Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Living a Simple Life. A Life most Uncommon.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

- Leonardo da Vinci

Life in the woods

Today's discussion on the Easy FM breakfast show was quite interesting. It sought to address the firmly held belief that the only way to achieve and make it big is to move to the towns.

I have always believed that you can actually make it regardless of where you are. If only you start small, start now and think big. It is the here and now that ultimately shapes one's future.

Success, Riches and Wealth

These three terms will invariably pop up in any discussion that touches on achievement. Interestingly, almost everyone aspires to be wealthy. Many however, mistakenly believe that it takes riches to be successful or wealthy.

Jim Collins, one of my favorite authors, writes that
"there are two ways to be wealthy. One is to have a huge amount of money. The other is to have simple needs."

Personally, I will opt for the latter any day.


Much has been said about simplicity. Rules of Simplicity have been formulated, talks given and reality shows created in an effort to depict simplicity. In fact, one of the best known non-fiction books is Walden [Life in the Woods] by Henry David Thoreau.

This past Saturday, I was honored to sit with a dear friend and at one point, we discussed how human beings complicate life. All in all, we were in agreement that life can be significantly simple and manageable if we took time to focus on things that matter, dispense with what doesn't necessary concern us and try to seek long-term fulfillment in the stead of transient satisfaction. And this is very much possible when we are living within our means.

Life Uncommon

Seeking to live a life that is simple, fulfilling and worthwhile inevitably demands that one goes against the grain in most situations. We can however take heart from Steve Jobs's words as he gave a commencement address at Stanford University.
Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice.

Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition...

All in all, it is possible to live a simple life. That life however , will be most uncommon.

Now say hello to a worthwhile, simple and most uncommon life. Because as Steve Jobs continues to say,
"[your heart and intuition] somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What Can Happen When One Doesn't Lose Hope

"The important thing is not that we can live on hope alone,

but that life is not worth living without it."

- Harvey Milk

We know that animals usually act instinctively. They however willfully do some things that totally amaze us.

There is a lot that we can learn from animals.

Hope: Never Give Up

Unwavering Hope

Faced with danger, some animals will exhibit highly unconventional behavior.

Consider the following monkey that literally escaped from a crocodile's jaws.

I bet the monkey will now live its life to the fullest, having got a second chance in life.  :)

In the following video, an elephant demonstrates that we only start dying when we lose hope, that it is never too late to try yet again. Carefully look at what happens between 06:48 and 08:48.


What a poignant reminder that things can indeed be alright even when all looks lost!

All said and done, never give up. Never lose hope. Ever.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back to the Basics, Even as we Forge Ahead

"He who has not first laid his foundations may be able with great ability to lay them afterwards, but they will be laid with trouble to the architect and danger to the building."

- Niccolo Machaivelli (The Prince)

We still need to leverage on our past in our quest to shape our lives.

Back to the Basics

Now that 2010 is finally taking its place in the annals of history, everyone is keen to see how long they can last before New Year resolutions are abandoned and old habits are embraced once again. Actually, the resolutions will not be forgotten that fast, what is most likely to happen is that many will be leading busy lives in the stead of disciplined lives.

That said, we often entirely lose sight of our past and thereby forget the good in it that brought us to where we are. In forgetting past encounters, we fail to realize that the people involved may have added value at some point. In forcefully erasing past activities from our routines, we fail to see that only by doing them then did would we learn that they are damaging, and thereby learn to avoid bigger mistakes and loss in the future.

Much has been written and sung in an attempt to address what was. In Larnelle Harris's song 'I miss my time with you', God asks,
it hurt's me when you say

you're too busy

busy trying to serve me

but how can you serve me

when your spirit's empty

Likewise, Nelly Furtado sings about an abandoned, forgotten love:
We forgot about love

We forgot about faith

We forgot about trust

We forgot about us

Now our love's floating out the window

Our love's floating out the back door

Our love's floating up in the sky in heaven

Where it began back in God's hands

In trying to shape an uncertain destiny, we need to go back to the basics, and carry on with those worthwhile things that brought us this far.

What things in your past, no matter how much you want to let go of it, do you give credit for getting you to where you currently are?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Letting Go and Moving On in 2011

"Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.

And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."

- Steve Jobs


The new year is now upon us and with it comes many hopes and promises. We do have great expectations of what to accomplish this year before 2012 says hello. Driven by resolutions, many of us have already started doing the needful towards that end.

Looking back however, you may have been trying to make some changes in life or to attain your mandate in line with some set objectives, but failed to do so within the specified time.

Despite this devastating inability to achieve, you can still welcome 2011 without fear, regret and guilt the same way we welcomed 2010.
Additionally, the unexpected occurrences that made you look at the past year differently may as well be what ultimately changes your life.

Consider the following song titled "Hopeless" by Farris Dionne:


Should you feel hopeless in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds this year, remember that you can refuse to stay around or even take with you, a past that no longer does you right.

It no longer matters how badly you have failed in the past, how hopeless and worthless others perceive you, all the can change for better.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Doing the Right Thing

We must learn how to let go of that which we really want, in order that we might acquire that which we need.
Do the Right Thing

I did the right thing yesterday, by foregoing a really good thing.

You see, I was scheduled to meet someone I hadn't seen in quite a while. As of Sunday morning, I was all ready and looking forward to the meetup.

I then looked at what else I need to do before the day ended, and this meeting simply became untenable. Despite the bad feeling that I had to cancel at the last minute, and the opportunity cost involved [I wouldn't be able to see this person again anytime soon], I went ahead and cancelled.

By evening, I looked back at what I had accomplished in the course of the day. It was amazing. Simply reordering my priorities had made all the difference. Not that this meeting was useless, but I now had the good feeling that my day was better spent at doing things that would have taken much more time to do than it took yesterday.

This whole thing of needs vs wants reminds us that success is largely a function of delaying gratification. The ability to see the long term when we make choices makes all the difference sometimes. Check out the following TED Talk by Joachim de Posada:

That said, we wish you all the best in 2011, even as you try your best not to eat the marshmallow... yet.



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