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100,000 Words (Part 2 of 2)

This is the second of two posts about the words that have influenced my life (here’s the first one if you haven’t read it).

Why would I write two posts about words on a health and wellness blog?

Because words matter.

They give us perspective. They give us hope. They help us realize how insignificant most things are in life.

Today I found out someone who works in the same building as me took his own life. He was 35 years old. Had a young child. I didn’t know him well … only talked with him a couple times in passing. He was obviously in deep pain. But I wonder if the right words could’ve changed his decision. What if somebody took the time to ask him how he was doing. Not the bullshitty “How ya doin” small talk. Really looked him in the eye and meant it: “No really man, you doing okay?”

Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference. But maybe it would’ve.

This is a sad story. But it’s one that (hopefully) makes you put things in perspective and think about what really matters most to you. I know my answer. Family. Friends. Love. Happiness. Fulfillment. Adventure. Spirituality. Health.

When I think about these things and make them priorities every day, my life is good.

When I don’t, things get out of whack.

These are the times that a passage from a great book … an article you read online … or some simple words of encouragement from a friend or family member can literally change your life in a matter of seconds.

The words in these two posts have helped me do that, and for this I’m eternally grateful.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.

Kurt Vonnegut said there’s “one book that can teach you everything you need to know about life… it’s The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.”

Reading The Brothers Karamazov is an experience. I think it’s the best novel ever written. And it means a lot to me personally–it helped lift me out of a dark spot in my life.

It’s definitely a challenging book. But it’s one that will reward you for your effort.

Steve Jobs

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Love him or hate him, Jobs was a brilliant and insightful guy. His 2005 commencement speech at Stanford helped light a fire under my ass and is one of the reasons you’re reading this today. I thought about shutting this website down several times. But I stuck it out, and I’m glad I did.

Watch it below. Or read the text transcript.

Bruce Lee

If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.

Bruce Lee is the greatest martial artist that ever lived who died tragically at the age of 32. Lee’s physical feats were incredible, but he was also a deep thinker and philosopher.

His words helped guide me through some of the toughest times of my life (I recommend picking up the book Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee’s Wisdom for Daily Living). Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”
  • “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
  • “Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

Final Thoughts

100,000 words cross our eyes and ears every day.

Most don’t matter.

But some matter so much they can change your world … or someone else’s.

The words in these two posts have all changed my life–but none as much as the words I’m about to share with you.

They were written by my dad, inscribed on the inside of a book he gave me on Christmas in 2004.

Keep moving forward and never accept mediocrity. The key to life is to make a difference in the world around you.

21 simple words.

That have guided me every day since the day I read them.

These words, as the late great poet Robert Frost once said, have made all the difference.

Which ones have made a difference in yours?

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