Part of my Knowledge Base.


Highlights

‟Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.”

  • We've all seen men and women, even ones in fortunate circumstances with responsible positions who seem to run out of steam in midcareer.
    • One must be compassionate in assessing the reasons.
    • Perhaps life just presented them with tougher problems than they could solve. It happens.
    • Perhaps something inflicted a major wound on their confidence or their self-esteem.
    • Perhaps they were pulled down by the hidden resentments and grievances that grow in adult life, sometimes so luxuriantly that, like tangled vines, they immobilize the victim.
    • Or maybe they just ran so hard for so long that somewhere along the line they forgot what it was they were running for.
  • I'm not talking about people who fail to get to the top in achievement. We can't all get to the top, and that isn't the point of life anyway. I'm talking about people who -- no matter how busy they seem to be -- have stopped learning or growing. Many of them are just going through the motions. I don't deride that. Life is hard. Just to keep on keeping on is sometimes an act of courage. But I do worry about men and women functioning far below the level of their potential.
  • We have to face the fact that most men and women out there in the world of work are more stale than they know, more bored than they would care to admit.
  • We can't write off the danger of complacency, growing rigidity, imprisonment by our own comfortable habits and opinions. Look around you. How many people whom you know well -- people even younger than yourselves --are already trapped in fixed attitudes and habits.
  • I've watched a lot of mid-career people, and Yogi Berra says you can observe a lot just by watching. I've concluded that most people enjoy learning and growing. And many are dearly troubled by the self-assessments of mid-career.
  • Such self-assessments are no great problem at your age. You're young and moving up. The drama of your own rise is enough. But when you reach middle age, when your energies aren't what they used to be, then you’ll begin to wonder what it all added up to; you'll begin to look for the figure in the carpet of your life.
  • Learn all your life. Learn from your failures. Learn from your successes.
  • We learn from our jobs, from our friends and families. We learn by accepting the commitments of life, by playing the roles that life hands us (not necessarily the roles we would have chosen). We learn by growing older, by suffering, by loving, by bearing with the things we can't change, by taking risks.
  • The things you learn in maturity aren't simple things such as acquiring information and skills. You learn not to engage in self-destructive behaviour. You leant not to burn up energy in anxiety. You discover how to manage your tensions, if you have any, which you do. You learn that self-pity and resentment are among the most toxic of drugs. You find that the world loves talent, but pays off on character.
  • You come to understand that most people are neither for you nor against you, they are thinking about themselves. You learn that no matter how hard you try to please, some people in this world are not going to love you, a lesson that is at first troubling and then really quite relaxing.
  • One of the enemies of sound, lifelong motivation is a rather childish conception we have of the kind of concrete, describable goal toward which all of our efforts drive us. We want to believe that there is a point at which we can feel that we have arrived. We want a scoring system that tells us when we've piled up enough points to count ourselves successful.
  • So you scramble and sweat and climb to reach what you thought was the goal. When you get to the top you stand up and look around and chances are you feel a little empty. Maybe more than a little empty. You wonder whether you climbed the wrong mountain. But life isn't a mountain that has a summit, Nor is it -- as some suppose -- a riddle that has an answer. Nor a game that has a final score.

Life is an endless unfolding, and if we wish it to be, an endless process of self-discovery, an endless and unpredictable dialogue between our own potentialities and the life situations in which we find ourselves. By potentialities I mean not just intellectual gifts but the full range of one's capacities for learning, sensing, wondering, understanding, loving and aspiring.

  • The thing you have to understand is that the capacities you actually develop to the full come out as the result of an interplay between you and life's challenges --and the challenges keep changing. Life pulls things out of you.
  • The world is moved by highly motivated people, by enthusiasts, by men and women who want something very much or believe very much.
  • I'm not talking about anything as narrow as ambition. After all, ambition eventually wears out and probably should. But you can keep your zest until the day you die. If I may offer you a simple maxim, "Be interesting," Everyone wants to be interesting -- but the vitalizing thing is to be interested. Keep a sense of curiosity. Discover new things. Care. Risk failure. Reach out.
  • You never get the impression that a cow is about to have a nervous breakdown. Or is puzzling about the meaning of life. Humans have never mastered that kind of complacency. We are worriers and puzzlers, and we want meaning in our lives.
  • For many this life is a vale of tears; for no one is it free of pain. But we are so designed that we can cope with it if we can live in some context of meaning. Given that powerful help, we can draw on the deep springs of the human spirit, to see our suffering in the framework of all human suffering, to accept the gifts of life with thanks and endure life's indignities with dignity.
  • You have to build meaning into your life, and you build it through your commitments -- whether to your religion, to an ethical order as you conceive it, to your life's work, to loved ones, to your fellow humans. Young people run around searching for identity, but it isn't handed out free any more -- not in this transient, rootless, pluralistic society. Your identity is what you've committed yourself to.
  • It may just mean doing a better job at whatever you're doing. There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are.

“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself.”

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