Ten Pieces of Inspiration #20

Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well.

1. Flying a kite
Our family spent a long afternoon at the park this past week just flying kites. We’d toss them up in the air, let the wind catch them, and let the string roll off of our spools.

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So often, the simplest things can just be incredibly fun.

2. Online filter bubbles
One of the most dangerous things about the mixing of online filtering (think of Facebook and how the friends you interact with most tend to be the ones that appear at the top when you log on) and marking our preferences everywhere is that we eventually find ourselves only seeing the things we agree with. We’re no longer challenged if everything we don’t agree with or don’t understand is just filtered away.

This video explains this idea very, very well. It’s something that worries me – and has given me a lot to think about lately.

3. Albert Einstein on intellectual growth
Learning is a lifelong experience.

Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death. – Albert Einstein

It helps you to understand what’s going on in the world around you. It creates a broader skill set for you so you can earn more or have a greater impact on the world. Learning is something that always pays off, whether you’re 5 years old or 50.

4. Quora
Quora is a giant question-and-answer session. You can ask a question and get answers, and you can provide answers to others. Unlike other such services like Yahoo! Answers, Quora does a great job of filtering the answers based on user reputation and voting on the various answers that questions receive. It’s like a “smart” Yahoo! Answers.

I’ve been dabbling in it a lot off and on over the past month or so. If you’re interested, you can follow me on Quora.

5. Howard Thurman on doing what makes you alive
Howard Thurman is a theologian who eloquently summarizes what everyone ought to do with their life.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman

How do you make money doing that? If you find what makes you alive and pour enough hours into it (fueled by the joy it gives you), you’ll eventually reach a skill level that others will pay you for – often handsomely.

6. Victory over art
After about twenty minutes of painting with (non-toxic) finger paints, our one year old son decided that his masterpiece was finished. He grabbed the piece in hand and raised his arms in victory.

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Enthusiasm, joy, and pride, all wrapped up in one.

7. Poetry read by Tom O’Bedlam
This is some of the best reading of poetry I’ve ever heard. It’s not flashy at all, just the beauty of the words as stripped down as possible. I turn on some of these selections and just listen with my eyes closed, letting the words paint a world for me.

His reading of All Lovely Things by Conrad Aiken is a sweet and short example.

8. Do schools kill creativity?
This is a very thought-provoking perspective on public education.

It inspires me because it challenges me to do something different for my own children to make sure they’re encouraged to be creative.

9. Elise Boulding on the joy of frugality
Elise Boulding was a Quaker sociologist and author.

Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things. – Elise Boulding

There is joy in not having everything because it affords you the opportunity to truly appreciate some of the things.

10. Georges Lemmen’s Beach at Heist (1891)
This makes me want to wander along a beach at sunset.

Geroges Lemmen, Plage à Heist [Beach at Heist], 1891

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  1. Steven says:

    I think online filters are useful, especially when using them to block things you don’t agree with. If someone on Facebook is constantly and repeatedly posting things that you don’t agree with, it gets annoying. Using that filter allows you to ignore that person without eliminating that connection. I think it has less to do with being challenged than just being annoyed. If people were to actually post thought provoking things rather than stupid garbage all the time, I could see the point you’re trying to make, but none of the people I’ve ever blocked have been blocked because I don’t agree with their opinion. They’re blocked because they’re annoying.

  2. kristine says:

    Steven,

    That is a filter you set. There are many filters that decide FOR YOU what to filter, without your knowledge, request, or consent. Patterns of what you view or write are stored, analyzed, and reacted to by displaying only what the filter thinks you will find palatable. As an example, when you log in Amazon- other things you might like….

    The danger here is in news or current events, only be shown your own viewpoint, and not being shown other points of view, in order to appeal to you. It stunts growth, and is like living in a bubble. Search engines do this also.

    The more interactive and customized search engines and browsers become, the more you can be certain that a left-winger and right-winger who log onto the same newspaper, will start seeing different articles as top news, then eventually, tailored news altogether. It will eliminate objectivity, and replace it with constant reinforcement of what you already think. It will benefit advertisers by minimizing controversy, but at the same time, it will eliminate discussion, and polarize the population.

    It will also stifle the individuals ability process opposing ideas and come to his/her own opinion in a truly informed way. Filters are not benign- they restrict. Set your own restrictions- fine. Set restrictions for me? No thank you.

  3. Courtney says:

    That picture of your son is darling!!

    I just wanted to say that I really enjoy all of these posts and thank you for putting them together and inspiring me.

  4. Beth says:

    Hi Trent -

    Thanks so much for your “10 Pieces of Inspiration” series. I read your blog daily, but I admit that I enjoy this particular series the most. It reminds me of the important things in my life.

  5. con says:

    As much as I disagree sometimes with what you’re saying in your posts, I will say that your children look very happy. Good for you and your wife and good for them.

  6. valleycat1 says:

    kristine – so true. Even though I have a definite political preference, I watch news commentators and read blogs/newspapers/magazines & books with left, right , and more balanced as well as more ‘out there’ viewpoints. I have friends who only watch one news source and it’s impossible to have any kind reasonable conversation with them because they have no perspective of their own – they simply parrot back the catch phrases of the day.

    I’ve always shied away from news aggregator sites that want me to state my preferences in too much detail – the whole point of news, to me, is to learn things you don’t already know about and hear viewpoints that might challenge your own.

  7. Steven says:

    Thanks Kristine for pointing that out (the video might have explained it, but I just read Trent’s commentary and missed that aspect.)

    I agree with you though, but that’s how marketers get people to click through to see their product, whatever that might be. As consumers, it’s up to us to be aware of the information we’re consuming (especially media, as the news has become more of an ongoing opinion commentary without much in the way of presenting actual facts…that only happens immediately after an event/situation occurs.)

  8. mary Scott, RPh,CGP says:

    Thanks for the 10 pieces of inspiration!

  9. Kate says:

    Trent, thank you. As others have said, this series is one of the best things you’ve done.

    And particular thanks for the poetry site! I’m hoping to see some of my favorites that aren’t on there; I may leave a comment asking for them.

    And with all the electronic toys available today, it’s great to see the old favorites such as kites still flying high!

  10. Georgia says:

    I really enjoyed the TED article. I have found it so true in my years on this earth. Kids who do things differently, or with what others consider distractions, are criticized and put down.

    I remember one Sunday School teacher telling how she learned this. My younger brother was a fidgeter, a disrupter at time and constantly talking & commenting. She was doing a series of lessons and the one who knew the most at the end on the series won a Bible. She never even considered my brother, because she was certain he had never heard a word she said. But, he won it and quite easily in fact. It turns out he was highly intelligent and could do 2-3 things at the same time.

    We had always considered me to be the “smart” one in the family and my brother as “normal”. Forget that. I may be very intelligent but little brother had me beat all to pieces.

    I have always kept that story in mind when people tell me how dumb or smart kids are. If I remember correctly, there are numerous types of intelligence (@ 20), including musical, mechanical, physical, etc. Many of us are good at one or two, but vertually none of us are great in all of them.

  11. Justin says:

    I like the clip on public education killing creativity.

    Look at what we’re taught in school- go to college, get a good job, and you’ll be okay.

    Well millions of people do that, yet our country is in horrible shape financially.

    Probably because people aren’t taught to be creative anymore, we just follow what our ancestors did!

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