Ten Pieces of Inspiration #50

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.

Sarah and I spent a lot of time assembling Christmas gifts this week, so our mind was on the spirit of the season.

1. ifttt
Have you ever taken pictures with your camera and wished they would automatically show up on Flickr and Facebook? Ever wanted an email sent to you with a note if someone posts something new on their blog? ifttt does all of that.

This really is a pretty cool tool, and it’s easy to set up, too. I’ve been playing with it all week.

2. Emerson on sticking to principles
The best way to feel good about accomplishing anything is to know that you did it by sticking to your guns.

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

To me, this is one of the big keys of personal finance. There is a lot of internal reward from having the willpower to stick to a goal and make it happen.

3. Sir Ken Robinson on how schools stifle creativity
As many of you know, my wife is a schoolteacher. She also feels that by teaching to a standardized test, the teachers are stifling the creativity of their students. They stuff the students’ minds with facts, but they don’t work on creatively using those facts.

What’s the solution? I’m actually opposed to standardized testing as I don’t think it relates to the quality of the students graduating. What does? I don’t think there is a way to objectively measure the quality of students. You can measure how many facts they’ve absorbed, but you can’t measure how they can put them to creative use.

4. Digital: A Love Story
This is an amazing little game that tells a beautiful story. It’s set in 1988 (with 1988-appropriate computer graphics), but …

It’s just one of those things that’s worth taking some time to experience. It’s just a great story told in a clever way.

5. John D. Rockefeller on charity
While I don’t completely agree with this quote, it has caused me to think quite a lot over the years about charitable giving.

Charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it. – John D. Rockefeller

There are some charities worth giving to that do not have this as a goal because independence is not a realistic goal for those they help, such as developmentally disabled adults. However, if a charity is helping people who are able to help themselves, I think it’s vital that they try to get those people on a path of independence. Food for thought, as any good inspirational piece should be.

6. Dorothy Parker’s The Maid-Servant at the Inn
Dorothy Parker is one of my favorite poets. I’ve always loved her wordplay, and I absolutely love this poem about the nativity. The perspective and word choice and rhythm are just amazing.

“It’s queer,” she said; “I see the light
As plain as I beheld it then,
All silver-like and calm and bright-
We’ve not had stars like that again!

“And she was such a gentle thing
To birth a baby in the cold.
The barn was dark and frightening-
This new one’s better than the old.

“I mind my eyes were full of tears,
For I was young, and quick distressed,
But she was less than me in years
That held a son against her breast.

“I never saw a sweeter child-
The little one, the darling one!-
I mind I told her, when he smiled
You’d know he was his mother’s son.

“It’s queer that I should see them so-
The time they came to Bethlehem
Was more than thirty years ago;
I’ve prayed that all is well with them.”

7. John Stuart Mill on desire and happiness
The one thing I’ve learned about desires is that as soon as you sate one, two more pop up to replace it. The wants grow within you.

“I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them.” – John Stuart Mill

It’s far better to seek happiness and pleasure in other things.

8. Advent candles
One of our traditions is to light candles on our table centerpiece during the four weeks leading up to Christmas. I took several pictures of our lit candles, but none were nearly as beatiful as this image by Per Ola Wiberg:

First Advent and first candle is lit

It’s a nice, soothing reminder that the season isn’t about presents.

9. Sophocles on preparation
No matter how well planned out we think the future is, chance often destroys those plans.

“Fear? What has a man to do with fear? Chance rules our lives, and the future is all unknown.” – Sophocles, Oedipus Rex

The best way to prepare is to improve yourself and keep some cash on hand. The more you focus on these things, the better you’ll be able to deal with whatever life hands you.

10. Frank Sinatra singing Let It Snow
This is one of my favorite winter songs.

I have a ton of respect for Frank Sinatra as a singer. He’s so good at phrasing and making the words he’s singing absolutely clear while staying in tune and adding immense character to the song. I wish I could sing even a tenth as well as he does.

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