Your Favorite Big Ideas summed up in small quotes...

After a long and rewarding conversation with a good friend yesterday I am thinking about some favorite words that have meant a LOT to me in recent years. They haven’t just been Deep Thoughts, they’ve been the verbal expression of very real things in my life.

***Resentment is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past could ever be different.** *
(This one is so large and so true it’s like truth on steroids)

and The Five Remembrances (particularly the fifth, which takes the sting out 1-4):

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill health.
There is no way to escape having ill health.
I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are of the nature of change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.
My deeds are my closest companions.
I am the beneficiary of my deeds.
My deeds are the ground on which I stand.

What are yours?

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. (The Dalai Lama)

Happiness doesn’t come from having what you want, but from wanting what you have.

The empty barrel makes the biggest noise.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.

Sometimes the questions are more powerful than the answers.

A universe simple enough to be understood is too simple to produce a mind capable of understanding it. (Cambridge cosmologist John Barrow)

Don’t believe everything you think.


Don’t piss down my back & tell me it’s raining.

My favorite quote of all time. Probably because I hate being bull-shitted. I hate it badly enough that I’ve spent effort in minimizing it in my own behavior (frequently I feel free to condemn others for my own failings - not this one).

From a very glurgey book I read as a teen, comparing religious beliefs to musical chords (i.e. E flat and D sharp mean the same thing, they’re only named differently based on prior notes):

“It doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as you play it.”

Basically, I took from that: be kind, do as much good and as little harm as possible, and a true God won’t care whether you address him/her as God or Yahweh or “Yo, Dude.” It’s all about your interactions, not the form you use addressing a creative force.

Also one of my faves.
The memories of a man in his old age are the deeds of a man in his prime.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

“We are who we choose to be, not who we are given permission to be.” – Adapted from Sean Plott



If I was forced to pick from the lessons I’ve learned in this life which one was the most important, powerful, life-changing, (insert superlative of your choice here), it would be having learned that what we condemn others for is pretty much always our own failings. The things that bother us the most in others is just about always the things that bother us the most in ourselves. It’s hard to be emotionally invested in things you don’t relate to.

And that’s a continuing lesson that just deepens with the years, so much so that it’s become almost a reflex: when I am having a strong emotional reaction to someone else’s behavior, I start searching myself for where I am or have been guilty of the same, or believe I am guilty of the same.

Yo to that, Dude.

I have never believed in any kind of god, but I did love the idea of God being like George Burns’ version - great sense of humor about it all, full of love and forgiveness, really only interested in seeing us all do our best.

From that great philosopher, Prof. Harold Hill:

“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”

“And who are you spiting”
-Said to me by my father. I work for/with him, I had been trying for weeks to drill into someone to get something or other done. Every freaking day, I’d have to remind them to do it (I don’t remember what it was) and if it didn’t get done, it would cost us money. Finally, I got sick of reminding them and ‘forgot’ to remind them. I did this knowing full well that when my dad came in the next morning he would see that it hadn’t been done, ask me about it and I could blame the other person and he would have it out with them hopefully getting them to do their job. Instead it back fired when he reminded me that I ended up costing the business money to make a point.

One of my favorites: “Sometimes you win by letting the other person think they’ve won” It’s basically just a rewording of ‘pick your battles’ but I like it better. It can be used in some other applications as well. For example, a few months ago someone asked me to move a heavy box (or maybe she bet me that I couldn’t move it), I declined to do it to which she mockingly suggested that I was to weak to move something so heavy. I simply told her that she was probably right and moved on. In her head she ‘won’…in reality I didn’t have to move a heavy box. Of course this was a slightly different case since she’s known me for long enough to know I could lift it and when I walked past her again she said “I should have known that wouldn’t work” to which I replied “Did you really think I was going to try to prove my strength to you?” but the point still stands. I know this is kind of a petty example, but in the business world it can have bigger implications.

Accept impermanence.

Speaking of glurge, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten gave me this takeaway:

Learn to tell the difference between a problem and an inconvenience.

My own, in the context of some failed relationships:

Left to their own devices, people will do what they are inclined to do.*

For the most part, ignore what people say about themselves, and look only at what they do.

*Which, largely, is what the He’s Just Not That Into You book is about.

Shamelessly stolen fron NinetyWit: “I like to bear in mind this little phrase: Sometimes people do things which annoy you, not to annoy you.”

I don’t remember where this came from.

“Be what you wish to seem.”

A variation on a theme already mentioned a few times in this thread, but I like its succinctness.

And the ever-relevant -

'Don’t sweat the small stuff."

Reminding me of my favorite on this theme, widely known: be the change you wish to see in the world.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, only to be understood.” ~Marie Curie

“In my day, we didn’t have self-esteem, we had self-respect, and no more of it than we had earned.” ~Jane Haddam

“There’s an alternative. There’s always a third way, and it’s not a combination of the other two ways. It’s a different way.” ~David Carradine

Similar in spirit to: “Diplomacy is the art of letting the other guy have your way.”

Yes. The difference between a lump in your oatmeal and a lump in your breast. One of my favorite “lessons” from one of Fulghum’s best stories.
He can be awfully cloying, and his stories are obviously not always meant to be taken as true personal experiences of his, but his little books do contain a few gems that I’ve taken away. Including the one you cited. (I like that term" “takeaways” - perfect.)

That is how I would describe that Dalai Lama quote. The greatest lesson I’ve learned from life.
(And I’m glad you liked it.)

It’s such a fantastic way to be ok with the thing we have to learn to do if we don’t want to be miserable: let go, allow. Didn’t get what you want, see what happened instead.

OH! Another one I just love, it’s actually a poem:

Barn’s burnt down –
I can see the moon.

-Mizuta Masahide

And another: No one’s coming.

Amen to that.

“Jesus was in a coma.”

“This, too, shall pass.”

The story on this was that a king asked his wise man to come up with something to inscribe over the entrance to his throne room that would comfort him in times of distress and sober him in times of plenty. I’m about as far from royalty as you can get, but it helps to remember this.

“Every man thinks he’s righteous.”

Some actor, I can’t remember who. But, basically, nobody, not even the villain - maybe especially not the villain - thinks they’re the bad guy. In our own heads, we’re always the good guy. I ran face first into this in my middle 20s, when I realized that I was doing something I would consider evil if I saw anyone else doing it. It was a major awakening.