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Goal of Human Life?
Question: How are we to know that our aim is exclusively and only God (Self) Realization ? Since wealth is also worthy of being acquired, honour and status are also worth attaining, comforts and conveniences are also desirable, so many things are to be achieved, the question arises as to how to be sure that “God Realization” is the goal of our life?Swamiji: Is there anyone among you who wants such happiness that is not complete and perfect? Does anyone want happiness that is incomplete and transitory? Does anyone want a life that does not remain; that we live at times and other times we do not live? Does anyone here desire knowledge that is incomplete?We all desire happiness that never ends, a life that is eternal and knowledge that is perfect and complete in itself, knowledge that does not have the least bit of incompleteness in it, knowledge that is supreme and perfect. In fact, this longing within is the longing for the Supreme Truth of Life, God (Paramatma). Besides God, there is nothing which is eternal, perfect and absolute.We continue to suppress this desire to seek Truth by petty worldly desires and become happy and unhappy at times and intervals. Even a dog is pleased by happiness in small measures. A donkey too is pleased that way. That happiness should be achieved which is in no way incomplete, which is perfect in itself, that is not mixed with the least bit of sorrow or unhappiness. The world is incapable of offering happiness that has no deficiency or shortcoming. Thus worldly pleasures or happiness is not our goal. It is not our destiny. When we inquire on this deeply, we will realize that, that kind of happiness which is eternal, indivisible, without permitting any deficiency is only in one Supreme entity, the Lord-of-all ( Paramatma). In whatever measure the worldly things may be achieved, wealth, money, possessions, position, posts, name, fame, glories, kingdom, honour, respect, status etc., may fall to our lot, but that cannot give us contentment or full lasting satisfaction. On the contrary, let there be “more of it”, yes, still “more of it” such grows the greedy desire for them.We want to live, it means that we are dying or else why should there have been a longing to live? It is true that there is a desire to live. Having understood and known much in the world, there still lurks a desire to know ever more. Having obtained things in plenty, the desire to have more and more persists. Having done a lot in life, there is always a keenness to entertain the idea that though much has been done, yet this much has still to be accomplished. This sort of deficiency or incompleteness which is felt is knowing, gaining, doing etc., need to be recognized by man. It must be realized that this deficiency the world can never remove. This whole world may be achieved and yet this emptiness can never be filled, because the world is impermanent and ever changing. But think a little, what will happen once God is realized. In this regard, the Gita says - “yam labdhvaa chaaparam
laabham manyate naadhikam tatah.”
i.e. Having realised whom there is no gain higher than that.” Such is his experienced belief which none can shake. Having established himself in such a perfect state of God Realization, even the heaviest affliction born of stormy situations in life cannot in the least shake him from his solid rock like faith.
“yasminsthito na dukhena gurunaapi vichaalyate”
Even if he is sandwiched between the two conflicting mighty rocks and his body is crushed, then too even by that excruciating pain he is not dislodged or dissuaded from his unison with the Supreme Self. That pain has no access there. The pain cannot even touch that soulful state. Happiness is so much there that there can be no higher bliss than that. No sorrow can even cast its shadow on it. Tell, who wants such a blissful blessedness? People get contented even in small shares (alpa); that is a very big mistake.
The seekers do commit such a big error that while following the path, they get pleased or contented with elementary success midway. There is a Marawari saying; “adhe kutte kholana hi kheera hai.” i.e. for a blind dog even the “Kholana” (water from strained vegetables etc) is as good as rice cooked in milk (kheer). Similarly there are people that become highly pleased even with the acquisition of a little wealth, wisdom, honour, and fame in the world. What is truly achieved? The worldly achievements whatever it is, is indeed a deception. We need to realize the Supreme and the superior most truth! Even if we need wealth, it must be of the best and highest nature. Whatever we want, whether wisdom, riches, honour, status, praise, life, we want it to be of the noblest, purest and highest order. None can uproot this fundamental desire of man’s heart! And, nothing short of God Realization can satiate this deep-seated longing, because the supreme Tattva is no other than God Himself.
Arjuna says -
Na tvatsamo’styabhyadhikah kuto’nyo
lokatraye’ pyarpratimaprabhaava (gita 11/43)
i.e. Thou are of illimitable power and effect”; there is none like You; how can then anybody be more higher than what you are! Achievement of such a supreme thing should thus be the goal of our life.
That Tattva which was realized in ancient times by the earlier great ones, that sages and seers, saints and Sadhus, Sanakaadika and Devarshi Narada, Brahmaa, Shankara etc., - that very truth is realizable and can be realized even now in this Kaliyuga today. The worldly goods can not be obtained by one and all, but God can be realized by everybody. There is not a single man for whom God is inaccessible! Realization of that supreme truth, God alone, is the goal of human life.
My aim is God realization - only man is capable enough to realize this thing; not any other living being! Amongst living beings, cow is very holy animal, but we cannot make her understand this truth. Ponder a little, please, on the point. You come to Satsanga so early in the morning from very far distances and that too daily. Do you get any money here? Or any sensual enjoyments? Or any honour? Or any gains? Or any profits that you earn over here? If none of these then tell me what brings you here for satsanga so early in the pre-dawn hours?
Listener: We get peace and solace to our soul!
Swamiji: Peace perfect and full is what we need. If you get some or little amount of peace here and then you go away; and if your peace does not stay for long thereafter, then what is the use or value of such incomplete or transitory peace? We need the highest kind of peace which never comes to an end. But the mistake occurs when we get pleased with only petty peace of worldly nature!
One man was going to his village on a camel. He reached a mid-way village at the fall of night. There at one place a marriage ceremony was taking place. Drums and trumpets were being beaten and blown. That man was a Brahmin. Having reached the spot he came to know that “Bhoora” was about to be disbursed. “Bhoora” in Sanskrit is known as a special gift given to Brahmins on wedding occasions. That Brahmin fastened the camel outside the house and went inside to obtain the “Bhoora”. The thieves who happened to be there, saw the camel and they rode off with it. The Brahmin receive four annas for his “bhoora”, but when he came outside and saw the missing camel, he realized that his loss was significant – Rs 500, the cost of the camel.
The purport of the illustration is that in the petty achievements of transitory worldly things, some honour, some wealth, some pleasure, some status, some exotic foods – the camel of God Realization is forgotten and lost sight of. Such is the plight! The great Bliss is forsaken in favour of temporary glitter of worldly pettinesses, and small pleasures!
Eternal happiness is being lost in ephemeral happiness! People become happy in small doses of honours. One saint was told by some people that he was highly honoured and respected by them. The saint said : “What honour you can confer! Dust? All of you people can hardly pay any honour. We are honoured by God! What power have you to honour us? Truly, indeed, God alone decks His devotees, the saints, with the honour of immortality! How does a worldly person know what the real honour is?
The supreme gain which you crave for is in reality, the deep longing for God Realization. You may call, if you so desire, this longing “the urge to know”, “the urge to love” or “the urge to be happy for ever”. “the urge to see God face to face” “the urge for God Realization”. All mean one and the same thing. Only this is our goal. Be firm and fixed on this objective. Do not be pleased with the incomplete. If you do not get stuck up in the half incomplete, you will realize, the full.
This human body is the best of all the living forms. So, its ultimate goal should also be the best. There should be no higher goal than that ever thinkable. It is thus self-evident that God-Realization is the highest and the noblest goal of human life. Human life is meant only for this supreme purpose. Listener: Where is the guarantee, Holy Sir, that by giving up worldly pleasures, the highest truth of life will be attained? If we give up one and do not gain the other higher one, then shall we not remain empty altogether?
Swamiji: Arjuna also posed a similar question that if a seeker of yoga dies midway on the path of Yoga without realizing the Supreme, what plight would be of the poor one? Does he become “ubhaya-bhrasta” or fall from both the ends (Gita 6/37-38)? The world was renounced and God was not realized before he left his mortal coil – then will he only hang in between them? The Lord answered: “No Partha! He suffers no fall: neither in this world, nor in the next world; because O’ dear he who walks even little on the path of spiritual well-being never slips into any wretchedness or plight “durgati” (Gita 6/40).
If you happen to come across any traveller on the noble way of Welfare Supreme, you will yourself realize this truth. His gaiety, his bliss, his God intoxicatedness will have a peculiar halo, a specifically distinctive ring. The seekers of truth do register spiritual progress and they certainly enjoy extraordinary and ecstatic joy of life whereby they can never give up their search or Sadhana. That which is Supreme Bliss is obtainable by all, there is no doubt about it. Why is there no doubt? Because when we undertake spiritual practices, the peculiarities of divine life reveal themselves to us. Let you go in for soulfulness of divine discipline and then, the mysteries will be unfurled unto you too. There is an immense gain or joy in the association of the holy persons (satsang). We have not seen any other “upaaya” or means of realizing the highest goal of life. Countless are the means and people do follow one or the other of them, but the gain we obtain through Satsanga, we cannot acquire through any other means which we may adopt even for years.
From book "Be Good" by Swami Ramsukhdasji
नारायण ! नारायण ! नारायण !
To be happy in one’s own happiness and sad in one’s own sadness is beastliness, while to be happy in others’ happiness and sad in others’ sadness is humanity. Therefore, as long as, a man does not develop the nature of becoming happy in others’ happiness, and sad with others’ sadness, he does not deserve to be called a man. His appearance may be like a man, but in fact he is not a man. So long as a man is happy in his own happiness and sad with his own sorrows, it means that he has not developed humanity in him.
He who harms others for his own happiness and pleasure, does not deserve to be called a man. A man is he who having renounced his selfishness, does good to others or at least does not in the least cause any suffering to others. Therefore the lesson that needs to be learned is that let no one experience any pain or suffering, in the least bit through our actions. Besides trying to relieve the people of their sufferings, we should aim at their welfare, keeping in the forefront, how they can be benefited? May all beings be benefited!
“Remain engrossed in the welfare of all.” (Gita 5/25; 12/4).
We are only responsible for the welfare of others to the extent of our ability, power and resources. No one can make everyone happy. Even all the men in the world pulling all their resources together, cannot make a single man happy. The reason is that as a man’s desire for prosperity, pleasures, honor and praise etc., are fulfilled, the more they are strengthened. In the Manasa, it is mentioned,
“Jimi pratilaabh lobh adhikaayi,”
“The more a man gains, the more greedy he becomes.”
Even on acquiring an abundance of riches, the man can’t be satisfied. When the entire world together cannot make a single man happy, how can then one man relieve all people of the world of their suffering? However, all can adopt the feelings and sentiments, of wishing well for other’s welfare, i.e. “How can all be happy?”, whether he is a brother or a sister, young or old, rich or poor. No one is deprived of this right.
He who does good to others according to his power, God does good to him according to His power. If he applies all his power to do good to others, then God also applies all His power to do good to him. When God applies His powers, then how can he remain unhappy? No one can ever make him unhappy; and such a person attains God. The Lord declares -
“Te praapnuvanti maameva sarvabhootahite rataah.”
“Those who are engrossed in the welfare of all beings attain Me.” (Gita 12/4).
We should wish -
“Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah;
Sarve Santu Niraamayaah |
Sarve Bhadraani pashyantu,
Maa kaschid dukhabhaagbhavet ||
“May all be happy, May all be free from diseases, May all attain benediction and May no one suffer in the least.”
He who wishes everyone to be happy, healthy and totally free from all sufferings, deserves to be called a human being. As long as he is not saddened by the sufferings of others, till then he cannot be considered to be a man. Second point is that, he who empathizes and identifies with the suffering of others, does not grieve from his own grief. You all pay attention! Only he, who does not have compassion for the joys and sorrows of others, has to suffer. Only he who is a pleasure seeker, and hankers after riches, experiences the void of and lack of happiness. But he, who is happy with the happiness of others, never has a shortage of happiness. How? His desire for enjoyment and pleasures perishes.
The desire for pleasures and prosperity is the main obstacle to God Realization. Sense pleasures and hoarding, will not permit man to realize God. The reason is that when he hoards, he does this with his body, and when he enjoys pleasures, he does so with his body. So if a man is attached to the body, an effigy of bone and flesh, if he is a slave to these, how can he attain spiritual enlightenment? But he, who is happy in the happiness of others, ceases to have the desire for happiness or pleasure, while he who is moved and distressed in the sadness of others ceases to have the desire for hoarding.
On being moved with the sufferings of others, man thinks of relieving the sufferers of their sufferings. Just as we spend money to relieve ourselves of our pain, similarly, we will be willing to spend money to relieve others off their sufferings. We will not be able to hoard too much money! Even if it is accumulated, we shall not remain attached to it, by thinking that it belongs to others. It is therefore mentioned in the Bhagawat -
Yavad brhiyeta jatharam taavat svatvam hi dehinaam |
Adhikam yo’bhimanyeta sa steno dandamarhati || (7/14/8)
A man is authorized to possess only the bare necessities of life. It means that the food which satisfies your hunger, the water which quenches your thirst, the clothes and house which are necessary for the bare maintenance of your body, are yours. One who lays a claim to anything else besides these bare necessities of life is a thief and will be punished. You may say that you have not got these from somewhere else, these are your own. But how are they yours? Did you bring even a single thing with you when you were born? Will you carry even a single coin with you when you die? Therefore all the extra things with us belong to those who have a shortage of these. He who is sad with the sadness of others, never hankers after pleasure and prosperity. His heart is filled with compassion which provides him with such a relish or joy which cannot be provided by mundane pleasures.
If you amass riches, it means that within there is cruelty, lack of compassion. Where there is compassion, there is no amassing of possessions for one’s pleasure. Why? Because he is naturally joyful! The happiness that comes from hoarding is of the modes of passion and ignorance. The happiness which is derived by being happy in the happiness of others is not changed into pleasures and prosperity, but it is a kind of bliss! a very joyful feeling!
He whose nature and inner sentiments (bhaav) are to share in the sufferings of others, can never ever enjoy pleasures while others are suffering. A person with a noble heart can’t cook and relish delicious dishes, if his neighbor is starving. Under such circumstances, he can’t relish food at all. But those people who cause suffering to others, will they suffer on accord of other’s sufferings? Such people who cause suffering to others for their own happiness, dishonor others for their own honor, blame others for their own praise, dismiss others for their own position, don’t deserve to be called human beings. They are not human beings at all. They are animals! Animals that are so lowly, that they have neither horns, nor tails. They possess human body and beasty nature. Birds and beast are purified by reaping the fruit of their sinful actions. But vile persons, who cause sufferings to others, pave the way to hells by committing new sins. In the Ramcharitramanasa Lord Rama says to Vibhishana –
Baru bal baas narak kar taataa |
Dusht sang jani deyi bidhaataa || (Manas 5/46/4)
O’ dear friend, it is better to live in hell, but let providence not give us the company of vile persons (Manasa 5/45/4)
It is vile to be happy and sad with one’s own happiness and sadness. Our stay in hells will expiate our sins and purify us, while company of the vile will lead us to different kinds of hells.
Animals don’t incur sins by causing suffering to others because the ordinance of sins and virtues is applicable to human beings only. Birds and beasts cause suffering to others in order to satisfy their hunger, rather than for pleasure and prosperity. But a millionaire or a multi-millionaire that goes on hoarding wealth by causing suffering to others does not deserve to be called a human being. He is worse than an animal. This human life aims at purification. Those who cause suffering to others commit sins and they will have to reap horrible fruits.
The inner sense of those who don’t feel happy in the happiness of others and compassionate with sorrow of others is impure. Their impure inner sense paves the way to hell for them. The inner sense of animals is not so much impure because they don’t kill beings for pleasure. They satisfy their hunger with the kill. Men are free to perform new actions while animals have to reap the fruit of their past actions. Men prepare delicious dishes and relish them and thus they incur sin. True humanity consists in being happy with others’ happiness and sad with others sadness. So every human being should have the sentiment how can all beings be happy and how can they be relieved of their sufferings?
नारायण ! नारायण ! नारायण
From "Ease of God Realization" in Hindi and English by Swami Ramsukhdasji
The Secret to Happiness Is 10 Specific Behaviors
Despite happiness being a primary human motivation, only one in three Americans say they’re very happy.
Several years ago in an interview with Conan O’Brien, Louis C. K. tells of flying on a newly equipped Wi-Fi airplane. He was amazed by the new technology. Until, during the flight, the Wi-Fi went down. Immediately, the man next to him became extremely upset. “As though the world owes this man something he only knew existed 10 seconds ago.”
Louis C. K. continues by describing people’s absurd frustrations with flying in general. People complain about it all the time “It was the worst day of my life! It took 20 minutes to board! We had to sit on the runway for 40 minutes!”
We hear complaints like these all the time. As if we’ve forgotten how incredible it is that humans can fly at all.
How are we so quick to take for granted the remarkable things going on in life?
Why is it so easy to complain?
Why do we focus on the negative?
Everything is amazing and nobody is happy.
However, happiness can easily be achieved even without the brilliant advances in the world.
Rather than being reactive to what’s going on around us, happy people take control of their lives and emotions. If you are unhappy with your life, who or what else can you blame than yourself? And if you can blame someone or something else, how is blame going to make your life any better?
Bad stuff happens to everyone. But life isn’t about what happens to you. It’s about how you proactively respond.
The following 10 behaviors, if applied, will change your life. Let me be clear, if you do these things, you will be an incredibly happy person.
1. Let Go Of The Need For Specific Outcomes
Not everything in life goes exactly how we plan. There are setbacks. Stuff happens. We mess up. Over-obsessing and basing happiness on specific outcomes leads to misery. Jeremy Piven, the famous actor, was recently interviewed by Success Magazine. During the interview, he mentioned that, as an actor, the only way to work is to go out and audition for specific roles.The challenge most actors/actresses face is that they get in their own way. It doesn’t matter how much homework they’ve done. If they’re too tied to a specific result, they can’t be present in the moment. They can’t truly perform their art. They come off as desperate. They get in their own way. Their performance isn’t what it could have been.Jeremy said that when he quit worrying about a specific result, he was able to be present during his auditions. He was able to be completely who he wanted to be. He wasn’t trying to be what he thought others wanted him to be. He performed his art.If he didn’t get the gig, either they didn’t get it or it just wasn’t the right fit. So he moves on to the next. In this way, he’s able to get the jobs he’s supposed to have. He’s not just trying to get anything he can get.
2. Define Your Own Success And Happiness
“Be everything to everybody and you’ll be nothing for yourself.” — John Rushton
No two human beings are the same. So why should we have one standard of success? Seeking society’s standard of success is an endless rat-race. There will always be someone better than you. You’ll never have the time to do everything.Instead, you recognize that every decision has opportunity cost. When you choose one thing, you simultaneously don’t choose several others. And that’s okay. Actually, it’s beautiful because we get to choose our ultimate ideal. We must define success, wealth, and happiness in our own terms because if we don’t, society will for us — and we will always fall short. We’ll always be left wanting. We’ll always be stuck comparing ourselves and competing with other people. Our lives will be an endless race for the next best thing. We’ll never experience contentment.
3. Commit 100 Percent To The Things That Make You Happy
“Many of us have convinced ourselves that we are able to break our own personal rules “just this once.” In our minds, we can justify these small choices. None of those things, when they first happen, feels like a life-changing decision. The marginal costs are almost always low. But each of those decisions can roll up into a much bigger picture, turning you into the kind of person you never wanted to be.” — Clayton Christensen
People are really good at self-sabotage. We consistently behave in ways that contradict our goals and ideals. This is incongruence. As Mahatma Gandhi has said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” The smaller the gap between what you should do, and what you actually do — the happier you will be.
Hence, Clayton Christensen says 100 percent commitment is easier than 98 percent commitment. When you fully commit to something, the decision has been made. Consequently, regarding that thing, all future decisions have been made.
Unless you’re committed 100 percent, you will always be a victim to external circumstances. By relying on willpower, you’ll crumble more often than you think. Research has found that people over-inflate their own performance. Chances are, you probably think you’re doing better at your resolves than you really are.
But once you’re 100 percent committed, you no longer need to rely on willpower. Your decision has already been made regardless of the circumstances. Saying “No” to anything outside our highest ideals becomes extremely easy. This is living proactively rather than reactively.
4. Be Grateful For What You Already Have
“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present — love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness] — the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach
Happiness is as simple as gratitude. Psychological research has found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:
Stronger immune systems, Less bothered by aches and pains, Lower blood pressure, Exercise more and take better care of their health, Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
Higher levels of positive emotions, More alert, alive, and awake, More joy and pleasure, More optimism and happinessSocial
More helpful, generous, and compassionate, More forgiving, More outgoing, Feel less lonely and isolatedDespite these benefits, most people ungratefully focus on what they don’t have. As a culture, we have become wasteful and undisciplined consumers. The grass is always greener on the other side. A constant pursuit of having more of the newest and best.
How could you possibly find happiness when you relentlessly want more and never find properly appreciate what you have?
It’s time for you to learn how to be more grateful. Your happiness depends on it.
5. Say “I Love You” More
This may be strange, but if you tell your friends and family you love them, they’ll be blown away. I once knew a Polynesian missionary who told everyone he loved them. It was clear he was sincere.I asked him why he did it. What he told me changed my life. “When I tell people I love them, it not only changes them, but it changes me. Simply by saying the words, I feel more love for that person. I’ve been telling people all around me I love them. They feel treasured by me. Those who know me have come to expect it. When I forget to say it, they miss it.”Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”As my wife, Lauren, tells our children daily, “The secret to happiness is to make everyone around you happy.” By default, you will get the satisfaction of bringing joy to others and their positive energy will come back to you.
6. Have Hobbies Directed Toward Your Dreams
Most people’s hobbies are just hobbies. And that’s okay. It’s good to have an escape from reality. However, research has found that a person can experience leisure in anything. Your work can become your leisure — where it literally rejuvenates you.When I decided where I wanted my life to go, my life vision, I consciously chose hobbies that would best get me there. Some of these hobbies include exercise, reading, writing, journaling, having deep and meaningful conversations, and being in nature. These hobbies refresh and rejuvenate me while simultaneously pushing me toward my dreams.
7. Don’t Wait Til Tomorrow For What You Can Do Today
“When I was around thirteen and my brother ten, Father had promised to take us to the circus. But at lunchtime there was a phone call; some urgent business required his attention downtown. We braced ourselves for disappointment. Then we heard him say [into the phone], ‘No, I won’t be down. It’ll have to wait.’“When he came back to the table, Mother smiled. ‘The circus keeps coming back, you know,’ [she said.]“‘I know,’ said Father. ‘But childhood doesn’t.’” — Arthur GordonHappiness comes from embracing the now. Not letting those moments pass you by. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, tells of the story of missing his child being born to be at an “important meeting.” He thought the potential client would be impressed with his commitment to work. Instead, they saw his decision to miss such a monumental moment as a flaw in character. That moment was a turning point for Greg. In fact, it spurred him to change everything about his life. He now removes everything from his life that is not vital and essential.Nothing in life is permanent. Kids grow up. Friends move away. Our loved ones pass on from this life. Let’s live in the present and appreciate the most important things in our lives before it’s too late.
8. Do Something Every Day That Terrifies You
Happy people step out of their comfort zone. You can’t grow if you don’t challenge yourself. And growth is a requirement of happiness. If you’re not growing, you’re slowly decaying and dying.
Elevated risk makes you feel more alive and puts you in a state of flow — which is an optimal conscious state where you feel and perform at your highest level. You become completely absorbed in what you’re doing — pure presence.
When you do things way outside your comfort zone, you naturally raise your conscious level. When you do things that involve high risk, and high probability of failure, you are forced to think differently than you normally do. You are forced to be creative and innovative.
Sadly, most people play life small, safe, and easy. The goals they pursue are logical. There is little element of risk and little requirement for faith.
Consequently, you should take bigger risks in your life. Do things that make you feel alive and activate flow. Of course, with this will come more failures. But if you’re not failing, you’re not growing. Rather than experiencing apathy in life, you’ll experience more of a roller-coaster of emotions. We can never appreciate joy if we’ve never felt sorrow. The more pain and fear we feel, the more we can comprehend and appreciate joy and happiness.
9. Put “The Important” Before “The Urgent”
Stephen Covey says that most people spend their time on urgent but unimportant things. We wake up and immediately check our email. Thus, we put our lives on reactive, rather than proactive mode. After all, email is simply a database of other people’s agendas.
Instead, happy people always put the important stuff first. Not only important, but important and non-urgent. The important stuff includes exercise, reading good books, setting goals, writing in your journal, and spending time with those you love. None of these things are urgent. We could easily put these things off until tomorrow — which is ultimately never. The most happy and successful people in the world spend most of their time on the important.
One of my favorite non-urgent yet important things is my morning routine. I wake up several hours before I start my work day. I meditate and pray to put myself in a space of gratitude and abundance. Then I get my body moving with exercise or yard work. I eat healthy food, read my long-term goals, listen to uplifting content, and do at least one thing to move me toward my goals.
10. Forgo The Good To Pursue The Best
A lot of things in life are good, even great. That doesn’t mean we should do them. In Good to Great, Jim Collins says that once-in-a-lifetime opportunities come up every day. Most people take any great opportunity that comes their way, even if it’s not in alignment with their life vision. Consequently, most people’s lives are moving in a thousand different directions. They aren’t able to consciously move forward in a singular direction.
On the other hand, happy people say no to even amazing opportunities. They will not sacrifice freedom for security. They will not get derailed by distractions — even sexy and attractive distractions.
Very few things in life are best. You can only determine what’s best for you once you know where you want your life to go. Be careful not to continuously engage in good activities and miss the best ones.
Happy people live in the present. They don’t miss the moments that matter most. They are incredibly grateful for all they have. They focus their lives on the important and essential. They forgo the many good opportunities in order to focus on the few best ones.
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The best thing you can learn from Inception of 'Alphabet' by Larry Page
This is something best I've read in long time, so just wants to keep this piece in my collection.
Written by: James Altucher
========================I visited Google a few weeks ago and, after almost getting arrested, my mind was blown.
First, Claudia wandered into the garage where they were actually making or fixing the driverless cars. When they finally realized she was wandering around, security had to escort her out.
We got scared and we thought we were going to get in trouble or thrown out.
Then we met with a friend high up at Google and learned some of the things Google was working on.
Nothing was related to search. Everything was related to curing cancer (a bracelet that can make all the cancer cells in your body move towards the bracelet), automating everything (cars just one of those things), Wi-Fi everywhere (Project Loon) and solving other “billion person problems”.
A problem wasn’t considered worthy unless it could solve a problem for a billion people.
So now Alphabet is aligning itself towards this strategy: a holding company that owns and invests in other companies that can solve billion person problems.
It’s not divided up by money. It’s divided up by mission.
I want to do this in my personal life also.
Just analyzing Larry Page’s quotes from the past ten years is a guidebook for “billion person success” and for personal success.
Here Are Some Of His Quotes:
"If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning."
To have well-being in life you need three things:
A) a feeling of competence or growth.
B) good emotional relationships.
C) freedom of choice.
Being able to wake up excited in the morning is an outcome of well-being.
Feeling like every day you are working on a billion-person problem will give you those three aspects of well-being.
At the very least, when I wake up I try to remember to ask: Who can I help today?
Because I’m a superhero and this is my secret identity.
"Especially in technology, we need revolutionary change, not incremental change."
Too often we get stuck in “good enough”. If you build a business that supports your family and maybe provides for retirement then that is “good enough”.If you write a book that sells 1000 copies then that is “good enough.”You ever wonder why planes have gotten slower since 1965? The Dreamliner 787 is actually slower than the 747. That’s ok. It’s good enough to get people across the world and save on fuel costs.It’s only the people who push past the “good enough syndrome” that we hear about: Elon Musk building a space ship. Larry Page indexing all knowledge. Elizabeth Holmes potentially diagnosing all diseases with a pin prick.
Isaac Asimov wrote classic science fiction like “The Foundation Series” but it wasn’t good enough for him. He ended up writing 500 more books, writing more books than anyone in history.
Larry Page keeps pushing so that every day he wakes up knowing he’s going to go past “good enough” that day.
What does your “good enough” day look like. What’s one thing that moves you past that?
"My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society."
Whenever I’ve managed companies and have had the small opportunity to be a leader I’ve judged my success on only one thing:
Does the employee at night go home and call his or her parents and say, “guess what I did today!”
I’m not sure this always worked. But I do think Larry Page lifts all his employees to try to be better versions of themselves, to try to surpass him, to try and change the world.
If each employee can say, “who did I help today” and have an answer, then that is a good leader.
Empowering others, empowers you.
"Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future."
The stock market is near all time highs. And yet every company in the original Dow Jones market index (except for GE) has gone out of business.
Even US Steel, which built every building in the country for an entire century, has gone bankrupt.
Never let the practical get in the way of the possible.
It’s practical to focus on what you can do right now.
But give yourself time in your life to wonder what is possible and to make even the slightest moves in that direction.
We’re at maybe 1% of what is possible. Despite the faster change, we’re still moving slow relative to the opportunities we have. I think a lot of that is because of the negativity… Every story I read is Google vs someone else. That’s boring. We should be focusing on building the things that don’t exist.
Sometimes I want to give up on whatever I’m working on. I’m not working on major billion person problems.
And sometimes I think I write too much about the same thing. Every day I try to think, “What new thing can I write today” and I actually get depressed when I can’t think of something totally new.
But I am working on things that I think can help people. And if you are out side of people’s comfort zones, if you are breaking the normal rules of society, people will try to pull you down.
Larry Page didn’t want to be defined by Google for his entire life. He wants to be defined by what he hasn’t yet done. What he might even be afraid to do.
I wonder what my life would be like if I started doing all the things I was afraid to do. If I started defining my life by all the things I have yet to do.
"Many leaders of big organizations, I think, don’t believe that change is possible. But if you look at history, things do change, and if your business is static, you’re likely to have issues."
Guess which company had the original patent that ultimately Larry Page derived his own patent (that created google) from?
Go ahead. Think a second. Guess.
An employee of this company created the patent and tried to get them to use it to catalog information on the web.
So Robin Li, an employee of The Wall Street Journal, quit the newspaper of capitalism (who owned his patent), moved to China (a communist country), and created Baidu.
And Larry Page modified the patent, filed his own, and created Google.
And the Wall Street Journal got swallowed up by Rupert Murdoch and is dying a slow death.
"I think as technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out new things and figure out the effect on society."
A friend of mine is writing a novel but is afraid to publish it. “Maybe it will be bad,” he told me.
Fortunately we live in a world where experimentation is easy. You can make a 30 page novel, publish it on Amazon for nothing, use an assumed name, and test to see if people like it.
Heck, I’ve done it. And it was fun.
Mac Lethal is a rapper who has gotten over 200 million views on his YouTube videos. Even Ellen had him on her show to demonstrate his skills.
I asked him, “do you get nervous if one of your videos gets less views than others?”
He told me valuable advice: “Nobody remembers your bad stuff. They only remember your good stuff.”
I live by that.
"If we were motivated by money, we would have sold the company a long time ago and ended up on a beach."
Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted to be academics. When they first patented Google, they tried to sell to Yahoo for $1 million (ONE MILLION DOLLARS).
When Yahoo laughed them out the door, they tried to sell to Excite for $750,000.
Excite laughed them out the door. Now an ex-employee of Google is the CEO of Yahoo. And the founder of Excite works at Google. Google dominates.
Money is a side effect of trying to help others. Trying to solve problems. Trying to move beyond the “good enough”.
So many people ask: “how do I get traffic?” That’s the wrong question.
If you ask every day, “How did I help people today?” then you will have more traffic and money than you could have imagined.
"Invention is not enough. Tesla invented the electric power we use, but he struggled to get it out to people. You have to combine both things: invention and innovation focus, plus the company that can commercialize things and get them to people."
Everyone quotes the iconic story of Thomas Edison “failing” 10,000 times to get the electric lightbulb working.
I put failing in quotes because he was doing what any scientist does. He does many experiments until one works.
But what he did that was truly remarkable was convince New York City a few weeks later to light up their downtown using his lights.
The first time ever a city was lit up at night with electricity.
That’s innovation. That’s how the entire world got lit up.
"If you say you want to automate cars and save people’s lives, the skills you need for that aren’t taught in any particular discipline. I know – I was interested in working on automating cars when I was a Ph.D. student in 1995."
Too often we get labeled by our degree and our job titles. Larry Page and Elon Musk were computer science majors. Now they build cars and space ships.
David Chang was a competitive golfer as a kid, majored in religious studies in college, and then had random gopher jobs in his 20s.
The gopher jobs all happened to be in restaurants so he became familiar with how the business was run.
Then he started probably the most popular restaurant in NYC, momofoku. A dozen or so restaurants later, he is one of the most successful restauranteurs in history.
Peter Thiel worked as a lawyer in one of the top law firms in NY. When he quit in order to become an entrepreneur, he told me that many of his colleagues came up to him and said, “I can’t believe you are escaping”.
Escaping the labels and titles and hopes that everyone else has for us is one of the first steps in Choosing Ourselves for the success we are meant to have.
We define our lives from our imagination and the things we create with our hands.
"It really matters whether people are working on generating clean energy or improving transportation or making the Internet work better and all those things. And small groups of people can have a really huge impact."
What I love about this quote is that he combines big problems with small groups.
A small group of people created Google. Not Procter & Gamble. Or AT&T.
Even at Apple, when Steve Jobs wanted to create the Macintosh, he moved his small group to a separate building so they wouldn’t get bogged down in the big corporate bureaucracy that Apple was becoming.
Ultimately, they fired him for being too far from the corporate message.
Years later, when Apple was failing, they brought him back. What did he do? He cut most of the products and put people into small groups to solve big problems.
Before his death he revolutionized the movie industry, the computer industry, the music industry, TVs, and now even watches (watch sales have plummeted after the release of the Apple Watch).
All of this from a guy who finished one semester of studying calligraphy in college before dropping out.
Studying the history of Apple is like studying a microcosm of the history of how to create big ideas. Larry Page is recreating this with his new corporate structure.
We don’t have as many managers as we should, but we would rather have too few than too many.
The 20th century was the century of middle-class corporatism. It even became a “law” called “The Peter Principle” – everyone rises to their level of incompetence.
One of the problems society is having now is that the entire middle layer of management is being demoted, outsourced, replaced by technology, and fired.
This is not a bad or a good thing (although it’s scary). But it’s a return to the role of masters and apprentices without bureaucracy and paperwork in the middle.
It’s how things get done. When ideas go from the head into action with few barriers in the middle.
To be a successful employee, you have to align your interests with those of the company, come up with ideas that further help the customers, and have the mandate to act on those ideas, whether they work or not.
That’s why the employee who wrote much of the code inside the Google search engine, Craig Silverstein, is now a billionaire.
Where is he now? He’s an employee at online education company, The Khan Academy.
If you ask an economist what’s driven economic growth, it’s been major advances in things that mattered – the mechanization of farming, mass manufacturing, things like that. The problem is, our society is not organized around doing that.
Google is now making advances in driverless cars, delivery drones, and other methods of automation.
Everyone gets worried that this will cost jobs. But just look at history. Cars didn’t ruin the horse industry. Everyone simply adjusted.
TV didn’t replace books. Everything adjusted. The VCR didn’t shut down movies.
The Internet didn’t replace face to face communication (well, the jury is still out).
"What is the one sentence summary of how you change the world? Always work hard on something uncomfortably exciting!"
Not everyone wants to create a driverless car. Or clean energy. Or solve a billion person problem.
But I have a list of things that are uncomfortably exciting to me.
They are small, stupid things. Like I’d like to write a novel. Or perform standup comedy. Or maybe start another business based on my ideas for helping people.
Every day I wake up a tiny bit afraid. But I also try to push myself a little closer in those directions. I know then that’s how I learn and grow.
Sometimes I push forward. Sometimes I don’t. I want to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I do think there is an important artistic component in what we do. As a technology company I’ve tried to really stress that.
Nobody knows what the definition of Art is.
How about: something that doesn’t exist except in the imagination, that you then bring out into the real world that has some mix of entertainment, enlightenment, and betterment.
I don’t know. Something like that.
Certainly the iPad is a work of art. And the iPad has created works of art. And when I first saw a driverless car I thought, “that’s beautiful”.
I’m going to try and put my fingerprint on something today. And maybe it will be art.
The idea that everyone should slavishly work so they do something inefficiently so they keep their job – that just doesn’t make any sense to me. That can’t be the right answer.
We’ve been hypnotized into thinking that the “normal life” is a “working life”.
If you don’t “go to work” then you must be sick or on the tiny bit of vacation allotted to you each year.
What if everything you did you can inject a little bit of leisure, a little bit of fun into it.
I have fun writing, except when I think I have to meet a deadline (work). I have fun making a business that people actually use except when I think about money too much (work).
When you are at the crossroads and your heart loves one path and doesn’t love the other, forget about which path has the money and the work, take the path you love.
We want to build technology that everybody loves using, and that affects everyone. We want to create beautiful, intuitive services and technologies that are so incredibly useful that people use them twice a day. Like they use a toothbrush. There aren’t that many things people use twice a day.
What a great idea for a list of the day!
What are ten things that can be invented that people would use twice a day?
You need to invent things and you need to get them to people. You need to commercialize those inventions. Obviously, the best way we’ve come up with doing that is through companies.
I was speaking to Naveen Jain, who made his billions on an early search engine, InfoSpace.
He just started a company to mine rare earth minerals on the Moon.
But his real goal is extra-planetary colonization.
Somehow we got around to the question of why have a company in the middle of that. He has billions. He can just go straight for the colonization part.
He said, “Every idea has to be sustainable. Profitability is proof that an idea is sustainable.”
You may think using Google’s great, but I still think it’s terrible.
K. Anders Ericsson made famous the “10,000 hour rule” popularized later by Malcom Gladwell.
The rule is: if you practice WITH INTENT for 10,000 hours then you will be world-class.
He then wondered why typists would often reach a certain speed level and then never improve no matter how many hours.
After doing research, its because they forgot the “With intent” part. They were satisfied with “good enough”.
You have to constantly come up with new metrics to measure yourself, to compete against yourself, to better the last plateau you reached.
Google is great. But it can be better. Having this mindset always forces you to push beyond the comfort zone.
Once they changed the way typists viewed their skills (by recreating the feeling of “beginner’s mind”) the typists continued to get faster.
We have a mantra: don’t be evil, which is to do the best things we know how for our users, for our customers, for everyone. So I think if we were known for that, it would be a wonderful thing.
Many people argue whether or not Google has succeeded at this. That’s not the point.
The point is: Values before Money.
A business is a group of people with a goal to solve a problem. Values might be: we want to solve a problem, we want the customer to be happy, we want employees to feel like they have upward mobility, etc.
Once you lose your values, you’ll lost the money as well. This why family-run businesses often die by the third generation (“Shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations).
The values of the founder got diluted through his descendants until the company failed.
I think it is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams. Since no one else is crazy enough to do it, you have little competition. In fact, there are so few people this crazy that I feel like I know them all by first name.
Our parents have our best interests at heart and tell us how to be good adults.
Our schools have our best interests.
Our friends, colleagues, sometimes our bosses, sometimes government, think they have our best interests.
But it’s only when everyone thinks you are crazy that you know you are going to create something that surprises everyone and really makes your own unique handprint on the world.
And because you went out of the comfort zone, you’re only competing against the few other people as crazy as you are.
You know what it’s like to wake up in the middle of the night with a vivid dream? And you know that if you don’t have a pencil and pad by the bed, it will be completely gone by the next morning. Sometimes it’s important to wake up and stop dreaming. When a really great dream shows up, grab it.
For every article I’ve ever written, there’s at least ten more I left behind in the middle of the night thinking I would remember in the morning.
I have to beat myself in the head. I . Will. Not. Remember….Must. Write. Down.
It’s hard to wake up. And that’s the only thing worth remembering. It’s hard to wake up.
I have always believed that technology should do the hard work – discovery, organization, communication – so users can do what makes them happiest: living and loving, not messing with annoying computers! That means making our products work together seamlessly.
This is a deep question – who are you? If you have a mechanical hand, is that “you”?
Conversely, if you lose a hand, did you lose a part of you. Are you no longer a complete person? The complete you?
If an implant is put into your brain to access Google, does that effect who you view your self to be?
When books were invented, memory suffered. We no longer had to remember as much, because we can look things up.
Does that make our brains less human?
I bet memory has suffered with the rise of Google. Does this mean our consciousness has suffered?
When we created fire, we outsourced part of our digestion to this new invention. Did this make our stomachs less human?
With technology taking care of the basic tasks of our brain and body, it allows us to achieve things we couldn’t previously dream possible.
It allows us to learn and explore and to create past the current comfort zone. It allows us to find the happiness, freedom, and well-being we deserve.
Over time, our emerging high-usage products will likely generate significant new revenue streams for Google as well as for our partners, just as search does today.
This is it. This is why Larry Page has re-oriented Google into Alphabet.
Don’t waste your most productive energies solving a problem that now only has incremental improvements.
Re-focus the best energies on solving harder and harder problems.
Always keeping the value of “how can I help a billion people” will keep Google from becoming a Borders bookstore (which went out of business after outsourcing all of their sales to Amazon).
How does this apply to the personal?
Instead of being a cog in the machine for some corporation, come up with ways to automate greater abundance.
Always understand that coming up with multiple ways to help people is ultimately the way to create the biggest impact.
Impact then creates health, friendship, competence, abundance, and freedom.
But this is also why he created Alphabet and put Google underneath it.
To save the world. To save me.
Original article appeared here: http://inc42.com/buzz/20-things-ive-learned-from-l..