This is a much older article from Neil regarding life…
THE MEANING OF LIFE AND THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS
When I was in high school, I had a teacher who gave us a reading
list of the best works of literature in the world. Number one on
that list was the Bible. So during summer break, I decided to read
the good book as literature. And one small section really struck me
at the time: The Book Of Ecclesiastes.
It is the famous book in the Bible that begins “vanity of
vanities, all is vanity,” something that should be posted over
the entranceway to all L.A. clubs. It’s been heavily quoted in
timeless songs, such as “Turn Turn Turn.”
And it’s basic philosophy is this, at least in my
Work hard at your life and yourself. Be a good person, and enjoy
everything there is under the sun. The author writes: “I
searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while
guiding my heart with wisdom… I made my works great, I built
myself houses… I became great and excelled.”
But, in his old age, he surveys his labors: “I looked on all
the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had
toiled, and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.”
No, this is not a sermon. Keep reading. Neither is this a Buddhist
message about renouncing the material world. Because, in the end,
the speaker in the Book of Ecclesiastes decides: “Eat your
bread with joy and drink your wine with a merry heart… Let your
garments always be white and let your head lack no oil… Live
joyfully with the wife whom you love… Whatever your hand finds to
do, do it with all your might, for there is no work or device or
wisdom in the grave where you are going.”
So what God is saying here is get drunk. It’s totally cool.
Just clean up afterward.
Actually, the message is this (in my crude non-scholarly analysis):
Find a life to live, find a woman to love, find a place to
work–and live to your fullest, love to your greatest capacity,
work your hardest, and be a good person. Then die knowing nothing
will have really made a difference in the overall scheme of things.
This may not necessarily be my belief, or yours, but here’s the
takeaway: if all is vanity, then stop making yourself
miserable–just keep busy and be happy.
That, of course, leaves the question: What should we be doing with
this time, and how do we stay happy?
So let’s leave the Bible and return to the present age.
First of all, don’t expect to be happy all the time. If
you’ve ever had a pet, you’ll notice that the pet
doesn’t complain when it’s hurt or in pain. The human
animal is the only one that says, “Why me?” — as if it
is our birthright to be happy all the time.
Sometimes we’re sad or angry or depressed. But if rather than
fighting against it, like it’s wrong and some kind of disorder,
you just relax into the emotion and ride it through until it’s
over, it doesn’t have to be a gut-wrenching experience.
It’s good to experience these extreme emotions: it lets you
know you’re alive and feeling.
Of course, we’d all like to stay positive and happy and content
as much as possible. It’s especially useful to be in this state
when interacting socially, because it’s the best way to attract
other people to you.
So how does one stay in this state?
My secret: Balance.
Even if you love your work, you can’t spend the entirety of
every day working. You can’t spend it partying or sarging
either, as fun as that may be. However, you’ll find that if
each day, you productively do something in each of the following
areas, your mood and confidence and charisma and happiness and
inner game will skyrocket:
2.Physical (exercise, running, swimming, a sport)
3.Creativity or Education (whether it’s writing, making music,
cooking, programming, taking classes, or learning another language)
4.Relaxation, whether it’s reading a book or watching TV or
playing Plants vs. Zombies or staring at the wall and contemplating
life or lying in the sun and thinking about nothing.
So, your mission:
Make a list of the specific things that make you happy and balanced
in each of these categories, and then make an effort to comfortably
fit them all into your schedule at least five days a week. Most of
these areas don’t need to take more than half an hour each day.
And chances are you’re doing at least two of them a day anyway.
If you find that days are passing by and you’re not exercising
or socializing, for example, you may need to actually write out a
daily schedule for yourself and then stick to it.
And, finally, if you’re one of those people who says they have
no time, chances are that the problem may not be time but time
management. Start keeping track of exactly what you do each day and
for how long. Actually write it down on a sheet of paper: how much
time you spend eating breakfast, how much time you spend checking
emails, what you’re doing with your time at work. Then see
where the inefficiencies are and eliminate them.
And then, of course, die. It’s all vanity anyway. But it’s
fun, you get one chance, and you might as well start making the
most of it right now, before it’s too late.