. There is much, much more to say on the question of technology in future posts. But for now I will  close this post with following comment:

The simple life is not just beautiful, it’s necessary. Technology can play an integral role to simplify our lives.

Life is about choices. Making the choice to live life in a simpler way is something that is becoming a necessity.

 

What you focus on expands

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It’s important to realize that as a human being all of us have strengths and weaknesses.

But here’s the thing: most people focus on their weaknesses and try and make them their strengths.

T Harv Eker, author of best selling book Secrets of Millionaire Mind, has a famous saying that, “What you focus on expands”.

This is extremely important as the outcome of your life is largely due to what you choose to focus on.

If you focus on your weaknesses, then you aren’t utilizing your strengths.

Simple as that.

Source: Why Most People Utilize Their Strengths And Weaknesses Incorrectly And How It Might Be Blocking You From Success

Four Reasons Why You Should Think Like an Ant

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” ― Socrates

All of us tend to look up to big people for lessons on how to get better. We are keen to learn the secrets of their success. But we forget that sometimes the biggest lessons in life come from the smallest folks around us. Now that’s a good lesson to remember!

Take ants for instance. Would you believe those small creatures could teach us how to live a better life? Jim Rohn, the great motivational guru, developed what he called the ‘Ants Philosophy’.

He identified four key lessons from the behavior of ants that can help us lead better lives. Here is the short list on the Ant Philosophy:

  • First: Ants never quit. That’s a good philosophy. If they’re headed somewhere and you try to stop them; they’ll look for another way. They’ll climb over, they’ll climb under, and they’ll climb around. They keep looking for another way. What a neat philosophy, to never quit looking for a way to get where you’re supposed to go.

  • Second: Ants think winter all summer. That’s an important perspective. You can’t be so naive as to think summer will last forever. So ants are gathering in their winter food in the middle of summer. An ancient story says, “Don’t build your house on the sand in the summer.” Why do we need that advice? Because it is important to be realistic. In the summer, you’ve got to think storm. You’ve got to think rocks as you enjoy the sand and sun. Think ahead.

  • Third: Ants think summer all winter. That is so important. During the winter, ants remind themselves, “This won’t last long; we’ll soon be out of here.” And the first warm day, the ants are out. If it turns cold again, they’ll dive back down, but then they come out the first warm day. They can’t wait to get out.

  • Fourth: And here’s the last part of the ant philosophy. How much will an ant gather during the summer to prepare for the winter? All he possibly can. What an incredible philosophy, the “all-you-possibly-can” philosophy.

Ant is a creature on earth that is small but unusually wise. The philosophy on the wisdom of these small creatures can serve as a good learning point for our life.

In a nutshell:

  1. Never give up
  2. Look ahead
  3. Stay positive
  4. Do all you can

I leave you now with the original sound recording of Jim Rohn explaining the Ant Philosophy and I hope you enjoy it.

Source: The Ant Philosophy by Jim Rohn

 

Should you live for your résumé or your eulogy?

 

The opening of this TEDTalk caught my attention and was the main reason, why I watched the entire presentation:

“So I’ve been thinking about the difference between the resume virtues and the eulogy virtues. The resume virtues are the ones you put on your resume, which are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that get mentioned in the eulogy, which are deeper: who are you, in your depth, what is the nature of your relationships, are you bold, loving, dependable, consistency? And most of us, including me, would say that the eulogy virtues are the more important of the virtues. But at least in my case, are they the ones that I think about the most? And the answer is no.”

Our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light.

Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.

But if you live for external achievement, years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured. You lack a moral vocabulary. It is easy to slip into a self-satisfied moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You figure as long as you are not obviously hurting anybody and people seem to like you, you must be O.K. But you live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys. Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self, between you and those incandescent souls you sometimes meet.

 

Simplify – De-Clutter Your Life

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I came through following quote from the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson:

Material possessions often cluttered life rather than enriched it.

Steve Jobs was highly influenced by the teachings of Zen Buddhism. He believed that it was important to avoid attachment to material objects. Peoples’ consumer desires are unhealthy and to attain enlightenment you need to develop a life of non-attachment and non-materialism.

When people make a lot of money, they feel that they had to live differently. They will buy expansive cars and big houses. They are always shopping, wardrobes full of clothes and shows. Slowly it grows so much that “what to wear?” becomes the first question they face first thing in morning.

It’s no longer about enjoying these material possessions, instead it becomes a daily struggle to manage them, Nancy Twigg once said:

Instead of being served by what we own, we end up serving our possessions with inordinate amounts of our time and energy.

Isn’t it curious how quickly roles can be reversed? Possessions that are supposed to enrich our lives are often drain us instead. Things we think will make our lives better, only bring additional heartache and hassle. Instead of being server by what we own, we end up serving our possessions with inordinate amounts of time and energy. [From page 108 of Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life from the Inside Out by Nancy Twigg]

“Abundance is a process of letting go; that which is empty can receive.” – Bryant H. McGill

By decluttering your life, you could actually welcome more abundance? Why? Because you will create more room; more space for better things.

Image source: De-Clutter Your Life by Adam Sicinski

 

Rule Number 6 – The Practice of Lightening Up

“Life is too important to be taken seriously.”  – Oscar Wilderule_number_6

Two prime ministers sitting in a room, and suddenly the door bursts open, and a man came in and he was extremely upset and shouting and carrying on. The resident prime minister said, “Peter, Peter, please remember Rule #6.” And immediately Peter was restored to complete calm.

And a young woman came in. She was hysterical. Hair was flying all over the place.

Shouting and carrying on. He said, “Maria, please remember Rule #6!” And immediately

Maria said, “Oh, I’m so sorry,” and she apologized and walked out.

And then it happened a third time. You know how it always happens a third time.

And the visiting prime minister said, “My dear colleague, I’ve seen three people come into the room in a state of uncontrollable fury, and they walked out completely calmly. Would you be willing to share this Rule #6, what that is?”

And he said, “Oh yes, Rule #6, very simple. Don’t take yourself so damned seriously.”

And so he said, “Oh, that’s a wonderful rule. What may I ask are the other rules?”

And he says, “There aren’t any.”

A simple shift in the way we think can help us distinguish the part of ourselves that is forced to live in the competitive business world obsessed with measurement. When we practice Rule Number 6, we help our “calculating self” to lighten up. By doing so, we break its hold on us.

You can read more about Rule Number 6 in Zander’s book, The Art of Possibility.