Ten Pieces of Inspiration #4

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. George Bernard Shaw on playing
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
–George Bernard Shaw

I try very hard to live by this idea and include some play in my life every day. I play with my children. I play games with my friends and, sometimes, by myself. It keeps me conscious of the fact that life doesn’t have to always be deadly serious and refreshes me to take on the things that life throws at me.

2. A certain expression
Every time I look at this picture of my oldest son, I get a big smile.

yup

There is something about his facial expression that just gets me every time I look at it. This picture has probably cheered me up more than any other over the past few years.

3. Atul Gawande’s New Yorker article on health care targeting
Few articles as of late have made me think as much as this one, in which Atul Gawande argues that the people with the highest medical care costs are the people receiving the worst care. There are a lot of thought-provoking things in this article, but the image that really stuck with me is the idea that a city can have multiple hospitals where one has almost no one waiting in the emergency room and another has more people than can fit in there. Something’s wrong and inefficient in that picture.

4. Thomas Jefferson on trends and values
“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
– Thomas Jefferson

The specifics of society change all the time. Things unimaginable fifty years ago are commonplace today. Societal behaviors of eighty years ago would be completely out of place today, as would the behaviors of today if dropped back in the 1930s.

What matters is the central values we hold. Love. Frugality. Human relationships. Respecting others and their freedoms. Those are things that I value now and will always value, regardless of what happens with society and technology.

5. Georges-Pierre Seurat’s Sunday afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte
Since I’ve been assembling a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of this painting, I’ve had more than adequate time to study it in great detail.

Art Institute of Chicago

Many thanks to Bert Kaufmann for taking this photo of the original painting at the Art Institute of Chicago.

6. Laura Cantrell’s “When the Roses Bloom Again”
I’ve been listening to a lot of music by Laura Cantrell this week. This is the best one I’ve heard, in my opinion. Her voice just tears me up.

7. David Shields on memory
“Anything processed by memory is fiction.”
— David Shields

I find this so completely true in my own life that it’s thrilling to see someone else put it so succinctly. So often, I juxtapose my own memories and more than once that juxtaposition has gotten me in trouble. I tend to rely on my memory with too much confidence and, as I get older, I’m beginning to understand that no one’s memories are perfect.

8. Grooveshark
I can’t believe this service is free. Grooveshark may have supplanted Pandora as my single favorite way to listen to music for free online.

9. FoodWishes videos on YouTube
I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube cooking videos recently for a potential post idea, but for me the real joy of this has been discovring the videos of Chef John on the FoodWishes channel. Who needs Food Network?

Here’s one of my favorites.

This is just solid food instruction, combined with a healthy dose of entertainment. I liked these videos because it all looked like it came from a real kitchen.

10. Cervantes on friendship
“Tell me what company thou keepst, and I’ll tell thee what thou art.”
– Miguel de Cervantes

You are very much a synthesis of your closest friends. Think about the people you surround yourself with. When you look at them and think of yourself as a mix of their attributes, is that something that fills you with a positive feeling? If it doesn’t, you might want to think about a change in your social circle.

Cervantes wrote the wonderful novel Don Quixote. I love the antiquated words of his expression of this idea.