Ever wonder how some people accomplish so much? They run marathons, write novels, start companies… without making it seem like a big deal?

Well, it is a big deal. And in spite of how effortless these accomplishments may appear, people work harder than you likely realize to make these things happen. There is, however, one thing they know—at least in practice—that you don’t.

Most of us want to finish the race, but see running as a chore. A few dream about being great authors, but find the writing itself to be slow and difficult. Some of us learn all we can about starting a company, only to hit a wall when it comes time to get down to work.

Self-help books and workshops arm us with ways to trick ourselves into doing things we perhaps should, but generally don’t want, to do. I ask whether this lack of will might actually be the universe trying to tell us something?

Maybe you aren’t supposed to bother with the tedious stuff. Perhaps the reason you haven’t done it yet, is that you weren’t meant to. Might achievement, as a goal unto itself, be pointless? Could this need to have done something notable, simply be greed in a more socially-acceptable form?

More than all of the rest, though: What if the missing part of the puzzle is not a lack of willpower, but instead a lack of love?

The runner discovers tranquility on the road, forgetting the pain. The writer gives in to the joy of playing with words, moving past the aggravation. The entrepreneur finds purpose in making something, and stops noticing the long days.

You can spend your life fretting about how healthy, interesting, or successful you are. In fact, a whole industry depends upon this, and is eager to help you make plans to change.

On the other hand, you might consider simply finding what you love, and letting the rest take care of itself.

Comments on this Post

  • February 14th, at 2012 8:27 am
    True but one unmentioned problem: how to find the thing you love? Today's generation is obsessed with it and it creates huge amounts of pressure. I, for one, know what I love, but have moral and objections.
  • February 14th, at 2012 8:29 am
    moral and *financial objections. I love Graphic Design, but I have never studied it and don't have the money to do so either. I'd might be happier off doing something I love less.
  • February 14th, at 2012 8:32 am
    "Could this need to have done something notable, simply be greed in a more socially-acceptable form?" I think you hit a point, here. Inspiring!
  • Josh Treleaven
    February 14th, at 2012 9:12 am
    I don't know if you left it out on purpose for space reasons, but family has a lot to do with success in things like running marathons. It's not just the runner who has to make sacrifices, but also the people who fill in the other gaps while he's or she's putting in the hours of training. I own dozens of Self-Help books. Where are the shelves and shelves of "Others-Help" books?
  • February 14th, at 2012 10:42 am
    Hear, hear!
  • Pingback
    February 17th, at 2012 3:27 pm
  • bleh
    February 17th, at 2012 3:46 pm
    @bas
    if money prevents you from doing it, maybe you don't love it much to begin with
  • Zack
    February 17th, at 2012 3:50 pm
    Yet another article about how great mediocrity is!!!. It's funny, I've noticed a trend in the past couple of years, where we are being fed this notion that NOT achieving something or even trying to achieve something is just as good. That being lazy is ok. "Just do what you love" aka pick a path of least resistance and just coast. Maybe you were never meant to be anything great.
    Wow... we are really devolving as a society don't we.
  • February 17th, at 2012 4:03 pm
    The key point here is the True Will.
  • Riyad Kalla
    February 17th, at 2012 4:40 pm
    Nicely put. Your message is clear to the people it was intended and dismissed (sometimes violently) by the ones it was not.
  • Zack
    February 17th, at 2012 5:07 pm
    To Eric:
    Yes, productivity aimed in a wrong direction isn't good, what's your point? It has nothing to do with what I was saying. Yes, you need to pick a right direction and be productive at the same time - walk and chew gum, if you will, or you can just give up, pick mediocrity, sit in front of the TV and eat junk food, cause life is hard... and what's the point... plus Jersey Shore's on.

    Opposite of productivity is laziness and that's what this article preaches.
    "Maybe you aren’t supposed to bother with the tedious stuff" - basically means that some of us are too lazy to do anything and will just waste their lives away, because we don't want to do things that are difficult. That's ok, less competition for the rest of us who actually want to make something out of our lives, contribute something to the society, you know "do the tedious stuff"

    Just think about what would our lives be if Shakespeare, Mozart, Washington, Bill Gates or any other great contributor to our society had your attitude about doing something that's hard and tedious.


    PS
    Yes, English isn't my native language, it's my third, but a great example of debating rule #1:
    When you can't argue a point resort to ad hominem attacks, nicely done :)
  • Zack
    February 17th, at 2012 7:00 pm
    "...in a few years time..."
    You mean after a few years of failing I will be ready to give up and join the ranks of the depressed, middle aged guys that decided to quit on life and now are trying to justify their lazy choices and failures.
    Is that what happened to you? Is that why now you feel the need to write an article praising mediocrity?

    It's interesting that you never responded to my question about where in this theory of yours do people like Einstein and Mozart fit in, peopled who decided that maybe it's worth "bothering with tedious stuff" as you so eloquently put it.

    You know, we all have the right to live as we wish, but I am so happy that there are a lot more people that believe that the struggle and tediousness is all worth it in the end, because otherwise we would still be a bunch of cavemen sitting around the fire pondering if making the wheel is all that it's cracked up to be and should we even bother.

    I am thankful that people like Einstein and Mozart and Shakespeare didn't quit during the tedious times, but kept on going, so people like you could benefit from their accomplishments many years after.
  • February 17th, at 2012 8:45 pm
    Well, maybe. The thing is that a lot of things are extremely rewarding but are very time-consuming, hard to get into or get through. We are surrounded with instant gratification (watching TV, reading Hacker News) and those are the things most of us naturally do if we aren't trying to achieve something. My argument is that while these natural activities may be more rewarding in the moment, they do not contribute to long-term happiness in the same way that doing something really hard does.

    I think you're making a mistake if you think that great practitioners and artists don't run into periods of "this is so hard, why the hell am I doing this?" in the prosecution of their great works. Like love of a person, love of an activity, art or craft is fraught with difficulties and roadblocks. I agree that the desire to "have done" something deserves examination -- it shouldn't be the *only* reason you're doing something -- but it is probably the only way to get past the rough spots.

    And since (as Daniel Kahneman pointed out) we spend much more time remembering an event than living it, I think "having done" things is a much better investment towards your future happiness than taking the path of least resistance.
  • February 17th, at 2012 9:05 pm
    Bravo. You nailed it, man, and said it eloquently.

    Best thing I've pulled off HN in a while.
  • Matt
    February 17th, at 2012 9:08 pm
    Zack, he's not touting a new concept, he's just expressing a very old one quite badly. Do things because you love doing them, not because you love what you get from them. This doesn't mean to avoid tedious things: it means to enjoy them.
  • DD
    February 17th, at 2012 11:12 pm
    Hi Zack. I am a depressed, not yet middle-aged guy who has given up on life. Yep. I am a lazy ass, so lazy Im not even ashamed to admit it. Question: what are you. Are you at the pinnacle you have dreamed of? Or are you well on your way to becomming the Mozart or Einstein of whatever interests you???? Ten years later will you post back and say Yes to my question. Can you guaruntee that you will be around then? And by what definiton will you declare yourself successful: your own standards or someone elses. Because if you are setting your own standards you could proably be setting the bar to low.

    Ok let me get specifically to Einstein. For someone who barely passed in Calculus, dreming of becoming Einstein is a big joke. Can you become an Einstein just by wanting to. Really? Can somene become a genius just by trying,or are there factors which are beyond your control? Intelligence is not something you can build, It is inborn. If you say otherwise do this: take a mentally instable person from an assylum and convert him into the next Nobel prize winer. Try Try Try!!!! Lets see if you can stick to your word and not quit. SO is a talent for muzic. Look at the millions of hopeful singers who throng reality shows in the hope of becoming "The voice". Each one of them has the grit and determination. Every one of them tries hard. So what happens. Does everyone become "the voice". No my dear only one can.
  • February 17th, at 2012 11:18 pm
    I'm really more a fan of the self-help style books that help you find what you are truly passionate about and to develop that. Have you ever checked the Holstee Manifesto? http://shop.holstee.com/pages/about
  • jordi
    February 18th, at 2012 1:02 am
    Bas, studying is free, in what kind of country do you live in? Of course you can pay tovstudy but then i wouldn't trust if i passed because i did a good job or because my parents have a lot of mpney.
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    February 18th, at 2012 4:18 am
  • February 18th, at 2012 4:29 am
    true shit is true.
  • February 18th, at 2012 5:26 am
    "Might achievement, as a goal unto itself, be pointless?" - Absolutely!

    I would say that a need to achieve something "great" is a result of social pressure (and low self-esteem?). When you're young and naive, it's hard to see that it's more important how you spend your days than to be able to list "great" things you've achieved.

    You're right about love. When you love something there's no lack of willpower.

    @ Zack
    Einstein didn't set out to achieve great things. He just wanted to know. Achievement is an abstract concept we slapped on what is basically a side effect of his quest for knowledge. Einstein didn't pursue achievement.
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    February 18th, at 2012 7:08 am
  • Dg
    February 18th, at 2012 11:44 am
    "Runners enjoy the tranquility but forget the pain?"

    WTF are you blathering about? I don't really enjoy running (or hard work), but I enjoy the rewards from achieving goals - just like the self help books advise. This has allowed me to finish in the top 10% of many marathons, and be a successful entrepreneur, and drive a Porsche.
  • Lynn Burke
    February 18th, at 2012 12:20 pm
    Speaking for myself only I've spent
    God knows how much time sharpening
    and honing my abolities to obfusticate
    any issue no matter what it may be.
    My specialties include putting stuff off
    and not listening to my own good
    instincts llong enough that I no
    longer trusted myself.
    Result: I observed more of my
    life than I participated in.
  • Erik
    February 18th, at 2012 5:21 pm
    Well, but by just doing something you don't get awesome at it. You get to a level and stick to it to the rest of your life. There is also the striving for higher enlightment in Zen.

    "It is something that can't be found by seeking. But only a seeker can find it." or something like that was the saying.
  • Zack
    February 18th, at 2012 10:06 pm
    I am not going to list my accomplishments, because doing it on an anonymous blog is like comparing penis sizes, but I am fine and no the bar isn’t set too low :)

    Getting to Einstein though:
    Einstein couldn't read until he was 7, was kicked out of school and didn't get accepted into Zurich Polytech School.
    Michael Jordan failed to make the varsity team his softmore year.
    Ford went bankrupt 5 times before he finally succeeded.
    Edison was partially deaf and failed over a 1000 times before he finally invented a light bulb.

    I’m sure glad they didn’t listen to your advice that it “might be the universe telling them that they weren’t meant to do it”

    Do you think they were having fun while failing, of course not, but they persevered. You see the danger in your “just do what you like and have fun” philosophy is that as soon as you hit the first obstacle and it’s not fun anymore, you quit. Yes, running one or two miles might be fun, but training for a marathon is definitely hard work and although it can be fun at times, a lot of it is pushing yourself beyond a comfortable threshold, which usually is pretty painful, but that’s how you make yourself “grow”

    Personally, I think that’s exactly what separates achievers from “non-achievers” – determination and will power to push through the painful period. You don’t have to set out to achieve something, but you definitely will NOT achieve anything if you give up every time things get a little tough and you have to put in some hard work and bother with tedious stuff.
    Don’t know if you read Gladwell’s Outliers, but he talks that it takes about 10,000 hours to master something. Interestingly, if you spend your entire life giving up as soon as things get tough, after a few years of practicing this “skill”, you become a master at quitting, which is a pretty sure way to end up a disillusioned, depressed and overweight middle-aged guy.

    And yes, there are areas where you really need a God given talent to succeed. Singing is a perfect example; however, I do think that we as a society over-emphasize “talent” and definitely under value pure determination and hard work.

    A lot of times what we call talent is somebody just working really hard at developing the skill, bothering with tedious stuff and just making it look effortless to the rest of us who never see the countless hours of hard work that went into the developing that skill. So the rest of us who are too lazy to do the same call it talent and/or luck, so we don’t have to feel bad about ourselves.
  • Zack
    February 18th, at 2012 11:15 pm
    But aren't you doing the same thing?
    You are dismissing people who disagree with your philosophy of "just have fun, do what you like and don't bother with tedious stuff" b/c you don't understand how someone can desire to do something when it's not fun anymore.
  • Dhanya Ganesh
    February 19th, at 2012 12:30 am
    Although the mood of the post felt otherwise, I feel different. I dont know why but your post just inspired me. Anyway, awesome post!
  • John Wilcox
    February 19th, at 2012 8:11 am
    Amen. My number one thing is that I always dreamed of going to the worst places in the world. Africa, certain parts of India, and other places where there are a lot of children that can still be helped. The questions is how do you make this happen? I started a small charity in Louisville that showed great success for the limited recources I had and it continued for 4 years. But with the people and motivation around me it's hard to move forward. Whats the next step?
  • John Wilcox
    February 19th, at 2012 8:14 am
    and how to you truly and deeply feel love when 90% around you is hate besides the fantasy internet world?
  • John Wilcox
    February 19th, at 2012 8:14 am
    the only way I know how is to use that anger and hate to do right.
  • Nnanna
    February 19th, at 2012 6:43 pm
    I directly disagree with everything you wrote. I personally don't believe in fate, destiny, or anything remotely similar. We are the masters of our own destiny and there is no set course that our actions follow. I believe that the issue is making something habitual and that only happens by working at it until it becomes second nature. Even if you find something you love that doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be the best at it, or that you will even be remotely good at it.
  • Pingback
    February 19th, at 2012 7:01 pm
  • Zack
    February 19th, at 2012 10:37 pm
    Eric,
    you keep misunderstanding/misconstruing what I say, not sure if you you do it by accident or on purpose.

    I am not for doing what you hate or don't like, and definitely not punishing yourself with things you hate. But your article and several of your comments clearly stated that unless you have fun or joy you shouldn't be doing a particular activity - that is a very dangerous advice and I don't think you even follow it, your book example clearly demonstrates that.

    As a side note:
    Diets do work, crappy diets don't work b/c people seek a quick fix and go to the extreme. There are plenty of people that observe certain diets very successfully, I stay away from salt, sugar, beer, sodas, fast food and certain other foods by choice - that's a "diet" that I have been observing for many years.
    Exercise and diets do work, just don't use the one from the cover of this month's Cosmo, and don't expect results in 5 days.
  • John Wilcox
    February 20th, at 2012 2:06 pm
    Is is o.k. to say you guys are awesome?
  • John Wilcox
    February 20th, at 2012 3:54 pm
    You are awesome Eric
  • John Wilcox
    February 20th, at 2012 4:21 pm
    I am going to build a lot of energy and help as many people as nature will allow.
  • John Wilcox
    February 20th, at 2012 4:28 pm
    Innocents should not fear anyone or anything for energy will protect them. opposite energies always attract one another and these things, especially the further apart, create a "dance", like black holes spinning together. but the force they create through all the madness, is more powerful than either could predict apart.
  • John Wilcox
    February 20th, at 2012 4:42 pm
    Innocence has a way of seeking courage. And courage has a way of seeking innocence. Neither quality by itself shall progress without those few daring individuals who with understanding love peace, but who admire unity and growth above all.
  • John Wilcox
    February 20th, at 2012 4:43 pm
    tough challenge.
  • John Wilcox
    February 20th, at 2012 4:45 pm
    I am literally shaking in my socks right now. risk = reward : /
  • John Wilcox
    February 20th, at 2012 4:58 pm
    Lynn Burke, I feel the same way, I had to look up what the word "obfusticate" meant. But I'm right there with you. Interesting insight.
  • John Wilcox
    February 20th, at 2012 5:01 pm
    Erik, in response to your comment "striving for higher enlightenment in Zen." Wouldn't the highest level be achieved without any monetary attachment. Throughout history it seems that the power that makes the most impact is a deep moral choice -vs- any other desire.
  • John Wilcox
    February 20th, at 2012 5:15 pm
    Zack, I am right with you in that you can't compare people, for one. And two that failures do not always* (although a good statistic hint at times) measure the outcome. For instance, some of the kindest, most humble friends I know that live the most rewarding lives, also have it the hardest. I think this is mainly because of the false status scale set by society and people falling into that "image" trap. Appearances arent everything, nor are actions.

    I'm not claiming to know much, and I'm sure the majority of people on this forum are more intelligent than myself in one way or another. But how do you know someones true intent based off action, or appearance? I was always taught that everyone is equal in one form or another and everyone has equal potential. I do agree that experience, whether in this life or the last has on effect on his/her actions. But I do no discredit or "rate" an individual soley of "short-term" actions, or those perceived over the internet (especially).

    I do give credit to those individuals who push through obstacles and never give up. Rockefeller says (not claiming to like, but he makes a good point) that "persistence overcomes anything, even nature." So whether its a young girl overcoming how to style her hair and the many bout's she will face, or the thug who has to push through diversity while consistently making poor immoral choices, or the punk rocker who struggles to find himself so he pushes to express himself through his image or attitude. I could go on an on. In my book all of these things are of equal value as long as one doesn't give up and keep open minded. And most people (when seeing clearly) should be attracted to each one equally. ( I could be wrong on all these points, I'm open for debate. )
  • John Wilcox
    February 20th, at 2012 5:30 pm
    Nnanna, I tend to learn towards being in control of our own destiny as well and that making something "habitual" will eventually make it second nature. When I was at a really dark place in my life the only thing I could focus on was "habits" or looking at others through books, others doing what you want, etc etc. Actually I dont know if I even wanted anything anymore at that point other than to goto sleep and never wake up. But the one spark of hope left in my heart came from looking at others going through the same pain/sadess. This little electron was enough to build on, and at the time I didnt even know if I could put a roof over my head or feed my family (sadness/anger blinds through darkness.) but spark by spark each stepping stone becomes a grain of sand and new rocks appear. Two quotes come to mind: (please i'm not trying to be arrogant here although I admit Ego is my #1 problem and it's probably what's taking over here, based on statistics. But, i do feel this is important to say, or at least something i can learn from. ) "Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther."
    -J. P. Morgan & ...To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men -- that is genius.
    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson ( I apologize for the poor grammar. Could I hire one of you to teach me the basics. My course on Styles from Strunk & White only got me thus far. )
  • John Wilcox
    February 20th, at 2012 6:24 pm
    0Mike Ricciardi, I agree with both points, Old habits die-hard and lifelong habits, die even harder. I agree that laziness and lack of self control add to the problem. But I think the root cause is an emotional problem and the habit is a reaction. I've seen time and time again where people have a sort of axis-mundi that redirects their emotions to build new habits and/or changes the paradigm completely to not even attract the old habits. (hard to understand for most.) but the individual must first already have "some" habits that are productive to the cause or it would be too long a learning curve to be worth while. (not in this case.)

    I understand this position as the attitude is common in the United States Army. My advice is to pick a new profession.
  • Pingback
    February 21st, at 2012 9:56 am
  • Orla
    February 28th, at 2012 6:22 am
    Zach, I think the point this article is trying to make is that instead of doing the normal average thing in order to feel like you have achieved something notable one should focus on what it is they really enjoy doing. It's easier to focus on hobbies at the start to get the concept across before applying it to careers etc. For example, if you don't enjoy running but you manage to complete a marathon, while it is definitely an achievement, what is the point if you don't enjoy doing it? Ultimately who are you trying to impress? If it's not something you enjoy then why push yourself to achieve it, it doesn't really make sense unless you get some gratification out of others congratulating you, or being able to say that you did it. Relying on other peoples opinions of you and your accomplishments however is a slippery road to go down.

    If however, you focus instead on what you enjoy doing, what seems like hard work to others or obstacles in the way to others, you won't mind at all because you get enjoyment out of the challenge and see it as an opportunity to expand your talent versus seeing another obstacle in the way of achieving whatever end you seek. The purpose of the exercise is the journey not the destination.

    Taking the example from above from someone talking about the car they own etc. while I honestly in no way mean to insult or take away from what they have achieved (I'm just trying to explain my point) a lot of people have porches, thousands of people all around the world. Maybe not as a % of the world population but still, there are a lot of people who own them. Einstein however was one of a kind, obviously. What sets Einstein apart from all the others who worked very hard and did very well in that area was that he honestly loved what he did. In fact if you think about all of the most successful people in the world, they all had a passion for what they did and didn't just do it as a means to an end. They were good at it and more importantly they enjoyed it. While perseverance and hard work will get you relatively further than most people, it is that combined with having a passion for what you do that will get you to that top spot. (Not to mention you'll enjoy the ride)

    In my opinion in no way is this article trying to say that mediocrity is what you should aim for, but rather in aiming for something by doing things that you don't particularly enjoy, that is what you will achieve. How well would Martin Luther King got on doing what Einstein did or visa versa. Well enough probably (average, or the good side of average) because they were hard working but neither would have had nearly the same results. Or if Gandhi and Edison had switched places. People, and I mean every person has one talent and love which if they can find it, they can use to achieve things they probably would never have dreamed of. Instead however people aim for things that society holds in high esteem and so they achieve mediocrity. They blend into the crowd because many others like them do the same thing in hopes of doing or being something different. If one was to instead forget about all of that and just focus on what they enjoyed doing, they could rise above everyone.

    But most importantly if you search for what you are particularly good at or enjoy the most in an effort to rise above others instead of doing it for your own pleasure, you will most likely not achieve the best results possible. If you're in business purely to do better than your rivals, what seems like a set back will result in stress and most likely efforts to reverse what ever has just occurred. Whereas if you were in it from a learning and enjoyment point of view, you might look more closely at a setback and see an opportunity that might otherwise have been missed.

    In a nutshell, life is meant to be enjoyed and by competing with others to achieve things we don't really care about except for the 'status' it gives us, we are forgoing the opportunities to rise to our highest possible 'status' while enjoying the ride along the way.
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    February 28th, at 2012 7:14 am
  • Prestonwho
    February 28th, at 2012 10:44 am
    First and foremost, I like the post. I find that if you love the things you do the "tedious" tasks are no longer tedious; they are new and fun ways to think about whatever it is you are doing(which is what I believe you were saying). It almost saddens me that the majority of the comments attempt to answer the question(s) you hint at. I consider a flippant answer to questions that point to the fabric of what makes a quality life as dangerous. Instead of seeking answers, why not ask questions? Is finding what you love a process? Is love itself a process? We are constantly becoming ourselves, and what you think you love today may change tomorrow. I don't think anybody ever said you don't have to work to love. Taste the vinegar and smile.
  • Adrian
    February 29th, at 2012 9:43 pm
    Olga, I think the points of the article were clear enough--the idea is (it is really a hippy idea) that we should enjoy the moment and difficult, tedious, frustrating tasks and goals might be a waste of energy. The idea is contradicted by a long list of "great" people who probably couldn't have cared less about whether what they were doing was particularly enjoyable. Between grief and nothing I'll take grief.

    I'd like to offer an analogy with Vincent Van Gogh. He started his career late. His early efforts were clumsy. He lacked natural talent. His apprenticeship was long, difficult and fraught with frustration. But his goal was to be as great as those painters he "greatly loved and admired" (I quote from one of his letters). During one of those struggles with brush and linen, if you had suggested to him that perhaps the universe was trying to tell him something (ie. painting wasn't his thing) or that he should just take a joyful pleasure in moving paint around and "let the other stuff take care of itself" He would have laughed in your face. Basically you'd be telling him to stop thinking. If he had stopped fretting about his work or his place in art, you would never had heard of him.

    Professional artists learn very quickly that trying to make art well (as opposed to dabbling or Sunday painting) is often tedious, frustrating, tiring, depressing. I often dread that trip upstairs to my painting studio. I'd much rather play with my kids or eat Doritos. Why do we bother? Because we want to leave the world a better place than we found it. If this is "greed", then I celebrate that greed. (I can't prove it, but I suspect all good writers/architects/artists etc. would characterise their work as slow and difficult. If we want yoga, we'll do yoga)

    Thank you Vincent, for your relentless self-improvement.
  • Orla
    March 1st, at 2012 3:14 am
    It's Orla, and each to their own. Enjoy it, or i guess in your case don't.
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    March 1st, at 2012 3:34 am
  • Adrian
    March 1st, at 2012 9:23 am
    Sorry. Orla. It was late?
    I think you misunderstood me. While writing was probably the most important, fascinating thing in the world for Shakespeare, the actual daily task of writing (ideas, structure, endless rewrites, writer's block, frustration, self-doubt) was no doubt a bit of a slog. I think it is for anyone who is striving to be the best they can be.
    "To each their own?" A bit glib, don't you think?
  • Orla
    March 1st, at 2012 10:40 am
    That's the whole point of what I was trying to say, if it's what he was fascinated with, the daily task would not have seemed nearly as bad to him as it would to almost everyone else. If you spent every day doing what you enjoy most how could you regularly be bored or annoyed with what you're doing? Yes you will most likely have those days as anyone would where you'd rather do something else, but thats less to do with what your actually doing and more to do with your mood or attitude on the day which sometimes just can't be helped. Also I don't know what 'glib' means?!
  • Aaron
    March 6th, at 2012 6:27 pm
    Great post. I have found in my years of trying to find my "love", that it was the thing I was fighting hardest against doing. I've also heard a ton of pointless advice in how to find your "passion". What gets you out of bed in the morning? Seesh, my alarm clock. Next. If you walk into a book store what section do you go to first? Magazines. Then cookbooks, then the cafe,then the restroom, then the bargain bin. No help. Next. What could you do for hours on end without being paid for it? I have a 3 year old: sleep is my #1 answer.
    And on and on.
    I'm not sure I have a passion. I have things I do naturally, but I'm a person who is interested in everything. I'll probably never master any one thing, and the frustration I feel is simply due to not accepting myself.
  • toychristopher
    March 6th, at 2012 6:40 pm
    Everything is difficult at first though! A concert pianist might really love and have a passion for playing the piano, but did they have that passion when they were 10 and there parent was convincing them to go to their piano lesson by bribing them with an ice cream?

    What I take away from this article is that you should be careful with your intention. If the ONLY reason you are doing something is for other people to pat you on the back and give you a gold star, then it might not really work out that well. Just relying on accolades probably isn't enough motivation.

    However, in order to find what you love there are going to be tedious moments and of course everyone needs to pay the bills. My passion is to look at videos of cute kittens on youtube, unfortunately no one is going to pay me for that.
  • March 6th, at 2012 7:14 pm
    Your post sounds a lot like Csíkszentmihályi's idea of flow. The basics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
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  • Meditator
    March 6th, at 2012 7:56 pm
    Eric - well said. You speak from a place that I recognize as a mediator's mind. All this busy accomplishing and so little busy loving. Seeing what is; as it really is - what an enormous challenge. And the ability to see what is, as it really is, starts with my ability to see clearly and know clearly my own self. Not in terms of my metrics, but in terms of the link between my actual motivation and my actions - whether only mental or physical in nature.
    Yes, winning races - whether metaphoric or actual - is pleasant. And bearing the prizes that come with those races is also pleasant. And people who want to run races should absolutely run races. But judging people who don't want to run races is, well, just judgement.
    And what purpose does judgement serve but to separate / divide and cause suffering?
    Too often we rush to judgement when we ourselves are uncertain of our actual reality; the quiet reality of who we are beneath all the races won and the prizes held high. The reality of who we are before all that happened and after all that happens. The reality from which so many of us often find ourselves racing from when the race to the goal is actually a race from the source - with a shiny trophy to prove the point that it was about the goal after all; it must be, because it was so hard to run.
    Regardless of how hard we run; regardless of how many Porches we park in our 10-car garage, the truth of our personality; the truth of who we really are is always with us and it will be the last thing we know before we pass from life into the Great Beyond.

    Your words were an interesting twist on an ancient idea; and I love seeing how strongly it moved people to response.

    For myself, I've never once responded in two decades I've been on the internet to a blog entry before.
  • Emerson McCuin
    March 6th, at 2012 8:50 pm
    I like you Eric. And I get the message you are conveying. I have found love in writing, yet don't have the education or experience required to make a living at it right now. How do I convince another to pay me to do what I love without the credentials and history to back me up? I start small, taking on free or underpaid writing assignments to prove I am worthy. I really appreciate your post, it hit at the right time.
  • March 7th, at 2012 2:18 am
    Hello Eric and thank you for the article. It addresses a very common issue of wanting the fruit while not caring about growing the tree.
    However, I feel I have to say a few words about doing what you love and letting love take care of the rest.
    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of the book on the state of flow, writes that in order to feel involed in a task and to have the feeling of bliss (not just thinking of crossing the finish line) you need just three things:
    1) skills to do the job,
    2) concentration,
    3) feedback to know you are going in the right direction.
    The bottom line is: you can love what you do but love is not equal to skills. This is especially true for creative fields. You may love paintings, but without purely technical skills you will never be able to make one of own. Love can be your rescue raft when things do not go well, but one should not count on it as an engine to move forward.
    Next, I would like to share a revelation. In The Little Prince book the Fox says to the Prince, "It's because you have given your rose so much of your time that it means a lot to you." Love may not come automatically. But after having spent some conciderable time engaging in an activity you like, you may get a feeling that you have built a deeper and stronger connection with that activity. And here's when you start to care.
    To cut a long story short, I suggest one should follow that what makes him at least curious. Curiosity will help get the necessary skills, and the skills will bring results. And when one looks at their results, they are happy. Happiness will help love grow.
    I subscribe to the idea that love is neither found not forced to come. It's cultivated, conscioulsy or not.
    Thank you!
  • Frazer M Knight
    March 7th, at 2012 5:13 am
    Can I throw this into the mix? "Right place at the right time"
    E.g. someone could be awesome at something they love, but they're in a small town in the back-end of somewhere, with no knowledge of how to get themselves and the thing they're passionate about into the world. They perhaps lack the desire to achieve something with the thing they're awesome at and are happy to just pld along. Someone else is just as awesome at the same thing and love it just as much, but happen to live across the road from someone who can get them noticed... erm Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, for example. But, if Steve Job lived in a different town to Steve Wozniak, would he still have become the man he became? I dunno... Steve Jobs clearly had the passion and desire to get himself out there, but would he have acheived as much without happening to live across the road from Steve W? Please feel free to rip my comment to shreds...
  • Frazer M Knight
    March 7th, at 2012 5:18 am
    > Line 6 #10 *plod
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  • March 7th, at 2012 9:31 am
    I enjoyed the post. It reminded me that when I started writing, I did it because I enjoyed telling stories, not because I really thought I was going to be a world-famous author. I wrote because I enjoyed writing, not because I enjoyed having written, as the old saying goes. I do photography because I find the process enjoyable, and having done so, my photography has improved over time. Opinions vary on where it started and where it is now, but, overall, I believe the time I spent shooting has made my work better. I spent that time shooting because I enjoyed it, not with the goal of being a better photographer, but that was the end result.
    On another note, reading the comments, I can see why so many bloggers have simply turned their comments off. When you aregue with someone on the internet, you've already lost.
  • MRT
    March 7th, at 2012 11:00 am
    I liked what Zack said. what I think is , If you want to be successful at some thing , you have work hard and not give up until you achieve it. "Do what you love and you will never work again" is very inspiring concept but hard to find in real life.
  • March 7th, at 2012 11:28 am
    u r zooming right in to our natural hard wiring; our temperament as described so well by Carl Jung, Myer-Briggs, and in Kiersy's book, "Please Understand Me, vol II". your post resonates w me, especially in the best way to take care of ourselves it to go towards our design. thank u for saying it so well. keep on.
  • Adrian
    March 7th, at 2012 3:28 pm
    J K, I don't think anyone had a problem with the idea of enjoying what one does. However, the post implied that as soon as things get tedious or difficult, that is the time to jump ship. The idea "Find what you love and you never work a day in your life" has been around for ages. How much of a cliché it is depends on your perspective.
  • March 7th, at 2012 3:51 pm
    I'm torn, while I agree with your advice to "find what you love", I don't agree with the idea that we should refrain from trying to push ourselves to do things we don't like.

    In life we bump up against walls, they're our limits, but you describe them as a message from the universe telling us that we should give up. The people who push those walls further and further out are the ones who change our world. Sure, it's totally fine to be the guy/girl who lives their nice simple little life with a family and a dog and a house, but if everyone listened to that voice in their head saying "you can't do this" then the world would be a much worse place.

    What I will say though is that most people WON'T push themselves outside their comfort zone, and probably tell themselves that it's okay to not to do something extraordinary, and whether that's true or not is irrelevant, what matters is that this provides an opportunity for people like me who WILL do the things that we don't like to do, and we reap the benefits. So you can all keep telling yourself this, I hope you do, it makes things much easier.

    ps I like what you've done with your comments form ;-)
  • charles h. rice
    March 8th, at 2012 8:04 am
    Really willing to learn as I go along-- now am 85 and still want to learn - more and more, I love life it's so precious- thanks again and I hope to hear fro you guys again soon , Truly yours, thanks Charles H Rice
  • Jason
    March 8th, at 2012 10:25 am
    Thank you for this article. A fab undergraduate professor of mine offered, when I was having trouble choosing a path of study as a freshman, " take the course you love. In two years your choices will show you where your path lies." I have been trying to live this way ever since. It is not always easy. Fear and greed have sneak up on me indifferent forms. But when I am successful at it, I know it in my bones.
  • Jason G.
    March 8th, at 2012 3:52 pm
    I think the core principle behind this posting is what the notion of Flow is centered around. Don't get me wrong... I never read the book, but the concept seems to resonate with me. The idea here isn't necessarily to not have goals. The idea is to live in the present. Congnitive psychology studies seem to have really lent credence to that theory. I'm an avid pool player and read ~most of the book: http://www.amazon.com/Pleasures-Small-Motions-Mastering-Billiards/dp/1585745391/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331248914&sr=8-1 . From what I recall, the book is written by a cognitive sports psychologist. One of the things he says is, to be truly successful at pool you have to dissociate yourself from the wins and losses. When you play, it is really important to play for each shot. Make each shot the best and stay in the present. If you concern yourself with the end goal too much, you can easily psych yourself out. This is similar to the runner getting into a groove and not worrying about getting to the destination. If you get too overwhelmed with the goal, you can easily get discouraged or start to dislike that which you use to enjoy. Some people are driven by goals, are hugely successful and absolutely miserable. Some people are slackers and not super goal oriented but extremely happy. Others could be goal driven and happy as well. A common thread regarding happiness seems to be how they got there. They ate the elephant one bite at a time and tried to enjoy each bite as much as possible. Having a goal as a guiding force is a great influence and should not be left out, but don't stop enjoying the moment. From reading the synopsis of the Flow book, the idea there is that you are happiest when you are lost in the moment and time flies by. You do that by focusing in on the present and the details, not on the goal. I thought it would be interesting to mention some "self-help" books in the comments for an article discussing leaving them behind (interestingly the article itself probably falls within the realm of self-help in telling you to help yourself by leaving self-help books behind). I personally enjoy reading on cognitive psychology, not so much self-help. Altogether, moderation in everything is good. Some self-help theory (regardless of the source being yourself or someone else) is necessary for introspection and becoming more mature. Having extreme views of "all self-help is bad" or "self-help is for everyone" is not very healthy. Extremes of "everything is this" or "this always means that" according to cognitive psychology tend to be signs of manic or anxious states of mind. Soften it up a bit and talk about what details you appreciate or don't appreciate about certain lines of thinking. Meld them together and have fun with your own theories, but don't go to the extremes. Just my personal thoughts from one point of view. Not really anything that I'm looking to stir any pots with. Also, if my understanding of cognitive psychology is off base, don't take it personally. That is not my field of expertise. Just something I like to read about casually every now and again. And try not to beat up the things you enjoy by "finding what you love" and doing it / beating it to death. Passion is great, but it can burn out rather quickly at times. If you want to chalk that up to settling for mediocrity, that's up to you. I prefer to think of it as enjoying what I have. Being that I am fairly successful in my field, have numerous side projects going on at any given time that I see to completion, go mountain biking 2 to 3 times a week, snowboard 1 to 2 times a week (often on the same time as the biking) and hit the rock climbing gym after work a couple of times a week, have a family that I love and I'm not amazing at any of those but constantly improve. I wouldn't say I'm settling for mediocrity, but I have my goals and am fairly happy. Things could always be improved, but it's pretty nice to have those first world problems to worry about, isn't it?
  • Jonathan
    March 8th, at 2012 9:12 pm
    I read this article on Lifehacker and thought it was great. Being a person who wants to perfect area of my life, I realize that I should focus more on the things that I truly want in my life, and not trying to keep up with everyone else just for the sake of it. I think plenty of people missed the point about this article, they mistake it as being "lazy". Why would I need or want to run a marathon? That's not a goal of mine, would I feel accomplished after running one? Sure, but I wouldn't get that deep seated satisfaction I would get after achieving something that truly resonated with me. I think in every aspect in life you can find something you truly love to do, and focus on that. It makes it easier to achieve great things when you love what you do. It's not to say you won't have to do your fair share of tedious tasks to achieve that goal, but once you have that passionate goal in site, it's much easier to forge that path. I've been in the military for almost 7 years now, I originally joined for the school money to become a game designer. Obviously I've taken a few roads off the beaten path. I've done three jobs in the military, electronics repair, flight engineer on helicopters and now working on computer networks. The current job is the one I "enjoy" but in my time I've realized I do no have the passion for all of this, and my passion still lies in designing games (or wanting to anyways) so that's where I'm heading next. No point in staying in something you hate. None the less I thought this article was great, don't let the nay sayers tell you otherwise, they always seem to be bound.
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  • George
    March 9th, at 2012 12:58 am
    Brilliant! and for all those blustering off on irrelevant tangents on the article, I would recommend 'self improvement course' in reading comprehension. Its food for thought. Happy munching.
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  • Helmar
    March 14th, at 2012 5:57 am
    @Aaron: Have a look at Barbara Sher's "Refuse to Choose!". It might be an eye-opener for you.
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  • March 14th, at 2012 12:01 pm
    The point isnt not to try to run the marathon because you want to win. The point is winning the marathon because you enjoy the run. Its not that we should not do great things at all. What i get from this article is that your motivation for doing great things shouldnt be the reward and recognition that comes with the accomplishment, we should do great things because we enjoy doing those great things. Then the reward and recognotion will come as a secondary added bonus to living a life you enjoy and can be proud of even without needing the validation of a third person. Take Lance armstrong for example, you think he gets on a bike because he likes to win the tour de france or because he likes to feel the wind in his face?
  • March 14th, at 2012 5:09 pm
    I've run more marathons than I can count. Completed three Ironman triathlons and countless shorter triathlons. Now I have had two sets of knee surgeries and wonder why I did it. Some inner demon always saying I had to take it to the next level. I think the author makes some valid points. Success is not defined by stacks of medals and trophies, but lives touched along the way.
  • March 20th, at 2012 9:56 pm
    I never read an article which a bold entries like this for a long time. Even your post title was shocked name: Forget Self-Imporvement.
    But in fact you are right in the most opinions you explained and in my own principle I was believe that change is coming from inside and the person is the one who should start realizing that he must change himself to be better and more successful.

    Thank you for the good post :)
  • Michael
    April 4th, at 2012 6:30 am
    @BAS - Love what you do! - is not - Do what you love! The first makes your business the second can be achieved in hobby too.
    Thank you for the interesting post.
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  • Catarina Garraghty
    April 18th, at 2012 11:11 am
    I could not agree with the fact any more! Terrific post, have a very nice day, Take care.
  • April 23rd, at 2012 3:04 pm
    Awesome Post thank you!
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  • June 30th, at 2012 8:16 pm
    Thanks for telling me the truth. Again!
  • Darb
    September 20th, at 2012 1:06 pm
    I love what I do *and* do what I love.

    Shiny new cars and $1,000 jeans just means you're missing what truly matters.

    After reading some of these comments, I really hope some of you wake the hell up.
  • Lisa
    September 20th, at 2012 2:06 pm
    Hey @Darb!

    I love what I do *and * do what I love, but I have a shiny new car. Does that mean I'm "missing what truly matters"?
  • Darb
    September 20th, at 2012 2:34 pm
    @Lisa

    If by "shiny" you mean it costs something crazy like $75, 000+ and a more practical car wouldn't have made you "happy", then yes, you're are indeed missing what's important.

    If it's just "shiny" because it's clean, then no problem :)
  • Anon
    September 20th, at 2012 2:43 pm
    This is a great blog posting, but I think many are missing the point.

    Who are you living your life for? Are you doing things you loathe so you can impress people who don't give a shit anyway?

    Why do you do, what you do. Are you seeking approval? What if you don't receive approval? Are you now depressed? Oh, so you are letting other people control you and your emotions, how nice.

    Welcome to the rat race. Have fun, and by-the-way, your car is last years model. Check out this new shiny version.

    Live life for yourself. It's not about being lazy. It a rejection of outside control of your life.

    Your happiness and self worth don't depend on me. My happiness and self worth don't depend on you.

    I don't care if you like my car or not. I don't care if like my ideas or not. I'm passionate about things you would find foolish and will not make me a dime of money.

    You should wake up. You won't, and I don't really care either.
  • September 20th, at 2012 2:54 pm
    Please stop using the word 'love' to describe the attraction one has to a particular interest.

    It's all about value systems. Genius aren't born. They have high aptitudes mixed with obsessions. Somehow for them, all the pain outweighs the successes, in areas to us which may seem like a total waste of time.

    We only hear about the successes, never the failures.

    The only thing people would truly LOVE to be doing is eating and fucking.
  • Pat
    September 20th, at 2012 3:41 pm
    "The thing you love is typically the thing that you find yourself naturally doing, whenever you have a free moment."

    But how do you find that? The runner wasn't born running. The writer wasn't born writing. They had to get there somehow. Even if it was love-at-first-sight, how many things did the runner have to try before he tried running?

    Are you suggesting that people simply try everything under the sun until you find something you love? One could spend a lifetime simply trying things -- and never find it.
  • September 20th, at 2012 5:46 pm
    Give up early and often. It's been my motto ever since I quit grad school. It takes a certain kind of person to do that though. Most of my peers were still chugging along and trying to make it. Being a grad student was so much part of their being that quitting and doing something else would cause more mental anguish than just sticking it out and being miserable.

    The problem is that people get too attached to whatever life story it is that they have made up for themselves and when reality shows them otherwise they refuse to accept the new script.
  • September 20th, at 2012 6:47 pm
    When in doubt about what you actually love doing, just do the thing and see how good you are at it, or how much you enjoy it. For example, if you can't decide if you're a designer or a coder, just make a design and code a website. See which one you actually like, and what you produced was any good.
  • Aleks
    September 20th, at 2012 7:34 pm
    Awesome post - the whole idea totally clicked for me! (...and more)
  • September 20th, at 2012 9:30 pm
    One way to find what you love to do is, you never get tired from it again and again!
  • Jenny
    September 21st, at 2012 3:32 am
    Loved this article and it gave me great "food for thought". I also enjoying the ensuring debate in the comments and found that equally as enlightening :) thanks folks!
  • September 21st, at 2012 4:29 am
    I didn't read all the comments because there are so many, and I don't like to read too much after reading the original. It's not fun. I see your point entirely Eric. I've never really had the desire to become a great writer, but I love to write, and will only do it when it comes naturally and I want to. I see many writers striving, wringing their hands, sweating over edits, submitting to every lit mag around, dreaming of a published work & ultimately fame & fortune. I simply write because I love to. I think if I tried too hard, my words would be a tap dripping not the stream I find when I feel free to express myself. I dont want to spend my life feeling like i will never arrive when I can be happy carrying my Now with me. Everyone is writing a book, I am a book.
  • September 22nd, at 2012 4:18 am
    Eric, I was exactly in this moment earlier today. Here I am traveling the world full time, no job, no worries, and of course, life still has worries and traveling full time isn't all glitz and glamour. And I'm reminded: forget self improvement. Do what you love and as that changes, change with it.

    Thanks for this! Btw, I have an email coming to you, I've just been buried in my inbox with little to not Internet...
  • September 24th, at 2012 5:05 am
    i loved reading your article!! i really felt like i understood what you were saying, and i also understand why many of your readers didn't. it has been so engrained in me since a young child that working really hard at anything including making a living was the right thing - even if you hated it and it sucked all the joy out of your life.

    it was a real revelation for me that all the years i "struggled" to "achieve" something work related and personal growth-wise that i was actually going completely against the flow of "my" life, but it appeared to be such the "acceptable" and right thing to be doing in order "to do something with your life".

    i would like to add one thing that i hope might help some other readers. for me i never knew what i loved to do when people said - "just do what you love to do". that was so upsetting for me like how i can i not know what i love to do??? is there nothing that i love to do??? "there must be something wrong with me".

    i recently found out what i love to do and quite by accident. i decided one day to throw out some old junk tucked away in a closet of mine, and take the time to update photos of loved ones around my home that were totally outdated by years and years. many people call it "clutter clearing", but wow, i never expected that so many wonderful ideas would flood my mind about opening a new business centered around feng shui - which up until that point had only been a "hobby" of mine and nothing that i EVER considered i could make a living at. i believe the reason why i could never figure out what to do when people would say "do what you love" is because i always equated "doing what you love" having to "make money".

    i am so grateful that at 46 i was able to find what i know i was meant to do. once i started down that path everything happened "efforlessly", and although i am working very hard i can say that the majority of the time it really doesn't feel like it. there is hope!!!
  • September 26th, at 2012 3:07 pm
    Oh I can so relate to what Kathy has to say above. I too lived the life she speaks of here, never knowing what it was that I was meant to do. I now realise that helping others is the one thing that brings me the greatest joy.

    The "making money" aspect was the thing that masked this realisation. The times I have been happiest working was when I was volunteering. It didn't matter what the volunteer work was so long as I was doing it out of generosity and of my own free will. The payoff was gratitude and the wonderful feeling of having been helpful.

    Oddly enough, like Kathy my latest volunteer venture also involves clutter. Now I help people everyday to declutter their homes via my blog www.365lessthings.com. I also encourage people to be environmentally friendly.

    I love what I do and I do what I love. And I am eternally grateful to my husband who is the bread winner of the family who makes it possible for me to do what I do.
  • September 30th, at 2012 1:22 am
    Well... yes and no. On the one hand, yes, 99% of the "tricks" in those self-help books are useless because they only help you trick yourself into forcing yourself into doing something that's not that good for you. But sometimes, especially with projects that naturally take a long time, or with art forms that may take a lifetime to master, your idea doesn't work at all. Let me give you two examples from my own life:

    1. Daily exercise. I REALLY didn't like it, quite a lot of times. By now, I rather like it, not precisely love it, but accept it as rather useful. Without it, I'd be in agonizing pain, probably in a wheelchair by now, so yes, it's something I should do. A few motivational tricks have helped me a lot along the way here.

    2. Writing. It can take decades of struggle, where it's intensely unsatisfying and doesn't work out at all, but then suddenly, along comes a good idea, and it's completely effortless and extremely great. But during those hard years, believe me it has little to do with love. It's probably mostly just stubbornness and sheer desperation that keeps one going. But you NEED to put in all that hard work and effort, there just is no other way to reach a state of mastery.
  • James
    December 14th, at 2012 6:22 pm
    Interesting article. I don't think we should "Forget Self-Improvement," we should always strive to improve our weaknesses; perhaps he was getting at improving things that dont matter to a certain individual? Which, then, yes. Dont waste your time. Does an author need to improve his jogging form? And does a jogger need to improve his writing ability to write a novel? NO! See, certain people do what they do because they have a 'knack' for it, or just love it. Why run a marathon if you dread it? Why try to start a business with a lack of will? Improve whatever you find yourself struggling in; reading, discipline, socializing, eating habits, etc. The small things make a big difference! Now to the very first comment on this; how do you find what you love? Well, if you have any interests whatsoever, or a memory, you can find it easily. What makes you happy?
  • December 16th, at 2012 7:34 am
    It's a few weeks later now, and I know a bit more.

    I think it is often about finding something to love in what you loathe but know you should still keep doing. It worked for me with my diet, it worked with physical exercise to some degree, and it doesn't work at all in other areas.

    So far, it's still poking around in the dark until I hit something useful. So the OTHER big question is, can the search for something positive be systematized, even in the face of strong negative emotions attached to the activity in question?
  • February 24th, at 2013 11:00 pm
    Good message you delivered through your article. Its indeed very important to find what you love to do the most, what makes you happy and content rather than running behind fancy activities that makes you look all cool, but may be you are not so good with them.
  • March 15th, at 2013 2:27 pm
    Nice article. I love the soft tone to the reading as if a calming came over me. I try to accomplish a million things a day and turns out its a lot of work to stay on top of everything constantly. This article is helping me to realize there is more to life then destroying myself trying to do everything. Thanks for your time and article it was an eye opener.
  • Mr Teasdale
    April 15th, at 2013 3:01 am
    Take away all thoughts of ambition and you are left with your true self-vision. Which is where you will get to if you don't work on it. Good luck with that - most of us would need it.
  • Andy Shaw
    August 22nd, at 2013 5:17 am
    Just read everything above; fascinating stuff.

    I am a 59 year-old sometimes soldier / sailor / labourer / biker / writer / musician / divorced then happily married / once suicidal now sometimes ecstatically happy / occassionally frustrated but mostly content man / living on the incredible planet called Earth, in a special island called Ibiza.

    I have lived my life the way it happened. I had no plan and no particular aims other than to "get out there and have a go". I can thank my wonderful parents for this simple philosophy. They placed no conditions on me, other than to achieve whatever I wanted.

    I have learnt that if something is worth doing; then it is worth doing well.

    My grandfather taught me "nothing worth having comes easy". I now know he was right.

    I have experienced the greatest highs and lows and learnt that both are vital in order to achieve balance. Balance, or as Grandad said "moderation in all things", is what makes every day special.

    I live in a good climate with a woman who loves me, eat a sensible diet without sticking to any rules, occassionally enjoy the "bad" things like chocolate and alcohol, enjoy enough exercise every day to stop me getting fat, laugh frequently and make love whenever I can, and generally look forward, excited at the prospect of what lies around the next corner in life.

    Mostly I am happy with myself, and accept the hard things in life as being essential to making the good things really good. I feel no guilt.

    I never forget that I am a privileged person, lucky to be born into a great country (Britain) and given a tremendous start in life.

    Whenever I forget my vow "to never again be worried about anything" - which was made on top of Two Sisters mountain immediately after surviving that battle to remove the Argentines in the Falklands war - I think of somebody - anybody - who is worse off than me. It is not difficult because, sadly, they are everywhere. Then I thank the powers that be for every day I live.

    My point is perspective. Having the freedom to debate such matters is a wonderful privilege. We should not feel guilty because others cannot afford the luxury to do so, but rather our deliberations should have meaning. Talk is cheap; it's action that counts.

    Defining why we are here and for what purpose, is, I humbly suggest, a fundamental exercise that all humans need to consider at the appropriate time in their lives. Only then, having arrived at a conclusion that works for the individual, can a path towards true inner peace and happiness be achieved.

    Self-achievement is the only way to feel that deep sense of true satisfaction and contentment. If it can be experienced through an improvement in knowledge, that helps someone else at the same time, then I believe that this is the ultimate in personal development.

    Having reached this level of life, then the glass is truly "always half full". At this point the doubts and worries vanish. I believe in the power of positive thinking.

    Think deeply, but then think light. Recapture that simple innocence that children have.


    Hard work is it's own reward. Money is a by-product. One day I shall die, then all of this will be academic.

    Did I enjoy the journey though? Emphatically : Yes!
    Any regrets?
    Absolutely none!! It all taught me something.

    Thank you Eric, for the opportunity to express my thoughts.

    I knew a sailor once, called Maurice, whose boat was called TYE. We agonised over what it meant, until he explained that his wife had been seduced by an Eric, who out of remorse had given him the boat as part exchange! (Thank You Eric.)