The Art of the Good Life: 52 Surprising Shortcuts to Happiness, Wealth and Success by Rolf Dobelli (Part 4)

Managing Expectations (The Less You Expect, the Happier You’ll Be). Our brains are an expectation machine. Expectations are built without us knowing as well, on a subconscious level. Do not have excessively high expectations of certain events. If your expectations regarding income rise faster than your income, you will be disappointed. Besides feeding yourself, you don’t have to do anything else. There are very few true necessities in life. Learn to erase supposed ‘necessities’ from your life. It is good to have desires, but do not be shackled by them. Not all your desires will be fulfilled. Your preferences are sometimes out of your control. Try not to have expectations of others, as they are beyond your control. To live a good life, draw distinctions between necessities, desires and expectations. You need to keep them separate. Managing your expectations is part of a good life.

Research confirms that expectations have a profound impact on happiness, and that unrealistic expectations are among the most effective killjoys. – Rolf Dobelli

Sturgeon’s Law (How to Tune your bullshit detector). Sturgeon’s Law states that 90% of everything is crap, regardless of what field you are in. To re-phrase, 90% of intellectual things are bullshit. Knowing this is good, as you can filter what you see, hear or read without feeling guilty. Concentrate on being selective in your absorption of content. In life, you will come across a lot of trash, but you need to be able to tune those out. It is easier said than done. Recognize the difference between ideas and good ideas. If you’re not sure whether something is bullshit, it’s bullshit.

In Praise of Modesty (The Less Self-Important You Are, the Better Your Life will be). Even great people will be forgotten in 4 generations or so. The problem with humans are that we are too attached to a sense of self-esteem. Our ego is too big. To live a good life, avoid being too full of yourself. Avoid standing upon your ego too much. Focus on your work and do not brag. The self-serving bias afflicts those who have a big ego in life. They may also over-estimate their abilities in life.

In a hundred or two hundred years at the most, hardly anybody will know who Bill Gates, Donald Trump or Angela Merkel were. And as for the two of us – you, dear reader, and me – a few decades after we’re gone nobody will spare us a second thought. – Rolf Dobelli

Inner Success (Why Your Input is more important than your output). Magazines sometimes produce a list of the most successful and powerful people in the world. Modern societies highlight material success a lot. Why are there no lists for people who are the most satisfied? Definitions of success depends on the product of their time. Don’t follow others blindly. Material success is 100% a matter of chance. True success is inner success. Once you have achieved tranquillity of the soul, you will be able to put up with slings and arrows. You can control your input, but not your output. Inner success is more stable than external success. Take stock of your accomplishments at the end of each day. People desire external gain as it gives them internal gain.

Success is a peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. – John Wooden

Afterword. The good life is no easy task. Instead of relying on intuition, one should be aware of the biases/heuristics that the mind is susceptible to. Intellectual tools are more important than money. If your friend is not leading a good life, you will know it instantly. This book has provided insights on Stoicism. Throughout this book, I have quoted Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett. This book combines the principles of modern psychology, Stoicism and the philosophy of value investing.

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The Art of the Good Life: 52 Surprising Shortcuts to Happiness, Wealth and Success by Rolf Dobelli (Part 1)

Foreword. Since centuries ago, people have been asking themselves on what it means to live a good life? Is it better to seek happiness or to avoid unhappiness? The world is complicated and there is no simple solution. We need mental tools and models to rely on. This book is based on research as well as knowledge from ancient times. The tips from the book should help you navigate the challenges in life.

Mental Accounting (How to Turn a Loss into a Win). A speed camera on the expressway captured my car speed and I was going too fast. I used to be angry with such instances. However, now I smile when I receive summons. I pay the fines using money which I have set aside for good causes every year. This is known as mental accounting. You are tricking yourself into giving yourself a peace of mind. The fact has happened, but you can choose how to interpret the event. Living a good life has a lot to do with interpreting facts in a constructive way. To take the sting out of payment, you can pay first and consume later. When something has become a little more expensive/cheaper, I don’t think about it. I rather save my energy than money. You will help to retain your inner poise. Mental accounting will teach you to value your time.

The Fine Art of Correction (Why We Overestimate Set-Up). During a flight, the pilot constantly makes readjustments to the flight path. When things don’t go according to plan, we have to navigate. We can’t take our hands off the steering wheel. Our live is exposed to turbulence. Correction is more important than the set-up. The human body works in this way to fight viruses and bacteria too. In every relationship, fine-tuning is crucial too. We don’t like to correct because we feel we were right at the start. The US Constitution has been amended dozens of times already. There is no such thing as ideal training.

As an amateur pilot I’ve learned that it’s not so much the beginning that matters but the art of correction following take-off. – Rolf Dobelli

The Pledge (Inflexibility as a Stratagem). Clayton Christensen, an author, lives his life according to pledges. A pledge means an absolute commitment. This indicates inflexible behavior. However, when it comes to important issues, flexibility is not an advantage but a trap. This is because new decisions require willpower and lead to decision fatigue. Pledging saves your mental energy. Pledging means you are consistent on many topics. Pledges must be very firm and you must not waver.

Chain yourself to your pledges. Uncompromisingly. It’s easier to stick to your pledges 100% of the time rather than 99%. – Rolf Dobelli

Black Box Thinking (Reality Doesn’t Care About Your Feelings; or, Why Every False Step Improves Your Life). The black box in the plane was an indestructible box that can retrieve conversations in the cockpit so that it is easier to determine the cause of a crash. Black box thinking means radical acceptance of the truth and analyzing your actions. Your illness will still be there whether you want to focus on it or not. Self-deception is not compatible with a good life. The fact is that you are poor at something could be indeed true. Radical acceptance of defeats is part of life. Build your own black box. When making a big decision, think of what is going through your mind. Black box thinking can also work on a personal level. Tackle the problem at the source.

The world isn’t remotely interested in what you think of it or how you feel. Banish all such obscurantist tactics from your brain. – Rolf Dobelli

Accepting reality is easy when you like what you see, but you’ve got to accept it even when you don’t – especially when you don’t. – Rolf Dobelli

To put it another way, if you can’t spot where you put a foot wrong, you’re going to fall flat on your face again. Persistence in your analysis will pay off. – Rolf Dobelli

Counterproductivity (Why Timesavers are Often Timewasters). A car improved efficiency by many fold over horse carriages. Although it seemingly saves time, you have to factor in the time needed for maintenance, patrol, time caught in traffic jams. After factoring all these, the car has an average speed of 3.7mph. Technologies that seem good at the start needs to analyzed using a full cost analysis. For instance, powerpoint is great, but isn’t it a waste of time when you can get the message across using something simpler. Therefore, it is important to be on your guard against counterproductivity. Keep only the bare essentials. Technology can actually be a burden. The author is against modern technology, like smart devices.

A basic rule of the good life is as follows: if it doesn’t genuinely contribute something, you can do without it. – Rolf Dobelli

The Negative Art of the Good Life (Do nothing Wrong and the Right Thing Will Happen). Pilots simply want to avoid crashes. In investment, there is upside and downside. As long as you do the checks on the plane, you should be safe and minimize the downside. Like in tennis, you are likely to win if you minimize on your errors and play conservatively. What makes people happy? The literature does not contain much information. However, we can pinpoint what makes people unhappy: alcoholism, drug addiction, chronic stress, noise, long commute etc. Thus, the trick in life is to eliminate the downside as much as possible.

The Ovarian Lottery (Why You Didn’t Earn your Successes). Happiness is something you have. How much of success can be attributable to your own actions? Sometimes, it is because you were simply born in a good place. Where we are born definitely influences our success in a big way. The same also matters for the family you were brought up in. Timing is important. We are also a blend of our parent’s genes. For quite a number of things, you owe it to your genes. You haven’t really earned your achievements. You definitely need on others to be successful. Grateful people are demonstrably happier people.

Six percent of all the people who have been born over the last 300,000 years – since Homo Sapiens populated the world – are alive in the present day. They could just as easily have been born into another era; indeed, the probability of that is 94%. – Rolf Dobelli

The Introspection Illusion (Take Feelings Seriously – Just Not Your Own). Describe the objects in front of you. Describe what you feel about them right now. Our feelings are more nebulous. However, we are unable to express them clearly. You can’t achieve the good life through introspection. You are unlikely to achieve a certain purpose just by analyzing. Examine what are the recurring themes of your past and not analyze your feelings. Learn to read the emotions of others. Learn to treat your emotions less seriously. We need to cultivate a new relationship with our inner voices. Feelings will change over time and one should never be ‘owned’ by them. Repressing your emotions will only lead to them coming harder back at you. The key message is not to trust your emotions.

Take other people’s feelings very seriously, but not your own. Let them flit through you – they’ll come and go anyway, just as they please. – Rolf Dobelli

The Authenticity Trap (Why You need a Secretary of State). We all like to talk to authentic people However, do we want people to be too honest and forthcoming? Authenticity online are all staged. We don’t really know what authentic behavior is. There is simply no need to blurt out for innermost feelings. You can play your second self and keep promises and not blurt out personal feelings too often.

The Five-Second No (Small Favors, Big Pitfalls). How often do you say yes to favors without thinking? Do you reject others? When you keep helping others, you have less time for yourself. Co-operation was common in the animal kingdom because of survival. In game theory, the tit for tat works well. In the animal kingdom, animals believe in reciprocal altruism. Only apes have the ability to do it because they have a good memory. It keeps the economy going. However reciprocity has its dangers. Nowadays I say no to a lot of things which aren’t important to me. This is one of the key points of a good life.

The Focusing Illusion (Why You Wouldn’t be Happier in the Caribbean). When you are experiencing winter, you feel that you will be happier in the tropics on a beach somewhere. The more you focus, the greater the influence of the event. Because we are focusing on the climate only, we think Miami is superior. However, it is important to think about other factors. You assign the weather as overly important. Therefore, it is important not to overemphasize any single factor. The problem with humans is that it is not easy to view things from an ultra-wide lens. The grass usually looks good on the other side. The focusing illusion is bad and you need to be aware when it happens.

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it. – Daniel Kahneman

The Things You Buy Leave no Real Trace (Why You Should Buy less and Experience More). How much pleasure do you get from your car? It seems that people do. We tend to overemphasize the impact an object can give us. When you think of the car, you seem happy. However, when you think about using and maintaining it, probably you won’t feel as happy. Expensive objects tend to have higher upkeep and you get used to them after a while. When you experience something, you are fully present. Try to experience more and it is also usually cheaper. We overestimate the impact of purchases on our wellbeing.

While you’re thinking about X, you tend to grossly over-estimate X’s impact on your life. – Rolf Dobelli

Fuck-You Money (Saving Up Freedom). There is a diminishing marginal utility to things you consume, like water even if you are very thirsty. This holds true for money. Think about how much money you need to earn before you feel that additional income will not have any impact on your wellbeing. A decent income is needed for survival, but beyond that, it doesn’t bring you a lot of additional happiness. Rich people have more things to worry about. Life satisfaction for Americans in the 1946 and 1970s were largely the same, according to Easterlin. Wealth is relative, not absolute. Hence, this is the problem that humans face. Fuck-you money are the savings that will allow you to quit your job without you ending up in financial trouble. Don’t think too much about money and worry about slight fluctuations in your portfolio. Don’t compare yourself with the rich or you will feel unhappy. Live modestly even if you are rich as wealth makes people jealous. Genuine success is not financial in nature.

This revelation has been termed the Easterlin paradox: once basic needs have been met, incremental financial gain contributes nothing to happiness. – Rolf Dobelli

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The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell (Part 3)

Affection. The feeling that you are loved helps to promote zest. A man could consider himself dreadful and that no one would love him. Or he just might be someone who nobody loves. A man could act friendly or kind in order to win friends. However, others might see through his motives. A man could seek revenge on the world if he is unloved. Such occurrences are rare as men would usually sink into timid despair. The fearless man will find life’s obstacles easier to navigate. Self-confidence is also closely linked to affection. This habit of mind is a source of zest. The affection you receive is the thing that provides a sense of security in life. A child who does not receive parental affection is likely to become timid. Not all affection encourages adventurousness. However, the care that parents give needs to support child growth and courage too. There is no need to be unduly possessive. Some men like timid women, because they can protect them. Affection and security are closed linked. If you are unable to enjoy sex love, it might deprive you of the joys that life has to offer. Men love women for their appearance, while women love men for their character. One can give two types of affection, one is a zest for life, the other is an expression of fear. You can give better love to others if you feel safe. There is also a form of insecure love. Insecure love means you tend to love someone for their services rendered, not for their intrinsic qualities. This is never wise to be in a one-way relationship. These are selfish people who tend to be very ambitious. Ambition which excludes affection does not lead to true happiness. Some people are scared to love for fear they might be made use of or hurt.

Those who face life with a feeling of security are much happier than those who face it with a feeling of insecurity, at any rate so long as their sense of security does not lead them to disaster. – Betrand Russell

Many people when they fall in love look for a little haven of refuge from the world, where they can be sure of being admired when they are not admirable, and praised when they are not praiseworthy. – Betrand Russell

To be unable to inspire sex love is a grave misfortune to any man or woman, since it deprives him or her of the greatest joys that life has to offer. – Betrand Russell

The best type of affection is reciprocally life-giving; each receives affection with joy and gives it without effort, and each finds the whole world more interesting in consequence of the existence of this reciprocal happiness. – Betrand Russell

Another form of affection is in which one person sucks the vitality of the other, one receives what the other gives, but gives almost nothing in return. – Betrand Russell

A too powerful ego is a prison from which a man must escape if he is to enjoy the world to the full. A capacity for genuine affection is one of the marks of the man who has escaped from this prison of self. – Betrand Russell

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness. – Betrand Russell

The Family. The family is very disorganized. Interactions between parents and children tend to lead to unhappiness. Causes of family unhappiness are very diverse in nature. Women are now more career driven and there has been a decay of domestic service. In the past, it was frowned upon to be a spinster. Now, a spinster can live comfortably if she has a good education. There is a conflict between a good career and having kids. Some women hesitate on having kids as she might have to take a backseat in her career. The quality of domestic help may not be good too. Sometimes, it is not wise to entrust maids to take care of young children. There is a greater urban population in England now as compared to the rural population. Those who live in the city have to be content with a smaller house. If you raise a family, a small house is no good. If a man lives in the countryside, he will have to travel up and down to the city, which is tiring. In the past, even if the slaves hated their masters, the masters were still relatively happy. Parenthood becomes a lot more timid in modern society. If not done properly, the children’s affections can be over or under-stimulated. It is no wonder that birth rates have declined. The divines believed in having a lot of children. Very few people want to have children because they see it as a public duty. Parenthood is certainly capable of providing the greatest and most enduring happiness that life has to offer. I have found parenthood to be very rewarding and it has been able to provide one of the best forms of happiness. For those without kids, death ends all. With kids, you can have a legacy. We feel very safe when our parents love us. The parent should be pure at heart and should never desire power or control over a child. A parent must always respect a child’s personality. A parent’s respect for a child is absolutely crucial. If a woman feels she is not capable to take care of her children, she should outsource it to a domestic helper.

The change in the relation between parent and children is a particular example of the general spread of democracy. Parents are no longer sure of their rights as against their children; children no longer feel that they owe respect to their parents. – Betrand Russell

The most civilized are the most sterile; the least civilized are the most fertile; and between the two there is a continual gradation. – Betrand Russell

It is clear that a civilization which has this characteristic (of declining birth rates) is unstable; unless it can be induced to reproduce its numbers, it must sooner or later die out and give place to some other civilization in which the urge towards parenthood has retained enough strength to prevent the population from declining. – Betrand Russell

It is clear that the urge for the professional woman to have children must be very powerful, for otherwise none of them would make the sacrifices required in order to satisfy it. – Betrand Russell

To be happy in this world, especially when youth is past, it is necessary to feel oneself not merely an isolated individual whose day will soon be over, but part of the stream of life flowing on from the first germ to the remote and unknown future. – Betrand Russell

A man who is capable of some great and remarkable achievement which sets its stamp upon future ages may gratify this feeling through his work, but for men and women who have no exceptional gifts, the only way to do so is through children. – Betrand Russell

The broad fact remains that parental affection is a special kind of feeling which the normal human being experiences towards his or her own children, but not towards any other human being. – Betrand Russell

The value of parental affection to children lies largely in the fact that it is more reliable than any other affection. One’s friends like one for one’s merits, one’s lovers for one’s charms; if the merits or the charms diminish, friends and lovers may vanish. – Betrand Russell

In all human relations it is fairly easy to secure happiness for one party, but much more difficult to secure it for both. – Betrand Russell

But universal as is the need for this kind of gentleness, the respect for a child’s personality is needed most of all where children are concerned, because of their helplessness, and because their small size and feeble strength cause vulgar souls to despise them. – Betrand Russell

A woman who has acquired any kind of professional skill ought, both for her own sake and for that of the community, to be free to continue to exercise this skill in spite of motherhood. – Betrand Russell

The mother who is conventionally called self-sacrificing is, in a great majority of cases, exceptionally selfish towards her children, for, important as parenthood is as an element in life, it is not satisfying if it treated as the whole of life. – Betrand Russell

Work. Work can be irksome and painful. Whether you enjoy work, it depends on the nature of the work and the abilities of the worker. Very few people know how to use their time. People are okay with obeying, provided the orders are not too unpleasant. One could travel, but youth is past, it is harder to enjoy as much. Work helps to prevent boredom. Work makes holiday more delicious when they come. Thus, the working man is likely to find more zest in his free time. Work also gives Man a chance for success and opportunities for ambition. Higher income can also provide more security in future. People can tolerate some degree of hardships through their work. Thus, a housewife is a disadvantage because she does not work and her husband might not appreciate what she is doing at home. In general, people who work are happier than those who don’t. It is even better if a man is able to find interesting work. There are two elements to what makes work interesting: 1) the exercise of skill; 2) construction. People enjoy acquiring skill until they can no longer improve themselves. Surgeons enjoy performing surgeries on others. For politicians, they tend to get better with age. The creation of something also is important, although it may not be physical. There are both works of destruction and construction. However, construction brings more joy whereas destruction of the enemies brings less. Man can certainly be proud is his achievements at work, however small it may be. However, some artists who had produced great works can be unhappy too. Men of science tend to less unhappy than men of art. Those with literary skills often find themselves with limited opportunities to express their talents. A man needs to respect his work and see value in it. Some men have no direction in life and get blown from side to side. These men are unlikely to be able to find long term happiness.

I think, however, that, provided work is not excessive in amount, even the dullest work is to most people less painful than idleness. – Betrand Russell

To begin with, work fills a good many hours of the day without the need of deciding what one shall do. Most people, when they are left free to fill their own time according to their own choice, are at a loss to think of anything sufficiently pleasant to be worth doing. – Betrand Russell

Work, therefore, is desirable, first and foremost, as a preventive of boredom, for the boredom that a man feels when he is doing necessary though uninteresting work is as nothing in comparison with the boredom that he feels when he has nothing to do with his days. – Betrand Russell

Continuity of purpose is one of the most essential ingredients of happiness in the long run, and for most men this comes chiefly through their work. – Betrand Russell

All skilled work can be pleasurable, provided the skill required is either variable or capable of indefinite improvement. If these conditions are absent, it will cease to be interesting when a man has acquired his maximum skill. – Betrand Russell

Without self-respect, genuine happiness is scarcely possible. And the man who is ashamed of his work can hardly achieve self-respect. – Betrand Russell

Consistent purpose is not enough to make life happy, but it is an almost indispensable condition of a happy life. And consistent purpose embodies itself mainly in work. – Betrand Russell

Impersonal Interests. This chapter is about people’s hobbies. When you read something not connected to your work, you read less critically and more disinterestedly. This chapter is precisely about activities outside man’s main line of work. External interests do not have a strong call for any action. The actions you take are voluntary. External hobbies also help to prevent someone from worrying about it too much. However, a man should not pick up hobbies like gambling or those hobbies which can produce emotional fatigue. For women, most of them do not seem absorbed in any wholly irresponsible interest. Relaxation helps to give a man a sense of proportion. Sometimes, we get unduly excited or impressed over something. Understand that what we do does not matter much in the long term. Modern education does not provide much enlargement of the heart and mind. Our life on this planet is temporal. Hobbies can greatly help to boost happiness. This is because it is outside your realm of work and causes you to be less stressed. When you are anxious but realize you can do nothing about it, engage in your hobby. Man should seek distraction when he experiences sorrow. One should turn thought into new channels. We should not pin all hopes on our loved ones as they will pass on someday eventually.

One of the sources of unhappiness, fatigue, and nervous strain is inability to be interested in anything that is not of practical importance in one’s own life. – Betrand Russell

And it is very much easier to forget work at the times when it ought to be forgotten if a man has many interests other than his work than it is if he has not. – Betrand Russell

A man who has once perceived, however temporarily and however briefly, what makes greatness of soul, can no longer be happy if he allows himself to be petty, self-seeking, troubled by trivial misfortunes, dreading what fate may have in store for him. – Betrand Russell

Effort and Resignation. There is a need to find a balance between effort and resignation. Happiness requires work, which is why it is the Conquest of Happiness. Men must learn to cope with the challenges of life. If you are lucky, you may live a blissful life. However, for most people, happiness is an achievement rather than a given. We all have to work for a living and this requires effort. Resignation definitely might not lead to happiness. In modern society, income has become the measure of success. Effort is required for happiness, but resignation does have its part to play too. It is unwise to spend time and emotions on things if they interfere with the pursuit of something more important. It is not wise to be overly obsessive over anything. To resign by being defeated by unconquerable hope is alright. Some people are upset by the smallest things in life and cannot see the big picture. These people tend to sweat the small things. Worry over such trivial matters do not make sense. Learn to believe in the future of mankind and those who will carry on your trade after you’re gone.

Happiness is not something that drops into the mouth, like a ripe fruit, by the mere operation of fortunate circumstances. – Betrand Russell

The man of science who desires to make great discoveries himself may fail to do so, or may have to abandon his work owing to a blow on the head, but if he desires profoundly the progress of science and not merely his personal contribution to this object, he will not feel the same despair as would be felt by a man whose research had purely egoistic motives. – Betrand Russell

The Happy Man. Happiness is certainly possible without having a religion. One should avoid fear, envy, the sense of sin, self-pity and self-admiration. Self-centred passions afford little variety in life. Affection cannot be calculated and it would be foolish to try and do so. Admit painful truths to yourself every day. Only act on your genuine interests and do not force yourself to do things. There might be a slight conflict between this book and what traditional moralists think.

Certain things are indispensable to the happiness of most men, but these are simple things: food and shelter, health, love, successful work and the respect of one’s own herd. To some people parenthood also is essential. – Betrand Russell

Where outward circumstances are not definitely unfortunate, a man should be able to achieve happiness, provided that his passions and interests are directed outward, not inward. – Betrand Russell

The happy man is the man who lives objectively, who has free affections and wide interests, who secures his happiness through these interests and affections and through the fact that they, in turn, make him an object of interest and affection to many others. – Betrand Russell

To be the recipient of affection is a potent cause of happiness, but the man who demands affection is not the man upon whom it is bestowed. The man who receives affection is, speaking broadly, the man who gives it. – Betrand Russell

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Simplicity of Life by Ivy Tan

Be an Influential Magnet For Positive Change and Abundance in Life

Introduction. Singapore is resilient and was able to navigate the Asian economic crisis in 1997 and the sub-prime crisis in 2008 successfully. Many were worried over their livelihood. Ying was mistreated as a child as her parents favored boys. Ying was not treated well by her parents. Her parents divorced but no one wanted custody of Ying. It was her grandpa that took care of her. The court ruled that the mother would have custody of Ying but later, also had difficulty in raising her. Her mum treated her harshly. This lasted for a total of 8 years as Ying completed her primary school. Grandpa was the only one who cared for her. Ying’s mother was addicted to gambling. Ying did well in Primary 8 and could go on to secondary school. However, despite this, Ying’s mother was not proud of her achievements and hit her. Ying tried to cut herself unsuccessfully and finally decided to go home. She tried to kill herself again, but was yet unsuccessful. She was warded in hospital and Grandpa visited her. Once, she witnessed a guy who swallowed many panadols to kill himself. She reached out and requested for others to help him. Due to Ying’s help, the guy managed to live. Ying was amazed that she could save someone else’s life even though she was in trouble herself. She drew strength from her own journey to help others. This was the turning point in her life. Now, she is an inspirational speaker and an international professional facilitator.

Part 1: You

Discovering life. Everyone is a gift to this world. What’s holding you back from achieving your goals and self-actualization? We all have to go through the different phases of life, including ageing. We all have to be brave and face death head on. On your death bed, looking back at your life, would you have been satisfied with your achievements? What legacy have you left behind in your life? How would you spend your time? The bulk of time would have been used for your loved ones, sleep and work. This leaves you little time for self-actualization.

Part 2: You Can. This chapter is about the 3Ps, Passion, Purpose and Potential. These are integral parts of your life that mustn’t be neglected. Having a purpose will help sustain your drive along a difficult journey. This could be like wanting to find a stable job etc. However, purpose doesn’t suddenly appear from nowhere. It usually comes from your curiosity and desire for knowledge. Working with others who are passionate will also motivate you to work harder. Remember that it is important to have a purpose as it will shut the naysayers up. Having passion can help support or nourish your Purpose. Some leaders apply operant conditioning, which is similar to the ‘carrot and stick’ model. An example of classical conditioning is when one is forced to provide frequent updates. There are 5 levels to Maslows’ Hierarchy of Needs: Physiological, Safety, Belonging, Esteem and Self-Actualization. Passionate is not in-born and has to be cultivated. With purpose and passion, can you achieve your potential? Your attitude and behavior will have a great impact over your learning and development.

Part 3: You Can Do. Everyone experiences their feelings differently. For humans, our emotions affect our attitudes and behaviors. The words of others can trigger an emotion in you, leading you to take a course of action. One should not aim to change your emotions, because that wouldn’t be your authentic self. It is much easier to control your choices as compared to your thoughts/ emotions. Do not enter self-denial and let your choices affect the subsequent tone of voice/ choice of words. One should take a breather and think about their choices logically. We tend to only tell the truth towards those whom we can trust. It is hence important to stay logical and tell the truth. Always remember that you have the power to choose. The first C in Choice is Consider. Resist jumping into conclusions. Try to approach life with less expectations as that would lead to less disappointments. One event in a day is completely unrelated to another in a day and you should not link the two. The second letter is H, which is for Hold. This refers to choosing a proactive attitude instead of a reactive one. This also means exploring options and choices. The third letter is O, which is for Observe. Make Sense with SENSES (Seek, Examine, Note, Study, Evaluate, Steer). Learn to observe the pattern and practice a logical questioning technique to get to the root of the issue.

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Small Pleasures by The School of Life (Part 2)

Sunday Mornings. It is a quiet morning and you do not have much to accomplish or do. Sundays are the days for us to explore ourselves and to rediscover ourselves. In the past, Sundays were set aside for religion. However, your time on Sundays are special and should be protected. It can be frustrating if your day is filled up with distractions. One has the opportunity to re-engage with the wider horizons of one’s life. We can focus on the silent and the eternal. This is a place of tenderness and beauty. Sunday mornings are our distinct, unusual time which should be guarded at all cost.

You’re briefing liberated from the pressure of watching the clock; you don’t need to keep up. No one will be expecting anything of you until tomorrow morning. – The School of Life

A Beloved’s Wrist. The skin on the inside of the forearm is smooth and delicate. Looking at your beloved’s wrist can renew tender feelings. It can lead to remember why you first fell in love with them. You can trace to their hand actions and remember things from their past which triggered them to perform as such.

A Favorite Old Jumper. It’s one that you hardly wear. There is a hole in it now. However, you know that it has been through a lot with you. It was lovely to wear it. People will come to love us precisely for the small things.

With the jumper we rehearse something key. It is a transitional object that helps us along the path not from childhood to adulthood but towards old age. – The School of Life

Holding Hands with a Small Child. We try to be encouraging and sweet to the little ones we once were. You are fascinated by how charming the kid can be. You become fascinated with the world, just like the kid.

And for a brief pointed time one is astonished by the utter strangeness of the course of human experience which gradually takes everyone from childhood to death. – The School of Life

Old Stone Walls. You do not know the exact date the walls were built, but centuries of harsh weather has affected the stone. It has been around for ages. Time usually brings things to ruin. Thins can be get better as they age. The old wall looks better as it ages. The idea of a wall is something we welcome with a feeling of joy.

The old is a good image of ageing and endurance: it’s not getting worse; strangely, it’s nicer because it is older, counteracting our fears that to be old is to be worn out, unlovable, useless and ignored. – The School of Life

Realising You Both Dislike the Same Popular Person. Somehow, you have learned to be cautious and avoid certain types of people. Sometimes, you don’t like those who keep accommodating and prefer those who speaks their mind. Shared antipathy can bond people together. You feel bonded over the hatred for someone.

It’s lovely not having to explain or defend one’s feelings in a hostile environment. It’s a relief not having to politely nod in supposed agreement just to keep the peace. – The School of Life

Feeling at Home in the Sea. It might require some courage to dip yourself in the ocean, but you gradually realize that it isn’t too difficult. You will bob up and down. You use a mask and snorkel, which enables you to breathe. Now, you can be yourself underground. Shapes and things look bizarre underwater. You are now thrilled by the adventurous part of you.

And when you emerge, dripping and pleasantly tired, and make your way to the warm beach, you bring that part of yourself with you back from the sea, where it had been living in exile, waiting for you. – The School of Life

“Bad” Magazines. You would probably not want to buy such magazines. You wouldn’t want to be seen outside reading it too. It can be oddly pleasing. We are encountering different ways of being. By reading these magazines, we can get more in touch with our other selves. We also become less dismissive of others after reading about them. It is a small pleasure.

The lives we actually lead are tiny slivers of what is imaginatively possible. A slight shift in the past could have led to a very different kind of existence. There are lots of ways we could conceivably have turned out. – The School of Life

The Song You Want to Listen to Again and Again. The song has grown on you. You might have heard it before but have forgotten about it. But now, you want to listen to it all the time and can’t get enough of it. But we can’t explain why we love the song so much. Our brains take cues from sounds. ‘Ave Maria’ enfold us in tenderness. Music has the power to move us and influence us. Hey Jude lyrics – Don’t be Afraid is very powerful indeed. Some songs encourage us to recognize the vulnerability in others. Mozart’s music can be gracious and sad.

A Book That Understands You. A book gets you. The author never knew you but it seems like he did for a long time. Everything is on target. You might feel lonely even though you are surrounded by people and loved ones. Such a good book will tackle problems which you normally ignore. The book can actually validate your sufferings, telling you that it is okay to be who you are.

Our weirder sorrows – or enjoyments – are recast as valid parts of human experience, which can be met with sympathy and kindness. – The School of Life

Crying Cathartically Over the Death of a Fictional Character. Why do we mourn their deaths? Lovely things might seem weak. Things can be transient. We feel sorry when we disagree with them. We often do not express our love fully when the person is still around. We are angry at the idiotic randomness of death. No one deserves to die. When it comes to death, death reorganizes our priorities.

We may only realise the full extent of our love for people too late. We are being agonisingly alerted not just to a possible loss, but to a failure of our own. – The School of Life

Pleasant Exhaustion After a Productive Day. It is 9:45pm and you are happy with your work progress made. Your body is aching slightly but you feel good. You make a nice cup of tea. Your brain has done its work. You thought that it couldn’t be done initially, but you accomplished it nonetheless. You feel confident about solving your own problems in your outside life, come what may. We feel honourable tiredness. It is pleasant tiredness and feel like sleep is our reward.

The pleasure we feel after a good but hard day’s work is linked to a positive experience of willpower. It was tempting to break off; you could have put it off until tomorrow, but you didn’t. You stuck with the big thing. – The School of Life

It’s also to do with a sense of mastery: in anticipation we slightly feared the task. But we got on top of this tricky thing and we tamed it. – The School of Life

We’re capable of rousing ourselves, of focus and of sustained effort. We can stick with something difficult and keep going through the temptations to break off and seek distraction. We’ve been just a little bit heroic and we know it and it feels nice. – The School of Life

Old Photos of One’s Parents. You spot a young photo of your mum, when we was about 8. What was it like to be alive back then? You also spot a photo of your dad when he was much younger. By from these photos, we realize that we hardly know them when they were younger. We know that our parents are trying our best. Our parent’s life wasn’t mainly about us.

Whispering in Bed in the Dark. You are talking to your partner in the dark. Whispering feels sexy. Deep privacy can be very liberating. Whispering in the dark is important. We need the assistance of cues. You can be tender without much fear. You are joining forces with your childhood self.

And this what gives whispering in the dark its special place in our lives. We have all the liberating benefits of being alone – but we are also with another person. – The School of Life

Cypress Trees. You have a soft spot for them, just that you didn’t know. They feel both shy and aloof. They feel private. The tree is a sermon of endurance and can live for ages on end. It will be around long after you are gone. The trees can grow well in places that are not hospitable. It is an image of resilience.

A tree is stuck in the single place where it was planted or where the seed happened to fall into a little crevice. Naturally, we’re attracted to the idea of being able to alter our condition, but sometimes we just have to put up with difficulties. Our bigger commitments tie us to a situation. – The School of Life

News of a Scientific Discovery. It can be charming. All science is interesting. However, scientific discoveries are linked with progress. Nature is a dark mystery but we like to investigate it. We can work together towards these discoveries. It is not by pure luck. Thorough research went into the research. This is the collective power of humanity. A lot of areas have been researched on and understood. Hopefully, these discoveries will be translated into textbooks and synthesized for the young.

Feeling Someone Else is Wrong. Sometimes, we know deep down that someone else is wrong. We feel good because we are absolutely right and they are absolutely wrong. We get an appreciation of our own intelligence. For most of the time, we don’t know for certain whether we are right. It is satisfying to us. You can cope with your terrors and can hold your own in conversations etc. We feel a sense of cognitive progress.

The Teasing of Old Friends. You don’t mind being teased by friends and are okay with it. A lesson is delivered in an interesting form. We do not see it as a form of criticism. However, if knowledge is wrapped in a wrong way, we may reject learning it. You know your friends are not malicious but only want you to learn. We despair knowledge and love – being united. However, when it comes to friends, it is possible to find the sweet spot. You can also tease them back and you know that they won’t mind at all.

Getting Over a Row. You got angry because you wanted to make a point which they couldn’t see. You don’t want to apologise. As we cool down, we might experience small pleasures. At work, you do not dare to be angry because you fear to be so. It also feels good to have cleared the air. You can look at them in a more measured way. At least, you both tackled the troublesome issue. Forgiveness is also important. Sometimes, we can just make do with small problems.

A relationship has to include the madder, more unreasonable parts of ourselves. If I can be overtly angry with you, it’s because you have made me feel safe enough to be so. – The School of Life

Conflict is a pretty much unavoidable part of living closely with another person and being involved in big, complicated mutual undertakings. But we’re all right now and that’s nice – until the next time. – The School of Life

Planning the Ideal Routine. It is nice to write out a plan for your week ahead. Having a schedule means that we should be using our time wisely. We should assign the tasks to distinct slots. You can also include tasks like napping and thinking. Make time for thinking about your past etc. For chores, plan them at one go in a week, followed by a small reward after the chores. A routine can keep you on track and on the ball. You always wanted to be more organized, productive and a routine will help you get there.

You won’t have to decide to do them and summon a special burst of willpower: after the first dozen times they start to become semi-automatic. The day begins to flow. You’re not always prodding and badgering yourself to get on with what you should be doing. – The School of Life

Finally Gaining the Respect of a Previously Suspicious Colleague. Now, your colleague smiles at you. They are happy to see you around. They have sweet sides for you too. They wanted to see if you could prove yourself. Prove yourself you did. It is normal for people not to warm up to you from the start. But that’s okay.

This person’s goodwill is worth having because they don’t give it away automatically. They have warmed to you because you have proved yourself. Their approval is a measure of your own development. – The School of Life

‘Getting’ A Great Work of Art for Yourself. We are worried that we will seem ignorant. Why should one even care about art? Sometimes, you might find works that speak to you. Mood is a crucial ingredient in the experience. In the right mood, things look great. Understanding a piece is a very personal thing. The works exists for you.

That’s why getting one work of art opens a door to the enjoyment of many others. Because you’ve discovered in yourself the key to engagement. – The School of Life

Midnight Walks. You need to get away from something. You glow in the night. The street lamps seem fascinating. You try to touch the moon. Midnight walks help the brain to think. In reality, there could be many things bugging you. Select one to think about when you are walking. Avoid jumping to conclusions too quickly. You don’t really know what is going on in another person’s mind. Our complaints are endless but a stroll in the night will lead you to forget that. Our life’s problems are legitimate and normal. We are mapping some emotional terrain. Learn to define the need. Why am I really stuck with an annoying partner? Sometimes, you must understand that not everything is in your control. Life is short and yet humans want to feel important.

But at midnight, away from others, we can briefly get enough distance to recall the strangeness of being human. We are deeply peculiar organisms; we are mysteries to one another and to ourselves; we don’t really know why we ourselves do what we do half the time. – The School of Life

In the night it’s a little easier to keep in mind that the human condition is sombre; we are frail creatures inhabiting the outer crust of a minuscule lump of rock orbiting a very average star. – The School of Life

But at other points it is sweet to feel that maybe our actions don’t matter – they will be lost in the greater tides of human existence, and all our follies and errors will melt away very soon, as if they had never been. – The School of Life

Flirtation. You often have to speak to someone else from another company over the phone. He seems to be flirting with you. It’s a flirtatious moment. You might flirt with an old friend at a party. Flirting is a mating ritual. However, it might not be erotic in nature but more aligned with friendship. Not everything should be viewed as foreplay. We need reminders from others that we are lovely. Flirting can be also seen as a demonstration of kindness and interest. Flirtation is safe in a workplace environment. It is a safe version of seduction.

Essentially, when we flirt we are showing another person that we like them and find them attractive. – The School of Life

The First Day of Feeling Well Again. You were sick for the past few days. Being unwell sucks. Someone bought you a gift to make you feel better. When sick, you suffered from low energy levels and didn’t bother much about work. Your sexual appetites waned and you felt calm. Feeling energetic is important. Your appetite is now back in order and you feel much better. When sick, you start to imagine things, just like a child.

Daisies. They are simply too small and can live from year to year. It is one of the nature’s most charming colour arrangements. The petals close up when in the dark and re-open in the day. Like the daisy, biological factors dominate and control us too. We get affected by events and it affects our moods etc. Daisies are abundant.

We disdain the daisy for an unfortunate reason: it is abundant. It’s a victim of the unfortunate idea that to be special something has to be rare. – The School of Life

Figs. You might encounter it once in a while. You don’t think much of it. However, it seems charming and tastes pleasant. Rituals are important. It provides a sense of appreciation in order to get us into a valuable state of mind. The ritual comes as a timely reminder for us. Rituals are usually developed over a large period of time. Similarly, small pleasures need rituals. The pull of it is smaller and that is why we need reminding.

The pull of small pleasures is much weaker than that of sex or video games or drinking wine or wolfing down a bar of chocolate; these are pleasures we need no reminding of, and we often have to painfully struggle to limit their sway in our lives. With small pleasures it’s the opposite. We’re more likely to lose touch with them. They easily get crowded out. We actively need to build up their presence in our lives. – The School

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Small Pleasures by The School of Life (Part 1)

This book will guide us to the life’s small pleasures

Preface. This book examines the 52 of life’s small pleasures. These are not usually widely celebrated. This book covers each one in detail. Small pleasures are often not well understood.

Small pleasures turn out not to be small at all: they are points of access to the great themes of our lives. – The School of Life

It can at first sound slightly strange to say that we don’t automatically and naturally know how to enjoy ourselves. But the pursuit of pleasure is a skill which we need to learn. – The School of Life

The Fish Shop. You stare in awe of the beauty and strangeness of the sea creatures. Oysters have their own home. They might seem weird, but we co-habit the same planet. We share the same ancestors. Looking at a dead fish can re-enhance us. We become fascinated by nature. Learn to appreciate the smell of salt and water and ice. Learn to develop a sense of pleasure of something wholesome and full.

We’ve been too hasty; we’re overlooked almost everything. The world is full of fascination; there is so much to be explored. And we have been led to this renewed appetite by the head of a fish. – The School of Life

Small Islands. You examine the island from afar, from the comfort of a passenger airline. You will big and in control on a small island. You will feel large. The island is small enough for you to take a drive. The scenery is impressive and you can spot hills and various streets. Life’s problems are not easily solved. Our longing for control leads to frustration. The small island feels good because it is contained and you can get anywhere in a short drive. Things start to become familiar on a small island and you become intimate to them.

A small island is not just a place on the map; it’s a psychological destination, a model of simplifying your life and making do with what is immediately to hand. – The School of Life

Stars. There are so trillions of trillions of stars out there, but we don’t notice them. We feel humbled being so small. From Earth, we can appreciate the magnitude of the cosmos. The stars look packed but in essence, they are so far apart from one another. We have no control over the cosmos and it is wonderful indeed. You don’t need to be a science professional to learn to appreciate the night sky. It is a sense of grandeur.

The stars matter in our lives because they offer a consoling encounter with grandeur, because they invite a helpful perspective on the brevity and littleness of human existence. – The School of Life

The regular appreciation of these and related small pleasures makes a major contribution to the elusive but crucially important notion of the quality of existence. – The School of Life

Grandmothers. You have spent some time just with your grandma. She showed you some of the things that mattered most to her. She can be a transitional object. It provides some form of psychological lifeline back to maternal love and security. The child can feel safe and discuss problems with her. As she is old, she understands fragility well. In addition, she knows her time on Earth is limited and will learn to appreciate its existence. She is still concerned for you, no matter what. She is cozy and wise. It is lovely when she reads to you. Her love is unconditional and she will love you whether you will do well in school or not. She just wants your presence. There is an absence of desire, which is very unique in today’s world. We all like tenderness.

Because her love is unconditional, it has the potentially maddening tendency to look right past some of your actual merits, which are the present focus your own sense of who you are. – The School of Life

The Friend who Listens. We need to learn to focus on friendship. No one has listened to us in the past. Society focuses too much on speaking. People are curious and love to keep asking questions. People who listen reconnect your chat and talk about philosophical ambitions. Good listeners don’t moralize and do not interrupt. They reassure us. They are happy for us to be vulnerable. They separate disagreement from criticism. Good listeners help to make society better for everyone.

Take-off. It is an amazing feeling when the plane first ascends. We can see the immense horizon. We can cover so much ground in the air. It is a display of power. Our eyes try to decipher what we see from the air. From the plane, our world appears so small. The clouds seem like perfect seats for an angel. It seems cool to eat among the clouds and we feel homely. The clouds make it tranquil and life seem peaceful.

And to think that all along, hidden from our sight, our lives were this small: the world we live in but almost never see; the way we must appear to the hawk and to the gods. – The School of Life

A Night Alone in a Hotel. You stay in a hotel overnight near the airport and can hear the planes roaring away. You ordered room service and your food is served. It is difficult for you to fall asleep as you switch on the TV. In a foreign land, not being able to sleep might be a blessing. You get to relax here and return to yourself. That day, you do not think of the difficult questions like where is your career going etc. No one will disturb you and you think about life. For tonight, insomnia is a gift for you to understand yourself better.

Sunbathing. You are in Rhodes to get more sunshine. The sky is blue and you have been craving sunshine for the longest time. You hardly miss winter at all. You feel you long for the sun. Sunshine is indeed a welcome respite. You need the virtues of the South too. You have come in search for wisdom and balance.

Sunshine is an agent of moral qualities: of generosity, courage, the appreciation of the present moment, confidence…When the world seems bountiful, material accumulation looks less impressive. – The School of Life

The Desert. You are in the middle of nowhere and there is nothing to compare to. You will feel intimate with yourself in the desert. Meditate on your utter insignificance. The desert is indifferent to your life. It gives you a renewal of perspective. The Universe is mightier than you and you have to accept its power.

Everything we do and are is in truth meaningless – when considered from a sufficient distance, from the perspective of the timeless stones, the boundless vistas, the infinite heavens. – The School of Life

We are frail and temporary and have no alternative but to accept the limitations on our will; that we must bow to necessities greater than ourselves. – The School of Life

Finding Your Feet Abroad. You might experience language difficulties. Everything seems foreign to you. Shyness is not an option. When you travel, you learn to be more confident. Smiling is indeed really useful. There is nothing to fear.

There is vast quantity of goodwill circulating in the world just below the surface and which we usually delve into too rarely. But now perhaps we can more often. – The School of Life

Being Up Late at Night. Late at night is when your mind has time to wander. There are infinite possibilities. We can tolerate all our possibilities. It is just us and the Universe and there are no expectations of us late at night.

The Charm of Cows. Cows are great and are not selfish. They are also easy-going and easily satisfied. They also protect their dignity. They harbor no bitterness. It doesn’t judge you. They do not care what you think of them. Looking at them can make your day.

Up at Dawn. It’s 5:45am. The sky is starting to turn purple. It looks impressive but you realize you hardly see it because you are asleep. Dawn is when you forgot everything that happened yesterday. This place looks magical. The human world will drown them out. You are missing the delicate things in life. The air feels fresh. You start to pay attention to nature and the things around you more in the morning. There is beauty in the tower block and you realized there is life out and about. You say hi. You feel at ease in the world and you feel serene. Every day is a fresh start and that is the good thing about life.

You can’t make there be 25 hours in the day. Yet now it does feel like you are in possession of an extra slice of existence; it’s always been there, but you’ve only just found it. – The School of Life

Staring out of the Window. It can seem like a waste of time as it serves no purpose. This is associated with boredom. It is essentially about figuring out what is in your mind. There is a lot of unexplored potential in our mind. Looking outside the window will give us a different perspective of life. Our ideas are like birds fluttering. We need purpose-free calm. We should learn the prospect of daydreaming. We miss the simple pleasures of looking out a window.

Window daydreaming is a little strategic rebellion against the excessive demands of immediate pressures – in favour of the diffuse, but very serious, search for the wisdom of the unexplored deep self. – The School of Life

A Hot Bath. It is easy to get carried away imagining a happy life. Focus on the reliable pleasures and satisfaction. A hot bath is one such example. You start by adjusting the temperature. You understand the hard work that is required to bring hot water to you. The bath allows us to be cozy. It is especially good in cold weather. The pleasure of the bath is primarily intellectual. They produce productive thinking. In many religions, bathing is a ritual that is strictly followed. Taking hot baths is your own virtue. They still have a wonderful way of influencing the psyche.

Indulgent Pessimism. Pessimism can indeed be a source of pleasure. It might a good strategy to safeguard happiness. We get disappointed when things go according to expectations. Anticipating the worst is a good idea.

Therefore, the kindest thing we can do for ourselves is to recognize that our griefs are not incidental or passing, but a fundamental aspect of existence which will only get worse – until the worst of all happens. – The School of Life

The pleasure of pessimism isn’t linked to being mean or bitter. It’s grounded, in fact, on sympathy. This is an antidote to the oppressive modern demand to look only on the bright side. – The School of Life

Self-Pity. Self-pity can be painful. We lament our small problems which in the grand scheme of things don’t matter much. We feel it quite often. Life can be harsh sometimes. Therefore, we deserve pity and since no one there to give us any, we shall supply a fair dose of it to ourselves. We should not lose the act of self-pity. Feeling sorry for yourself is a coping mechanism. This will tell us we are misunderstood and undemanding and in need for love.

Crushes. You cannot stop looking at her. You sense a crush but she disappears afterwards. It can happen to another. This might seem like a small moment but it could be developed into something bigger. This is the perfect form of philosophy. We imagine an image of beauty. In reality, such a person might be different from what we imagined. You can’t put a crush into practice so simply. The pleasure of imagining an ideal person is great and can bring some joy.

Keeping Your Clothes On. It is assumed that sex scenarios are associated with nudity.In fact, it stems between the contrast between prohibition and acceptance. Deliberately keeping clothes on can prove to be a turn-on as a way to heighten excitement. You might retain a sense of anticipation. It might seem thrilling. You are toying or the other party is toying with the privileges of permission when you are trying to keep your clothes on.

Kissing. Kissing is nice. It helps us to deepen our appreciation for someone. Why is kissing so significant and potentially so exciting? Sexual excitement is psychological. Something happens in our brains. Kissing has been built up as a social norm to mean that I accept you – accept you so much that I will take a big risk with you. It is psychologically pleasing. Kissing provides a brief break from loneliness. There is no need to analyze why kissing is pleasurable.

Children’s Drawings. Drawings can be very pleasing. Their artwork possesses a form of inner balance and well-being. Their art is an evidence of trust. Adults are more wary people. We are often hit by waves of anxiety. There is beauty in inaccuracy in children’s art too. They are not concerned with whether what they do is right or not. We live in a complex and modern society. Innocent trust and imagination tend to be lacking in adults. Children’s art provide an opportunity for us to know our own needs.

Crimes in the Newspaper. You had a rough day but you read some articles on crimes in the newspapers. Why should one find pleasure in this sort of things? These criminals actually look normal. The criminals are too strange and make our strangeness seem not that remarkable after all. In contrast to the atrocities that Hitler committed, you are nothing in comparison.

But the truth is we’re not actively egging on criminals, we’re not glad these things happened. On the contrary, it’s the very fact that they are clearly so wrong that generates our moments of satisfaction. – The School of Life

You’ve felt furious, suffered from envy and had periods of money worries – but you never did what they did. You absorbed your pain rather than committed crimes. Their villainy reveals your quiet moral heroism. – The School of Life

Driving on the Motorway at Night. You are driving at 10:15pm. The car feels powerful and you feel purposive. Our mind, at times, doesn’t like to think. While driving, it also helps with our thinking. Driving is not too stressful. Sometimes, our mind might drift but nothing actually happens to us.

You are experiencing an underappreciated but important satisfaction that deserves a special name: driving therapy. – The School of Life

It’s strangely attractive, at night in the middle of a long solo drive, to stop at a service station. Ordinarily that’s got close to zero appeal. But now it’s pleasing to change tempo, to sit silently amongst other human beings and have a coffee. – The School of Life

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The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell (Part 2)

Envy. Envy is very deep-seated and universal. Humans value distributive justice quite a bit. Adults also feel the same. Envy is the basis of democracy. Jealousy can happen among women too, especially when they get jealous over what each other wears. Women usually regard all other women as competitors. Men view other men in their profession as competitors. He wants to derive others of their advantages and feels good over it. Rather, one should admire rather than simply become jealous. What is the cure of envy? Envy is definitely an obstacle of happiness and largely stems from childhood. Parents who neglect their kids might be one cause of envy. Try to avoid comparing excessively. Envy is like a moral vice. If you compare your salary with someone else who is your equivalent but earning twice as much, that might make you jealous. To solve this, we should exercise mental discipline and not think profitless thoughts. There will always be someone who is smarter than you and earns more than you. If you are too modest, you might be more prone to envious feelings. It is good to be self-confident. Envy is closely connected with competition. Democracy has increased the range of envy. All bad things are interconnected. Fatigue is a frequent cause of envy. One way to diminish envy is to diminish fatigue. If you feel you have enough to bring up your kids the right way, you will be unlikely to feel jealous of others. Instinctive happiness is important. In modern society, the human heart is more prone to hatred as compared to friendship. To find the right road, Man must enlarge his heart as well as his mind.

Of all the characteristics of ordinary human nature envy is the most unfortunate; not only does the envious person wish to inflict misfortune and do so whenever he can with impunity, but he is also himself rendered unhappy by envy. – Betrand Russell

The habit of thinking in terms of comparisons is a fatal one. When anything pleasant occurs it should be enjoyed to the full, without stopping to think that it is not so pleasant as something else that may possibly be happening to someone else. – Betrand Russell

You can get away from envy by enjoying the pleasures that come your way, by doing the work that you have to do, and by avoiding comparisons with those whom you imagine, perhaps quite falsely, to be more fortunate than yourself. – Betrand Russell

When a man feels inadequate to the work he has to do, he feels a general discontent which is exceedingly liable to take the form of envy towards those whose work is less exacting. – Betrand Russell

But by far the most important thing is to secure a life which is satisfying to instinct. – Betrand Russell

The positive sum of pleasures in a modern man’s life is undoubtedly greater than was to be found in more primitive communities, but the consciousness of what might be has increased even more. – Betrand Russell

Man knows there is something better than himself almost within his grasp, yet he does not know where to seek it or how to find it. In despair he rages against his fellow man, who is equally lost and equally unhappy. – Betrand Russell

The Sense of Sin. Sin is one of the main causes in adulthood. Some do not believe that if you sin, your conscience will prick you. Conscience could also mean the fear of being found out. People avoiding sinning because of the risk that they would be discovered. Also, it would be difficult to explain to your friends why you committed a crime. Sin also has its roots in the unconscious. However, one should wallow in self-pity even though you have sinned. Saints would not simply do something because it gave them pleasure. Rationally, drinking would be okay if it gave you pleasure but no counter-balancing pain to oneself or to others. Hence, the logic that saints cannot drink or smoke might be a bit flawed. Sometimes, lying is justified too. The concern are that some adults teach something unwise and the kid develops an irrational sense of sin. Man must not be swayed by their moods. Moments of weakness give less insight than moments of strength. One should examine their reasons for actions and what caused the remorse. Your conscious beliefs should be firm enough to over-write your unconscious decisions. Do not let irrationality dominate you. Do not be partially swayed by reason and partially by infantile folly. A modern man can be tempted to commit harmful acts. Our nominal morality may have been shaped by priests etc and it was not derived from a study of an individual’s duty to the community. Learn to rebel against age-old traditions. A man should question superstitious morality. Sin makes man unhappy and jealous of others having a good time. Different parts of personality should be in sync so that you can be happy. A certain amount of self-reflection a day is useful. Some people think can rationally can kill all deeper emotions. I disagree. Being rational will not make your life dull as you can still pursue things like love, passion in work etc. The less inward conflicts you have, the more you can channel your energies towards the contemplation of the world. Reason is necessary in effecting a cure. The modern man is simply loving strong distractions and because they will prevent painful thought for that reason. Intoxication is his relief from pain. The greater your possession of faculties, the better.

An expansive and generous attitude towards other people not only gives happiness to others, but is an immense source of happiness to its possessor, since it causes him to be generally liked. – Betrand Russell

What I suggest is that a man should make up his mind with emphasis as to what he rationally believes, and should never allow contrary irrational beliefs to pass unchallenged or obtain a hold over him, however brief. – Betrand Russell

Nothing is so dull as to be encased in self, nothing so exhilarating as to have attention and energy directed outwards. – Betrand Russell

The greatest happiness comes with the most complete possession of one’s faculties. It is in the moments when the mind is most active and the fewest things are forgotten that the most intense joys are experienced. The happiness that requires intoxication of no matter what sort is a spurious and unsatisfying kind. – Betrand Russell

Persecution Mania. Persecution mania is a form of insanity. People feel like others will want to cause injury on them. Sometimes, they may commit acts of violence. If someone is victimized, it is likely the cause lies in himself. He might just be seeking attention. Such a patient must be able to understand. You are unlikely to feel happy if you feel you are mistreated by everybody. Almost everyone says malicious things about others. However, when others say malicious things of them, they are filled with indignant amazement. Gossip can lead to persecution mania. We should have to hide our feelings towards our friends. Never think that your misfortunes affords the key to the Universe. Do not be horrified if you do good to others but receive no gratitude. Remember that your motives are not always as altruistic as they seem to yourself. Don’t over-estimate your own merits. Don’t expect others to take as much interest in you as you do yourself. Don’t imagine that most people give enough thought to you to have any special desire to persecute you. The above are very valuable lessons that one should remember. Understand that not everyone else will have the same world-view as you. If nobody likes your work, perhaps it is the quality of work that is no good and one might have to accept this fact. If you want to produce quality work because of fame, it is unlikely that you will pursue the goal with much persistence. People see things from their point of view, which you may not agree. If you are a common man and think that everyone is against you, you are on the road to insanity. Never build your life based on self-deception.

It does not occur to us that we cannot expect others to think better of us than we think of them, and the reason this does not occur to us is that our own merits are great and obvious, whereas those of others, if they exist at all, are only visible to a very charitable eye. – Betrand Russell

Whatever is to be done can only be done adequately by the help of a certain zest, and zest is difficult without some self-regarding motive. – Betrand Russell

The test is this: do you produce because you feel an urgent compulsion to express certain ideas or feelings, or are you actuated by the desire for applause? – Betrand Russell

Whatever your line in life may be, if you find that others do not rate your abilities as highly as you do yourself, do not be too sure that it is they who are mistaken. – Betrand Russell

Fear of Public Opinion. Catholics do not believe in divorce. Even if your set of values differ from another person, you may be an outcast. Sometimes, if society doesn’t accept your values, you might feel like you have not been treated well. Not many are strong enough to have a brave inner life and ignore public opinion. It can be difficult to go against the social construct. Sometimes, it might be necessary to conceal your real tastes and convictions from most people in order to gain social acceptance. Hence, you mustn’t be afraid of public criticism. Sometimes, it might be good to enter a career which would give you a chance of congenial companionship, even if it means a considerable loss of income. It is okay sometimes to be out of sync with your environment and not be in harmony with it. Never let public criticism embitter you and impair your energy. The old should not simply be allowed to regulate the lives of the young. Do not simply give up because your parents tell you to. However, if professional opinion is against you, you should pay attention to it. One should not voluntarily submit to public tyranny and opinion. A society where everyone is alike can be boring too. People should be allowed to follow their spontaneous tastes. In modern society, it should be much easier to find a congenial soul. Fear of public opinion stuns growth and is oppressive. One should be themselves and have freedom of expression.

Public opinion is always more tyrannical towards those who obviously fear it than towards those who feel indifferent to it. – Betrand Russell

As a matter of fact, any man who can obviously afford a car but genuinely prefers travel or a good library will in the end be much more respected than if he behaved exactly like everyone else. – Betrand Russell

It is essential to happiness that our way of living should spring from our own deep impulses and not from the accidental tastes and desires of those who happen to be our neighbours, or even our relations. – Betrand Russell

Part 2: Causes of Happiness

Causes of Happiness. Happy comes in two forms, one that is plain and fancy or animal and spiritual. I will now describe the 2 forms of happiness. One type is only available to those who can read and write. You can be happy simply from the sufficiency of work and overcoming challenges. An example is that of my gardener. He is interested in slaying rabbits in the course of his work. However, superior people will not unlikely to find joy in this. If you are educated, you would want different activities to achieve the pleasures in life. Don’t be too sure of your abilities in life. There is no need for complex emotions. In general, society respects scientists more than artists. Artists could very well be less happy than men of science. Young people tend to be unhappy that they have no adequate employment for their best talents. Political circumstances in the West are stable and they should affect a young man’s happiness. If you feel powerless, you will not tend to be happy. A powerless guy becomes a reformer/ revolutionary. In life, not only scientists are happy. In fact, it is possible for almost everyone to derive pleasure from their work. The study of shells brings contentment to those who engage in it. There might be less handicraft work in the modern age. The ultimate aim is for machines to perform uninteresting work and humans are reserved for the work involving variety and initiative. Companionship and co-operation also make man happy. Belief in a cause can lead to happiness too. It is useful to find a cause to believe in. One can be absorbed in a hobby, for example, like stamp-collecting. The joy in your hobby can provide consolation to you if you are not making progress at work. We should not think ourselves ‘too superior’ for simple pleasures in life. Hobbies are perhaps not the fundamental source of happiness. A friendly interest in persons and things are more important. Learn to observe people and find pleasure in individual traits. Never try to exert power of others or to make them envy you. One needs to be genuinely happy in himself and not from an idea of self-sacrifice. One can also like things, like how a geologist takes an interest in rocks. Although not as important as being friendly towards others, taking an interest towards things matters too. When you take interest in something, you might be able to acquire a poise and calm which will help you deal with your troubles.

Many of the most eminent of men of science are emotionally simple, and obtain from their work a satisfaction so profound that they can derive pleasure from eating and even marrying. – Betrand Russell

All the conditions of happiness are realized in the life of the man of science. He has an activity which utilizes his abilities to the full. – Betrand Russell

Very few men can be genuinely happy in a life involving continual self-assertion against the skepticism of the mass of mankind, unless they can shut themselves up in a coterie and forget the cold outer world. – Betrand Russell

The pleasure of work is open to anyone who can develop some specialized skill, provided that he can get satisfaction from the exercise of his skill without demanding universal applause. – Betrand Russell

It is easy to find some cause which is in no degree fantastic, and those whose interest in any such cause is genuine are provided with an occupation for their leisure hours and a complete antidote to the feeling that life is empty. – Betrand Russell

We have all experienced collecting small items in boyhood, but have thought them, for some reason, unworthy of a grown man. This a complete mistake; any pleasure that does no harm to other people is to be valued. – Betrand Russell

Being happy in himself, he will be a pleasant companion, and this in turn will increase his happiness. – Betrand Russell

To like many people spontaneously and without effort is perhaps the greatest of all sources of personal happiness. – Betrand Russell

The secret of happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile. – Betrand Russell

Zest. Zest is the common mark of happy men. There are those who thinking eating is a bore or uninteresting. They regard meals as common occurrences. There are those who eat from a sense of duty. There are those who eat too much as well. It is not vulgar to be able to enjoy your food. The mind needs materials from the external world, or it will remain powerless. Events only become experiences if we take interest in them. Learn to turn your attention outwards. Life is never boring to someone who can pay attention to casual objects. The more things you are interested in, the more you can adapt to the world. You can analyze passer-bys that you see. Some men who not keep an open mind and do not enjoy holidays as much. Some men choose to learn about the place, the culture etc and can better appreciate the place more. The man who has the zest for life has an advantage. Experiencing new things are good, provided they do not harm your health. Zest can be very specialized in nature. It is more important to have a general zest for life. We were not ready to praise the gormandizer. In life, there must be a balance between different activities. Do not do things in excess. Our tastes need to fit in the general framework of life. You must still be able to earn an income to buy necessaries etc. If you like chess, it is okay to look forward to playing after working hours but there is no need to give up your work to play. If you need to make sacrifices in life, ensure that you will succeed. Some men like to drink in order to forget things. Habits are regular whereas impulses are irregular. Most people do not have impulse towards the activity, but towards the rewards of the activity. Hence, people’s zest are somewhat restrained. Spontaneous impulse will not produce the necessary results too. Zest requires high energy levels and is very important. In the past, women learnt not to care about anything. This is rather unfortunate and zest is both important for men and women in life.

The man who enjoys watching football is to that extent superior to the man who does not. The man who enjoys reading is still more superior to the man who does not, since opportunities for reading are more frequent than opportunities for watching football. – Betrand Russell

The more things a man is interested in, the more opportunities of happiness he has, and the less he is at the mercy of fate, since if he loses one thing he can fall back upon another. – Betrand Russell

Life is too short to be interested in everything, but it is good to be interested in as many things as are necessary to fill our days. – Betrand Russell

It is quite impossible to guess in advance what will interest a man, but most men are capable of a keen interest in something or other, and when once such an interest has been aroused their life becomes free from tedium. – Betrand Russell

The man, let us say, who loves chess, if he happens to be a bachelor with independent means, need not restrict his passion in any degree, whereas if he has a wife and children and no independent means, he will have to restrict it very severely. – Betrand Russell

The man who has never been fundamentally thwarted will retain his natural interest in the external world, and so long as he retains it he will find life pleasant unless his liberty is unduly curtailed. – Betrand Russell

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