April 5

The Best 5 Inspirational Short Stories About Life

1. Everyone Has a Story in LifeA 24 year old boy seeing out from the train’s window shouted…

“Dad, look the trees are going behind!”

Dad smiled and a young couple sitting nearby, looked at the 24 year old’s childish behavior with pity, suddenly he again exclaimed…

“Dad, look the clouds are running with us!”

The couple couldn’t resist and said to the old man…

“Why don’t you take your son to a good doctor?” The old man smiled and said…“I did and we are just coming from the hospital, my son was blind from birth, he just got his eyes today.”

Every single person on the planet has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them. The truth might surprise you.

2. Shake off Your Problems

A man’s favorite donkey falls into a deep precipice. He can’t pull it out no matter how hard he tries. He therefore decides to bury it alive.

Soil is poured onto the donkey from above. The donkey feels the load, shakes it off, and steps on it. More soil is poured.

It shakes it off and steps up. The more the load was poured, the higher it rose. By noon, the donkey was grazing in green pastures.

After much shaking off (of problems) And stepping up (learning from them), One will graze in GREEN PASTURES.

3. The Elephant Rope

As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?

Failure is part of learning; we should never give up the struggle in life.

4. Potatoes, Eggs, and Coffee Beans

Once upon a time a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot.

He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing.

After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.

He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup. Turning to her he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?”

“Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” she hastily replied.

“Look closer,” he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.

“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.

He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity– the boiling water.

However, each one reacted differently.

The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.

The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.

However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.

“Which are you,” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean? “

Moral:In life, things happen around us, things happen to us, but the only thing that truly matters is what happens within us.

Which one are you?

5. A Dish of Ice Cream

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

“How much is an ice cream sundae?”

“50 cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied a number of coins in it.

“How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he inquired. Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was a bit impatient.

“35 cents,” she said brusquely.

The little boy again counted the coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and departed.

When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw.

There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were 15 cents – her tip.

April 5

Happiness

What is happiness? People have agonized over this question for centuries, but only recently has science begun to weigh in on the debate. Before I get into what the science has concluded, let me start by giving some answers to a somewhat easier question: what isn’t happiness?

Happiness is Not: Feeling Good All The Time
Skeptics have often asked whether a person who uses cocaine every day is “happy.” If feeling good all the time were our only requirement, then the answer would be “yes.” However, recent research suggests that an even-keeled mood is more psychologically healthy than a mood in which you achieve great heights of happiness regularly—after all, what goes up must come down. Furthermore, when you ask people what makes their lives worth living, they rarely say anything about their mood. They are more likely to cite things that they find meaningful, such as their work or relationships. Recent research even suggests that if you focus too much on trying to feel good all the time, you’ll actually undermine your ability to feel good at all—in other words, no amount of feeling good will be satisfying to you, since what you expect (all the time) isn’t physically possible for most people.

Happiness is Not: Being Rich or Affording Everything You Want
While living below the poverty line certainly makes it hard to be happy, beyond that, money does not appear to buy happiness. Imagine you unexpectedly get a $10,000/year raise. While you would certainly be excited in the short term, it would only be a matter of time before your expectations change to fit your new budget. Before you know it, you’re just as happy as you were before the raise! This holds true for new houses, new cars, new gadgets, and all of the other material goods that people spend so much time pining for. The only exception to this rule is when you spend your money on experiences with other people so if you took that extra $10,000/year and spent it on some weekend getaways to new and exciting places with your friends or family, then you might get happier. However, this is rarely how people choose to spend windfalls.

Happiness is Not: A Final Destination
The old adage, “Are we there yet?” is often applied to discussions of happiness, as if a person works towards happiness and one day “arrives.” Contrary to popular belief, however, unless you are one of the few who won the genetic lottery and are naturally happy, it takes regular effort to maintain happiness. Most established techniques for becoming happier—keeping a gratitude journal, for example—are habits, not one-shot events, and most life events that make us happy in the short-term, like getting married or being promoted, fade over time as we adapt to them.

So, What IS Happiness?
The research suggests that happiness is a combination of how satisfied you are with your life (for example, finding meaning in your work) and how good you feel on a day-to-day basis. Both of these are relatively stable—that is, our life changes, and our mood fluctuates, but our general happiness is more genetically determined than anything else. The good news is, with consistent effort, this can be offset. Think of it like you think about weight: if you eat how you want to and are as active as you want to be, your body will settle at a certain weight. But if you eat less than you’d like or exercise more, your weight will adjust accordingly. If that new diet or exercise regimen becomes part of your everyday life, then you’ll stay at this new weight. If you go back to eating and exercising the way you used to, your weight will return to where it started. So it goes, too, with happiness.

In other words, you have the ability to control how you feel—and with consistent practice, you can form life-long habits for a more satisfying and fulfilling life.

Acacia Parks, Ph.D is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Hiram College, where she teaches classes on the science of happiness. Her research program focuses on the efficacy of positive interventions, and the psychological and behavioral characteristics of individuals who use them. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

April 5

Motivation

Motivation is the power that activates the engine of success and moves you to act and do things.

Articles on Motivation
Motivation and How to Get Motivated
How many times have you started enthusiastically a weight loss program, began a bodybuilding or aerobics training program, or started learning a foreign language, only to stop after a short while?…

How to Keep Motivated and Enthusiastic
Do you sometimes feel enthusiastic, motivated and energetic when starting something new, but after some time lose your enthusiasm and interest? This can happen when…

What Is Motivation and How to Strengthen It
Motivation is the inner power or energy that pushes toward acting, performing actions and achieving. Motivation has much to do with desire and ambition, and if they are absent, motivation is absent too…

How to Improve Your Life in 12 Steps
How many times have you told yourself that you are going to improve your life, but ended doing nothing? How many times have been dissatisfied with some aspects of your life and vowed to change them…

Lack of Motivation & Enthusiasm
Lack of motivation and lack of enthusiasm are two of the main reasons for failure and of living a mediocre life. People lacking in motivation and enthusiasm are usually passive, blame everything and everyone…

Starting a Project Enthusiastically, but Losing Enthusiasm
Do you start a project enthusiastically, but lose your enthusiasm after a few days? This is something that happens to everyone, and could be quite frustrating…

What Are You Waiting For? Improvement Starts Now
What are you waiting for? Do you want to make changes in your life? Do you constantly tell yourself that if things were different, you could do this and that?…

Dare, Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
Don’t worry if you make mistakes. Only people who dare, try, and persevere, complete tasks and achieve success. It is so comfortable to be passive, make no effort, and stick to the familiar…

April 5

Art Makes You Smart

FOR many education advocates, the arts are a panacea: They supposedly increase test scores, generate social responsibility and turn around failing schools. Most of the supporting evidence, though, does little more than establish correlations between exposure to the arts and certain outcomes. Research that demonstrates a causal relationship has been virtually nonexistent.

A few years ago, however, we had a rare opportunity to explore such relationships when the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened in Bentonville, Ark. Through a large-scale, random-assignment study of school tours to the museum, we were able to determine that strong causal relationships do in fact exist between arts education and a range of desirable outcomes.

Students who, by lottery, were selected to visit the museum on a field trip demonstrated stronger critical thinking skills, displayed higher levels of social tolerance, exhibited greater historical empathy and developed a taste for art museums and cultural institutions.

Crystal Bridges, which opened in November 2011, was founded by Alice Walton, the daughter of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart. It is impressive, with 50,000 square feet of gallery space and an endowment of more than $800 million.

Thanks to a generous private gift, the museum has a program that allows school groups to visit at no cost to students or schools.

 

Before the opening, we were contacted by the museum’s education department. They recognized that the opening of a major museum in an area that had never had one before was an unusual event that ought to be studied. But they also had a problem. Because the school tours were being offered free, in an area where most children had very little prior exposure to cultural institutions, demand for visits far exceeded available slots. In the first year alone, the museum received applications from 525 school groups requesting tours for more than 38,000 students.

As social scientists, we knew exactly how to solve this problem. We partnered with the museum and conducted a lottery to fill the available slots. By randomly assigning school tours, we were able to allocate spots fairly. Doing so also created a natural experiment to study the effects of museum visits on students, the results of which we published in the journals Education Next and Educational Researcher.

Over the course of the following year, nearly 11,000 students and almost 500 teachers participated in our study, roughly half of whom had been selected by lottery to visit the museum. Applicant groups who won the lottery constituted our treatment group, while those who did not win an immediate tour served as our control group.

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Several weeks after the students in the treatment group visited the museum, we administered surveys to all of the students. The surveys included multiple items that assessed knowledge about art, as well as measures of tolerance, historical empathy and sustained interest in visiting art museums and other cultural institutions. We also asked them to write an essay in response to a work of art that was unfamiliar to them.

These essays were then coded using a critical-thinking-skills assessment program developed by researchers working with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Further, we directly measured whether students are more likely to return to Crystal Bridges as a result of going on a school tour. Students who participated in the study were given a coupon that gave them and their families free entry to a special exhibit at the museum. The coupons were coded so that we could determine the group to which students belonged. Students in the treatment group were 18 percent more likely to attend the exhibit than students in the control group.

Moreover, most of the benefits we observed are significantly larger for minority students, low-income students and students from rural schools — typically two to three times larger than for white, middle-class, suburban students — owing perhaps to the fact that the tour was the first time they had visited an art museum.

Further research is needed to determine what exactly about the museum-going experience determines the strength of the outcomes. How important is the structure of the tour? The size of the group? The type of art presented?

Clearly, however, we can conclude that visiting an art museum exposes students to a diversity of ideas that challenge them with different perspectives on the human condition. Expanding access to art, whether through programs in schools or through visits to area museums and galleries, should be a central part of any school’s curriculum.

April 5

The Beginner’s Guide to Continuous Self-Improvement

What is Self-Improvement?
Let’s define self-improvement. The definition of self-improvement is pretty self-explanatory: Self-improvement is the improvement of one’s knowledge, status, or character by one’s own efforts. It’s the quest to make ourselves better in any and every facet of life.

Best Self-Improvement Articles to Start With
Self-improvement almost always starts with self-awareness and the ability to transform your habits. If you’re serious about transforming your life and improving yourself, you should start with these two articles:

How to Stop Lying to Ourselves: A Call for Self-Awareness: If you’re serious about getting better at something, then one of the first steps is to know—in black-and-white terms—where you stand. You need self-awareness before you can achieve self-improvement.
Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead: For most of us, the path to self-improvement starts by setting a specific and actionable goal. What I’m starting to realize, however, is that when it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, there is a much better way to do things. It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems.
Common Self-Improvement Topics
I discuss almost every aspect of smart, science-backed self-improvement on this website. You can explore some of the sub-topics of self-improvement with the links below:

The Beginner’s Guide to Productivity and Time Management
The Ultimate Guide on How to Improve Focus and Concentration
The Beginner’s Guide on How to Eat Healthy and Stick to It
Best Self-Improvement Books
Manual for Living by Epictetus
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Want more books on self-improvement? Browse my full list of the best self-help books.

More Examples of Smart Self-Improvement
The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time
How to Use Military Strategy to Build Better Habits
How to Read More: The Simple System I’m Using to Read 30+ Books Per Year
All Self-Improvement Articles
This is a complete list of articles I have written on self-improvement. Enjoy!
How to Retain More of Every Book You Read
The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice
The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time
Make Your Life Better by Saying Thank You in These 7 Situations
How to Use Military Strategy to Build Better Habits
How to Master the Invisible Hand That Shapes Our Lives
This Zen Concept Will Help You Stop Being a Slave to Old Beliefs
The Chemistry of Building Better Habits
How to Stop Lying to Ourselves: A Call for Self-Awareness
If Nothing Changes, Nothing Is Going to Change
Olympic Medalist Dick Fosbury and the Power of Being Unconventional
What Happens When You Believe You’re Taking Steroids
Two Harvard Professors Reveal One Reason Our Brains Love to Procrastinate
How to Fall in Love With Boredom and Unlock Your Mental Toughness
Inside the Mind of a Mad Scientist
You’re Not Ready for Marriage
The 2 Types of Growth: Which One of These Growth Curves Are You Following?
The Goal is Not the Point
5 Lessons on Being Wrong
Stop Thinking and Start Doing: The Power of Practicing More
Bob Mathias on How to Master the Art of Self-Confidence
5 Common Mistakes That Cause New Habits to Fail
Constraints Make You Better: Why the Right Limitations Boost Performance
To Make Big Gains, Avoid Tiny Losses
10 Lessons Learned from Squatting 400 Pounds
4 Reasonable Ways to Achieve Overnight Success
Measure Backward, Not Forward
How to Build New Habits by Taking Advantage of Old Ones
What Are You Measuring In Your Life?
How to Get Your Brain to Focus on What Matters
How to Read More: The Simple System I’m Using to Read 30+ Books Per Year
Plan For Failure: Being Consistent Is Not the Same as Being Perfect
How to Change Your Beliefs and Stick to Your Goals for Good
Stop Wasting Time on the Details and Commit to the Fundamentals
I’m Using These 3 Simple Steps to Actually Stick with Good Habits
I Watched an Artist Create Stained Glass And Learned An Important Lesson About Life
Treat Failure Like a Scientist
This Research Study Changed the Way We Think About Success (Here’s How You Can Use It)
This Coach Improved Every Tiny Thing by 1 Percent and Here’s What Happened
Why Trying to Be Perfect Won’t Help You Achieve Your Goals (And What Will)
Do You Have to be Unhappy Now if You Want to be Successful Later?
Follow the Recipe: Are You Being Patient Enough to See Results?
You’re Not Good Enough to Be Disappointed
3 Simple Things You Can Do Right Now to Build Better Habits
The Crime Your Brain Commits Against You
Lessons on Success and Deliberate Practice from Mozart, Picasso, and Kobe Bryant
What is Actually Required for Success?
How to Stop Procrastinating on Your Goals by Using the “Seinfeld Strategy”
How to Improve Your Health and Productivity Without Thinking
The Mistake Smart People Make: Being In Motion vs. Taking Action
How Your Beliefs Can Sabotage Your Behavior
What is Your “Average Speed” in Your Life, Your Health, and Your Work?
The Difference Between Being “Not Wrong” and Being Right
Achieve Your Goals: Research Reveals a Simple Trick That Doubles Your Chances for Success
How to Break a Bad Habit and Replace It With a Good One
Get Back on Track: 7 Strategies to Help You Bounce Back After Slipping Up
How to Say No, Resist Temptation, and Stick to Your Health Goals
3 Time Management Tips That Actually Work
How to Achieve Your Goals Easily
3 Surprising Reasons Why You Need to Rediscover Slow Growth
Why Getting Started is More Important Than Succeeding
When to be Unreasonable With Yourself
Why is it So Hard to Stick to Good Habits?
The Difference Between Professionals and Amateurs
Identity-Based Habits: How to Actually Stick to Your Goals This Year
Keystone Habits: The Simple Way to Improve All Aspects of Your Life

April 5

We Need An Education System That Excites Children

Andy Powell, CEO of independent education foundation Edge, sets out his vision for the future of education.

The nation needs an education system that excites and stimulates children, providing them with the learning they need – and deserve – to fulfill their potential. This means providing a curriculum of practical and vocational learning alongside theoretical study.

This need for change has never been more pressing. It is not due to the fault of any individual, any school or even any one political party but due to the simple fact the world has changed – and our education system has not changed fast enough. Indeed, it is largely based on a system developed over a century ago; a factory manufacturing model where children are placed on a learning conveyor belt, then sorted, packaged and labelled according to their so-called intelligence.

However, in this day and age there is no excuse for such a top-down, one-size-fits-all education system that does not enable all children to thrive in their own way. We must recognise that young people are individuals with different talents and dreams. As such, not all children learn in the same way. We need to move towards a system of mass customisation, based on a strong common core of essential skills and knowledge, which allows young people to develop their own particular talents and aspirations.

We must support young people in discovering what they enjoy and are good at – and who they want to be in life. And we must encourage and support teachers and schools in responding to these different needs. Young people will learn if they see learning as important, meaningful and worthwhile.

A crucial issue for the recession

Revolution in education is a particularly crucial issue in the context of the current economic climate. Young people leaving full-time education next summer will find themselves in the toughest recruitment market in years. The current outdated education system is not making the best use of the most precious natural resource this country possesses – its next generation.

The UK requires people with passion, know how, initiative, creativity, resilience and self knowledge; people who can get on with others and who know when to listen and when to lead. These skills and abilities cannot be gained in the classroom alone; they come from ‘practical learning’ – learning by doing things for real, working with experts, and integrating theory with practice.

Since Edge first launched its ‘call to action’ in April – inviting everyone from education professionals, MPs and opinion formers to parents and young people to help us create a mass movement for change – the response from all areas has been extremely positive. Practical and vocational learning is no longer a marginal topic, no longer the option for other people’s children.

Six Steps to Change

Edge’s Six Steps to Change Manifesto identifies how governments across the UK can reform the education system to better meet the needs of all young people and employers.

The Six Steps to Change are:

A broad curriculum up to age 14 with opportunities to develop life skills and experience a range of future options. Life skills such as team work, problem solving and enterprise should be explicitly taught and assessed through practical activities linked to academic subjects and vocational areas. There should be a new emphasis on direct experience of future options, including visits to workplaces, colleges and universities, and hearing at first hand from people, who have already made career and learning choices.
SATS replaced by an individual profile of attainment, skills and aptitudes which would be used by students, parents and teachers to choose a post 14 pathway. In order to make choices parents and students need to understand a student’s strengths and aspirations. The profile built up over their time in school would help students, their parents and teachers discuss the next steps.
At 14 all students, in addition to continuing a broad curriculum, including English, maths and science, would be supported in choosing a pathway matched to their interest and abilities, each with a different balance of theoretical and practical learning. For some the pathway will be largely academic and theory-based; for many it will be a blend of theory and practice, connecting new knowledge and skills with the wider world; and for some it will be centred on practical learning. The emphasis will be on breadth and keeping options open for young people while allowing them to pursue their interest in depth.
Students on practical and vocational courses would be taught in specialist facilities or specialist institutions and by appropriately experienced staff. This will ensure students are motivated and receive an excellent professional education. There will be many more specialist institutions, the nature of which would be determined locally. Teachers of vocational subjects would be appropriately experienced, trained and receive the same pay and conditions as those teaching academic subjects.
At 16, students would choose to specialise within their pathway, change to another pathway or enter employment with training. For example students on the engineering pathway might specialise in electrical engineering. Some students might choose to leave full time education and start an apprenticeship.
Beyond 18, students would have the opportunity to study at degree level in a centre of vocational excellence endorsed by employers. This would raise the status of vocational learning, and provide clear progression routes, while improving the employability of the students.
All practical and vocational courses should reflect the demands of the modern workplace, be formally endorsed by employers and evolve under their guidance – as well as supported by current experts. Students on such courses should spend at least ten per cent of their study in the workplace – i.e. eight weeks over two years. They would have a programme of study during this time and receive guidance and support from a trained workplace mentor.

The Six Steps to Change Manifesto aims to eliminate the current academic bias and the corrosive divide between academic and vocational learning, which views ‘know how’ as inferior to ‘know what’. It outlines a way to ensure there more high-quality options that combine theory and practice and are regarded by all as credible alternatives to a high-class academic route.

Changes

Will these changes come about? I believe they will. Our current system has reached the point of diminishing returns where we have tried most mechanisms; from more money, to targets with related incentives and public shame, to new types of qualification, and a thousand and one new ‘initiatives’. It is hard to imagine that we are suddenly going to transform education unless we go back to the basic principle, which is that people learn if they enjoy it and can see its relevance.

We need a new approach, a new paradigm. This becomes very apparent when we compare ourselves with other countries. The UK has some great strengths which we must not lose, particularly in terms of top-end, high quality academic learning. But our greatest weakness is our ability to turn diversity into hierarchy. Our system is largely based on the misguided belief that one form of intelligence is in some way more important than (or ‘better’) than another.

Encouragingly, I think the necessary changes are already starting to happen. The signs of spring are all about us:

The cross-party Skills Commission report, Inspiration and Aspiration recognises that a totally new model of careers information, advice and guidance is needed – for example, ensuring people have access to websites where they can find out about different training routes and use forums to discuss careers with people who have experienced them.
A high profile major new employer campaign to provide more meaningful, relevant and inspiring experiences of the world of work for young people is being planned.
The growing interest in ‘employability skills’, the piloting of explicit teaching of positive psychology and the emergence of schools and colleges which build learning around core skills and capabilities, locking enterprise in the broadest sense into all aspects of learning. Examples range from RSA’s Open Minds and HTI ‘Go for It’ schools, to enterprise Academies and colleges like Sheffield City College.
The move against rigid SATs tests and related targets, and interest in a more balanced ‘scorecard’ of attainment.
The development of a major new learning pathway in the form of Diplomas, the success of Young Apprenticeships and the rapid increase in take-up of more practical and vocational qualifications within schools.
Totally new types of institutions with a commitment to more practical learning delivered in the right facilities by appropriately experienced teachers, such as Madeley Academy (a Thomas Telford School) and Studio Schools.
Emerging interest in a new and more practical pedagogy and the challenging of existing divisions between school, FE and HE teacher training – a new Skills Commission enquiry is starting on this issue.
The revival of apprenticeships.
Foundation degrees (where they are truly developed with employers), new initiatives between HE and employers, including HE validation of work-based learning.
The seeds of change are sprouting – but they won’t automatically grow. For them to flourish they need to be recognised and nurtured. They need the support of the nation; from parents, to young people, MPs and the business community.

Andy Powell, CEO of independent education foundation Edge.

April 5

Quotes from Alan Watts

Alan Watts was one of the most influential philosophers in modern history, best known for popularising Eastern philosophy for a Western audience.

He talked a lot about Buddhism, mindfulness and how to live a fulfilling life. The Alan Watts quotes below represent some of his most important philosophies on life, love, and happiness.

Why man suffers

“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”

On the present moment
“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”

“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.”

“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”

“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.”

On the meaning of life
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.”

“If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing thing you don’t like doing, which is stupid.”

On the mind
“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”

On letting go
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”

“If we cling to belief in God, we cannot likewise have faith, since faith is not clinging but letting go.”

Potent advice for any creatives
“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”

On change
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

“The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.”

On the universe
“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”

“We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.”

On who you truly are
“Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you’re crazy and you’re blasphemous, and they’ll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing). However if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, ‘My goodness, I’ve just discovered that I’m God,’ they’ll laugh and say, ‘Oh, congratulations, at last you found out.”

“Every intelligent individual wants to know what makes him tick, and yet is at once fascinated and frustrated by the fact that oneself is the most difficult of all things to know.”

“And people get all fouled up because they want the world to have meaning as if it were words… As if you had a meaning, as if you were a mere word, as if you were something that could be looked up in a dictionary. You are meaning.”

“How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god.”

“What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.”

Learn about who you truly are according to Alan Watts by getting his book, The Book:On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, which discusses the underlying misunderstanding of who we truly are.

On death
“Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up… now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep.”

On love
“Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.”

On music
“Life is like music for its own sake. We are living in an eternal now, and when we listen to music we are not listening to the past, we are not listening to the future, we are listening to an expanded present.”

On anxiety
“One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious, and the same may be said of guilt.”

“To remain stable is to refrain from trying to separate yourself from a pain because you know that you cannot. Running away from fear is fear, fighting pain is pain, trying to be brave is being scared. If the mind is in pain, the mind is pain. The thinker has no other form than his thought. There is no escape.”

April 5

From Agony To Ecstasy.

Once the child knows the taste of freedom, he will never become part of any society, any church, any club, any political party. He will remain an individual, he will remain free and he will create pulsations of freedom around him. His very being will become a door to freedom.

The child is not allowed to taste freedom. If the child asks the mother. “Mom, can I go out” The sun is beautiful and the air is very crisp and I would like to run around the block,” immediately—obsessively compulsively—the mother says, “No!” The child has not asked much. He just wanted to go out into the morning sun, into the brisk air, he wanted to enjoy the sunlight and the air and the company of the tree— he has not asked for anything!—but out of some deep compulsion, the mother says no. It is very difficult to hear a mother saying yes, very difficult to hear a father saying yes. Even if they say yes, they say it very reluctantly. Even if they say yes, they make the child feel that he is guilty, that he is forcing them, that he is doing something wrong.

Whenever the child feels happy, whatever he is doing,
somebody or other is bound to come and stop him—”Don’t do this!” By and by the child understands, “Whatever I feel happy about is wrong.’ And of course, he never feels happy doing what others tells him to do, because it is not a spontaneous urge in him. So he comes to know that to be miserable is right, to be happy is wrong. That becomes the deep association.

If he wants to open the clock and look inside, the whole family jumps on him: “Stop! You will destroy the clock. This is not good.” He was just looking into the clock; it was a scientific curiosity. He wanted to see what makes it tick. It was perfectly ok. And the clock is not so valuable as his curiosity, as his inquiring mind. The clock is worthless— even if it is destroyed nothing is destroyed—but once the inquiring mind is destroyed much is destroyed; then he will never inquire for truth.

Or it is a beautiful night and the sky is full of stars and the child wants to go outside, but it is time to go to sleep. He is not feeling sleepy at all; he is wide awake, very, very much awake. The child is puzzled in the morning when he feels sleepy, everybody is after him:  “Get up!” ‘When he was enjoying it, when it was so beautiful to be in bed, which he wanted to turn over and sleep a little longer and dream a little more, then everybody was against him: “Get up It is time to get up.” Now he is wide-awake and he wants to enjoy the stars. It is very poetic, this moment, very romantic. He feels thrilled. How can he go to sleep in such a state? He is so excited, he wants to sing and dance, they are forcing him to go to sleep:”It is nine o’clock. It is time to go to sleep.” Now, he is happy being awake but he is forced to go to sleep. When he is playing he is forced to come to the dining table. He is not hungry. When he is hungry, his mother says, “This is not the time.” In this way we go on destroying all possibility of being
ecstatic. al] possibility of being happy, joyful, delighted. What the child feels spontaneously happy with seems to be wrong, and what he does not feel at all interested in seems to be right.

In the school a bird suddenly starts singing outside the classroom, and the child is devoting all his attention toward the bird, of course—not toward the mathematics teacher who is standing at the board with his ugly chalk. But the teacher is more powerful, politically more powerful than the bird, Certainly, the bird has no power, but it has beauty. The bird attracts the child without hammering on his head, “Be attentive! Concentrate on me!” No—siinply, spontaneously, naturally the consciousness of the child starts flowing out the window. It goes to the bird. His heart is there, but he has to look at the blackboard. There is nothing to look at, but he has to pretend.

Happiness is wrong. Wherever there is happiness the child starts becoming afraid something is going to be wrong. If the child is playing with his own body, it is wrong. If the child is playing with his own sexual organs, it is wrong. And that is one of the most ecstatic moments in the life of a child. He enjoys his body; it is thrilling. But all thrill has to be cut, all joy has to be destroyed; It is neurotic, but the society is neurotic.

The same was done to the parents by their parents; they are doing the same to their children. This way one generation goes on destroying another. This way we transfer our neurosis from one generation to another. The whole earth has become a madhouse.Nobody seems to know what ecstasy is. It is lost. Barriers upon barriers have been created.

It is my observation that when people start meditating and they start feeling an upsurge of energy, when they start feeling happy, they immediately come to me and say “A very strange thing is happening. I am feeling happy, and I am also feeling guilty, for no reason at all.” Guilty? They are also puzzled. Why should one feel guilty? They know that they have not done anything wrong. From where does this guilt arise? It is coming from that deep-rooted conditioning that joy is wrong. To be sad is okay, but to be happy is not allowed.

Joy: The Happiness That Comes From Within- Osho

April 5

Ecstasy, The Forgotten Language

“Ecstasy is a language that man has completely forgotten. He has been forced to forget it; he has been compelled to forget it. The society is against it, the civilization is against it. The society has a tremendous investment in misery. It depends on misery, it feeds on misery, it survives on misery.

The society is not for human beings. The society is using human beings as a means for itself. The society has become more important than humanity. The culture, the civilization, the church, they all have become more important. They were meant to be for man, but now they are not for man. They have almost reversed the whole process; now man exists for them.

Every child is born ecstatic.

Ecstasy is natural. It is not something that happens only to great sages. It is something that everybody brings with him into the world; everybody comes with it. It is life’s innermost core. It is part of being alive. Life is ecstasy. Every child brings it into the world, but then the society jumps on the child, starts destroying the possibility of ecstasy, starts making the child miserable, starts conditioning the child.

You cannot control an ecstatic man
The society is neurotic, and it cannot allow ecstatic people to be here. They are dangerous for it. Try to understand the mechanism; then things will be easier. You cannot control an ecstatic man; it is impossible. You can only control a miserable man. An ecstatic man is bound to be free. Ecstasy is freedom. He cannot be reduced to being a slave. You cannot destroy him so easily; you cannot persuade him to live in a prison.

He would like to dance under the stars and he would like to walk with the wind and he would like to talk with the sun and the moon. He will need the vast, the infinite, the huge, the enormous. He cannot be seduced into living in a dark cell. You cannot make a slave out of him. He will live his own life and he will do his thing.

Ecstasy is rebellious, it is not revolutionary
This is very difficult for the society. If there are many ecstatic people, the society will feel it is falling apart, its structure will not hold anymore. Those ecstatic people will be the rebels. Remember, I don’t call an ecstatic person “revolutionary”; I call him a “rebel.” A revolutionary is one who wants to change the society, but he wants to replace it with another society. A rebel is one who wants to live as an individual and would like there to exist no rigid social structure in the world. A rebel is one who does not want to replace this society with another society – because all the societies have proved the same.

The capitalist and the communist and the fascist and the socialist, they are all cousin-brothers; it doesn’t make much difference. The society is society. All the churches have proved the same – the Hindu, the Christian, the Mohammedan. Once a structure becomes powerful, it does not want anybody to be ecstatic, because ecstasy is against the structure. Listen to it and meditate over it: ecstasy is against structure. Ecstasy is rebellious, it is not revolutionary.

A revolutionary is a political man; a rebel is a religious man. A revolutionary wants another structure, of his own desire, of his own utopia, but a structure all the same. He wants to be in power. He wants to be the oppressor and not the oppressed; he wants to be the exploiter and not the exploited he wants to rule and not be ruled. A rebel is one who neither wants to be ruled nor wants to rule. A rebel is one who wants no rule in the world. A rebel is anarchic. A rebel is one who trusts nature, not man-made structures, who trusts that if nature is left alone, everything will be beautiful. It is!

Such a vast universe goes on without any government. Animals, birds, trees, everything goes on without any government. Why does man need government? Something must have gone wrong. Why is man so neurotic that he cannot live without rulers? Now there is a vicious circle. Man can live without rulers, but he has never been given any opportunity – the rulers won’t give you any opportunity. Once you know you can live without the rulers, who would like them to be there? Who will support them?

You go on voting for your own enemies

Right now you are supporting your own enemies. You go on voting for your own enemies. Two enemies stand in a presidential contest; and you choose. Both are the same. It is as if you are given freedom to choose the prison, which prison you want to go in. And you vote happily – that I would like to go to prison A or B, that I believe in the Republican prison, I believe in the Democratic prison. But both are prisons. And once you support a prison, the prison has its own investment. Then it will not allow you to have a taste of freedom.

Once you know what freedom is, you will not compromise

So from the very childhood the child is not allowed to taste freedom, because once he knows what freedom is, then he will not concede, he will not compromise – then he will not be ready to live in any dark cell. He would like to die, but he will not allow anybody to reduce him to being a slave. He will be assertive. Of course, he will not be interested in becoming powerful over other people.

These are neurotic trends when you are too interested in becoming powerful over people. That simply shows that deep down you are powerless and you are afraid that if you don’t become powerful others are going to overpower you… Once the child knows the taste of freedom, he will never become part of any society, any church, any club, any political party. He will remain an individual, he will remain free and he will create pulsations of freedom around him. His very being will become a door to freedom.

April 5

Glory of Shiva.

I am neither the mind, the intellect, nor the silent voice within;
Neither the eyes, the ears, the nose, nor the mouth.
I am not water, fire, earth, nor ether
I am Consciousness and Bliss. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

I am not the life-force nor the vital airs;
Not the seven components nor the five sheaths.
I am not the tongue, hands, feet, nor organ of procreation
I am Consciousness and Bliss. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

Neither attachment nor aversion can touch me;
Neither greed, delusion, pride, nor jealousy are mine at all.
I am not duty, nor wealth, nor happiness
I am Consciousness and Bliss. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

I am not virtue nor vice; not pain nor pleasure;
I am neither temple nor holy word; not sacred fire nor the Vedas
I am Consciousness and Bliss. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

I have neither death, nor doubt, nor class distinction;
Neither father nor mother, nor any birth at all.
I am not the brother, the friend, the Master, nor the disciple
I am Consciousness and Bliss. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

I am not detachment nor salvation, nor anything reached by the senses;
I am beyond all thought and form.
I am everywhere, and nowhere at all
I am Consciousness and Bliss. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!?