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The Art of Enjoying the Blessings of Life

The Gift of Life

The Art of Enjoying the Blessings of Life There is an art in enjoying the blessings of life, and unless we master it, we court disaster. It is a simple art. It consists in realizing that everything we are and everything we have is a gift, ultimately from the Creator and that every day of our lives the gift is renewed to us. This realization will deepen our joy in possession and it will lighten our grief in deprivation.

In assessing my own condition, I am often tempted to be dissatisfied. My mind wanders towards what I lack. Moreover, if I contrast my poverty with somebody else’s affluence, I am tempted to rebel against my destiny.

However, my mind is set at peace when I suddenly remember that whatever I have is not, in a final sense, of my own making. Nor is it mine by any right. For what did I bring with me into the world that is my home? I came into it utterly helpless. Moreover, the goals towards which I have grown and everything, which has been placed in my hands, to have and to cherish, is a gift given me freely, graciously. It was given in love, a love that I could not really earn and for which I can offer little in return. In addition, when I become aware of this, I find a new contentment.

This awareness of my blessings, and of their source, prepares me also for their inevitable surrender. Either for I know that the things I cherish will not last or that if they do, I, being mortal, will not always is here to enjoy them. A final separation awaits every relationship, no matter how tender. Someday I shall have to drop every object to which my hands now cling.

Enjoy the Roses, Taste of Their Beauty, Delight in Their Fragrance

These thoughts sadden me, but I can bear them more readily when I remember that the measure of my loss is also the measure of my privilege. Shall I rebel because my roses last so brief a time? Shall I grieve when none blossom in my garden? No! I must rather give thanks for those days I was privileged to enjoy roses, to taste of their beauty and their fragrance.

Each day of my life, my blessings are given to me anew. For the gift given me and for whatever time I am privileged to keep it, I am grateful. In addition, when I am asked to surrender my gift, I shall still know that I was richly blessed. Moreover, I shall say, “Praised be Thou, O Lord my God, that Thou didst grant me the privilege to know the gift of life.” This blessing has value: it discourages surrender and fuels religious zeal.

People have to confront regrets. Becoming matured means learning to admit what you cannot change, facing dissonant sorrows, and learning to love life as it truly happens, not as you would have it happen. When somebody attaches unkindness to unfavorable judgment, she is angry. Angry people need to criticize as an outlet for their anger. That is why you must resist unkind criticism. Unkind criticism is never part of a meaningful criticism of you. Its intent is not to teach or to help, its purpose is to penalize. Life is not supposed to be an all or nothing combat between miserableness and blissfulness.

Everyone Needs Positive Role Models: A Good Reputation Inspires Others

Good Reputation Inspires Others We know that before the Bank of New England went under, a lot of business firms withdrew their money and put them in other banks. In the meantime, recollecting that nothing was ever yet done which someone was not the first to do, and that all good things that exist are the fruits of originality, let them be humble enough to believe that there is something still left for it to attain. Reassure them that they are more in need of originality, the less they are conscious of the neediness. American designer and engineer William S. Cobb writes about emptiness is not what you expect in The Game of Go,

Emptiness refers to the absence of something that, for some reason, one expects to find—as when we say a glass, normally used to hold liquids, is empty even though it is full of air. The point is not that there is nothing there at all, but rather that what is there differs from your expectations.

All who want happiness want to eradicate distress? Life is not supposed to be a conflict at all. In addition, when it comes to happiness, well, sometimes life is just all right; sometimes it is well heeled, sometimes wonderful, sometimes tedious, sometimes unpleasant. When your day is not perfect, it is not a failure or a frightening loss. It is just another day. By this system, men lie much cooler, and it is more accordant in every respect, as well as healthier.

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

How to Feel More Optimistic

  • Feel More Optimistic No matter what happens, you’re not a victim. It’s up to you to determine your response.
  • Embrace your life’s purpose. Make your own unique contribution that turns your environment into a better place and fulfills you.
  • Make the reality your reality.
  • Don’t be distracted by the overwhelmingly negative news around you.
  • Don’t look back too often. Keep yourself open to today’s new opportunities.
  • Listen to your friends and loved ones, but don’t become dependent on what others think of you.
  • Be grateful for everything life has given you and for every step forward you can take.
  • Make sure you laugh often. Do not take yourself too seriously.
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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology

Philosophical Hedonism

Philosophical Hedonism

Philosophical Hedonism holds that human actions should be motivated by the pursuit of pleasure.

How should we live? We pursue education so that we can get a career, so we can make money, so we can buy things, so we can … what? Presumably, we do not want a career or money just to have a career or money, but in order to be happy. The idea that the morally good or “right” motivation for acting is the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain is called hedonism.

Hedonism can be traced to the sixth-century BCE Indian philosophy Carvaka, but its most influential form was in the ancient Greek teachings of Aristippus of Cyrene (c. 435–356 BCE) and Epicurus (341–270 BCE). Epicurus said in a letter to Meneoceus, “[We] do everything for the sake of being free of pain and mental distress.”

Regarding pleasure as the only valuable pursuit, hedonism sets itself apart from other widely accepted moral views, such as that a person has moral duties to do certain things regardless of whether they make them happy (deontology) and that a person has obligations to do whatever God commands, irrespective of the impact on their own welfare (divine command theory).

However, philosophical hedonism should be distinguished from the mere pursuit of pleasure. While some accuse hedonists of advocating a life of debauchery, philosophical hedonists reject this characterization. Epicurus argued that while every pleasure is good, “it does not follow that every pleasure is a choice worthy without qualification.” He extolled traditional virtues of self-sufficiency, prudence, and even a healthy diet, since they too contribute to a lifetime of happiness. Though hedonism was rejected by many influential moral philosophers (such as Thomas Aquinas and Immanuel Kant), it continues to play an influential role in contemporary moral and political thought.

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

“I Must Be Myself” from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”

'Self-Reliance and Other Essays' by Ralph Waldo Emerson (ISBN 0486277909) 

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803—1882) was an American essayist and poet. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Emerson was the fourth child of a Unitarian minister. Throughout his writings, Emerson is keenly concerned with the growth of the individual—the development of the individual’s powers, potentials, and capacities—an emphasis demonstrating that his thought is thoroughly centered on educational concerns.

Emerson was one of his era’s leading liberals. His prime meaning in any case is self-reliance intellectually and in everyday life. He urges us to trust ourselves, to recognize human divinity and avoid imitation. It is a simple message but all-important – and far easier said than done.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance may be a short essay, but it is packed with advice which is probably more relevant today than it has ever been. At only 30 pages, Self-Reliance has the qualities of a concentrate, perhaps the very essence of personal development. Self-Reliance was one of the key pieces of writing which helped carve the ethic of American individualism, and forms part of the intellectual bedrock of today’s self-help writers. Relish what really matters in your life; the simple things like your friends and family, your hobbies and perhaps your work. Enjoy the freedoms you have and recognise the value of living a normal life outside of the public eye.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-reliance is one of the major writing that helped carve the ethnic American individualism and form the intellectual basis of today’s writers. The thought of self-reliance inspires people not to conform to social conventions but to rely on themselves. When you are working on your next task, give it your full concentration and really put the effort in to produce the best possible end result. Even if it doesn’t lead to glittering success, you should be proud of yourself for doing your very best.

Emerson’s essay begins by reconstructing volving theory of recognition and the central role it played for his concept of ‘self-reliance.’ Initially having adopted the theorizations of recognition developed by Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, Emerson came to articulate the idea of self-reliance by way of developing an alternative approach to recognition, in which the source allocating recognition is neither society nor an inborn moral sense, but rather the transcendentally conceptualized self. Emerson’s shift towards self-recognition poses questions seldom asked in the contemporary debate on recognition.

“… Live no longer to the expectation of these deceived and deceiving people with whom we converse. Say to them, O father, O mother, O wife, O brother, O friend, I have lived with you after appearances hitherto. Henceforward I am the truth’s. Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no law less than the eternal law. I will have no covenants but proximities. I shall endeavour to nourish my parents, to support my family, to be chaste husband of one wife,—but these relations I must fill after a new and unprecedented way. I appeal from your customs.

I must be myself.

I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me, and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not selfishly, but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men’s, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth. Does this sound harsh to-day? You will soon love what is dictated by your nature as well as mine, and, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last.”

Full essay is here. Emerson wrote Self-Reliance in 1841—well over 160 years ago—and I believe it provides both a delightful antidote for the times in which we live and also holds up an ideal with which to guide us. Self-reliance—the ability to stand on our own two feet and live a life which is our own and not borrowed from someone else, or one which is meaningful and not superficial—is indispensable in instituting our own exclusive identity. So if, like me, you think self-reliance is important, read on.

“A man,” Emerson writes, “should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages.” There is a certain ambiguity in this statement concerning the question of whether social approbation is categorically distinct from the “grace with the loftier deities” or linked to it by inversion. One also notices Emerson’s rhetorically combining Roman polytheism with Protestant grace, the distinction between lesser and loftier deities amounting to a kind of Protestant doctrine of two kingdoms in which two different economies of recognition are at work. Find somewhere you can think and reflect. It might be the public library or the bottom of your garden. It doesn’t matter where, as long as you spend some time thinking and don’t forget to take a notebook to jot down your thoughts. Everything we do depends for its quality on the thinking we do first.

The great philosopher of affirmation is concurrently the great teacher of dissatisfaction, even disappointment. In each of us, the energies of hope should make room for the emotion of philosophical acceptance of the world, as it must be. If you want to feel at peace go for a walk in the countryside and learn to appreciate your surroundings. Better still, do some sport as this releases serotonin which is so critical to the feeling of well-being. You don’t need to spend lots of money on a new car to make yourself feel happy; just go for a run.

Having established these fundamental dimensions of Emerson’s theory of inspiration, it is crucial to see that Emerson’s praxis of eloquence was geared at putting inspiration into effect. This he attempted to achieve by activating the reader’s imagination.

Quotations from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”

  • “Discontent is the want of self-reliance: it is infirmity of will.”
  • “It is easy to see that a greater self-reliance must work a revolution in all the offices and relations of men; in their religion; in their education; in their pursuits; their modes of living; their association; in their property; in their speculative views.”
  • “I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions.”
  • “You take the way from man, not to man. All persons that ever existed are its forgotten ministers.”
  • “In this pleasing contrite wood-life which God allows me, let me record day by day my honest thought without prospect or retrospect, and, I cannot doubt it, it will be found symmetrical, though I mean it not and see it not. My book should smell of pines and resound with the hum of insects.”
  • “Society is a wave. The wave moves onward, but the water of which it is composed does not.”
  • 'The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson' by Ralph Waldo Emerson (ISBN 0679783229) “We fancy it rhetoric, when we speak of eminent virtue. We do not yet see that virtue is Height, and that a man or a company of men, plastic and permeable to principles, by the law of nature must overpower and ride all cities, nations, kings, rich men, poets, who are not.”
  • “And so the reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance.”
  • “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”
  • “Inasmuch as the soul is present, there will be power not confident but agent.”
  • “Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other.”
  • “In the Will work and acquire, and thou hast chained the wheel of Chance, and shalt sit hereafter out of fear from her rotations.”
  • “The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.”
  • “Life only avails, not the having lived.”
  • “Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. The force of character is cumulative.”
  • “We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents.”
  • “I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.”
  • “Insist on yourself; never imitate.”
  • “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.”
  • “Truth is handsomer than the affectation of love. Your goodness must have some edge to it,—else it is none”
  • “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.”
  • “Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.”
  • “There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. For of one will, the actions will be harmonious, however unlike they seem.”
  • “I do this not selfishly, but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men’s, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth.”
  • “If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions.”
  • “Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.”
  • “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”
  • “Travelling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places.”
  • “The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.”3/29/2016
  • “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.”
  • “Character teaches above our wills.”
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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Your One Chance to Break Free from the Cubicle

Break Free from the Cubicle

Almost everyone stuck in a cubicle dreams of starting his own business. Of course, starting a company while employed by another one can be tricky. Amongst thousands of books on pursuing your dreams and entrepreneurism, Ben Arment’s ‘Dream Year: Make the Leap from a Job You Hate to a Life You Love’ stands out above the crowd. Here’s some of Ben’s unique blend of insight, practical advice and inspiration.

  1. 'Dream Year: Make the Leap from a Job You Hate to a Life You Love' by Ben Arment (ISBN 159184729X) It will be scary, but you should leave your office career to launch your own company, “We are motivated by two conflicting fears in life: the fear of failure and the fear of insignificance.”
  2. Lack of time isn’t a valid excuse. “The truth is, you don’t have extra time to pursue your dream. No one does. We have to remove time from some other endeavor … sacrifice is painful but necessary.”
  3. You’ll need monetary help. “Don’t let rainmaking deter you …. Once you taste the sweet victory of a positive response, you’ll not only become more comfortable [with it], you might even enjoy it.”
  4. Be ready to lose sleep. “Work in the margins of your life—the late nights and early mornings—to make it a full-time reality …this is your one chance to break free from the cubicle.”
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Posted in Education and Career

Carlos Slim Thinks We Should Work Less

The constant struggle to lead a balanced life is getting harder. As long as clocks have ticked, professionals have complained about overwork and lack of time. The way we live when we are not working affects what we accomplish when we are.

Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire recently called for a “radical overhaul in the way we work” at a business conference in Paraguay. Rather than the usual five-day workweek, he appealed that it we better put in three 11-hour days a week.

'The World's Richest Man: Carlos Slim In His Own Words ' by Tanni Haas (ISBN 1932841849) Carlos Slim expressed that having four days off a week would leave us invigorated and enthusiastic when we return for our three, albeit long, days of work and toil. Furthermore, that kind of schedule would help us to work until we are 70 or 75.

Slim also expressed his belief that this far-reaching change to work-life would provide younger workers more opportunity to enter the workforce and be a positive influence for the economy and financial markets. Overall, Slim believed that such a move would generate a healthier and more productive labor force, while tackling financial challenges linked to longevity.

Americans are the first to be censured for obsessive work habits and their fanatic sense of work-life. Many American professionals would love to consider the idea of working just five 11-hour days, let alone three, instead of the weekly 60, 70, or more hours that many workaholics put in. But then again, Parkinson’s Law famously states that work expands to fill the time allotted. So Carlos Slim might be right.

Recommended Reading: ‘The World’s Richest Man: Carlos Slim In His Own Words ‘ by Tanni Haas has an intensely rich, succinct compilation of insights as enunciated by one of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs.

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Posted in Health and Fitness Philosophy and Wisdom

Three Types of Hedonism

Three Types of Hedonism: Psychological, Evaluative, Rationalizing

Hedonism is a broad category of philosophical though that encompasses any system that places “pleasure” as being the intrinsic good, or the only thing that is considered good by itself independent of all other things.

Hedonism is the philosophical principle that places pleasure and gratification as the intrinsic good. In other words, pleasure and gratification are the only things that can be deemed good by themselves independent of all other things.

There are three distinct types of hedonism differentiated by proponents of the doctrine that enjoyment is the good:

  1. Psychological Hedonism: Pleasure is the solitary possible purpose of desire or pursuit. This may be held on observational bases, or be thought to be dictated by the significance of ‘desire.’
  2. Evaluative Hedonism: Pleasure is what we are supposed to desire and pursue.
  3. Rationalizing Hedonism: Pleasure is the only object that makes a pursuit sensible.

References

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Posted in Faith and Religion Mental Models and Psychology

Self-Quiz: Telltale Signs of a Workaholic

Telltale Signs of a Workaholic

In America, partly as part of the Calvinist mindset, a man who provided well for his family was valued, even if he was never around for his family because he was working so much. Over time, this fascination with vocation became a psychological thrust to work much too hard for no apparent reason. Even today, many Americans feel guilty if we are not working very hard. The society, taken as a whole, has come to think very highly of people who hate what the workaholics do: the push for work-life balance has irrationally stigmatized workaholics and, somewhat justifiably, pushed the sense of balance as more virtuous than having a job somebody loves. They’ve implied that people who work long hours are those who control themselves. But, many people work long hours for a more justifiable reason to advance themselves, provide for their families, and make the world a better place.

Workaholism is an addictive behavior that directly applies to the core aspect of economic life: working. Even if workaholism may help you climb the corporate ladder and get ahead at work, it can adversely affect your physical and emotional well-being. Here is a simple seven-point quiz to help you check if your life-work balance is out of sync.

  1. Are you preoccupied with work? Do you have difficulty leaving the office? Do you tend to work from home after before retiring?
  2. Are you avoiding delegation? Do you believe that many tasks can be handled only by you?
  3. Do you have a tendency to see no distinction between leisure time and work time? Are you mingling your personal and your professional lives?
  4. Do you tend to invent alibi to conceal your obsession with work?
  5. Is relaxing hard for you? When you’re on vacation, is your mind still wired to the office? Do you have a compulsive urge to contact your office to check-up on things?
  6. Have you let your employer define your sense of identity? Do you identify yourself with anything other than work?
  7. Are you shunning your private life? Are you steering clear of responsibilities at home? Are you dodging social responsibilities? Are you avoiding members of your family and friends?
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Posted in Education and Career

What Meanings Do You Give to Your Life?

What is The Good Life

This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job, quit. If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love. Stop over analyzing, life is simple. All emotions are beautiful. When you eat, appreciate every last bite. Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them. Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once; seize them. Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them, so go out and start creating. Live your dream, and wear your passion. Life is short.

In his remarkable 2005 commencement address (transcript, video) at Stanford University, Apple founder Steve Jobs urged graduates to pursue their dreams:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Consciously or unconsciously, we all are trying to figure out what is the good life. For a long time it will seem to you that life will begin soon, but there’s always some impediment in the way. Perhaps you will feel that there’s some unfinished business, something to be achieved, time to be spent, a debt to be reimbursed, some task to be completed, before life—real life—would begin. Along the way, you will reconcile. You will settle. You will settle for something less. You will reconcile your ambitions with what is possible. You surrender to the pressures of life. Do you have to?

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Protestant Work Ethic: Work as Worship

Protestant Work Ethic: Work as Worship

The Protestant Reformation brought about a far-reaching affirmation of the dignity of all sincere occupations—including manual labor—as vocations that signify a calling to the worship of God. Contrary to the emphasis placed in the Catholic tradition on the sacrifice of the mass, the holy sacrament, the confession, and other rituals, the convictions of work as worship, predestination, and salvation of vocational success were a dominant outcome of the Protestant Reformation.

Nearly 500 years ago, Martin Luther (1483-1546) asserted that the term ‘vocation’ should be applied not only to those ‘called’ into the priesthood or a holy order. Instead, Luther preached that all Christians have a vocation: wherever God has placed one—from garbage collection to sporting star—was one’s vocation. Therefore, one should do pursue that vocation to the “Glory of God” with as much energy and commitment as one could gather.

Later on, John Calvin (1509-1564) explained that the only way to ensure that one is part of the “chosen” is to ensure that one reflects in one’s life the fruits of one’s spirit (patience, perseverance, hard work, stewardship, etc.).

Martin Luther’s and John Calvin’s theological concepts and the emphasis on conscientiousness, hard work, and thrift as signs of a person’s salvation in the Christian faith became core to the Protestant Work Ethic or the Puritan Work Ethic. These renovations to the practice of faith gave birth to an industry and focus that the world had never before seen.

The Protestant Work Ethic (regard your labor as your gift to God and, in so doing, provide the evidence that you are chosen for redemption) became a defining quality of the western world.

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Posted in Education and Career Philosophy and Wisdom