Saturday, March 22, 2014

Adam Smith on why we pursue fame despite its high costs

"It is [the public's attention and approval], which, notwithstanding the restraint it imposes, notwithstanding the loss of liberty with which it is attended, renders greatness the object of envy, and compensates, in the opinion mankind, all that toil, all that anxiety, all those mortifications which must be undergone in the pursuit of it; and what is of yet more consequence, all that leisure, all that ease, all that careless security, which are forfeited for[ever] by the acquisition [of fame and success]."
From The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Could helping others be just an excuse for not going for it?

"How much easier is self-sacrifice than self-realization!" - Eric Hoffer in Reflections on the Human Condition
It's not that helping others isn't important or worthwhile or even all important depending on the situation.  It could be that self-sacrifice is just easier than going out on your own, facing failure everyday, and pursuing your goals.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Do what you enjoy doing

"And now for your blunders.  On your own showing you first of all allowed the patient to read a book he really enjoyed, because he enjoyed it and not in order to make clever remarks about it to his new friends.  In the second place, you allowed him to walk down to the old mill and have tea there - a walk through country he really likes, and taken alone."
 "The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring two-pence what other people say about it, is by that very fact forearmed against some of our subtlest modes of attack."
From The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Be bold

"Security is mostly a superstition.  It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.  Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.  Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." - Hellen Keller.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why we should read

"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for." - Socrates.
And remember that books are not the only source of timeless wisdom.  Quotes like this one pack quite a punch.  So start immediately with a quote or two when you need some life wisdom and mental energy, then move on to books you want to read (not books that you are "supposed" to read).

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Protect your moments of inspiration and encouragement

Compare:
"That which is unique and worthwhile in us makes itself felt only in flashes.  If we do not know how to catch and savor the flashes we are without growth and without exhilaration." - Eric Hoffer
And
"Men thin away to insignificance and oblivion quite as often by not making the most of good spirits when they have them as by lacking good spirits when they are indispensable." - From Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy.
It's important that we build on our moments of inspiration.  We can act immediately on our thoughts.  We can also preserve our ideas and musings by writing them down. Your journal doesn't have to be a diary, and your entries don't need to be long and formal.  Instead, use a journal more as a scratch book where you can write anything that catches your imagination.  That could be words, phrases, sentences, or quotes.  Or even a recipe, or driving directions, or whatever.

When you review your journal, in addition to new ideas, you'll find that similar thoughts and ideas pop up. We know how we want to live, what values to live by.  But we forget constantly, and thus we need reminding constantly.  A journal is a tool that reminds you of your most important ideas and values.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

One-sided love

"Don't take on about her Gabriel.  What difference does it make whose sweetheart she is, since she can't be yours?"
"That's the very thing I say to myself," said Gabriel.
From Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy.

File under "things easier said than done."  Doesn't mean it's bad advice.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Skill vs. Luck

"[T]he aggregate of profits accruing from this single investment decision far exceeded the sum of all the others realized through 20 years of wide-ranging operations . . . involving much investigation, endless pondering, and countless individual decisions.  
Are there morals to this story of value to the intelligent investor?  An obvious one is that there are several different ways to make and keep money in Wall Street.  Another not so obvious, is that one lucky break, or one supremely shrewd decision - can we tell then apart? - may count for more than a lifetime of journeyman efforts.  But behind the luck or the crucial decision, there must usually exist a background of preparation and disciplined capacity.  One needs to be sufficiently established and recognized so that these opportunities will knock at his particular door."
From The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The most important battles are those within . . .

"Dig inside yourself. Inside there is a spring of goodness ready to gush at any moment, if you keep digging."
From Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.