Monday, August 16, 2010

A Long Term Approach in Life

Begin with the End in Mind

The Second Habit

Stephen Covey's Second Habit states:
Begin with the End in Mind

The above short statement underscores the importance of having goals in whatever we engage in. It's interesting that the word goals becomes relevant largely when talking about careers, and other big projects in life. I however want to make the case for having goals, and taking a long term approach in many of our decisions.

Envisioning how things will be years from now is indeed a noble thing.

Relationships and Fellowship

It has been documented that over and above work, it is those who we relate with that end up having a profound impact in our lives. Late last year, I was discussing with a friend, about the importance of actually purposing to become someone's friend.

This may not seem like something worth thinking about. It however becomes increasing clear that we need to be ready and willing to make the friendships work, largely by giving sans expecting payback for our benevolence.

Planting Trees...

Well, it is not Green Kenya stuff I'm getting into here.

A few weeks ago, some friends asked me to prune some trees outside my house and sell them the branches for firewood. I declined. My reasons were rather simple - 1) the trees in question will be needed for other uses several years from now and 2) I do not have replacements right now, whatever trees I have recently planted are too young. One of them reminded me that I may not live long enough to use those trees if I keep on saying such stuff.

All this got me thinking, "Do we only live for the here and now, with no regard for the future?" Furthermore, must our future be assured so that we can do good things that might outlive us?

I was reminded of a favorite wise saying that the essence of a life well lived is planting trees under whose shade we do not intend to sit.

The Challenge

The onus is therefore upon us to do things that will not only benefit us, by taking a long term approach to life.

What say you?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

"The first Degree of Folly, is to conceit one’s self wise;
the second to profess it;
the third to despise Counsel."

- Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard's Almanak)

Back in the day

The very thought of finding modern truth in ancient wisdom came alive in my mind after I read Jonathan Haidt's 'Happiness Hypothesis'.
In the book, Mr Haidt examines ten ancient ideas which have been tested and qualified by modern science. He then extracts lessons that still apply in our modern lives.

The author states that the overwhelming availability and abundance of wisdom undermines the quality of our engagement in life.
This book is worth reading, and has been highlighted in The Walkabout in a previous post. The introduction and several chapter summaries are available for free download.

One of my favorite bloggers at Diasporadical recently wrote that the reason we cannot understand tradition is that we invariably look at it through modern eyes.

Whenever I spend an hour or two with senior citizens in my neighborhood, I usually consider that time precious. Their take on life and its attendant issues may seem at first glance a bit out of fashion.
They however have had the advantage of time, having lived through it all and seen times change. They may not have adapted their thinking, but their opinion surely does count.

That said, we may want to look back at the truths that still hold true regardless of how much has changed. Having an attitude that acknowledges and accommodates the notion that change does not necessarily invalidate the past puts us in a position of advantage - living in modern times, with history according us valuable life lessons.

Traditional practices, ancient sayings... even old people may well be representative of a past we feel we no longer need. They however have a place in our lives , giving us insights we can reflect on and wisdom that still holds true.

These are the things that define our heritage, that help us cherish the days gone by,  ancient wisdom that we can invariably rely on in our daily lives.


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