Quote-unquote #4

In the previous Quote-unquote post, I had asked you to let me know if I should continue observing and writing quotes. The Yays outnumbered the Nays, and here I am with another one. This edition of the quote-unquote focuses on personal development and the pursuit of being a better version of ourselves.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” — Buddha.

Throughout my twenties, I learned the hard way that holding a grudge, having anger, and resentment hurts me more than anyone else. It could not have been explained any better than this. Surely, I'm not the only one who has experienced the weight of these emotions. Though these emotions are normal and human, our reaction to these emotions decides the progress of the situation we are in.

“Be content with what you have but never be content with who you are. Being content with who you are is a form of diluted despair.” — Bookworm podcast.

In an episode of the bookworm podcast, the hosts were discussing a book called “Self Control: Its Kingship and Majesty”. This book was written about 100 years ago and I was fascinated by the fact that most of what is written in this book still applies today. This implies that some of the core human behaviors haven't changed much in the last century. We are still stressed more than we should, about the same things as the people who lived 100 years ago, like money, material possessions, being a better person, etc. Being content with what we have helps us focus on ourselves and our loved ones. However, being content with who we stop us from the pursuit of being better. Though it can be argued that continuously striving to be better is stressful by itself, I'm inclined to think self-improvement is a lifelong process. Something to ponder. Is anybody up for this discussion? Let's talk.

“In any situation in life, you always have three choices: you can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it.” — Naval Ravikant.

This isn't my first time quoting Naval, and I keep wondering how much truth there is to this. I see this quote as a reinforcement of the power of letting go, which I'm still learning how to. Kudos to those of you who have mastered this at any level!

“What is to give light must endure burning.” — Viktor E. Frankl

This quote is from “Man's Search for Meaning”, one of the most powerful books I've ever read. Holocaust survivor and psychotherapist Viktor Frankl explains the value of suffering and failures in our lives. There is meaning in suffering and it leads us down a path of self-awareness and purpose.

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.” — Richard Feynman.  

Feynman was one of the greatest physicists of all time, truly one of the great minds of humanity. In a speech to young scientists, he said this while explaining to them how important it is to understand the basics right, and the key to learning is understanding. It's easy to fool ourselves into believing that we know things and understand their basics. This can be associated with a psychological phenomenon called the Mere Exposure Effect, which is a topic for another day. Feynman sternly believed in first principles, which are the base assumptions and propositions that cannot be derived from anything else. I'm reading one of his books called “Six Easy Pieces” and all his lectures in the book reflect his way of thinking. It's a hard read and made me realize that I haven't understood the basics of a lot of things properly. The next two quotes dabble along the same lines of learning and understanding.

“In general, I feel if you can't say it clearly you don't understand it yourself.” — John R Searle.

“To learn, read. To know, write. To master, teach.” — Naval.

“Imagine who you could be, and then aim single mindedly at that.” — Jordan Peterson.

Jordan Peterson is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant minds in our current world. I came across this quote while browsing through his book “Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life”. This is Rule-2 in this book, and now I'm curious to read it. Though I don't agree with some of his views on modern society, I'm learning a lot from him concerning how to think about career and personal development.

“Don’t show the audience 4. Show them 2+2 and let them put things together.” — Andrew Stanton.

This award-winning animator and filmmaker from Pixar proposed the unified theory of 2+2. In a creative writing workshop that I attended, the host gave some examples of effective storytelling and this one stood out. The host explained Stanton's theory that while writing and storytelling, it's important to not give the audience everything as it is. I learned that effective stories make the audience think and put things together themselves instead of feeding them everything readymade. Storytelling is important not only in the creative workspace but also in personal and professional environments. How we tell our stories is an effective way of self-expression.

“I don't know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing – a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process” — R. Buckminster Fuller.

In his book “Get Going”, Austin Kleon quotes the American architect, philosopher, and designer while talking about how people are hung up on titles. For example, if someone uses the word “creative” as a job title, it tries to imply that the work of a “creative” is “being creative” as if it was the end. Creativity is just the means to an end and a tool to get work done. Instead of focusing on how we call ourselves (noun), we should focus on what we do (verb). This way, the noun is earned through doing the verb.

This post started as a quick-fire way of compiling a post but turned out to be interesting with lots of learning for me. I've been in a writing slump lately and have struggled to write consistently. I wanted a change of scenery and I went to a bookstore cafe to write. Instead of utilizing all the quotes, I had compiled over the last few weeks, I decided to improvise with the new scenery. So I took some of these quotes from random books in the bookstore. I'd love to know about what you do when you hit a slump in your daily work and how you get out of it. As always, thanks for reading. Happy Easter to those who are celebrating. Peace out!

Vivek Arvind

Vivek Arvind

Santa Clara, CA