Ten Pieces of Inspiration #31

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. Madeleine (1892) by Ramon Cassas
The face of the woman in this painting has stuck in my mind all week. I kept wondering what her expression meant. Is she afraid? Worried? Anticipating something? What is she looking at? Is she about to run away?

Casas, Ramon (1866-1932) - 1892 Madeleine

It is little mysteries that capture my imagination in art. Almost every painting I consider great has some mystery in it, some little glimpse of life seen through someone else’s eyes that I’ll never quite understand.

2. Nietzsche on the hows and whys of life
This is the first – and only – time where I thought Friedrich Nietzsche sounded like Dave Ramsey.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Or, live like no one else so you can live like no one else. If you have a reason and a goal and you believe in them, you can suffer almost any path.

3. Cashback
This is a short film about what goes on inside of a supermarket during the night.

Everything has a hidden life. What you see is only one face of the complete picture.

4. 100 Skills Every Person Should Know
This isn’t sarcastic, it’s realistic. These are useful skills for handling many of the small crises of modern life. The more of these you can do, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to handle a small crisis without panic and without calling for help immediately.

I can proudly do somwehere around 70 of these without help, which, in a certain way, made me feel very good this week. It made me want to work on the other thirty.

5. Jim Carrey on being rich and famous
Yes, the comedian.

“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” – Jim Carrey

I can certainly recognize what he’s saying. Every time I’ve acquired something material, it felt great for a fleeting moment. Every time I’ve done something myself that I’ve always wanted to do, that same fleeting feeling happened. The things that last are the people I can share it with and the small handful of things that make my soul sing inside.

6. The Banjo Lesson (1893) by Henry Ossawa Tanner
I’m drawn in here, not by the lesson itself, but by the obvious closeness between the boy and the old man teaching him.

Tanner, Henry Ossawa (1859-1937) - 1893  The Banjo Lesson

My immediate instinct is that the old man is his grandfather because of their closeness, but is that necessarily true? Either way, there is an emotional warmth in this painting that’s hard to deny.

7. Robert Louis Stevenson on a good day
A good day doesn’t show great results. Instead, it plants the seeds for great results down the road.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

My garden is a literal example of this. My children are more of a figurative example. In both cases, I can easily invest a day with nothing to directly show for it. However, the growing plants in the garden and the growth of my children both show the results of this philosophy.

8. Thoreau on establishing patterns
For something to become natural, we have to repeat it. It’s just like making a trail in the woods.

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. – Henry David Thoreau

The only way to make something a natural part of your thought process is to think about it over and over again. The only way to make something a natural part of your day is to do it every single day without fail.

9. The Khan Academy
If you’ve ever wanted to bone up on a subject but tend to learn more from visual experience than anything else, this is the site for you.

It’s a giant collection of professionally-made videos that focus on instruction in specific areas ranging from biology to organic chemistry to economics to linear algebra. It’s fantastic for supplementing your knowledge, particular in areas of mathematics and science.

My favorite video, perhaps, is how they handle a side-by-side comparison of evolution and intelligent design, something that people on both sides of the issue should watch.

10. Lao Tzu on enough
I’m coming around to a pretty simple definition of the word “rich.”

“If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” – Lao Tzu

You’re rich if you feel like you have enough. If you don’t, you’re not rich.

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