Who Is Living The Perfect Life?

Nobody, I’m sure, is living a perfect life. I’m not. But I’m working all the time on improving my life a lot and I think that’s something we should all be doing. It’s NEVER too late to improve things!

I read a marvelous story of a guy who graduated Oxford University at the age of 91! Bertie Gladwin left school aged 14 with no interest in academia. He’d been put in the duffers class by teachers and promptly lost interest in schooling (what does that tell you about teachers, eh?)

Today he has a total of three degrees and is even considering doing a PhD (what does that tell you about Bertie Gladwin?) I would argue he actually had far more ability than any of his teachers!


If you didn’t know it already, here are some remarkable people who were abject school failures: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Sir Winston Churchill. None of them graduated college and yet each left a considerable mark on the world.

What that tells me is that a typical school education—teachers—actually destroy ability, instead of nurturing it.

But I’m really talking about living to the max, rather than worldly success. Most of us, if shown a path to critical acclaim or power, would choose something closer to our heart anyway. It’s simply that, with those individuals in particular, what they were really passionate about was computers, records (Virgin Records) and the British Empire. Continue reading

The Gold and The Platinum Rule For Living

A Goldmine of Golden Rules ~ by Brian Johnson

Ah, The Golden Rule. Shall we mine the virtually identical ethical gems from various wisdom traditions?

“And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbor that which thou choosest for thyself.” ~ Baha’i (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 30)

“Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.” ~ Buddhism (Udana-Varga)

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” ~ Christianity (Matthew 22:36-40)

“Tzu-kung asked, ‘Is there a single word which can be a guide to conduct throughout one’s life?’ The Master said, ‘It is perhaps the word ‘shu.’ Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'” ~ Confucius (The Analects)

“This is the sum of duty: do naught to others which if done to thee would cause thee pain.” ~ Hinduism (The Mahabharata)

“No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” ~ Islam (Hadith)

“A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.” ~ Jainism (Sutrakritanga 1.11.33)

“A certain heathen came to Shammai and said to him, Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot. Thereupon he repulsed him with the rod which was in his hand. When he went to Hillel, he said to him, What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn.” ~ Judaism (Talmud, Shabbat 31a)

“One [who is] going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.” ~ Nigerian proverb

“Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.” ~ Zoroastrianism (Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29)

P.S. Let’s not forget The Platinum Rule. As per Tal Ben-Shahar: “Why the double standard, the generosity toward our neighbor and the miserliness where we ourselves are concerned? And so I propose that we add a new rule, which we can call the Platinum Rule, to our moral code: ‘Do not do unto yourself what you would not do unto others.'”

Why Happiness Is So Hard To Find

The problem is that people are going about it the wrong way: they are working on an incorrect model, to use scientific phraseology.

Most people think that happiness is derived from possessions or surroundings. If I had more of this or that… Or if I was in that certain place, or with those certain people… If he/she would only marry me… I would really be happy. That’s the common perception, heavily reinforced by abusive commercial advertising that tries to promulgate this illusion, solely for the purpose of selling people goods.

In fact some ads are so cruel and twisted that they promote the idea that without the right car (or perfume, or whatever) you are a nobody; no member of the opposite sex would even give you the time of day, never mind allow themselves to love you. Sneering women, with pretend smirks, and the puzzled, exasperated men who are depicted in typical TV advertisements create a picture of a world in which only the unemotional cynic can survive and be “happy”.

Left unanswered is the question which is obvious to me: who would want to even meet—never mind have a relationship with—a woman who would throw your car keys down the drain before walking away without pity? Continue reading

Happiness is the journey but where to?

There’s a great saying by the Dalai Lama: happiness is the journey, not the destination. It rightly emphasizes that happiness can never be postponed; you don’t wait for something to happen, in order to become happy.

In fact people who think only: “I’ll be happy if she changes her ways,” or “I’ll be happy once I’m rich,” are never going to be happy. Fact.

Relying on outside sources to be happy is a sure way to postpone happiness forever!

Real happiness, real contentment, is enjoying your journey towards some desired goal.

I love riding steam trains (it’s a thing I’ve had since I was a kid, OK?). But I couldn’t care less where we are going to! I love the sound of the engine, the smell of steam and hot oil, the rumble of the trucks and carriages… It’s the journey that inspires me! That’s my idea of steam happiness.

But of course, the train has to be going somewhere. So the destination comes into it. It’s the same in life. Continue reading

Happiness Is L-Brain Rather Surprisingly

Experiments at the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin used MRI to map the brain of monk Matthieu Ricard while he was engaged in what Buddhists call compassion meditation. The pictures showed activity mainly in the left prefrontal cortex (just inside the forehead) of Ricard’s brain.

Generally people with happy temperaments exhibit a high ratio of activity in the left prefrontal cortex, an area associated with happiness, joy and enthusiasm. Those who are prone to anxiety, fear and depression exhibit a higher ratio of activity in the right prefrontal cortex.

But the degree to which the left side of Ricard’s brain lit up far surpassed 150 other subjects studied in this trial. He had 30 years of experience at meditation but, unfortunately, we don’t have the control knowledge of whether Ricard might have exhibited the same results before he became a monk. His off-the-chart results may the result of his meditation skills or because he is an exceptional individual.

Buddhists have long maintained that meditation offers great benefits to their minds and bodies, but science demands measurements. Continue reading