Category: success

Marcus Aurelius’s Guiding Principles: Meditations Book 1

As mentioned, I’ve been reading “Meditations” by Aurelius. Book 1 reads like a thank you/gratitude letter. Below, I break up the values that resonated with me by who he learned them from:

Male family members

  • decency
  • mild temper
  • modesty
  • masculinity
  • private school
  • good teachers
  • spend lavishly on good teachers

His adoptive father 

  • generosity
  •  no wavering
  • no need for honors
  • stamina and perserverance
  • ear for anyone with any proposal for the common good
  • knowing where to tighten and where to relax
  • foresight for the longer issues
  • unfussy control of the least detail
  • enjoy the comforts of life without

His mom  

  • piety
  • generosity
  • simplicity of living
  • avoid wrong-doing … and thoughts of it

Tutors and other philosophers

  • don’t pick sides in sports
  • tolerate pain
  • feel few needs
  • work with your own hands
  • mind your own business
  • ignore gossip
  • avoid empty enthusiasms
  • disbelieve ‘miracle mongers’
  • don’t be excited by animal fights
  • tolerate plain speaking
  • have an affinity for philosophy
  • listen to Baccheius, Tandasis and Marcianus; read Epicetus’s Discourses; understand Thrasea, Helvidius, Cato, Dio, Brutus
  • write essays
  • love simple furnishings
  • “wanting treatment and correction of my character”
  • avoid a taste for rhetoric, especially your own
  • use simple language
  • wear unaffected/simple clothes
  • forgive easily 
  • be the same man no matter what happens to you
  • be proof a person can “combine intensity and relaxation” 
  • have a kindly disposition
  • live life according to nature
  • practice tolerance
  • have an agreeable manner with all
  • never give the impression of anger or any other passion
  • praise without fanfare
  • wear great learning lightly 
  • don’t leap on the grammatical mistakes of others
  • to never say “I’m too busy” 
  • don’t ignore a friend’s criticism
  • work to restore a friend’s good will toward you
  • love family, truth and justice
  • equality and freedom of speech in the commonwealth
  • liberty 
  • benefience, generosity, optimism
  • confidence in affection of your friends
  • open likes and dislikes so no one needs to guess
  • self-mastery
  • good cheer in all circumstances, including illness
  • gentle, dignified
  • uncomplaining energy for what needs to be done 
  • to never be hurried or hesitant 
  • never downcast, cringing, angry or suspicious

RIP Bowie.

I went as Aladdin Sane for Halloween 2015 … Shocked to hear the news today. He was creating until his last. Here’s to the ultimate confident creative. RIP. 

Neil Gaiman’s Commencement Speech: On Writing

Neil Gaiman‘s 2012 commencement speech at U Arts Philly contains a number of gems for writers – “everything I wish I’d known starting out”:

  • “[…] the prospect of four more years of enforced learning before I’d become the writer I wanted to be was stifling.”
  • I wrote, and I became a better writer the more I wrote, and I wrote some more, and nobody ever seemed to mind that I was making it up as I went along, they just read what I wrote and they paid for it, or they didn’t, and often they commissioned me to write something else for them.”
  • He made a list “of everything I wanted to do […]. I didn’t have a career. I just did the next thing on the list.”
  • When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing. This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and impossible. You do not. And you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can. If you don’t know it’s impossible it’s easier to do.”
  • “If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that. And that’s much harder than it sounds and, sometimes in the end, so much easier than you might imagine.”
  • As a journalist, he “was being paid to learn how to write economically,  crisply, sometimes under adverse conditions, and on time.” 
  • Sometimes the way to do what you hope to do will be clear cut, and sometimes  it will be almost impossible to decide whether or not you are doing the correct thing […]. Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be […] was a mountain.”
    • “And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain.”
    • “I said no to […] proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain.”
  • “I learned to write by writing.”
  • “The problems of failure are problems of discouragement, of hopelessness, of hunger. You want everything to happen and you want it now, and things go wrong.
  • “I decided that I would do my best in future not to write books just for the money. If you didn’t get the money, then you didn’t have anything. If I did work I was proud of, and I didn’t get the money, at least I’d have the work.”
    • “Every now and again, I forget that rule, and whenever I do, the universe kicks me hard and reminds me.”
  • “I don’t know that it’s an issue for anybody but me, but it’s true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience. Usually I didn’t wind up getting the money, either.  The things I did because I was excited, and wanted to see them exist in reality have never let me down, and I’ve never regretted the time I spent on any of them”
  • “The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It’s Imposter Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police. In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don’t have to make things up any more.”
  • “[…] now they had to earn a certain amount every month just to keep where they were. They couldn’t go and do the things that mattered, and that they had really wanted to do; and that seemed as a big a tragedy as any problem of failure.”
  • “And the mistakes in themselves can be useful. I once misspelled Caroline, in a letter, transposing the A and the O, and I thought, “Coraline looks like a real name…”
  • “[…]whatever you do you have one thing that’s unique. You have the ability to make art.”
  • “Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.
  • “I didn’t stop and look around and go, this is really fun. I wish I’d enjoyed it more. It’s been an amazing ride. But there were parts of the ride I missed, because I was too worried about things going wrong, about what came next, to enjoy the bit I was on.That was the hardest lesson for me, I think: to let go and enjoy the ride, because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.
  • “Someone asked me recently how to do something she thought was going to be difficult, in this case recording an audio book, and I suggested she pretend that she was someone who could do it. Not pretend to do it, but pretend she was someone who could. She put up a notice to this effect on the studio wall, and she said it helped.”
  • “And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.”

-Neil Gaiman

h/t Tim Ferriss

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