Golden Rules for Everyday Life (Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov)

  • By beginning at the beginning, with little things, you will be able to go much further.
  • It is time you understand that true spirituality means that you yourself become the living expression of the divine teaching you follow.
  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking that tiredness is always the result of overwork; it is very often caused by a wasteful use of energy.
  • It is a rule of the spiritual life that, when you receive a truth, you must put it into practice in your life before trying to pass it on to others.
  • So never forget: the greatest secret, the most important key, to your happiness and progress is gratitude. As long as you appreciate all that heaven gives you, it will never abandon you.
  • Look at the newly opened rose: everyone is attracted by its delicious scent, even bees and butterflies. Yes, because it has opened its petals. So, why keep your petals closed? Why refuse to give off any perfume?
  • It is important to understand the power and efficacy of love. Whatever you do, do it with love… or don’t do it at all. For anything you do without love only fatigues and poisons you, and you need not be surprised to find yourself drained and ill. People are always asking how they can become tireless: the secret is to love what you do, for it is love that awakens your latent energies.
  • Never let your inner feelings of malaise reach such proportions that you can no longer put them right. Suppose you absentmindedly stepped in some wet concrete and are so lost in thought that you neglect to step out of it again; what will the result be? The concrete will harden; in fact, it will become so hard that someone will have to go and get some tools to break it before you can get your feet free, and you may well be hurt in the process. Well, this is what happens in the inner life: if you fail to put your mistakes or faults right very quickly, it will be too late. The remedy will be very costly and may well cause further damage.
  • It is love that provides the greatest possibilities for success; it is love that makes us more capable, more lucid and more perceptive; it is love that prepares the right conditions for the most harmonious and constructive manifestations. But who ever thinks about love? Sexual love… yes, of course: everybody is interested in that, but impersonal, spiritual love is the last thing they think about. … The greatest secret, the most effective method, is to love. When you leave your house in the morning, think of greeting all the creatures of the universe. Tell them, ‘I love you. I love you….,’ and then go off to work. For the rest of the day, you will feel happy and great-hearted, and your relations with others will be all the easier, because you have started the day by sending your love to every creature in the universe, and from every direction that love comes back to you. There are so many different things you can do to make life worth living.
  • Nobody is asking you to imitate those mystics and ascetics who fled from the temptations and difficulties of the world and to neglect your material life by dedicating yourself exclusively to prayer and meditation. On the other hand, more and more people today are totally absorbed by material concerns, and that is not the right solution either. Everyone should be in a position to work, earn a living and have their own family and, at the same time, possess the inner light and the methods they need to work at their own evolution. You have to develop both the spiritual and the material aspects of your lives, to be in the world while, at the same time, living a heavenly life. This is the goal you should aim for. It is difficult, of course, because you are still at the stage where, when you engage in spiritual activities, you let material affairs go to pieces and, when you take care of material affairs, you neglect your spiritual life. But you must have both. Both are necessary and both are possible. How? Well, before undertaking anything, always say to yourself, ‘My goal is to obtain true light, love and power: will I get them by doing this or that?’ Examine the situation carefully, and if you see that such or such an activity or interest deflects you from your ideal, abandon it.
  • So many people ruin their lives in their eagerness to acquire all kinds of possessions worth far less than life itself. Have you ever thought about this? If you learned to give priority to life, if you took care to treasure and protect it and keep it in a state of perfect integrity and purity, you would have far more opportunity to fulfill all your wishes, for when life is enlightened, illuminated and intense it gives us all the rest. You take life for granted and think you are free to do whatever you like with it, but one day, after years spent in the pursuit of your own ambitions, you will be so exhausted and disillusioned that if you weigh up all you have gained against everything you have lost you will find you have lost almost everything and gained practically nothing. People say, ‘Since I possess life, I can use it to get all the other things I want—money, pleasure, knowledge, glory, etc.,’ and they keep drawing on their reserves, until one day there is nothing left and they are forced to give up all their activities. It is senseless to behave like that, because in losing your life you lose everything. The essential thing is life itself, and you must protect, purify and strengthen it and reject whatever hampers or inhibits it, because it is thanks to life that you will obtain health, beauty, power, intelligence, love and true wealth. So, from now on, work at beautifying, intensifying and sanctifying your life.
  • How does the pearl oyster set about making a pearl? It all starts with a grain of sand that gets into its shell and begins to irritate it. ‘Oh, dear!’ says the oyster. ‘This is terrible; what a problem. What can I do to get rid of it?’ So the oyster begins to reflect: it concentrates and meditates and asks for guidance until, one day, it realizes that it will never be able to get rid of the grain of sand. But what it can do is wrap the grain up in such a way that it will be smooth, and shiny and velvety. And then, when it has succeeded in doing this, it is very happy and says to itself, ‘Ah, I’ve overcome a problem.’ For thousands of years the pearl oyster has been there, as a lesson to human beings, but they have never understood it. And what does it teach us? Simply that, if we wrap our difficulties and all the things that annoy us in a soft, luminous, opalescent matter, we will be very rich indeed. This is what you have to understand. So, from now on, instead of complaining and doing nothing to stop yourself from getting worn down by your difficulties, set to work to secrete this special matter and wrap them up in it. Every time you have to put up with a painful situation or somebody you really can’t bear, be glad, and say, ‘Lord God, what luck: another grain of sand, and a potential new pearl.’ If you really understand the example of the pearl oyster, you will have enough work to keep you busy for the rest of your life.
  • Before trying to educate others, look after your own education, otherwise it is like trying to remove a speck of dirt from a friend’s face when your own hands are black with coal dust: you will simply make him or her dirtier than before. Those who start trying to enlighten and reform others without having reformed themselves first can only lead them astray. So, leave everybody else alone, and concentrate on improving yourself. What is the point of moaning about the imperfections of humankind? Pay no attention to that; give all your attention to getting rid of your own imperfections. In that way, you will have less to worry about, you will stop wearing yourself out, and your evolution will progress much more rapidly, because you will be concentrating on improving yourself. Believe me, you must leave others to do as they please and work at yourself. You yourself must advance and become an example for others. You will never reform others by preaching at them, however eloquently, but if you are an example they will follow you in spite of themselves. This is why, instead of expecting harmony to reign in your family, neighborhood and place of work— and complaining when it doesn’t—you must begin by achieving it within yourself. When others see how much you have changed, they will feel they ought to change, too, for it is contagious; it is magic. Human beings who make a sincere effort to change release forces that make those around them do the same.
  • You are often anxious about the future and worry about possible accidents, illness or poverty, but why poison your life by thinking of all the bad things that might happen? We never know what the future holds, that’s true, but the best way to avoid disasters you fear is to try to live sensibly in the present. The future will be what you have made it in the present. It is today that is important. Just as the present is a consequence, a result of the past, the future will be a projection of the present. Everything hangs together; past, present and future cannot be separated. The future will be built on the foundations you lay today, and, of course, if those foundations are faulty, it is no good hoping for a very bright future. If they are solidly built, on the other hand, there will be no need to worry: with healthy roots you will get a strong trunk and healthy branches and fruit. The past is past but it has given birth to the present, and the present contains the roots of the future. This means that you must build your future in advance by improving the present. To do this, you must say to yourself, every day, ‘Let me see, what have I said and done today? What kind of thoughts and feelings have I had?’ And if you have done something wrong, if you have entertained bad thoughts and feelings, you must realize that this puts you on the side of the forces of darkness and that those forces will destroy your future. If you have lived badly during the day, you must at least try, before going to sleep, to lessen the bad effects by having better thoughts and deciding to do better the next day. Your good thoughts will be like a swarm of bees that clean and mend everything overnight so that you can start off next morning in better conditions.



Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (Elizabeth Gilbert)

  • Done is better than good.
  • Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy.
  • Gratitude, always. Always, gratitude.
  • I do what I do because I like doing it.
  • If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.
  • Everybody imitates before they can innovate.
  • Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.
  • Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them.
  • It ain’t what they call you; it’s what you answer to.
  • You don’t need to conduct autopsies on your disasters.
  • People’s judgments about you are none of your business.
  • Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest.
  • Perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat.
  • You must learn how to become a deeply disciplined half-ass.
  • You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.
  • It might have been done before, but it hasn’t been done by you!
  • We are all just beginners here, and we shall all die beginners.
  • Live a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
  • Own your disappointment, acknowledge it for what it is, and move on.
  • living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
  • We don’t have time for perfect. In any event, perfection is unachievable.
  • Frustration is not an interruption of your process; frustration is the process.
  • Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?
  • So many people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills.
  • failure has a function. It asks you whether you really want to go on making things.
  • It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at.
  • And since creativity is still the most effective way for me to access wonder, I choose it.
  • Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart. The rest of it will take care of itself.
  • What is a creative living? Any life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
  • You own reasons to make are reason enough. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.
  • You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.
  • What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?
  • If inspiration is allowed to unexpectedly enter you, it is also allowed to unexpectedly exit you.
  • Learning how to endure your disappointment and frustration is part of the job of a creative person.
  • A good-enough novel violently written now is better than a perfect novel meticulously written never.
  • Give your mind a job to do, or else it will find a job to do, and you might not like the job it invents.
  • It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes, too.
  • The clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.
  • Because the truth is, I believe that creativity is a force of enchantment—not entirely human in its origins.
  • Whatever you do, try not to dwell too long on your failures. You don’t need to conduct autopsies on your disasters.
  • Most of their lives, most people just walk around saying: No, No, No, No, No. Then again, someday you just might say yes.
  • When I refer to creative living,… I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
  • Ideas of every kind are constantly galloping toward us, constantly pass through us, constantly trying to get our attention.
  • Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me.
  • Your own reasons to create are reason enough. Merely by pursuing what you love, you may inadvertently end up helping us plenty.
  • At such times, I can always steady my life one more by returning to my soul. I ask it, And what is it that you want, dear one?”
  • Don’t abandon your creativity the moment things top being easy or rewarding — because that’s the moment when interesting beings.
  • Through the mere act of creating something—anything—you might inadvertently produce work that is magnificent, eternal, or important.
  • Keep your eyes open. Listen. Follow your curiosity. Ideas are constantly trying to get our attention. Let them know you’re available.
  • Every time you express a complaint about how difficult and tiresome it is to be creative, inspiration takes another step away from you.
  • The Romans didn’t believe that an exceptionally gifted person was a genius; they believe that an exceptionally gifted person had a genius.
  • What is creativity? ‘Creativity is a crushing chore and a glorious mystery. The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.
  • Embrace creativity and do not care about the results. It’s better to be a beginner until the end of life than waiting forever to be perfect.
  • There’s no dishonor in having a job. What is dishonorable is scaring away your creativity by demanding that it pay for your entire existence.
  • If you can’t learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you’ll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting.
  • This is how I want to spend my life — collaborating with forces of inspiration that I can neither see, nor prove, nor command, nor understand.
  • If you don’t learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you’ll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting.
  • If you’re going to live your life based on delusions (and you are, because we all do), then why not at least select a delusion that is helpful?
  • Every time you express a complaint about how difficult and tiresome it is to be creative, inspiration takes another step away from you, offended.
  • Let inspiration lead you wherever it wants. For most of history people just made things, and they didn’t make such a big freaking deal out of it.
  • Pure creativity is something better than a necessity; it’s a gift. It’s the frosting. Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe.
  • When I refer to ‘creative living,’ I am speaking more broadly. I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
  • But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing (or even their comprehension) in order to make your own creative work.
  • If I am not actively creating something, then chances are I am probably actively destroying something — myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind.
  • Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.
  • Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome.
  • This is a world, not a womb. You can look after yourself in this world while looking after your creativity at the same time — just as people have done for ages.
  • This, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?
  • You’re not required to save the world with your creativity. Your art not only doesn’t have to be original, in other words, it also doesn’t have to be important.
  • Your life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous, and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you’re still here.
  • The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to discover those jewels––that’s creative living.
  • Often what keeps you from creative living is your self-absorption (your self-doubt, your self-disgust, your self-judgment, your crushing sense of self-protection).
  • So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?
  • creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that—merely by being here—you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.
  • But it’s a terrible master-because the only thing your ego ever wants to reward, reward, and more reward. Always remember this: you are not only and ego; you are also a soul.
  • One of the oldest and most generous tricks that the universe plays on human beings is to bury strange jewels within us all, and then stand back to see if we can ever find them.
  • I have never created anything in my life that did not make me feel, at some point or another, like I was the guy who just walked into a fancy ball wearing a homemade lobster costume.
  • Work with all your heart, because—I promise—if you show up for your work day after day after day after day, you just might get lucky enough some random morning to burst right into bloom.
  • You can clear out whatever obstacles are preventing you from living your most creative life, with the simple understanding that whatever is bad for you is probably also bad for your work.
  • Fear is always triggered by creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something to be dealt with.
  • If you don’t have the courage, let’s try to get you some. Because creative living is a path for the brave. We all know this. And we all know that when courage dies, creativity dies with it.
  • The guardians of high culture will try to convince you that the arts belong only to a chosen few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying. We are all the chosen few. We are all makers by design.
  • You have extraordinary treasures hidden within you. Bringing forth those treasures takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion. We simply do not have time anymore to think so small.
  • Basically, your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: He hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull, and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone ‘safe’.
  • As long as I’m still moving in that direction—toward wonder–then I know I will always be fine in my soul, which is where it counts. And since creativity is still the most effective way for me to access wonder, I choose it.
  • Fear is always triggered by creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into reals of an uncertain outcome. And fear hates an uncertain outcome. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something to be dealt with.
  • So take your insecurities and your fears and hold them upside down by their ankles and shake yourself free of all your cumbersome ideas about what you require (and how much you need to pay) in order to become creatively legitimate.
  • We must understand the need for perfectionism is a corrosive waste of time, because nothing is ever beyond criticism. No matter how many hours you spend to render something flawless, somebody will always be able to find fault with it.
  • People don’t do this kind of thing because they have all kinds of extra time and energy for it; they do this kind of thing because their creativity matters to them enough that they are willing to make all kinds of extra sacrifices for it.
  • Anyhow, the older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me.
  • [Believe that] ideas are alive, that ideas do seek the most available human collaborator, that ideas do have a conscious will, that ideas do move from soul to soul, that ideas will always try to seek the swiftest and most efficient conduit to the earth (just as lightning does).
  • But to yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.
  • A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner — continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you — is a fine art, in and of itself.
  • Creative entitlement doesn’t mean behaving like a princess, or acting as though the world owes you anything whatsoever. No, creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that—merely by being here—you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.
  • The paradox that you need to comfortably inhabit, if you wish to live a contented creative life, goes something like this: ‘My creative expression must be the most important thing in the world to me (if I am to live artistically), and it also must not matter at all (if I am to live sanely).’
  • The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust—and those elements are universally accessible. Which does not mean that creative living is always easy; it merely means that creative living is always possible.
  • I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more that a deep existential angst the says, again and again, ‘I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.
  • You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don’t understand the outcome.
  • You have treasures hidden within you — extraordinary treasures — and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.
  • My soul, when I tend to it, is a far more expansive and fascinating source of guidance than my ego will ever be, because my soul desires only one thing: wonder. And since creativity is my most efficient pathway to wonder, I take refuge there, and it feeds my soul, and it quiets the hungry ghost—thereby saving me from the most dangerous aspect of myself.
  • Fierce trust asks you to stand strong within this truth: You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don’t understand the outcome.
  • You are free, because everyone is too busy fussing over themselves to worry all that much about you. Go be whomever you want to be, then. Do whatever you want to do. Pursue whatever fascinates you and brings you to life. Create whatever you want to create — and let it be stupendously imperfect, because it’s exceedingly likely that nobody will even notice. And that’s awesome.
  • Are you considering becoming a creative person? Too late, you already are one. To even call somebody a creative person is almost laughably redundant; creativity is the hallmark of our species. We have the senses for it; we have the curiosity for it; we have the opposable thumbs for it; we have the rhythm for it; we have the language and the excitement and the innate connection to divinity for it.
  • Pure creativity is magnificent expressly because it is the opposite of everything else in life that’s essential or inescapable (food, shelter, medicine, rule of law, social order, community and familial responsibility, sickness, loss, death, taxes, etc.). Pure creativity is something better than a necessity; it’s a gift. It’s the frosting. Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe.
  • She said: We all spend our twenties and thirties trying so hard to be perfect, because we’re so worried about what people will think of us. Then we get into our forties and fifties, and we finally start to be free, because we decide that we don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of us. But you won’t be completely free until you reach your sixties and seventies, when you finally realize this liberating truth—nobody was ever thinking about you, anyhow.
  • I have a friend, an aspiring musician, whose sister said to her one day, quite reasonably, What happens if you never get anything out of this? What happens if you pursue your passion forever, but success never comes? How will you feel then, having wasted your entire life for nothing? My friend, with equal reason, replied, If you can’t see what I’m already getting out of this, then I’ll never be able to explain it to you. When it’s for love, you will always do it anyhow.
  • It starts by forgetting about perfect. We don’t have time for perfect. In any event, perfection is unachievable: It’s a myth and a trap and a hamster wheel that will run you to death. The writer Rebecca Solnit puts it well: ‘So many of us believe in perfection, which ruins everything else, because the perfect is not only the enemy of the good; it’s also the enemy of the realistic, the possible, and the fun… The most evil trick about perfectionism, though, is that it disguises itself as a virtue.’
  • Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to recognize the distinction. Bravery means doing something scary. Fearlessness means not even understanding what the word ‘scary’ means. If your goal in life is to become fearless, then I believe you’re already on the wrong path, because the only truly fearless people I’ve ever met were straight-up sociopaths and a few exceptionally reckless three-year-olds—and those aren’t good role models for anyone.
  • You’re not required to save the world with your creativity. Your art not only doesn’t have to be original, in other words, it also doesn’t have to be important. For example, whenever anyone tells me that they want to write a book in order to help other people I always think ‘Oh, please don’t. Please don’t try to help me.’ I mean it’s very kind of you to help people, but please don’t make it your sole creative motive because we will feel the weight of your heavy intention, and it will put a strain upon our souls.
  • Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise—you can make anything. So please calm down now and get back to work, okay? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.
  • Frustration is not an interruption of your process; frustration is the process. The fun part (the part where it doesn’t feel like work at all) is when you’re actually creating something wonderful, and everything’s going great, and everyone loves it, and you’re flying high. But such instances are rare. You don’t just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the weird demands of creative living.
  • Possessing a creative mind, after all, is something like having a border collie for a pet: It needs to work, or else it will cause you an outrageous amount of trouble. Give your mind a job to do, or else it will find a job to do, and you might not like the job it invents (eating the couch, digging a hole through the living room floor, biting the mailman, etc.). It has taken me years to learn this, but it does seem to be the case that if I am not actively creating something, then I am probably actively destroying something (myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind).
  • Recognizing that people’s reactions don’t belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.
  • I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us—albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.
  • but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.
  • Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting—and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home,
  • So whenever that brittle voice of dissatisfaction emerges within me, I can say “Ah, my ego! There you are, old friend!” It’s the same thing when I’m being criticized and I notice myself reaching with outrage, heartache, or defensiveness. It’s just my ego, flaring up and testing its power. In such circumstances, I have learned to watch my heated emotions carefully, but I try not to take them too seriously, because I know that it’s merely my ego that has been wounded–never my soul It is merely my ego that wants revenge, or to win the biggest prize. It is merely my ego that wants to start a Twitter war against a hater, or to sulk at an insult or to quit in righteous indignation because I didn’t get the outcome I wanted.
  • What’s your favorite flavor of shit sandwich? What Manson means is that every single pursuit—no matter how wonderful and exciting and glamorous it may initially seem—comes with its own brand of shit sandwich, its own lousy side effects. As Manson writes with profound wisdom: Everything sucks, some of the time. You just have to decide what sort of suckage you’re willing to deal with. So the question is not so much What are you passionate about? The question is What are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work? Manson explains it this way: If you want to be a professional artist, but you aren’t willing to see your work rejected hundreds, if not thousands, of times, then you’re done before you start. If you want to be a hotshot court lawyer, but can’t stand the eighty-hour workweeks, then I’ve got bad news for you. Because if you love and want something enough—whatever it is—then you don’t really mind eating the shit sandwich that comes with it.
  • You can resist the seductions of grandiosity, blame, and shame. You can support other people in their creative efforts, acknowledging the truth that there’s plenty of room for everyone. You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures. You can battle your demons (through therapy, recovery, prayer, or humility) instead of battling your gifts—in part by realizing that your demons were never the ones doing the work, anyhow. You can believe that you are neither a slave to inspiration nor its master, but something far more interesting—its partner—and that the two of you are working together toward something intriguing and worthwhile. You can live a long life, making and doing really cool things the entire time. You might earn a living with your pursuits or you might not, but you can recognize that this is not really the point. And at the end of your days, you can thank creativity for having blessed you with a charmed, interesting, passionate existence.
  • I think a lot of people quit pursuing creative lives because they’re scared of the word interesting. My favorite meditation teacher, Pema Chödrön, once said that the biggest problem she sees with people’s meditation practice is that they quit just when things are starting to get interesting. Which is to say, they quit as soon as things aren’t easy anymore, as soon as it gets painful, or boring, or agitating. They quit as soon as they see something in their minds that scares them or hurts them. So they miss the good part, the wild part, the transformative part—the part when you push past the difficulty and enter into some raw new unexplored universe within yourself. And maybe it’s like that with every important aspect of your life. Whatever it is you are pursuing, whatever it is you are seeking, whatever it is you are creating, be careful not to quit too soon. As my friend Pastor Rob Bell warns: Don’t rush through the experiences and circumstances that have the most capacity to transform you. Don’t let go of your courage the moment things stop being easy or rewarding. Because that moment? That’s the moment when interesting begins.
  • Let me list for you some of the many ways in which you might be afraid to live a more creative life: You’re afraid you have no talent. You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or—worst of all—ignored. You’re afraid there’s no market for your creativity, and therefore no point in pursuing it. You’re afraid somebody else already did it better. You’re afraid everybody else already did it better. You’re afraid somebody will steal your ideas, so it’s safer to keep them hidden forever in the dark. You’re afraid you won’t be taken seriously. You’re afraid your work isn’t politically, emotionally, or artistically important enough to change anyone’s life. You’re afraid your dreams are embarrassing. You’re afraid that someday you’ll look back on your creative endeavors as having been a giant waste of time, effort, and money. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of discipline. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of work space, or financial freedom, or empty hours in which to focus on invention or exploration. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of training or degree. You’re afraid you’re too fat. (I don’t know what this has to do with creativity, exactly, but experience has taught me that most of us are afraid we’re too fat, so let’s just put that on the anxiety list, for good measure.) You’re afraid of being exposed as a hack, or a fool, or a dilettante, or a narcissist. You’re afraid of upsetting your family with what you may reveal. You’re afraid of what your peers and coworkers will say if you express your personal truth aloud. You’re afraid of unleashing your innermost demons, and you really don’t want to encounter your innermost demons. You’re afraid your best work is behind you. You’re afraid you never had any best work to begin with. You’re afraid you neglected your creativity for so long that now you can never get it back. You’re afraid you’re too old to start. You’re afraid you’re too young to start. You’re afraid because something went well in your life once, so obviously nothing can ever go well again. You’re afraid because nothing has ever gone well in your life, so why bother trying? You’re afraid of being a one-hit wonder. You’re afraid of being a no-hit wonder
  • Perfectionism is a particularly evil lure for women, who, I believe, hold themselves to an even higher standard of performance than do men. There are many reasons why women’s voices and visions are not more widely represented today in creative fields. Some of that exclusion is due to regular old misogyny, but it’s also true that—all too often—women are the ones holding themselves back from participating in the first place. Holding back their ideas, holding back their contributions, holding back their leadership and their talents. Too many women still seem to believe that they are not allowed to put themselves forward at all, until both they and their work are perfect and beyond criticism. Meanwhile, putting forth work that is far from perfect rarely stops men from participating in the global cultural conversation. Just sayin’. And I don’t say this as a criticism of men, by the way. I like that feature in men—their absurd overconfidence, the way they will casually decide, Well, I’m 41 percent qualified for this task, so give me the job! Yes, sometimes the results are ridiculous and disastrous, but sometimes, strangely enough, it works—a man who seems not ready for the task, not good enough for the task, somehow grows immediately into his potential through the wild leap of faith itself. I only wish more women would risk these same kinds of wild leaps. But I’ve watched too many women do the opposite. I’ve watched far too many brilliant and gifted female creators say, I am 99.8 percent qualified for this task, but until I master that last smidgen of ability, I will hold myself back, just to be on the safe side. Now, I cannot imagine where women ever got the idea that they must be perfect in order to be loved or successful. (Ha ha ha! Just kidding! I can totally imagine: We got it from every single message society has ever sent us! Thanks, all of human history!) But we women must break this habit in ourselves—and we are the only ones who can break it. We must understand that the drive for perfectionism is a corrosive waste of time, because nothing is ever beyond criticism. No matter how many hours you spend attempting to render something flawless, somebody will always be able to find fault with it. (There are people out there who still consider Beethoven’s symphonies a little bit too, you know, loud.) At some point, you really just have to finish your work and release it as is—if only so that you can go on to make other things with a glad and determined heart. Which is the entire point. Or should be.


If Life Is a Game, These Are the Rules: Ten Rules for Being Human (Cherie Carter-Scott)

Rule One – You will receive a body

  • Whether you love it or hate it, it’s yours for life, so accept it. What counts is what’s inside.

Rule Two – You will be presented with lessons

  • Life is a constant learning experience, which every day provides opportunities for you to learn more. These lessons specific to you, and learning them ‘is the key to discovering and fulfilling the meaning and relevance of your own life’.
  • Every event in our lives occurs to teach us something about ourselves. Cherie Carter-Scott

Rule Three – There are no mistakes, only lessons

  • Your development towards wisdom is a process of experimentation, trial and error, so it’s inevitable things will not always go to plan or turn out how you’d want. Compassion is the remedy for harsh judgement – of ourselves and others. Forgiveness is not only divine – it’s also ‘the act of erasing an emotional debt’. Behaving ethically, with integrity, and with humour – especially the ability to laugh at yourself and your own mishaps – are central to the perspective that ‘mistakes’ are simply lessons we must learn.
  • You will be Presented with Lessons: You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called ‘life.’ Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or hate them, but you have designed them as part of your curriculum.
  • Remember there are no mistakes, only lessons. Love yourself, trust your choices, and everything is possible.
  • Growth is a process of experimentation, a series of trials, errors, and occasional victories. The failed experiments are as much as part of the process as the experiments that work.
  • Sooner or later the universe usually provides lessons of humility to those who need it the most.

Rule Four – The lesson is repeated until learned. Lessons repeat until learned.

  • What manifest as problems and challenges, irritations and frustrations are more lessons – they will repeat until you see them as such and learn from them. Your own awareness and your ability to change are requisites of executing this rule. Also fundamental is the acceptance that you are not a victim of fate or circumstance – ‘causality’ must be acknowledged; that is to say: things happen to you because of how you are and what you do. To blame anyone or anything else for your misfortunes is an escape and a denial; you yourself are responsible for you, and what happens to you. Patience is required – change doesn’t happen overnight, so give change time to happen.
  • There are no mistakes in life – only lessons. Lessons to be learnt and re-learnt until they are no longer lessons.
  • Lessons will repeat to you in various forms until you have learned them. When you have learned them, you can then go on to the next lesson.

Rule Five – Learning does not end.

  • While you are alive there are always lessons to be learned. Surrender to the ‘rhythm of life’, don’t struggle against it. Commit to the process of constant learning and change – be humble enough to always acknowledge your own weaknesses, and be flexible enough to adapt from what you may be accustomed to, because rigidity will deny you the freedom of new possibilities.

Rule Six – “There” is no better than “here”.

  • The other side of the hill may be greener than your own, but being there is not the key to endless happiness. Be grateful for and enjoy what you have, and where you are on your journey. Appreciate the abundance of what’s good in your life, rather than measure and amass things that do not actually lead to happiness. Living in the present helps you attain peace.
  • When your “there” has become a “here,” you will simply obtain a “there” that will look better to you than your present “here.”

Rule Seven – Others are only mirrors of you.

  • You love or hate something about another person according to what love or hate about yourself. Be tolerant; accept others as they are, and strive for clarity of self-awareness; strive to truly understand and have an objective perception of your own self, your thoughts and feelings. Negative experiences are opportunities to heal the wounds that you carry. Support others, and by doing so you support yourself. Where you are unable to support others it is a sign that you are not adequately attending to your own needs.

Rule Eight – What you make of your life is up to you.

  • You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. Take responsibility for yourself. Learn to let go when you cannot change things. Don’t get angry about things – bitter memories clutter your mind. Courage resides in all of us – use it when you need to do what’s right for you. We all possess a strong natural power and adventurous spirit, which you should draw on to embrace what lies ahead.

Rule Nine – Your answers lie inside of you.

  • Trust your instincts and your innermost feelings, whether you hear them as a little voice or a flash of inspiration. Listen to feelings as well as sounds. Look, listen, and trust. Draw on your natural inspiration.

Rule Ten – You will forget all this at birth.

  • We are all born with all of these capabilities – our early experiences lead us into a physical world, away from our spiritual selves, so that we become doubtful, cynical and lacking belief and confidence. The ten Rules are not commandments, they are universal truths that apply to us all. When you lose your way, call upon them. Have faith in the strength of your spirit. Aspire to be wise – wisdom the ultimate path of your life, and it knows no limits other than those you impose on yourself.

More quotes from the book

  • Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
  • Remind yourself often that self-esteem is ephemeral. You will have it, lose it, cultivate it, nurture it, and be forced to rebuild it over and over again.
  • The health benefits, both mental and physical, of humor are well documented. A good laugh can diffuse tension, relieve stress, and release endorphins into your system, which act as a natural mood elevator.
  • Abundance comes not from amassing, but rather from appreciating. 



Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change (Leo Babauta)

  • Never let your mood determine whether you should do something or not. Mood is a bad indicator of the worthiness of any activity.
  • Use mistakes as feedback. They’re not signs that you’re a bad person or have no discipline.  They’re signs that you need to adjust.
  • It’s not the things that happen to us that cause us to suffer, it’s what we say to ourselves about the things that are happening. Pema Chodron
  • It’s the nature of dealing with other people that we all get frustrated and angry from time to time. We take offense at the other person’s actions.  But the other person’s actions aren’t the problem—it’s our attachment to the ideal we have of how they should behave, which of course is unrealistic, and the real problem is the Childish Mind wanting so badly for that ideal to be true.”
  • Life is full of unforeseen detours. Circumstances happen which seem to completely cut across our plans. Learn to turn your detours into delights. Treat them as special excursions and learning tours. Don’t fight them or you will never learn their purpose. Enjoy the moments and pretty soon you will be back on track again, probably wiser and stronger because of your little detour. Steve Penny
  • Self-reflection has turned out to be one of my most powerful tools in changing my life. It becomes a mirror that helps you see what’s going on in your life, that keeps you from making the same mistakes over and over again, from being on autopilot and failing to course-correct.  Having a blog with readers is like having a journal on steroids—it forces you to reflect on what you’re doing in your life, because if you’re going to share what you’re learning with other people, you first have to reflect on what you’ve learned.
  • When we procrastinate, it’s because we have an urge to run from the difficult, uncomfortable task. We don’t want to do the hard work, or be in confusion, or fail at something, so we get the urge to run.  It stems from the fear of failure, of not being good enough.  The urge comes up, and we follow it!  But we don’t need to follow it.  We can watch the urge to procrastinate, like a cloud, but not act on it.  We can just let it float by, and get to work.  Let the cloud float away, because it doesn’t control you.  The cloud isn’t you.  It’s just a passing phenomenon, one that arises and floats away.
  • The bad habits we’ve formed are often useful to us because they help us deal with stress and boredom. Consider some of the bad habits that fit this bill: smoking, procrastination by browsing the Internet, eating junk food, drinking, addiction to TV or video games, compulsive shopping, biting nails.  All of these habits fill a strong need: they are ways to cope with stress and/ or boredom.  We have formed them as coping mechanisms, and they stick around because we don’t have better ways of coping.  So if we replace them with healthier ways of coping, we get rid of the problems of these bad habits, and start getting the benefits of better habits.
  • If you plunge into really cold water, you’ll be shocked, and you’ll hate it. But if you go into water that’s only a little colder than room temperature, it won’t seem too bad.  After awhile, it’ll feel pretty normal.  Then if the water’s temperature drops a little more, it won’t seem too bad, and soon that will become normal.  You adjust.  When it comes to changing your life, don’t plunge into the freezing water.  You’ll soon get out of the water and be afraid of going in again.  Instead, take a dip in slightly cool water.  Make a very small change.  Adapt to that, then make another.  Gradually, through a series of small changes, you’ll see amazing progress.
  • All my attempts to control things should be abandoned, and I should just accept the ever changing, ever flowing nature of my life as a river. It turns out that this model can bring me peace no matter where I am, no matter what’s happening.  If plans get disrupted, my day gets interrupted by a sudden crisis, information starts coming at me from everywhere, the pace of events starts quickening… I just picture myself as a river, with all of this stuff flowing through me.  I don’t try to hold it, control it, freeze it, but I embrace the flow.  I smile, I breathe, and I focus on one thing.  Then the next.  Not holding tightly to any of them, or wanting the river to be any certain way.
  • Resistance can be overcome by doing the smallest possible step. For meditation, I just had to get my butt on the cushion.  For writing, I just had to open up a document and write a few words.  For cooking healthy food, I just had to get out a knife and an onion.  For studying a language, I just had to press ‘play’ on the audio lesson.  For yoga, I just had to get into child’s pose.  For blogging, I just had to open up the form for writing a new post.  For flossing, I just had to floss one tooth.  For reading, I just had to open up the book and read a sentence. I think you get the point.  Find the minimum viable habit.  The smallest increment of doing the activity.  The least objectionable version.  And the resistance is overcome.
  • Why quit cigarettes or all those sweets you’ve been eating? Isn’t life short and meant to be enjoyed?  Don’t you deserve a treat?  Yes, these are the justifications I gave myself too.  And they’re a load of bull.  Life is short, so why waste it on pure junk?  Those things don’t make you happy—if anything, they made me less and less happy about myself.  I’ve been happier once I gave up those habits and learned to be healthy and trustworthy to myself.  Eating healthy food is a treat.  Living smoke-free is pure bliss.  But the biggest reason to change is that you love yourself.  You don’t need to harm yourself to find happiness and contentment.  Taking care of yourself is a form of self-compassion, and the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll feel good about how you’re loving yourself.
  • Think about your mind like a movie theater. What you say to yourself is what directs and creates the movie that plays in your mind. You can direct and play whatever type of movie you want—action, comedy, romance, horror, adventure, thriller, etc. What you don’t get to do, however, is choose how the events in your movie unfold.  So, if you can’t control how the events unfold, how can you control how the movie plays out?  It’s all in the director’s (your) creative interpretation and expression of how those events influence the main character to think, feel, speak, and act (also you).  You get to take the expression, Everything happens for a reason” and you get to determine why everything happened and for what reason and see to it that the movie plays out in a direction of your choosing.
  • In the end, after letting go of my ideals of perfection, after letting go of my striving for goals, after wanting things to be a certain way… what am I left with? I’m left with Love.  This feeling of boudless love, not for one specific person and not even limited to human beings, can motivate me to get up in the morning and write.  It motivates me to be vegan, because my love extends to animals.  It motivates me to work out, because my love extends to me, and to my kids for whom I’m setting this example of an active lifestyle.  It motivates me to let go of attachments that lead to frustrations, because why fight with someone you love?  Love can move you to be mindful, to appreciate the reality of this current moment, to appreciate and embrace impermanence as something beautiful, to be grateful, to make the most of this dewlike life.  Love can move you to overcome struggles.  Love can transform bitterness into softness, anger into kindness, self-hatred into self-compassion.  Love is both the path, and the mover.
  • You don’t control the results of growing a plant—it will grow however it grows, because we don’t have god-like powers that can control how a plant will grow. You don’t control the outcome, but you do control the inputs.  You can water it, give it more sunlight, feed it some nutrients, give it good soil, make sure bugs aren’t eating it.  You control the inputs and environment, but not the outcome.  So Grow a Plant when you’re making changes: you don’t control the outcome, so you can’t get fixated on it.  Don’t attach too tightly to the results of a change.  Instead, focus on creating a good environment.  Focus mostly on the inputs: what are you bringing to the change?  What is your intention?  What is your effort?  What is your enjoyment and mindfulness?  If you do this with weight loss, then you don’t focus on the weight loss itself.  You focus on the input: what kind of food are you eating? Are you eating mindfully?  Do you have a compassionate intention when it comes to your eating?  Are you exercising mindfully?  Are you giving yourself a good environment to support these changes?  If you focus on the inputs, you don’t know what the plant of your weight loss change will result in.  Maybe it will mean a slimmer version of you, maybe a healthier one, maybe a stronger one with more muscle.  You don’t know exactly, because you can’t sculpt your body like clay.  What you can do is water it, give it sunlight and good nutrients, and see how it grows.
  • What’s the typical feedback loop for someone who doesn’t exercise much? When she does the exercise, she gets discomfort, sweatiness, tiredness, maybe even soreness. That’s negative feedback for doing the exercise.  Not doing the exercise is much more comfortable, because she’s on the Internet doing easy, mildly pleasurable tasks.  That’s positive feedback for not doing the exercise.  The combination of these two feedback loops is why—at first—it’s so hard to form the exercise habit.  People are up against much more than they realize, because no amount of willpower can overcome a setup of feedback loops that go against the behavior they’re trying to create.  And it works like that for every single habit: eating junk food and shopping and playing games are easy habits to create and hard to break, while exercise and mediation and eating vegetables and learning languages are much harder.  All because of the feedback loops.  So what are we to do?  Reverse the feedback loops to get the behavior we want.  We want positive feedback for the habit we’re creating: rewards, praise, physical pleasure, spending time with a friend, getting stars on a chart, continuing a streak, a feeling of accomplishment, enjoying the activity with a smile.  We want negative feedback for not doing the habit: embarrassment of people knowing you didn’t do it, losing a bet, enduring some embarrassing consequence, losing the streak you’ve created, experiencing some kind of difficulty or loss.  Grease the slope.  Create public accountability.  Set up rewards and consequences.  The smarter you’ve set up your feedback loops, the better you’ll be at doing the habit.



A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living (Joseph Campbell)

  • Follow your bliss.
  • Destruction before Creation.
  • Awe is what moves us forward.
  • The spirit is the bouquet of nature.
  • The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
  • You can’t make an omelet without breaking the eggs.
  • If you want resurrection, you must have crucifixion.
  • Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it.
  • Whatever the hell happens, say, ‘This is what I need.’
  • The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.
  • The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.
  • There is no security in following the call to adventure.
  • You should be willing to be eaten also. You are food body.
  • What will they think of me? — Must be put aside for bliss.
  • Nothing is exciting if you know what the outcome is going to be.
  • The warrior’s approach is to say ‘yes’ to life: ‘yea’ to it all.
  • You become mature when you become the authority of your own life.
  • The best way to help mankind is through the perfection of yourself.
  • The hoarder, the one in us that wants to keep, to hold on, must be killed.
  • So that’s what destiny is: simply the fulfillment of the potentialites of the energies
  • Life will always be sorrowful. We can’t change it, but we can change our attitude toward it.
  • The distance of your love is the distance of your life. Love is exactly as strong as life.
  • We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
  • To refuse the call means stagnation. What you don’t experience positively you will experience negatively.
  • One great thing about growing old is that nothing is going to lead to anything. Everything is of the moment.
  • The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.
  • Sri Ramakrishna said, ‘Do not seek illumination unless you seek it as a man whose hair is on fire seeks a pond.’
  • In marriage you are not sacrificing yourself to the other person. You are sacrificing yourself to the relationship.
  • Vegetarianism is the first turning away from life, because life lives on lives. Vegetarians are just eating something that can’t run away.
  • Don’t think of what’s being said, but of what’s talking. Malice? Ignorance? Pride? Love? The goal of the hero’s journey is yourself, finding yourself.
  • In choosing your god, you choose your way of looking at the universe. There are plenty of Gods. Choose yours. The god you worship is the god you deserve.
  • Want to pick up a great book or two this season? Check out our recommendations of hot books selected by your fellow readers, bestselling authors, and more!
  • People say that what we are seeking is a meaning of life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.
  • A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation: ‘As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It’s not as wide as you think.’
  • Every moment is utterly unique and will not be continued in eternity. This fact gives life its poignancy and should concentrate your attention on what you are experiencing now.
  • The only way you can talk about this great tide in which you’re a participant is as Schopenhauer did: the universe is a dream dreamed by a single dreamer where all the dream characters dream too.
  • Writer’s block results from too much head. Cut off your head. Pegasus, poetry, was born of Medusa when her head was cut off. You have to be reckless when writing. Be as crazy as your conscience allows.
  • You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there is a way or a path, it is someone else’s path. You are not on your own path. If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential.
  • Then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see that this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.
  • The call is to leave a certain social situation, move into your own loneliness and find the jewel, the center that’s impossible to find when you’re socially engaged. You are thrown off-center, and when you feel off-center, it’s time to go. This is the departure when the hero feels something has been lost and goes to find it. You are to cross the threshold into new life. It’s a dangerous adventure, because you are moving out of the sphere of the knowledge of you and your community.
  • Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again. You really don’t have a sacred space, a rescue land, until you find somewhere to be that’s not a wasteland, some field of action where there is a spring of ambrosia—a joy that comes from inside, not something external that puts joy into you—a place that lets you experience your own will and your own intention and your own wish so that, in small, the Kingdom is there. I think everybody, whether they know it or not, is in need of such a place.
  • Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called ‘the love of your fate.’ Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, ‘This is what I need.’ It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment—not discouragement—you will find the strength is there. Any disaster that you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow.



A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (William B. Irvine)

  • Indeed, anger can be thought of as anti-joy.
  • Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes.
  • One reason children are capable of joy is because they take almost nothing for granted.
  • It is, after all, hard to know what to choose when you aren’t really sure what you want.
  • What, then, must a person do to have what the Stoics would call a good life? Be virtuous! 
  • The easiest way for us to gain happiness is to learn how to want the things we already have.
  • the easiest way for us to gain happiness is to learn how to want the things we already have.
  • It is impossible that happiness, and yearning for what is not present, should ever be united.”3
  • We need, in other words, to learn how to enjoy things without feeling entitled to them and without clinging to them.
  • One wonderful way to tame our tendency to always want more is to persuade ourselves to want the things we already have.
  • Pre-Socratic philosophy begins … with the discovery of Nature; Socratic philosophy begins with the discovery of man’s soul.
  • Your primary desire, says Epictetus, should be your desire not to be frustrated by forming desires you won’t be able to fulfill.
  • The problem is that bad men obey their lusts as servants obey their masters, and because they cannot control their desires, they can never find contentment.
  • A grand goal in living is the first component of a philosophy of life. This means that if you lack a grand goal in living, you lack a coherent philosophy of life. 
  • Stoic tranquility was a psychological state marked by the absence of negative emotions, such as grief, anger, and anxiety, and the presence of positive emotions, such as joy.
  • To be virtuous, then, is to live as we were designed to live; it is to live, as Zeno put it, in accordance with nature. The Stoics would add that if we do this, we will have a good life.
  • If we seek social status, we give other people power over us: We have to do things calculated to make them admire us, and we have to refrain from doing things that will trigger their disfavor.
  • Besides advising us to avoid people with vices, Seneca advises us to avoid people who are simply whiny, who are melancholy and bewail everything, who find pleasure in every opportunity for complaint.
  • After expressing his appreciation that his glass is half full rather than being completely empty, he will go on to express his delight in even having a glass: It could, after all, have been broken or stolen.
  • Rather than being passive individuals who were grimly resigned to being on the receiving end of the world’s abuse and injustice, the Stoics were fully engaged in life and worked hard to make the world a better place.
  • Stoicism, understood properly, is a cure for a disease. The disease in question is the anxiety, grief, fear, and various other negative emotions that plague humans and prevent them from experiencing a joyful existence.
  • Instead of spending our days enjoying our good fortune, we spend them forming and pursuing new, grander dreams for ourselves. As a result, we are never satisfied with our life. Negative visualization can help us avoid this fate.
  • According to Epictetus, the primary concern of philosophy should be the art of living: Just as wood is the medium of the carpenter and bronze is the medium of the sculptor, your life is the medium on which you practice the art of living.
  • …we can do some historical research to see how our ancestors lived. We will quickly discover that we are living in what to them would have been a dream world that we tend to take for granted things that our ancestors had to live without…
  • Throughout the millennia and across cultures, those who have thought carefully about desire have drawn the conclusion that spending our days working to get whatever it is we find ourselves wanting is unlikely to bring us either happiness or tranquility.
  • By contemplating the impermanence of everything in the world, we are forced to recognize that every time we do something could be the last time we do it, and this recognition can invest the things we do with a significance and intensity that would otherwise be absent.
  • Before Socrates, philosophers were primarily interested in explaining the world around them and the phenomena of that world—in doing what we would now call science. Although Socrates studied science as a young man, he abandoned it to focus his attention on the human condition.
  • We humans are unhappy in large part because we are insatiable; after working hard to get what we want, we routinely lose interest in the object of our desire. Rather than feeling satisfied, we feel a bit bored, and in response to this boredom, we go on to form new, even grander desires.
  • If we are overly sensitive, we will be quick to anger. More generally, says Seneca, if we coddle ourselves, if we allow ourselves to be corrupted by pleasure, nothing will seem bearable to us, and the reason things will seem unbearable is not because they are hard but because we are soft.
  • Although modern philosophers tend to spend their days debating esoteric topics, the primary goal of most ancient philosophers was to help ordinary people live better lives. Stoicism, as we shall see, was one of the most popular and successful of the ancient schools of philosophy.  William B. Irvine
  • Modern individuals rarely see the need to adopt a philosophy of life. They instead tend to spend their days working hard to be able to afford the latest consumer gadget, in the resolute belief that if only they buy enough stuff, they will have a life that is both meaningful and maximally fulfilling.
  • Modern individuals rarely see the need to adopt a philosophy of life. They instead tend to spend their days working hard to be able to afford the latest consumer gadget, in the resolute belief that if only they buy enough stuff, they will have a life that is both meaningful and maximally fulfilling.
  • Stoicism, understood properly, is a cure for a disease. The disease in question is the anxiety, grief, fear, and various other negative emotions that plague humans and prevent them from experiencing a joyful existence. By practicing Stoic techniques, we can cure the disease and thereby gain tranquility.
  • I wrote this book with the following question in mind: If the ancient Stoics had taken it upon themselves to write a guidebook for twenty-first-century individuals—a book that would tell us how to have a good life—what might that book have looked like? The pages that follow are my answer to this question.
  • Indeed, pursuing pleasure, Seneca warns, is like pursuing a wild beast: On being captured, it can turn on us and tear us to pieces. Or, changing the metaphor a bit, he tells us that intense pleasures, when captured by us, become our captors, meaning that the more pleasures a man captures, the more masters will he have to serve.
  • Negative visualization, in other words, teaches us to embrace whatever life we happen to be living and to extract every bit of delight we can from it. But it simultaneously teaches us to prepare ourselves for changes that will deprive us of the things that delight us. It teaches us, in other words, to enjoy what we have without clinging to it.
  • We are social creatures; we will be miserable if we try to cut off contact with other people. Therefore, if what we seek is tranquility, we should form and maintain relations with others. In doing so, though, we should be careful about whom we befriend. We should also, to the extent possible, avoid people whose values are corrupt, for fear that their values will contaminate ours. •
  • If you consider yourself a victim, you are not going to have a good life; if, however, you refuse to think of yourself as a victim—if you refuse to let your inner self be conquered by your external circumstances—you are likely to have a good life, no matter what turn your external circumstances take. (In particular, the Stoics thought it possible for a person to retain his tranquility despite being punished for attempting to reform the society in which he lived.)
  • I mentioned in the introduction that some of the things that attracted me to Buddhism could also be found in Stoicism. Like Buddhists, Stoics advise us to contemplate the world’s impermanence. All things human, Seneca reminds us, are short-lived and perishable. Marcus likewise reminds us that the things we treasure are like the leaves on a tree, ready to drop when a breeze blows. He also argues that the flux and change of the world around us are not an accident but an essential part of our universe.
  • For the Stoics, however, the near impossibility of becoming a sage is not a problem. They talk about sages primarily so they will have a model to guide them in their practice of Stoicism. The sage is a target for them to aim at, even though they will probably fail to hit it. The sage, in other words, is to Stoicism as Buddha is to Buddhism. Most Buddhists can never hope to become as enlightened as Buddha, but nevertheless, reflecting on Buddha’s perfection can help them gain a degree of enlightenment.
  • The Stoics thought they had an answer to this question. They recommended that we spend time imagining that we have lost the things we value—that our wife has left us, our car was stolen, or we lost our job. Doing this, the Stoics thought, will make us value our wife, our car, and our job more than we otherwise would. This technique—let us refer to it as negative visualization—was employed by the Stoics at least as far back as Chrysippus. It is, I think, the single most valuable technique in the Stoics’ psychological tool kit.
  • By contemplating the impermanence of everything in the world, we are forced to recognize that every time we do something could be the last time we do it, and this recognition can invest the things we do with a significance and intensity that would otherwise be absent. We will no longer sleepwalk through our life. Some people, I realize, will find it depressing or even morbid to contemplate impermanence. I am nevertheless convinced that the only way we can be truly alive is if we make it our business periodically to entertain such thoughts.
  • The Stoics believed in social reform, but they also believed in personal transformation. More precisely, they thought the first step in transforming a society into one in which people live a good life is to teach people how to make their happiness depend as little as possible on their external circumstances. The second step in transforming a society is to change people’s external circumstances. The Stoics would add that if we fail to transform ourselves, then no matter how much we transform the society in which we live, we are unlikely to have a good life.
  • Our most important choice in life, according to Epictetus, is whether to concern ourselves with things external to us or things internal. Most people choose the former because they think harms and benefits come from outside themselves. According to Epictetus, though, a philosopher—by which he means someone who has an understanding of Stoic philosophy—will do just the opposite. He will look for all benefit and harm to come from himself. In particular, he will give up the rewards the external world has to offer in order to gain tranquility, freedom, and calm.
  • Alternatively, we can do some historical research to see how our ancestors lived. We will quickly discover that we are living in what to them would have been a dream world—that we tend to take for granted things that our ancestors had to live without, including antibiotics, air conditioning, toilet paper (!), cell phones, television, windows, eyeglasses, and fresh fruit in January. Upon coming to this realization, we can breathe a sigh of relief that we aren’t our ancestors, the way our descendants will presumably someday breathe a sigh of relief that they aren’t us!
  • For the Stoics, a person’s virtue does not depend, for example, on her sexual history. Instead, it depends on her excellence as a human being—on how well she performs the function for which humans were designed. In the same way that a virtuous (or excellent) hammer is one that performs well the function for which it was designed—namely, to drive nails—a virtuous individual is one who performs well the function for which humans were designed. To be virtuous, then, is to live as we were designed to live; it is to live, as Zeno put it, in accordance with nature. The Stoics would add that if we do this, we will have a good life.
  • We humans are unhappy in large part because we are insatiable; after working hard to get what we want, we routinely lose interest in the object of our desire. Rather than feeling satisfied, we feel a bit bored, and in response to this boredom, we go on to form new, even grander desires. The psychologists Shane Frederick and George Loewenstein have studied this phenomenon and given it a name: hedonic adaptation. To illustrate the adaptation process, they point to studies of lottery winners. Winning a lottery typically allows someone to live the life of his dreams. It turns out, though, that after an initial period of exhilaration, lottery winners end up about as happy as they previously were. They start taking their new Ferrari and mansion for granted, the way they previously took their rusted-out pickup and cramped apartment for granted.
  • The negative visualization technique, by the way, can also be used in reverse: Besides imagining that the bad things that happened to others happen to us, we can imagine that the bad things that happen to us happened instead to others. In his Handbook, Epictetus advocates this sort of projective visualization. Suppose, he says, that our servant breaks a cup. We are likely to get angry and have our tranquility disrupted by the incident. One way to avert this anger is to think about how we would feel if the incident had happened to someone else instead. If we were at someone’s house and his servant broke a cup, we would be unlikely to get angry; indeed, we might try to calm our host by saying It’s just a cup; these things happen. Engaging in projective visualization, Epictetus believes, will make us appreciate the relative insignificance of the bad things that happen to us and will therefore prevent them from disrupting our tranquility.



How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (Dale Carnegie)

  • Nobody kicks a dead dog.
  • Our thoughts make us what we are.
  • Every day is a new life to a wise man.
  • Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
  • No matter what happens, always be yourself.
  • If you want to keep happiness , you have to share it !
  • Those who do not know how to fight worry die young. Alexis Carrel
  • Today is our most precious possession. It is our only sure possession.
  • Two men looked out from prison bars, One saw the mud, the other saw stars.
  • Shut the iron doors on the past and the future. Live in Day-tight compartments.
  • Keep busy. The worried person must lose himself in action, lest he wither in despair.
  • 0ne of the worst features about worrying is that it destroys our ability to concentrate.
  • So, to prevent fatigue and worry, the first rule is: Rest often. Rest before you get tired.
  • The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.
  • Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.
  • Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.
  • Let’s do as General Eisenhower does: let’s never waste a minute thinking about people we don’t like.
  • You do not not get stomach ulcers from what you eat. You get ulcers from what is eating you. Dr. Montague
  • It has been said that nearly all of our worries and unhappiness come from our imagination and not from reality.
  • Nobody is so miserable as he who longs to be somebody and something other than the person he is in body and mind.
  • Seventy per cent of all patients who come to physicians could cure themselves if they got rid of their fears and worries.
  • Let’s not allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. Remember “Life is too short to be little”
  • De minimus non curat lex’— the law does not concern itself with trifles. And neither should the worrier—if he wants peace of mind.
  • For every ailment under the sun, There is a remedy, or there is none; If there be one, try to find it; If there be none, never mind it.
  • When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness.
  • There is only one way to happiness,” Epictetus taught the Romans, “and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.
  • Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?” 2. Prepare to accept it if you have to. 3. Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst.
  • Let me repeat: do what the Army does—take frequent rests. Do what your heart does—rest before you get tired, and you will add one hour a day to your waking life.
  • The sovereign voluntary path to cheerfulness, if your cheerfulness be lost, is to sit up cheerfully and to act and speak as if cheerfulness were already there. William James
  • Epictetus, the great Stoic philosopher, warned that we ought to be more concerned about removing wrong thoughts from the mind than about removing ‘tumors and abscesses from the body.’
  • Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied; and the purpose of this book is to remind you of what you already know and to kick you in the shins and inspire you to do something about applying it.
  • The best possible way to prepare for tomorrow is to concentrate with all your intelligence, all your enthusiasm, on doing today’s work superbly today. That is the only possible way you can prepare for the future.
  • Let’s never try to get even with our enemies, because if we do we will hurt ourselves far more than we hurt them. Let’s do as General Eisenhower does: let’s never waste a minute thinking about people we don’t like.
  • …the best possible way to prepare for tomorrow is to concentrate with all your intelligence, all your enthusiasm, on doing today’s work superbly today. That is the only possible way you can prepare for the future.
  • Obviously, circumstances alone do not make us happy or unhappy. It is the way we react to circumstances that determines our feelings. Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is within you. That is where the kingdom of hell is, too.
  • Relaxation and Recreation The most relaxing recreating forces are a healthy religion, sleep, music, and laughter. Have faith in God—learn to sleep well— Love good music—see the funny side of life— And health and happiness will be yours.
  • One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon—instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.
  • You can sing only what you are. You can paint only what you are. You must be what your experiences, your environment, and your heredity have made you. For better or for worse, you must play your own little instrument in the orchestra of life.
  • No one living has enough emotion and vigor to fight the inevitable and, at the same time, enough left over to create a new life. Choose one or the other. You can either bend with the inevitable sleetstorms of life—or you can resist them and break!
  • So, I banish about 90 per cent of my worries by taking these four steps: 1. Writing down precisely what I am worried about. Writing down what I can do about it.    3.  Deciding what to do.   4.  Starting immediately to carry out that decision.
  • The words “Think and Thank” are inscribed in many of the Cromwellian churches of England. These words ought to be inscribed in our hearts, too: “Think and Thank”. Think of all we have to be grateful for, and thank God for all our boons and bounties.
  • I know with conviction beyond all doubt that the biggest problem you and I have to deal with—in fact, almost the *only* problem we have to deal with—is choosing the right thoughts. If we can do that, we will be on the highroad to solving all our problems.


  • When I asked him -Mr.Henry Ford- if he ever worried, he replied: “No. I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe that every-thing will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about?”
  • A good deed, “said the prophet Mohammed, “is one that brings a smile of joy to the face of another.” Why will doing a good deed every day produce such astounding efforts on the doer? Because trying to please others will cause us to stop thinking of ourselves: the very thing that produces worry and fear and melancholia.
  • I realize now that people are not thinking about you and me or caring what is said about us. They are thinking about themselves—before breakfast, after breakfast, and right on until ten minutes past midnight. They would be a thousand times more concerned about a slight headache of their own than they would about the news of your death or mine.
  • So let’s be content to live the only time we can possibly live: from now until bedtime. ‘Anyone can carry his burden, however hard, from now until nightfall,’ wrote Robert Louis Stevenson. ‘Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, till the sun goes down. And this is all that life really means.’
  • I spent twelve years working with cattle; yet I never saw a Jersey cow running a temperature because the pasture was burning from lack of rain or because of sleet and cold or because her boy friend was paying too much attention to another heffer. The animals confront night, storms, and hunger calmly; so they never have nervous breakdowns or stomach ulcers; and they never go insane.
  • Professor William James, the father of applied psychology, has been dead since 1910. But if he were alive today, and could hear this formula for facing the worst, he would heartily approve of it. How do I know that? Because he told his own students: ‘Be willing to have it so… Be willing to have it so,’ he said, because ‘…acceptance of what has happened is the first step in overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.’
  • Experience has proved to me, time after time, the enormous value of arriving at a decision. It is the failure to arrive at a fixed purpose, the inability to stop going around and round in maddening circles, that drives men to nervous breakdowns and living hells. I find that fifty per cent of my worries vanishes once I arrive at a clear, definite decision; and another forty per cent usually vanishes once I start to carry out that decision.
  • Do I tend to put off living in the present in order to worry about the future, or to yearn for some ‘magical rose garden over the horizon’? Do I sometimes embitter the present by regretting things that happened in the past—that are over and done with? Do I get up in the morning determined to ‘Seize the day’—to get the utmost out of these twenty-four hours? Can I get more out of life by ‘living in day-tight compartments’? When shall I start to do this? Next week? … Tomorrow? … Today?”
  • Think of your life as an hourglass. You know there are thousands of grains of sand in the top of the hourglass; and they all pass slowly and evenly through the narrow neck in the middle. Nothing you or I could do would make more than one grain of sand pass through this narrow neck without impairing the hourglass. You and I and everyone else are like this hourglass…if we do not take [tasks] one at a time and let them pass…slowly and evenly, then we are bound to break our own…structure.
  • George Bernard Shaw was right. He summed it all up when he said: ‘The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.’ So don’t bother to think about it! Spit on your hands and get busy. Your blood will start circulating; your mind will start ticking—and pretty soon this whole positive upsurge of life in your body will drive worry from your mind. Get busy. Keep busy. It’s the cheapest kind of medicine there is on this earth—and one of the best.
  • Psychiatrists declare that most of our fatigue derives from our mental and emotional attitudes… What kinds of emotional factors tire the sedentary (or sitting) worker? Joy? Contentment? No! Never! Boredom, resentment, a feeling of not being appreciated, a feeling of futility, hurry, anxiety, worry—those are the emotional factors that exhaust the sitting worker, make him susceptible to colds, reduce his output, and send him home with a nervous headache. Yes, we get tired because our emotions produce nervous tensions in the body.
  • What is the answer to this fatigue? Relax! Relax! Relax! Learn to relax while you are doing your work. Relax in odd moments. Let your body go limp like an old sock.”   Work, as much as possible, in a comfortable position.  Check yourself four or five times a day, and say to yourself, ‘Am I making my work harder than it actually is? Am I using muscles that have nothing to do with the work I’m doing?’  Test yourself again at the end of the day, by asking yourself, ‘Just how tired am I? If I am tired, it is not because of mental work I have done but because of the way I have done it.’
  • Your heart pumps enough blood through your body every day to fill a railway tank car. It exerts enough energy every twenty-four hours to shovel twenty tons of coal onto a platform three feet high. It does this incredible amount of work for fifty, seventy, or maybe ninety years. How can it stand it? Dr. Walter B. Cannon, of the Harvard Medical School, explained it. He said ‘Most people have the idea that the heart is working all the time. As a matter of fact, there is a definite rest period after each contraction. When beating at a moderate rate of seventy pulses per minute, the heart is actually working only nine hours out of the twenty-four. In the aggregate its rest periods total a full fifteen hours per day.
  • When we are harassed and reach the limit of our own strength, many of us then turn in desperation to God-“There are no atheists in foxholes.” But why wait till we are desperate? Why not renew our strength every day? Why wait even until Sunday? For years I have had the habit of dropping into empty churches on weekday afternoons. When I feel that I am too rushed and hurried to spare a few minutes to think about spiritual things, I say to myself: “Wait a minute, Dale Carnegie, wait a minute. Why all the feverish hurry and rush, little man? You need to pause and acquire a little perspective.” At such times, I frequently drop into the first church that I find open. Although I am a Protestant, I frequently, on weekday afternoons, drop into St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, and remind myself that I’ll be dead in another thirty years, but that the great spiritual truths that all churches teach are eternal. I close my eyes and pray. I find that doing this calms my nerves, rests my body, clarifies my perspective, and helps me revalue my values. May I recommend this practice to you?
  • Some readers are going to snort at the idea of making so much over a hackneyed proverb like ‘Don’t cry over spilt milk.’ I know it is trite, commonplace, a platitude. I know you have heard it a thousand times. But I also know that these hackneyed proverbs contain the very essence of the distilled wisdom of all ages. They have come out of the fiery experience of the human race and have been handed down through countless generations. If you were to read everything that has ever been written about worry by the great scholars of all time, you would never read anything more basic or more profund than such hackneyed proverbs as ‘Don’t cross your bridges until you come to them’ and ‘Don’t cry over spilt milk.’ If we ony applied those two proverbs—instead of snorting at them-—we wouldn’t need this book at all. In fact, if we applied most of the old proverbs, we would lead almost perfect lives. However, knowledge isn’t power until it is applied; and the purpose of this book is to remind you of what you already know and to kick you in the shins and inspire you to do something about applying it.



Living the 80/20 Way (Richard Koch)

More can be less


20% of what we do leads to 80% of the results

  • 20% of your tasks produce 80% of your results. 20% of your activities lead to 80% of your happiness.
  • 20% of what we do leads to 80% of the results; but 80% of what we do leads to only 20%. We are wasting 80% of our time on low-value outcomes.  

We can boost the quality of our lives by focusing on the 20% and dumping the rest

  • We can sharply boost the quality of our lives by changing our use of time. If we do more of the few things that make us happy and productive, and much less of the many activities that take most of our time but don’t lead to high levels of happiness or achievement, we can improve our lives in a sensational way — all with less effort!
  • Concentrate on the really important things that get amazing results. Do only the few things with greatest benefit.
  • Whenever you spot a 20 percent activity, run to it, surround yourself with it, immerse yourself in it, patent it, make yourself its expert, worshipper, high priest, partner, creator, propagandist, and indispensable ally. Make the most of it. If the most appears to be more than you can imagine, multiply your imagination.

Modern life tries to get more with more  

  • Picture millions slaving on the educational treadmill. Or working in dark Satanic towers for pinch- mouthed bosses and mean-spirited corporations. Could they all be barking up the wrong tree?
  • We’re becoming utterly transfixed by one obsession — more with more. We want more money, more goods, more friends, more relationships, more sex, more attention, more comfort, more houses, more travel, more gadgets, and more public acknowledgment. We are prepared to pay dearly for these aspirations. We worry more and spend more time, more attention, more energy — and, frankly, more of our souls and ourselves — to work to invest or pay for more stuff.
  • It is not innate greed that propels us toward wanting more with more. It is the structure of modern life and its compelling, insidious assumptions. Modern life insists that success is a matter of more money, that more money means more work, that there is only a fast track and a slow track, and that the fast track requires us to lay out huge effort for huge rewards. We worry about how we’re doing, we work more than we want, we buy more than we can value, and we cut ourselves off from the simple joys of romantic love, family, friends, and abundant time.
  • More with more leads to less fraternity and happiness; more with less leads to a life of higher quality, worth, and deep personal satisfaction.
  • The vast majority of our desires don’t lead to more than fleeting happiness. To be happy we need to focus our demands, boiling them down to the few that are most important to us and result in our happiness.
  • The advertising and marketing industry has rendered us addicted to joyless comparison and acquisition of goods — our economy revolves around the pointless, never-ending race for more.
  • More with more is just a wet dream for misguided yuppies.

The 80/20 way is about getting more with less  

  • It is only by focusing on what is genuinely important to us — the few people, relationships, activities, and causes that we really care about — that we become centered, authentic, powerful, loving, and loved. There is no other way.
  • Focus on less is more: what is important for your happiness — satisfying work, a sense of personal purpose, and above all a few high-quality relationships — which require, and will amply repay, unstinting time and emotional commitment.
  • If speeding up takes us nowhere, slowing down can take us everywhere. Contrary to common opinion, less is more. Only by concentrating on the few important and vital things, and refusing to worry over the mass of trivial ones, can we find happiness. Only by doing less can we live more. Only by insisting on more with less can we fulfill our individual destiny.

Benefits of the 80/20 way


The 80/20 way dissociates effort from reward

  • Make a great mental leap: dissociate effort from reward. Focus on the outcomes that you want and find the easiest way to them with least effort, least sacrifice, and most pleasure. Concentrate on what produces extraordinary results without extraordinary effort. Be efficient but relaxed. First, think results. Then get them with least energy.
  • What is the 20 percent of your time when you achieve 80 percent of your results? Do more of it! What is the 80 percent of your time when you achieve little? Do less of it!   
  • Cultivate lazy intelligence.
  • A hard-working person is often too busy to spot what’s really significant. A lazy person wants to do as little as possible and so concentrates only on the essentials. What’s really productive is a lazy person who thinks new thoughts and is focused on making them happen. Thinking is often disturbing, sometimes even frightening. Burying ourselves in trivia is less threatening.
  • For most of us, the only way to create something new and valuable is to slow down, do fewer things, chill out. If you really love what you’re doing, you don’t need to be lazy.

Focusing on the 20% brings greater time abundance, happiness and success

  • Lasting happiness cannot be gained through consumption. Happiness requires active participation in what we value. To do things well, enjoy them, and take pride in what we have done — these fertilise happiness.  
  • Enjoyment, not effort or education, is the key to success.
  • In success as in everything else, less is more. Quality is more valuable than quantity, giving is more satisfying than consuming, abundant time trumps abundant goods, serenity is better than striving, and love given generates love received. What we all want deep down is abundant time, security, affection, peace, tranquility, spiritual awareness, self-confidence, and a sense that we are expressing ourselves and creating things of great value to other people.
  • True success is being able to spend our time how we like, fulfilling our unique talent, being valuable to people we value, and being loved.
  • If we must compare ourselves to our neighbour, is it better to compare relative wealth or happiness?

Step out of drudgery into a world of imagination and inspiration

  • Stepping out of a life of duty, where everything runs on predictable lines dictated by other people, into a life created by your own imagination. Forgetting about hard work and using the greatest of all human attributes, our ability to move between the world as it is and the world in our minds. Thinking, imagining, creating, enjoying.
  • The whole edifice of modern civilization rests not on drudgery, muscle power, repetition, or long hours of work, but on insight, inspiration, inventiveness, originality, and enterprise.
  • On moving between where we are now, in the real world, and the world we dream up in our minds and then make real.

Advice for living a 80/20 life


Focus only on things that matter  

  • If you are exceptionally selective and find the few things that matter deeply to you, life acquires a purpose and meaning way beyond what it had previously, when you were somewhat concerned about a large number of issues.
  • Conventional wisdom is not to put all of your eggs in one basket. 80/20 wisdom is to choose a basket carefully, load all your eggs into it, and then watch it like a hawk.

Focus your expertise

  • Have you been told to gain broad experience? Don’t. Focus all your energy on one area. Become expert on a narrow front. Know 99 percent about 1 percent of something.

Ask yourself these key question

  • Focusing on our 80/20 destination means solving the riddle of less is more for each individual. What are the few vital characteristics or results that will make us happiest?
  • What will give me a much better result for much less energy?
  • Could I take the small part of my time that most excites me and make a career out of it?
  • Happiness islands are the small dollops of time — the special, glorious times — when we’re happiest. How can you create more of them?

Cultivate select habits  

  • A few great habits are vital because without continuous renewal we can lose things we’ve worked very hard for.
  • It’s for you, not me, to decide which high-payoff new habits to cultivate now. Examples could include daily exercise, meditating or quiet thinking each day and daily intellectual exercise.
  • A few habits can have a phenomenal effect on our happiness throughout life — we get a massive bonanza from a little upfront effort.
  • We get more happiness with less effort if we carefully select a few excellent habits we’d like to have and master these.
  • If we do a few hugely worthwhile things that are hard to start with, we’ll find before long that they become easy.

Take time to think  

  • The most successful people change the world not through sweat and tears but through ideas and passion.
  • By deliberately cutting back on what we put into the task and yet asking for much more, we force ourselves to think hard and do something different. This is the root of all progress.
  • Thinking hard may sound a bit frightening, but isn’t it much better to do a little hard thinking, arrive at a much better result, and avoid a lot of hard doing?

Slow down and do less  

  • Time is like that: cussed when we try to speed up, a dear friend when we slow down. Richard Koch
  • To detonate your time revolution, slow down. Stop worrying. Do fewer things. Chuck your to do list, make a not to do list. Act less, think more. Reflect on what really matters to you. Stop doing anything that isn’t valuable, that doesn’t make you happy. Savor life.
  • Swim against the tide of acceleration. Be unconventional, even eccentric. Purge your diary. Dump your cell phone. Stop going to meetings or events that bore you. Reclaim time for yourself and the people you care about.

Have an 80/20 life objective

  • Does the 80/20 destination reflect what you truly want and care about? Does it mirror your individuality? Is it unique to you? Does it bolster the best of your talents and emotions? Does it focus you? Will you avoid squandering energy on many other things? Does it exclude lots of objectives that currently soak up a large part of your energy? Is it short enough for you to remember all the time? Does it excite you? Is it a dream life for you?

Focus on growing your strengths and passions, not your weaknesses  

  • We all have special gifts, unique imaginations, our little bit of genius: the spark of life that’s wholly ours.
  • Correcting our weaknesses, the most we become is mediocre. If we hone our few super- strengths, insist on behavior that is authentic and true to our inner selves, and unreasonably demand more with less, the sky is the limit.
  • Could I take the small part of my time that most excites me and make a career out of it?
  • Stars are not all-rounders. The top people have massive strengths — and equally massive downsides. Their weaknesses don’t matter. What leads to extraordinary results is concentration on the strengths, honing these to Olympian standards.
  • “Flow,” is those moments of peak happiness when time stands still, when you find yourself doing exactly what you want to be doing, never wanting it to end, rather like the happiness islands discussed earlier.
  • Flow derives from a sense of personal mastery and active achievement. Work that is matched to our strengths — that leads to clear and positive results — gives enormous satisfaction.

Know what is important to you and what you want

  • To find meaning in life, we have to reach inside ourselves: define the few things that we care about, the things we want to love and devote ourselves to, the things we are good at and enjoy. Having found these things, everything else is trivial. Fulfilled and happy creating more with less, we can safely ignore the shrill fad for more with more and “Faster! Faster!”.
  • Everything you want should be yours: the type of work you want; the relationships you need; the social, mental, and aesthetic stimulation that will make you happy and fulfilled; the money you require for the lifestyle that is appropriate to you; and any requirement that you may (or may not) have for achievement or service to others. If you don’t aim for it all, you’ll never get it all. To aim for it requires that you know what you want.   

Only spend money on the few items that really make you happy

  • Only spend money on the few items that really make you happy. Spend more on the 20 percent that gives you 80 percent of pleasure, and less on the rest.
  • The evidence is overwhelming. Being moderately well off means that you are happier than if you were very poor. But once you are well fed, clothed, and housed, getting wealthier probably won’t make you happier.
  • Money is something we trade our life energy for.
  • Of Yale’s 1953 graduating class, only 3 percent set written financial goals — similar to our 80/20 destination. Twenty years later, researchers discovered that these 3 percent had more money than all the other 97 percent!
  • Money is a means, not an end. Money is for freedom, not slavery; for security, not worry. Unless money is used to give you greater freedom and happiness, accumulating money is a burden.
  • Never buy in a market that is rising or falling fast.

Live a simpler life, focusing on what you love

  • We add most to the happiness of those we love when we are happy ourselves. We are happiest when we simplify our lives down to the essentials that work best for us.
  • We take items off our lists. Less work. Less shopping. Clear closet clutter. Give away things we don’t need. Recycle them.
  • We don’t have to say “yes” when people ask us to do things. We just ask ourselves, “Is this something I really want to do, is it part of the life I want?” If the task doesn’t connect in some way with our purpose, we say “no.”
  • We do less. We enjoy more.
  • Less is more — dump the stressful and unrewarding parts of our lives. There is always a way, if we are determined.
  • How about fewer expensive pleasures and more simple ones?
  • Which tasks clutter your life, yielding little happiness or results?   How can you chop them?
  • La dolce vita, a life that challenges and stretches you in the way you want, free from worry and the tyranny of more with more.

Put most time and attention into your few most important relationships.

  • Carl Jung, the great psychologist, said, “We need other people to be truly ourselves.” We make sense of life through relationships.”
  • “There’s only one happiness in life,” wrote George Sand, “to love and be loved.”
  • Almost certainly, 80 percent of the satisfaction from our relationships flows from 20 percent or fewer of the relationships.
  • Put most time, energy, attention, creativity, and imagination into our few most important relationships.
  • Redirect energy so that at least 80 percent of “relationship energy” goes into your few key relationships.
  • Don’t do for others what you would like yourself. Do what your partner wants.
  • Aside from family, whose death would leave you desolated? Count those people. Those are your key friends, the 20 percent who contribute 80 percent of meaning and value to you.
  • In devoting energy to a large number of relationships and to work, they deprive themselves of the meaning and joy that flow from a few central relationships and one love affair.
  • The action implications should be plain. Go for quality rather than quantity. Spend your time and emotional energy reinforcing and deepening the relationships that are most important.
  • For both personal and professional relationships, fewer and deeper is better than more and less deep.   
  • I haven’t got time for many friends. Nobody has, that is, if they are to be real friends.  Abraham Maslow

Thoughts on emotions and action

  • The problem with positive thinking — and with much advice from self-help gurus — is that it can be unrealistic and lead us to deny our emotions. Kidding ourselves that black is white does not usually work for long.
  • All of us are bound to continue having “negative” emotions: feeling down, anxious, angry, or weak. These emotions are valuable, because they tell us something useful about ourselves.
  • Emotions should be accepted, not crushed. We should use our deliberate, thinking capacity to “talk to” our emotions and reason with them. Treat emotions like people with whom we disagree. Instead of interrupting them, “have a cup of tea” with them, let them have their say, admit your feelings — and yet resolve to act positively.
  • But the book I bought told me not to worry about feeling timid, just to take some positive action.
  • It’s easier to change a few of the things we do than the things we habitually think and feel. Take the few right actions and your feelings will take care of themselves.

Tips on reading  

  • Books can be read far faster.  Never read a book from cover to cover, except for pleasure. When you are working, find out what the book is saying much faster than you would by reading through. Read the conclusion, then the introduction, then the conclusion again, then dip lightly into any interesting bits.