What is the more productive notion of good luck? One that is defined by totally random factors outside your control, or a matter of probability that can be increased—though not guaranteed— by the right decisions and the right preparation. Obviously, the latter. This is why successful, yet mysteriously “lucky” people seem to gravitate toward it.According to the wonderful site Quote Investigator, versions of this idea date back at least to the sixteenth century in the proverb “Diligence is the mother of good luck.” In the 1920s, Coleman Cox put a modern spin on it by saying, “I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have.” (That saying has been incorrectly attributed to Thomas Jefferson, who said nothing of the kind.) Today, we say, “Luck is where hard work meets opportunity.” Or is it typically flipped?Today, you can hope that good fortune and good luck magically come your way. Or you can prepare yourself to get lucky by focusing on doing the right thing at the right time—and, ironically, render luck mostly unnecessary in the process.
It’s fun to think about the future. It’s easy to ruminate on the past. It’s harder to put energy into what’s in front of us right at this moment—especially if it’s something we don’t want to do. We think: This is just a joke; it isn’t who I am. It doesn’t matter. But it does matter. Who knows—it might be the last thing you ever do. Here lies Dave, buried alive under a mountain of unfinished business.There is an old saying: “How you do anything is how you do everything.” It’s true. How you handle today is how you’ll handle every day. How you handle this minute is how you’ll handle every minute.
If your happiness is dependent on accomplishing certain goals, what happens if fate intervenes? What if you’re snubbed? If outside events interrupt? What if you do achieve everything but find that nobody is impressed? That’s the problem with letting your happiness be determined by things you can’t control. It’s an insane risk.If an actor focuses on the public reception to a project—whether critics like it or whether it’s a hit, they will be constantly disappointed and hurt. But if they love their performance—and put everything they have into making it the best that they’re capable of—they will always find satisfaction in their job. Like them, we should take pleasure from our actions—in taking the right actions—rather than the results that come from them.Our ambitions should not be to win, then, but to play with our full effort. Our intention is not to be thanked or recognized, but to help and to do what we think is right. Our focus is not on what happens to us but on how we respond. In this, we will always find contentment and resilience.
How often do we begin some project certain we know exactly how it will go? How often do we meet people and think we know exactly who and what they are? And how often are these assumptions proved to be completely and utterly wrong?This is why we must fight our biases and preconceptions: because they are a liability. Ask yourself: What haven’t I considered? Why is this thing the way it is? Am I part of the problem here or the solution? Could I be wrong here? Be doubly careful to honor what you know, and then set that against the knowledge you actually have.Remember, we’re not always as smart and wise as we’d like to think we are. If we ever do want to become wise, it comes from questioning and from humility—not, as may would like to think, from certainty, mistrust, and arrogance.
I really like the phrase Carpe Diem. Wonder why that is? Maybe it’s the sound of the words. Maybe not. Carpe Diem is a Latin aphorism, meaning “Seize the Day.” Then there’s Veritas Nunquam Perit meaning “Truth never dies.” Or Veritas for short. “Truth.” So much for Latin!You will only get one shot today. You have only twenty-four hours with which to take it. And then it is gone and lost forever. Will you fully inhabit all of today? Will you call out “I’ve got this,” and do your very best to be your very best?What will you manage to make of today before it slips from your fingers and becomes the past? When someone asks you what you did yesterday, do you really want the answer to be “nothing”?And then again, its been said, “Nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.”Carpe Diem, just the same!
I went from a failure, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them.
I read this quote Tuesday morning. I said, “Wow! This is really good.” And then, when I read Adam’s blog later in the day, I thought this Kurt Vonnegut story was appropriate. Appropriate in terms of augmenting Adam’s blog post.This quote from world renowned author Kurt Vonnegut is about freeing ourselves to do what we want regardless of our skill level or our ultimate goal.“When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes. And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.” And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and ...read more
Here is how to guarantee you have a good day: do good things.Any other source of joy is outside your control or is nonrenewable. But this one is all you, all the time, and unending. It is the ultimate form of self-reliance.
Ultimately our actions determine whether we get there or not.
An archer is highly unlikely to hit a target he did not aim for. The same goes for you, whatever your target. You are certain to miss the target if you don’t bother to draw back and fire. Our perceptions and principles guide us in the selection of what we want—but ultimately our actions determine whether we get there or not.So yes, spend some time—real, uninterrupted time—thinking about what’s important to you, what your priorities are. Then, work toward that and forsake all the others. It’s not enough to wish and hope. One must act—and act right.
It is almost impossible to stare up at the stars and not feel something. As cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson has explained, the cosmos fills us with complicated emotions. On the one hand, we feel an infinitesimal smallness in comparison to the vast universe; on the other, an extreme connectedness to this larger whole.Obviously, given that we’re in our bodies every day, it’s tempting to think that’s the most important thing in the world. But we counteract that bias by looking at nature—at things much bigger than us.Looking at the beautiful expanse of the sky is an antidote to the nagging pettiness of earthly concerns. And it is good and sobering to lose yourself in that as often as you can.
Winifred Gallagher, in her book Rapt, quotes David Meyer, a cognitive scientist at the University of Michigan: “Einstein didn’t invent the theory of relativity while he was multitasking at the Swiss patent office.” It came after, when he really had time to focus and study. Attention matters—and in an era in which our attention is being fought for by every new app, website, article, book, tweet, and post, its value has only gone up.Attention is a habit, and letting your attention slip and wander builds bad habits and enables mistakes.You’ll never complete all your tasks if you allow yourself to be distracted with every tiny interruption. Your attention is one of your most critical resources. Don’t squander it!