Some Basic Wisdom

Here are some basic concepts that you should know. The stronger you assimilate these, the better your life will be. The references to some this knowledge are in the list of References given at the end.

  • You are a valuable person in this world. You are here for a purpose. You are unique. You are irreplaceable. You have your own core values. To be successful, you must be yourself. You cannot be someone else. Being someone else will not serve your life’s purpose. You don’t need to compete with others. Each person is running his or her own race. You only need to compete against yourself. You should strive to be a better person than you were yesterday. You should try to be the best you.
  • What you are now is the result of your past decisions and actions. Your future will be the result of your current decisions and actions. You are fully responsible for your life. Blame no one. The results of your current actions are affected by several factors, including your past actions. You have full control only over your current action. So, the results may or may not be as you expect. You need to be ready for any result. With the right attitude, you will be able to learn your lessons and develop yourself through both success and failure.
  • Everyone in this world has made many mistakes due to ignorance, stupidity, carelessness or wrong judgment. Everyone has many physical and psychological limitations. Everyone has many deep secrets that he or she does not want anyone else to know. Despite all these, the way forward is to accept yourself as you are and move forward. It is OK. Go forward. Try not to make more mistakes. Give your best to yourself and the world.
  • You can achieve anything and everything that you set your heart on. Achieving anything in this world is a matter of time and effort. By focused attention and intelligent effort, you can learn and achieve anything. Research by Josh Kaufman has shown that reasonable competence can be attained about anything with just 20 hours of systematic goal-oriented practice with constant feedback. However, be aware of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. The least experienced are the most confident. After gaining the initial level of competence, to become a master, you will have to put in really a large amount of effort. Research by Malcolm Gladwell has shown that to become the top of the world, you need to put in about 10,000 hours of effort.
  • It is not wrong to lead a prosperous and comfortable life. The success of virtuous individuals in the society is what results in the success of the society. The wealth of the country and society is the sum of the wealth of all the individuals belonging to it. Your prosperity is your duty to the society. As long as you are honest, pay your taxes and add real value to the society, your prosperity will lead to a prosperous society. It is your duty to support the increase of knowledge, wealth, health, living conditions, employment opportunities and culture of the society. Also, do some social service.
  • Your company defines you. If you want a certain kind of life and develop certain habits, be in the company of likeminded people. Even if you do not have the necessary behavior now, being in the company of people like whom you want to be, will fix your behavior easier than using only self-effort. When the repeated behaviors become your habit, they become your second nature.
  • You win or lose together. If you want something, work for everyone around you to get that. You are not alone. You cannot get anything alone. Wish for others what you want for yourself. Help people and relieve the sufferings of people who are facing unfortunate circumstances. Be happy with the success of others. You should spend some amount of your resources for the welfare of the underprivileged people, betterment of the environment, etc.
  • Human relationships are more important than material success. Being kind is more important than being clever. Always strive for a win-win deal. You should be fair, and you should be perceived to be fair. Be genuinely interested in the welfare of the other person. Respect the dignity of others. Even when you win or when the other person is found to be wrong, treat the person with dignity and empathy, so that your relationship is stronger than before. Do not corner people and arm-twist them to agree to you. It is not worth it.
  • Always ask yourself how you can add value to the world and people. Don’t worry about what you will get back from the world and people. If you focus all your energy on providing the maximum value, the Universe will take care of your basic needs. Even when you seek help or opportunity, highlight what you have and how you can contribute, if your current obstacles are removed. Always focus on ways to contribute. To an animal, success is to be able to survive and get everything in life without working for it. A successful human being is one who has contributed more to the world than what he has taken from it.
  • When doing an action, the person is convinced that it is the best thing to do. If people make mistakes, it is because of wrong conviction and not malicious intent. So, blame wrong actions of people on their stupidity and not on malice. This is called Hanlon’s Razor. When you see people making mistakes, try to understand what they have gone through in life, to come to the convictions that they have, which made them act in that way. You will find that there is more reason to feel pity for those people than to be angry about.
  • The quality of your thoughts determines the quality of your life, and not the objects around you. The quality of your thoughts depends on what you feed your mind with and what you deliberately think about. So, be very selective and careful to feed your mind with positive ideas and have a positive attitude.
  • Always carry a smile externally and internally. Be enthusiastic. Have straight posture and a spring in your walk. This cheerfulness will keep your brain alert and also help others to enjoy working with you. You will be much more creative and happier when you have a smile on your face.
  • This world is a good place and it is getting better. The time you are living is the best time so far. Research by Steven Pinker has shown that now is the time when there is least violence. In the whole history of humankind, now is the time when there is the least probability of a person being subject to unnatural death like violence, war and disease. Now is the time when so much knowledge is available. Now is time when there is so much opportunity is available. You are in the best of times. And, the world is getting better and better.
  • Taking risks in life and moving out of your comfort zone will make you develop faster. Seek out and get exposed to different ideas and experiences. Of course, it should be positive and liberating. It should not be negative or binding. Travel to a new place. Learn a new language. Learn a new musical instrument. Learn to draw or paint. Try a new cuisine. Read books by authors from a different culture. Read translated books. Read a new genre. Watch a movie from a lesser known country. Talk to people from different cultural backgrounds. Join a short-term course where you will get to know new people.
  • You are very lucky to be where you are. Several people like your parents, teachers, friends, etc. have contributed to what you are. You are better than several people in the world, who are poor, lack opportunities, are not loved, have bad diseases, subject to violence, etc. There are several things and people that you need to be grateful for. The more you count your blessings, the happier you will be and the more blessings that you will attract.
  • There is no place for organized non-state violence in a civil society. Individual unplanned reactive violence purely in self-defense or defense of a victim of violence under an extraordinary circumstance is fine. Punishment by a court of law after due process of law is fine. But, no individual or a group of people can resort to violence for any reason whatever it be. There is no justification for violence. Planned violence is totally unacceptable.
  • The more you expose yourself to ideas that conflict with what you believe or think you know, the more you will grow. It is very easy to fall into the trap of “Confirmation Bias”, which restricts you into seeing, reading and thinking only what you want to. This will trap you into ignorance, bigotry and fanaticism. To avoid this, you need to actively seek out contrary ideas and evaluate them without any bias. Also, what you believed or knew sometime back, need not be the truth. So, you need to periodically challenge your own beliefs and “knowledge” to see if they still hold good. Also, actively seek out negative feedback and criticism about you and improve yourself if needed.
  • You have no obligation to change your ideas and opinions based on what others say. You have no obligation to convert other’s ideas or opinions. Listen to everyone. Understand everyone. Change if you are absolutely convinced, if you want. Violence in speech, slander and use of demeaning words are not acceptable. Present beliefs, facts and logic in a polite way. Freedom of thought and freedom of speech are non-violable. However, what you speak and what you hear should be polite. Respect the beliefs of others but make it clear that it is purely a belief and not a fact. Similarly, demand respect to your beliefs, making it fully clear that it is a belief and not a fact.
  • Lust, anger, greed, arrogance and jealousy are defects of the mind. They are not the qualities of a healthy mind. They are the psychological equivalents of the vestigial organs in the human body, which we have unfortunately inherited from our animal ancestry. The lesser they are, the healthier you are, and the more human you are. You must recognize these defects of your mind and work proactively towards reducing them. Forgiveness, charity, social service, helping others, meditation, etc. are several ways to reduce them.
  • In most situations, the 80-20 rule This is called Pareto’s Principle. 80% of wisdom in a book comes from 20% of it. 80% of results come from 20% of effort. 80% of profits come from 20% of revenue. To be efficient in life is to identify the 20% in every situation and pay maximum attention to them.
  • Knowledge is all about induction and deduction. From every situation, you make some generalizations and come up with some knowledge and skill that have a wider application. This is called induction. To any new situation, you can customize the general knowledge and skill as appropriate and apply them. This is called deduction. From every activity, irrespective of success or failure, ensure that you pick up the lessons by generalization. Often, these lessons are more valuable than the gain or loss of the activity. To be able to do this, you need a certain amount of detachment from narrow contexts and interests.
  • All your happiness comes from four chemicals in the brain. Dopamine is generated when you achieve a goal. Oxytocin is generated when have a loving human relationship. Serotonin is generated when you feel you are leading some people. Endorphins are generated when you physically exert yourself. Research has shown that happiness achieved by acquiring material possessions is very short lived compared to that achieved by life experiences. Also, more happiness is got by helping others than by self-indulgence. Knowing more about happiness can help you seek it the right way. The most efficient way to be happy is to serve other people.

References

Books

  • The Universal Message of the Bhagavad Gita (3 Vols) – Swami Ranganathananda
  • Vivekananda Reader (Compiled by M.Sivaramkrishna, Edited by Swami Narasimhananda)
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
  • Enlightenment Now – Steven Pinker
  • The Road Less Travelled – Scott M. Peck
  • Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari
  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari
  • Fistful of Love – Om Swami
  • Fistful of Wisdom – Om Swami
  • First 20 Hours – Josh Kaufman
  • Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
  • How to Become a Straight A Student – Cal Newport
  • 59 Seconds – Richard Wiseman
  • Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni
  • SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice The Work in Half The Time – Jeff Sutherland
  • Life’s Amazing Secrets – Gaur Gopal Das
  • Thinker Toys – Michael Michalko
  • 5 Steps to Finding Your Workflow – Nathan Lozeron
  • 12 Rules for Life – Jordan Peterson
  • The Leader In You – Dale Carnegie
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

YouTube channels

  • Clark Kegley
  • Productivity Game
  • Isha Yoga

Blogs and websites

  • Wait but Why
  • Productivity Game
  • Lifehack
  • James Clear
  • Mindtools
  • Donald Robertson
  • Practical Philosophy and Rational Religion
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