The wealth of “having” vs. the wealth of “doing”

There is a big misconception out there. Especially upon the rise of capitalism and consumerism, the term “wealth” has been often understood as the amount of goods with monetary value that are possessed by a certain individual or organization. As such, in modern language, wealthy person is that who either has large sums of money in their bank account, possesses expensive (usually luxurious) goods, or follows a financially affluent lifestyle. Unfortunately, our modern definition of wealth is very limiting and, needless to say, materialistic. Our contemporary view of wealth means that we can only be wealthy as long as we have access to possessing more than what the average person could. We prize the ability to own and we use that as a measurement to assess whether the person is successful or not. Society at large prizes those individuals who amass fortunes. Moreover, the social understanding of wealth goes to believe that financial wealth equates happiness, and the more we are able to own, is the happier we are.

wealthIf having more financial assets means that we are happier, why would we ever worry about anything else? If our purpose in life is to achieve happiness, and the key to happiness is to accumulate more money and possessions, why not pursuing money for the sake of money? If the ends justify the means, we could keenly pursue money and possessions no matter how we get them. Even breaking laws and bypassing ethics would be justifiable -stealing, defrauding, or whatever not- as at the end, we would achieve both success and happiness.

Once upon a time, however, the understanding of wealth was a much different one. In the ancient world, people valued possessions and power as we do today – however, there was also a huge perception of value in knowledge. Scientists, philosophers and teachers, among others, were thought of as people with a whole “wealth” of knowledge. Musicians, sculptors, and writers were valued for their talents and intellectual contributions to society. In those times, people were valued for what they did, and not so much for what they had.

The modern world, however, is a much different place. Our aspiration as a progressive society should decidedly not be to become just as we lived and thought centuries ago. Money is not evil, and neither are possessions nor financial ownership. It is important to acknowledge that they are a result of our evolution as a civilization and have become tools to foster our development as a society. Whether we fully embrace them or not, we cannot deny that they constitute a part of our lives as well and, they way mankind’s collective mind has evolved, our very belonging to this civilization creates a need to have money and possessions.

As money and possessions are part of our lives, we should acknowledge them by what they are. Amassing them is not ultimate happiness, but they are important tools to achieve happiness. Money can be (and is) a great vehicle to access food and learning, to raise families, to procure warm clothing and housing, and more importantly, to provide well-being to ourselves and all members of society. Money is also a great tool to develop research, medicine, to promote arts and to create a legacy that could impact every person and even future generations.

As such, we must acknowledge that the real power of money and possessions are not in themselves, but rather in what we do with them. For instance, an individual can choose to buy an expensive car with their money, or to donate this money to a charity. Which one would create a longer lasting impact? Which one would provide more satisfaction to this individual? Which one would provide more happiness? Likewise, if a person decides to either spend a large amount of money partying in Las Vegas, or to use that money to take his family to an educational trip, which one would create more satisfaction, happiness, and a longer lasting impact?

True wealth then should not be understood as the capacity to own something, or to have more financial assets than someone else. A wealthy person is not simply an individual who has lots of money in a bank account. A truly wealthy person is that who makes the most out of the financial means they have. An important piece in the big puzzle of happiness resides in understanding this very simple but powerful concept.

Photo credit: StockMonkeys.com / IWoman / CC BY

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Love as a misconception

Love is such a beautiful and powerful word – yet, one of the most abused ones in the whole human language.

It is defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person”. Another definition it provides is “attraction that includes sexual desire: the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship” and “a person you love in a romantic love”. In short, the grammatical definition of love suggests it is a feeling, a sense of attraction to someone or something.

pigeons-413073_1280However, I will beg to differ with the definition offered by the dictionary. Love is not a feeling, nor a sexual desire. Not even an attraction. If it were so, wouldn’t it be very superficial? If a person claimed to love another person, it would suffice to feel attraction to them in order to love. Whether the love is reciprocal or not, love would still be valid as there is attraction and a sense of affection to some degree. The same would hold true for a leader who claims to love their people, or a parent who says to love their children. Based on the very fact that there is a likeness and affection, love would be possible.

It is to an extent unfortunate that love cannot be defined in just a few words or sentences, and this is one of the main reasons why the word is abused recklessly. A person can claim to love a certain sport or hobby, which -as it turns obvious- speaks about the love of a person to a non-human concept. The same applies when a person says to love their pet, and also for someone who admits to love nature. Is it real love, then, what these people can feel for animals, arts or other non-human recipients?

Love can be, then, understood in very different lights. The love that a person has for their spouse or children is not any more legitimate  than the love someone can have for their dog or cat, or the love they could potentially have for arts and culture. Each of them can be authentic love, or just a liking and affection felt for something or someone as defined in the dictionary. In all instances, it becomes important to understand the true concept of love – and all that it implies.

It usually takes years of reflection, experiences and revelations to understand the true meaning of love. Like other abstract concepts such as justice or freedom, love does not have an exact definition and therefore the term can be easily misused. However, upon some meditation and proper emotional guidance (whether scientific or spiritual), the concept of love is revealed to us and understood, and it is then that we are able to tell real love from other forms of affection inaccurately labelled as love.

Perhaps the most shocking revelation about love is understanding that it is not about “me”, but it is about the recipient of our love. Love is not a simple feeling and does not only depend on whether we like something or someone, but it also has to do with the relationship as a whole that the individual holds with that something or someone. If a person claims to love their spouse by virtue of the fact that they like each other, would that suffice to constitute real love? What are the other spouse’s thoughts on this individual? What kind of commitments of sacrifices has this person done for the sake of love to their partner?

Love, in its true meaning, is intrinsically linked to the commitment and dedication that a person has to the subject of their love. Love encompasses time, dedication, and willingness to give the best of ourselves to the well-being and development of the recipient of our love. In that regard, a person who says to love their dog can in fact hold a truer love to their pet which they take care of every day, nurture, look after their well being, and makes their best to ensure the pet has a happy life, than an individual who claims to love their spouse, yet puts all their personal desires in a greater rank of importance than those of their significant other. Likewise, if a person claims to love food and cooks meals for other people, enhances recipes or teaches others their culinary ability so the wealth of knowledge can be shared to broader audiences, that love holds more true than the love that a person can claim to have for pizza based solely on the fact that this particular dish provides personal pleasure to them.

A person who truly loves something or someone intertwines their mind and soul with that of their love recipient, and therefore both become as one. A man who marries a woman and truly feels her soul, faces her issues as his own, listens to her mind and soul and gives the very best of himself to ensure her well being loves her. If she does the same for him, it is a consummated love. The same applies for a person for their art, a sport, a pet, a parent, a child, or whatever not. Love is a two way avenue that requires effort, dedication, and commitment. It may not always pay immediate dividends in the shape of emotional pleasure or enjoyment, and as a matter of fact it is almost guaranteed to bring sour times to our lives. Nevertheless, love is a long term commitment: If we plant the right seeds in a fertile soil from the get go, we will reap its benefits throughout our lifetime – and who knows? Maybe even beyond.

Science vs. Spirituality: Which one is the right way?

It would appear that, centuries ago, people had a need to understand the world, themselves and the phenomena that surrounded them. Day and night, warmth and cold, health and sickness, life and death… every single aspect of the world and life was out there to be discovered and understood. To their best of their abilities, these ancient men and women created theories and found explanations to their need of knowledge in what today could be easily labelled an “imaginary” world. People would be inspired by various beliefs to provide explanations and doctrines to abide by, some of which eventually became organized religions and spiritual communities.

Fast forward a few centuries, the advancement of technology and science has allowed the contemporary generations to obtain a better-researched understanding of our everyday lives. Today, we have much more advanced explanations that allow us to understand concepts that ancient people couldn’t even remotely fathom. This advanced access to information and scientific perspective of people, life and the world has also brought a shift in mentalities where modern individuals deny the need of having to resort to the imaginary, spiritual world that -in their view- was invented by man himself ages ago.

openphotonet_1 free water hand_resizeNevertheless, even with the advancement of science and the better understanding of our world through access to better research tools, it would seem that people still come back to spiritual activities to understand their surroundings. Meditation groups, yoga, even religions, are still alive in our times, and their existence and prevalence among communities does not seem to be threatened in any way. People still practice spirituality all over the world.

Having such advanced science and technology, why would people still look for answers in spirituality?

There is a fundamental mistake in assuming that people who practice any form of spirituality do so hoping to understand their surrounding world. All the opposite: People who practice spirituality usually do so with the intention of understanding themselves. They do so to dig deeper in their minds and to understand their connection to the world and the whole cosmos. Spirituality is, then, a vehicle for people to listen to their deepest conscience in the hopes of becoming better individuals and to enjoy a more plentiful life – physically, mentally and beyond.

Understanding the fundamental idea behind spirituality helps us also determine whether science or spirituality provide the ultimate answers to life. The answer: They both coexist. They serve different purpose. And those who are able to tell one from the other also align themselves to better chances of enjoying a much richer, knowledgeable, and wholly life. Understand the world through the eyes of science, but understand your soul through the eyes of spirituality.

Photo: hand and sprinkling water © Miroslav Vajdić

Miracles

When we think of miracles, most of us would normally think of supernatural phenomena that affect positively our lives – or that of others. We may even think of the forces of the Universe acting together in the benefit of a certain individual, or a group of people – in ways that are beyond the human power.

In that regard, for example, we could think that if a person gets unexpectedly cured from a specific rare ailment – that constitutes a miracle. If an individual drives their car recklessly on the highway, crashes but escapes the incident unharmed – that is a miracle. If an athlete gets badly injured, but then they participate in a competition where their performance is better than what was expected of them and come out as a winner – that, also, is a miracle.

Are the situations in the examples miracles? Indeed they are. The individuals in the situations explained obtained unexpected good outcomes of their own particular circumstances, against all odds. With the help of nature, and under poorly understood (rather unknown) conditions, their seemingly bleak situation worked out in their favour.

miracle

Now, if we think of our day to day lives, and the circumstances that we face on our everyday – from the moment that we wake up, experience the world outside our house, do our daily activities, interact with people, come back home to share time with those we love most, until the moment we tuck ourselves in bed and sleep -, do we get to realize the circumstances that allow us to make it through our routines? Do we appreciate the marvels of the world that surround us?

When we realize that every day we wake up to another day where forces beyond our human power interact in our benefit, our perception of what miracles are changes. If we consider that every day we wake up to another day enlightened and warmed up by the Sun, that we get to breath fresh air cleaned by photosynthesis performed by plants, that we get to eat fresh and nutritious food grown from rich grounds of the Earth, that we are able to utilize resources provided by nature in order to accomplish our goals… do we realize that all of those are here not because our human will made them happen, but because the Universe has made the circumstances turn in our favour?

If we consider that the very fact that we were born to experience the Universe, do we get to realize that our birth is a fortunate situation that worked in our favour? When we get to experience feelings like love, happiness, pleasure, even sadness… do we realize that experiencing such emotions, at the very root, is a process that we did not plan, but which the Universe has made possible for our full experiencing of life? Indeed, we experience miracles all the time. We, ourselves, as well as all the creatures of the world, are also miracles.

Whether we are aware of it every moment or not, we are continuously experiencing miracles. Every day and every night, every hour and every minute, there are phenomena happening within us and around us, over which we don’t have any control but they still yield positive outcomes for us. Our very existence in this life itself is a big miracle that we should have present day by day, and admire as we would do when witnessing any other miracle.

Meteors and reality checks: Our Universe is very vast, and very humbling

The news of asteroid 2012 DA14 expected to approach Earth closer than any celestial object recorded ever by NASA would have been enough, but the Universe had prepared for us a much more powerful reminder of our fragility as a species: A meteor crashing against our planet. An event that even the most seasoned astronomers at NASA and ESA did not foresee, and one that therefore caught mankind by surprise. But really, is there anything we could have done to prevent it? The answer is likely a resounding no. Is there anything we can do to prevent this from happening in the future? Perhaps not, although there is indeed room to improve ourselves and our species from the lessons learned out of this phenomenon.

Analyzed from a strictly social point of view, the event is tragic and its painful impact is noted: Thousands of people resulted injured as a result of the crash of the meteor in the nearby city of Chelyabinsk, in Russia, where damages were calculated in over $33 million dollars. And all that we humans could do about it was to sit, watch, and repair the damages after the event.

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Photo: Tumblr

This rare event, however, is more than an isolated astronomical incident. If we go a step further and put the incident in a philosophical perspective, we will discover that the message is much more powerful that the only impact of the meteor itself: It is a powerful, direct, and clear reminder that there is a Universe out there. But that Universe is not an empty space unrelated to us, and we are not rulers over the Universe. All the opposite: We are part of this powerful Universe, a magnificent Universe with the ability to damage us or even make us vanish in a whim.

The sudden crash of this meteor offers a great wake-up call for us to reconsider our lives from both a personal and civilization-level perspective. What is our role in this Universe? What do we want to achieve during our relatively short existence here? What are we doing to make ourselves better?

There is another important message to take away from this event: This meteor came to remind us that Earth is just a planet, perhaps a vulnerable one, yet our protective home. Are we respecting Earth as such, or are we too busy abusing it for the sake of money and egoism? Are we working together as a species for the shared well being of mankind, or are we a rather fragmented civilization thirsty for power and dominance over other humans? What, exactly, are we looking for as a species?

Before taking on the massive task of finding our goal as a species, it will certainly take some time for each of us to think about our own personal roles in society, and to discover our potential to become better individuals – not with the intent of being better than others, but to be better towards our fellow humans. Hopefully that way, someday, our societal mindset will focus on the single goal of making of mankind and Earth better places. Who knows, maybe that is our reason to exist in this powerful Universe.

Our egoism has no place in the Universe

In our pursuit of happiness, we become blind. We forget that we are just a piece of the puzzle, and not the puzzle as a whole. We are just a part of the Universe, and not the Universe as a whole.

Is it possible that we are here only to serve our egoism and pride?

Is it possible that we are here only to serve our own illusions and inventions?

We were created in this world, with magnificent attributes, with unprecedented consciousness,

We were blessed with every component of intelligence to connect with the Universe that surround us,

We were created as one – as a single species, in charge of caring for a whole world.

What have we done for it? Have we made it prey of our own inventions and desires?

Money for the sake of money. Wealth for the sake of wealth. Power for the sake of being better than other fellow humans, for the sake of displaying individual dominance over them and over the world that was given to us. Is that our idea of success? Is that out idea of happiness?

outer-space-station

If we were visited by other inhabitants from the Universe, we would be none but their laughingstock. We are prey of our own inventions, of our own desires, of our own self-created idea of wealth. We do not value our world as our home – we value it for the economic wealth we can exploit from it, from the personal riches that we can acquire by abusing it… our own home. Our only one. And as we rape our home, we wonder whether there are other places in the Universe where we can thrive as a species – but not with the intention to flourish and make of them better places, but with the very and only intention of continuing the exploitation for the very sake of profits and financial wealth – a product of our minds.

Meanwhile, a whole Universe looks upon us… perhaps we are the missing link that will help the Universe as a whole to complete its mission. Or perhaps we are not. If we only were able to forget about our own egoism in the first place, and look upon the well being of our species as a species, and not as individuals, we would maybe find out…

Materialism and consumerism through the eyes of “The Little Prince”

A few days ago, I published in this blog a speech delivered earlier this year by Jose Mujica, President of Uruguay (click here to visit that post). In that speech, he mentioned very inspiring thoughts regarding the responsibility of mankind to look after its own happiness, the importance of looking after environmental policies and sustainable economic practices, and the urgency to counter a culture of consumerism.

One of the key ideas (and quotes) of his speech was that “ancient thinkers -Epicurus, Seneca, the Aymara people- defined that ‘a poor person is not he who has few goods, a real poor person is he who needs infinitely a lot’, and wants and needs more and more and more”. This idea, of course, is consistent with philosophies that maintain that happiness does not come from the amount of possessions or wealth we may own, but real happiness comes from within ourselves.

Apropos of these ideas, I would like to cite an excerpt of one of my favourite books: The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

The fourth planet belonged to a businessman. This man was so much occupied that he did not even raise his head at the little prin

“Good morning,” the little prince said to him. “Your cigarette has gone out.”

Business Man“Three and two make five. Five and seven make twelve. Twelve and three make fifteen. Good morning. FIfteen and seven make twenty-two. Twenty-two and six make twenty-eight. I haven’t time to light it again. Twenty-six and five make thirty-one. Phew! Then that makes five-hundred-and-one million, six-hundred-twenty-two-thousand, seven-hundred-thirty-one.”

“Five hundred million what?” asked the little prince.

“Eh? Are you still there? Five-hundred-and-one million–I can’t stop . . . I have so much to do! I am concerned with matters of consequence. I don’t amuse myself with balderdash. Two and five make seven . . .”

“Five-hundred-and-one million what?” repeated the little prince, who never in his life had let go of a question once he had asked it.

The businessman raised his head.

“During the fifty-four years that I have inhabited this planet, I have been disturbed only three times. The first time was twenty-two years ago, when some giddy goose fell from goodness knows where. He made the most frightful noise that resounded all over the place, and I made four mistakes in my addition. The second time, eleven years ago, I was disturbed by an attack of rheumatism. I don’t get enough exercise. I have no time for loafing. The third time–well, this is it! I was saying, then, five-hundred-and-one millions–“

“Millions of what?”

The businessman suddenly realized that there was no hope of being left in peace until he answered this question.

“Millions of those little objects,” he said, “which one sometimes sees in the sky.”

“Flies?”

“Oh, no. Little glittering objects.”

“Bees?”

“Oh, no. Little golden objects that set lazy men to idle dreaming. As for me, I am concerned with matters of consequence. There is no time for idle dreaming in my life.”

“Ah! You mean the stars?”

“Yes, that’s it. The stars.”

“And what do you do with five-hundred millions of stars?”

“Five-hundred-and-one million, six-hundred-twenty-two thousand, seven-hundred-thirty-one. I am concerned with matters of consequence: I am accurate.”

“And what do you do with these stars?”

“What do I do with them?”

“Yes.”

“Nothing. I own them.”

“You own the stars?”

“Yes.”

“But I have already seen a king who–“

“Kings do not own, they reign over. It is a very different matter.”

“And what good does it do you to own the stars?”

“It does me the good of making me rich.”

“And what good does it do you to be rich?”

“It makes it possible for me to buy more stars, if any are discovered.”

“This man,” the little prince said to himself, “reasons a little like my poor tippler . . .”

Nevertheless, he still had some more questions.

“How is it possible for one to own the stars?”

“To whom do they belong?” the businessman retorted, peevishly.

“I don’t know. To nobody.”

“Then they belong to me, because I was the first person to think of it.”

“Is that all that is necessary?”

“Certainly. When you find a diamond that belongs to nobody, it is yours. When you discover an island that belongs to nobody, it is yours. When you get an idea before any one else, you take out a patent on it: it is yours. So with me: I own the stars, because nobody else before me ever thought of owning them.”

“Yes, that is true,” said the little prince. “And what do you do with them?”

“I administer them,” replied the businessman. “I count them and recount them. It is difficult. But I am a man who is naturally interested in matters of consequence.”

The little prince was still not satisfied.

“If I owned a silk scarf,” he said, “I could put it around my neck and take it away with me. If I owned a flower, I could pluck that flower and take it away with me. But you cannot pluck the stars from heaven . . .”

“No. But I can put them in the bank.”

“Whatever does that mean?”

“That means that I write the number of my stars on a little paper. And then I put this paper in a drawer and lock it with a key.”

“And that is all?”

“That is enough,” said the businessman.

“It is entertaining,” thought the little prince. “It is rather poetic. But it is of no great consequence.”

On matters of consequence, the little prince had ideas which were very different from those of the grown-ups.

“I myself own a flower,” he continued his conversation with the businessman, “which I water every day. I own three volcanoes, which I clean out every week (for I also clean out the one that is extinct; one never knows). It is of some use to my volcanoes, and it is of some use to my flower, that I own them. But you are of no use to the stars . . .”

The businessman opened his mouth, but he found nothing to say in answer. And the little prince went away.

 

The world did not end, but are we slowly ending with it? President Jose Mujica explains

December 21, 2012, will be remembered as yet another date when the always feared “end of the world” failed to happen. Theories ranging from massive earthquakes to floods, fire, and collision with massive asteroids and planets circulated proved to be wrong. It looks that the world is still spinning, and our duty to elevate this world to make it a better place is still valid and in place – and will remain as such for a while.

The rumours about the end of the world, then, turned out to be only that – rumours. But here is an interesting perspective to reflect upon: Why should the world end violently as a result of a natural disaster? Unfortunately, our species has taken a materialistic and selfish view of life, which has resulted in greed, war, and consumerism. Are we not, then, slowly contributing to the end of the world as it was meant to be?

On this regard, Jose Mujica, President of Uruguay, shared his views about this subject earlier this year during the Rio+20 conference. His views helped to deliver one of the most beautiful, memorable and thought-provoking speeches recorded. I invite you to analyze his speech not from a purely economical/political perspective, but from a humanistic point of view. What should be our life priorities, as individuals?

The speech is in Spanish and it’s worth to listen from beginning to end. I have translated the full speech further below.


“Authorities attending from every latitude and organization, thank you very much. And thanks very much as well to the people of Brazil and its President. And thank you to all preceding speakers for showing their likely good intentions.

We, as governments, express the most intimate will to support all agreements that this, our poor human kind, can sign. However, let us ask loudly to ourselves some questions. This whole evening we have been talking about sustainable development, and about rescuing immense masses of people from poverty. What do we have in our minds? The development-consumption economic model observed by rich nations?

I wonder, what would happen to this planet if people in India had the same ratio of cars per family than Germans do? How much oxygen would be left for us to breathe? To be clear: Does the world today have enough material elements to make possible that 7 or 8 billion people can have the same degree of consumerism and waste that the most affluent western societies have? Is it feasible, or we might have to have a different type of discussion someday? Because we have created a civilization that is product of markets, product of competition, which has doomed itself to a purely materialistic and explosive development.

What have been market economies have created market societies, and has led us to this globalization. But are  we ruling globalization, or is globalization ruling us? Is it possible to talk about solidarity and unity within an economic model that is based solely in ruthless competition? How far does our fraternity reach?

I don’t say any of this to deny the importance of this event. It’s all the opposite: The challenge that lies ahead of us is of a colossal magnitude, and the big crisis is not environmental, but political. Man does not rule today the forces that he has unleashed, but those forces that man has unleashed rule over man and life. Because we don’t come to this planet just to develop on general terms, we come to this life to be happy, because life is short and it goes by. No commodity is worth more than life, and this is basic. But life will pass by me while I work and work only to obtain a surplus, and the consumerist society is the engine -because, definitely, if demand is paralyzed or stopped, then economy is stopped, and if economy is stopped, the phantom of stagnation is all upon us.

But that hyper consumerism, in turn, is an aggressor to our planet, and in that model of hyper consumerism we need to produce goods that last short because we have to sell lots of them. Then a lightbulb cannot last longer than 1000 hours on – even when we have developed lightbulbs that can last 100,000 or 200,000 hours on. But those ones cannot be manufactured because market is an issue, because we have to work and we have to sustain a use-and-dump civilization. We are in a vicious cycle. These are political problems that tell us about the need to start fighting for a different culture.

This is not about coming back to becoming cavemen, nor to build a monument to backward mentalities. It is just that we cannot continue to be ruled by the markets indefinitely. It is us who have to rule the markets. That’s why I say that this is a political issue in my humble way of thinking. Because ancient thinkers -Epicurus, Seneca, the Aymara people- defined that “a poor person is not he who has few goods, a real poor person is he who needs infinitely a lot”, and wants and needs more and more and more. This is a cultural key, then.

I salute the efforts and agreements that are made, and as a head of state, I will support them, because I know that a few of the things I am saying here are “creaking”. But we need to realize that the crisis of water, the crisis of aggression to the environment are not the causes of the problem. The cause is the civilization model that we have shaped, and what we need to revise is our lifestyle.

Why? I am from a tiny country blessed with natural resources to live. In my country, there are 3 million inhabitants – slightly more, 3.2 million. But there are some 13 million cows, some of the best in the world, and some 8 or 10 million sheep. My country exports food, dairy products, meat. Almost 90% of its territory is arable.  My worker fellows fought a lot to get 8 hours of work per day, nowadays they are getting 6 hours per day! But he who gets 6 hours of work a day is also getting an additional job and, therefore, works more than he did before. Why? Because he has to pay numerous bills: the little scooter he bought, the little car he bought, and he pays installments, and he pays more installments, and when he wants to change that… he realizes that he has become a rheumatic old man like myself, and his life is begone. And the immediate question comes to mind: Is that the fate of being a human?

These concepts are very basic, development cannot go against happiness. It has to work in favour of happiness, of love, of human relations, of looking after our children, of having friends, of having the very basic! Precisely, because that is the most important treasure that we have. When we fight for environment, the first element in the environment is called ‘Human Happiness’. Thank you.”

Rio de Janeiro, June 22, 2012

Regina Brett: The 45 lessons life taught me

Back in May 28, 2012, a local Cleveland newspaper named “The Plain Dealer” posted a column by Regina Brett. The article was named “The 45 lessons life has taught me and 5 to grow on“. Her column, which I transcribe textually below (and which is available via the link provided) is full of wisdom and inspiration for us to enjoy a more meaningful life, and to empower ourselves to take control over aspects of our own persona. It is worth sharing and remembering these simple suggestions.

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Regina Brett’s 45 life lessons and 5 to grow on


By Regina Brett, The Plain Dealer

 

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here’s an update:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

Photo: Gus Chan / The Plain Dealer

The Power of “Hello”

Little acts of kindness can make a world of a difference to people.

Throughout our lives, every day, people experience a range of emotions. Some days we are happy, some days we are excited, some others we are just content or peaceful. At times, we may experience a wave of emotions at a given time – which are usually a result of either external factors (people, work, school, etc) or a reflection of our physical-mental balance.

Likewise, we may sometimes experience emotions that are more difficult or negative in nature. We may feel anger, frustration, boredom, or simply indifference towards our daily routines. It is perfectly normal to experience a wave of emotions because, at the end of the day, those emotions are part of what make us human.

When we start our day, as we start interacting with people, it is sometimes difficult to determine what kind of mood they are experiencing – and sometimes, it is very easy to tell.

What can we do when we know that a person is experiencing difficult emotions? Is having, for example, a difficult day full with anxiousness?

I believe in what I call “the power of hello”, which means the power and significance that a greeting can convey onto a person, especially when they are experiencing negative or tough times. By saying hello to someone, we acknowledge their presence in our surroundings and break the ice. It is also a way to demonstrate our respect and goodwill towards them.

The effects that a simple greeting can have in a person, particularly one experiencing a difficult day, is almost magical. It can indeed make someone’s day better, and it can open our doors to bonding better relationships with our fellow humans And all it takes, is only to say the magical word to someone “hello”.

We all have the power to convey positivity onto people’s lives, and it starts by doing very little and often overlooked acts of kindness – like a simple greeting.