Over the years many people have offered their models of the "Good Life", and some have left quotes that nicely summarize important truths. The following are ten of my personal favorites.
1. Know Thyself. - Socrates. From ancient Greece comes this reminder that introspection, keeping a journal, paying attention to the heart of things, comes first. Before we can know the world around us, and make reasonable decisions about our roles and goals, it seems we must first come to grips with who we are and what we value.
2. To Thine Own Self Be True. - Shakespeare. In life there is no substitute for integrity. My grandmother was fond of saying, "We either stand for something, or we'll fall for anything." Integrity is about going beyond the truth to full and complete honesty, openness and fairness.
3. And the Greatest of These is Love. - St Paul. He also observed that "without love I am just a clanging symbol or a noisy gong." Without love, caring relationships, and compassion, life is indeed a dry and shallow thing.
4. Imagination Rules the World. - Albert Einstein. The good life is at least partly based on dreams that are worthy of us, dreams that elevate and challenge and inspire our best. Bobby Kennedy noted, "Others look at the world and ask, 'Why?' I dream of a world that never was and ask, 'Why not?'" Martin Luther King's defiant cry, "I have a dream!" will live long after most of us are gone and forgotten.
5. Too much of a good thing is wonderful! - Mae West. The good life is about living large, about expressing the joy and love of life. It's about song, exuberance, and about taking chances, and "going for it".
6. Opportunities multiply as they are seized. - SunTzu. Success depends on the courage to act, and courage in turn requires a level of faith that every opportunity acted upon will lead to more and better ways to serve, learn, grow and prosper.
7. Do, or do not. There is no "try". - Yoda (The Empire Strikes Back). Life requires action, boldness and decisiveness. Mae West also observed, "He who hesitates is a damned fool."
8. Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. - Antoine de St. Exupery. Henry Thoreau recommended, "Simplify, simplify, simplify. Let your concerns be as 2 or 3, no more." Friends, work, the media and this thing called the Internet, along with our own "wish lists" try to seduce us to complexity, busy-ness and anxiety. Keep it simple!
9. The artist is nothing without gift, but gift is nothing without work - Emile Zola. Only focused, intelligent, diligent effort turns potential into reality. Without creative effort, talent and "gift" seem to atrophy and die. Truly a case of "use it or lose it".
10. There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. - Albert Einstein. I highly recommend practicing the attitude of gratitude. What else is there?