My Favourite Lesson from King Solomon

King Solomon inherits a kingdom from his father, David, and gets a visit from God during a dream in the night.

God asks him, “What do you want?”

Solomon didn’t ask for wealth, health, extended life, power, or even death to his enemies. Instead, he asked for wisdom.

As a result of his request, which was granted, he received everything else.

It’s a lesson our world could use today.

Clutterfree with Kids Book Review

Author: Joshua Becker
Book Link

I’ll admit, this is the second time I’ve read through this book.

The first time was just before kids and I was curious to see how my perspective changed since having them. I’ll admit, not much has changed (about clutter… everything else… well…)

Becker does a great job at outlining the ideas behind living a clutter-free household. However, if you’re already familiar with the idea, which my wife and I strive to be, there will be a few good nuggets of wisdom in here, but nothing groundbreaking.

It would probably be best to start with the author’s blog where you’ll find a ton of great articles. If the task of reading through it all seems overwhelming and you’re looking at your house going, “I really need to get rid of this stuff,” then make the jump into the book.

Here were a few choice quotes that I gleamed this time around:

“As soon as you start thinking about the end of your life, you begin to live differently in the present.”

“Turn off the television. Go outside. Live life, don’t just watch it.”

“Why would I want what everyone else has when they all want what I already possess?”

“Parenting is 100% parents trying to shape lives and 100% children choosing their own life.”

This book is a good foray into the world of living with less and proving it can be done with families living in the suburbs.

However, consider it more of an introduction manual than an advanced course.

The Value of One Connection

Never underestimate the value of connecting with people in your life.

By connection, I don’t mean the occasional thought about a person and a “hello” when you happen to run into them. It’s the deep, valuable connection that only comes when you genuinely care.

When there’s authenticity in that relationship, it becomes more valuable than any marker of success.

It compounds, grows with time, and when properly cultivated, pays more dividends to the quality of your life than any other source. It’s the reason the communities with the most centenarians (people who live past 100) are people who are socially connected.

For a child, a friend in the neighbourhood is way more valuable than a new toy in the basement.

For an adult, a friend you can depend on has the same equivalency — more valuable than a new toy in the basement.

I’ve done enough magic magic shows in retirement homes to see the difference between those with connections and those without.

The difference is even greater than night and day.

The Highest Path We Can Take

When we think of the apex of our existence, what path can take us there?

Some of us fall into a trap of getting onto a path without even knowing where it’s going. We’re just told that other people have gone on this path and we should follow them as it seems to be working for them.

Other times we see the end of the path, but get frightened at how difficult it will be to get there. Instead, we settle for what’s easiest or simply make camp and decide that hiking is not for us.

Sometimes we start on a path and end up on another one.

The highest path, and the hardest one, will always reveal the best versions of ourselves.

There will be moments of elation, quickly overpowered by moments of uncertainty.

There will be time to enjoy the scenery around us and there will be times where we need to stay focused and push through.

The important part is we keep going… step by step… little by little… until the highest path is the only one left for us to travel on.

Keeping It a Secret

There’s an old joke in the community of magicians that if you want to keep something a secret… publish it in a book.

The truth behind this adage isn’t too far from where we are today.

Although we have access to (almost) anything in the world at any moment, we still value something higher if we’re told it’s a secret.

What we don’t realize is there aren’t many secrets anymore.

Just people willing to do the work to put information together and those who are willing to believe anything that’s packaged in an exciting way.

Why Online Learning Fails

Take the best* teachers and their best courses, throw them online and offer access to anyone.

In theory, this is a game changer.

It allows anyone, anywhere, an opportunity to learn anything and from the best in their fields. It destroys barriers and adds a point to how technology can democratize economic stratification.

Why doesn’t it work?

It still depends on two human factors:

1. Wanting to learn the material.
2. Having the self-discipline to follow-through.

In a classroom, or even the home school, there is someone there to hold a student accountable. A good teacher will even get a student to push past their barriers.

Online — there are only a minority of people who are driven enough and disciplined to succeed. The platform works really well for them and they benefit from it.

In the end, it’s not the medium that’s the problem, but the user accessing it.

*Yes, the other problem is “best” is subjective. In the online world, it’s usually defined by highest rated.

Everything Has a Cost

Everything you want to do in life has a cost associated with it.

The cost could be monetary, time or personal. In order to get something, you will need to give something of yourself.

To offer something to others also comes at a cost. We expect that cost in some circumstances (a parent giving their time, energy, love and resources to their child), but fail to see it in others (the dignity lost to a family when they take charity for the first time — which is something I’ve seen a few times).

Whenever I read about a person who has become successful at whatever they are doing, I always look to see what price they paid.

Did they sacrifice having a family? Perhaps they sacrificed the family they did have.

Did they spend time barely getting by, eating scraps from wherever they could get it?

Did they forego vacations, luxuries and any comforts to their life?

How is their health, physically and mentally?

What cost did the world have to pay?

Everything we do and everything we want has a price. If you want it, you have to be willing to pay for it in advance.

Admitting What You Already Know

Our refusal to admit we were wrong is a powerful drive in making us miserable.

We know what it is that’s bothering us and what needs to be done to rectify the situation.

Having to admit it… and then follow through… is the toughest journey of the soul.

A problem for our refusal to admit what’s wrong is in our approach.

Do we look at it with disdain and do our best to protect our ego?

Or do we look at it with joy as something to celebrate because we’re finally going to improve the quality of our lives?

It’s sad to see so many miserable people today who are seeking to find fulfillment in something external. They’re constantly searching for something outside themselves that is never going to satisfy the quiet voice within that’s calling for internal reflection.

We don’t need others to tell us what’s wrong.

We already know.

It’s just a matter of admitting it.

Turning Pro Book Review

Author: Steven Pressfield
Book Link

As someone who reads The War of Art by Pressfield every year, I’ve grown quite attached to his writing.

Turning Pro was another attempt at an evergreen book that calls each of us to our higher selves. It doesn’t take long to read and that is for two reasons:

1. It’s not that long of a book.
2. Once you get started, you don’t want to stop.

Turning Pro is a look at the world between an amateur and a professional. It speaks about how the world looks when we live within our shadow selves and how it looks when we move towards our true calling.

The words amateur and pro are merely his terms for a life before self-revelation and life afterwards.

To be honest, it’s one of the most religious books I’ve read without being a book about religion (although he does speak about religious imagery and dips a bit into the Kabbalah near the end).

I could almost highlight the entire book, but here are a few choice quotes:

“The pain of being human is that we’re all angels imprisoned in vessels of flesh”

“The amateur fears that if he turns pro and lives out his calling, he will have to live up to who he really is and what he is truly capable of.”

“The payoff of living in the past or the future is you never have to do work in the present.”

If you’ve never been introduced to the works of Pressfield, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start. At the very least, you’ll see firsthand some beautiful writing that resonates with every human being.

Luna Book Review

I picked up this science-fiction curiosity out of interest since others who reviewed it stated it was like “The Martian,” another book I thoroughly enjoyed.

This doesn’t quite have the cleverness of “The Martian,” but it stands up in its own right.

The story starts right away with the Earth getting nuked several times over. Who caused it?

No one knows for certain, but once a nuke is in the air, retaliation occurs and it’s game over for humanity. The people who have a front-row seat to the firework show is a crew of military personnel heading to the moon where a space base has been built.

The perspective follows one of the crew members, Max Hardy, who seems to be able to do it all without breaking a sweat. Then again, larger than life characters don’t bother me if I’m just looking for good entertainment.

While the book kept my interest at the beginning, it took a while for me to really get hooked. After that point, I was all-in and reveled at how situations were taken care of and how problems were dealt with. Whited did a great job of never prolonging anything longer than needed and for that, I’m thankful.