How to construct beneficial meaning from ALL life experiences

This is one of the most beneficial commencement speeches there is, providing you with how to construct a life you love, everyday.

The speech was given by David Foster Wallace.

If you would like to just read the Main Ideas from this speech, scroll down to almost the bottom where there is a Main Ideas Section.

Audio & Transcript below.

Enjoy!

 

 

“Greetings, thanks, and congratulations to Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005. 

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” 

And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. 

The story thing turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. 

The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.

Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

Of course, the main requirement of speeches like this is that I’m supposed to talk about your liberal arts education’s meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. 

So let’s talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about “teaching you how to think.”

If you’re like me as a student, you’ve never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. 

But I’m going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we’re supposed to get in a place like this isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about. 

If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I’d ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious.

Here’s another didactic little story:

There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. 

And the atheist says: “Look, it’s not like I don’t have actual reasons for not believing in God. It’s not like I haven’t ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn’t see a thing, and it was 50 below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out ‘Oh, God, if there is a God, I’m lost in this blizzard, and I’m gonna die if you don’t help me.’” 

And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. “Well then you must believe now,” he says, “After all, here you are, alive.” The atheist just rolls his eyes. “No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp.”

It’s easy to run this story through kind of a standard liberal arts analysis: the exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people’s two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience. 

Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy’s interpretation is true and the other guy’s is false or bad. Which is fine, except we also never end up talking about just where these individual templates and beliefs come from. Meaning, where they come from inside the two guys.

As if a person’s most basic orientation toward the world, and the meaning of his experience were somehow just hard-wired, like height or shoe-size; or automatically absorbed from the culture, like language. As if how we construct meaning were not actually a matter of personal, intentional choice…

Plus, there’s the whole matter of arrogance. 

The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. 

True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They’re probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us. 

But religious dogmatists’ problem is exactly the same as the story’s unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up.

The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. 

Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.

Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. 

We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive. 

But it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. 

Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. 

The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. 

Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.

Please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.

People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being “well-adjusted”, which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.

Given the triumphant academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. This question gets very tricky. 

Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education–least in my own case–is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me.

As I’m sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). 

Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. 

Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.”

This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in..the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.

And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out.

That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let’s get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what “day in day out” really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I’m talking about.

By way of example, let’s say it’s an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you’re tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again.

But then you remember there’s no food at home. You haven’t had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work, you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It’s the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course, it’s the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. 

And the store is hideously flourescently lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it’s pretty much the last place you want to be but you can’t just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store’s confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren’t enough check-out lanes open even though it’s the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can’t take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.

But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line’s front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to “Have a nice day” in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera.

Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn’t yet been part of you graduates’ actual life routine, day after week after month after year.

But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. 

The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. 

Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. 

Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. 

About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way.

‘And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is.’

Or, of course, if I’m in a more socially conscious liberal arts form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV’s and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, 40-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper-stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest (responds here to an applause) —See this is an example of how NOT to think, though — most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers. 

And I can think about how our children’s children will despise us for wasting all the future’s fuel, and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and selfish and disgusting we all are, and how modern consumer society just sucks, and so forth and so on.

You get the idea.

If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn’t have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It’s the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities.

The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it’s not impossible that some of these people in SUV’s have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. 

Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he’s in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.

Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.

Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. 

Because it’s hard. 

It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat out won’t want to.

But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness.

Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends on what you want to consider. 

If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. 

But if you really learn how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. 

The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. 

You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.

Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. 

On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. 

Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.

But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it is that they are unconscious. They are default settings.

They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along on the fuel of fear and anger and frustration and craving and the worship of self. 

Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and displaying.

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. 

The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

I know that this stuff probably doesn’t sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think of it whatever you wish. But please don’t just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.

The capital-T Truth is about life before death.

*It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

‘This is water.’

‘This is water.’

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really is the job of a lifetime. And it commences, now.

I wish you way more than luck.”

 

 

 

Main Ideas

“The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.”

“Because the really significant education in thinking that we’re supposed to get in a place like this isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about.”

“If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I’d ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious.”

“The exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people’s two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience.”

“But religious dogmatists’ problem is exactly the same as the story’s unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up.”

“The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties… Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded.”

“Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence.”

“Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on.  Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.”

“It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.”

“Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education–least in my own case–is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me.
As I’m sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now).”

“Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think.
It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.”

“And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out.”

“The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop.
Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way.”

“If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn’t have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It’s the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities.”

“Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.”

“If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable.
But if you really learn how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred.”

“The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it.”

“You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.”

“If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you.”

“Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear.
Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.
But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it is that they are unconscious. They are default settings.
They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.”

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race.”

“The capital-T Truth is about life before death.”

The Collapse & Renewal of “The System”

Can you feel it?

The tensions rising along with the sea levels.

Awareness rising in the corruption that has contaminated the entire world from micro to macro levels and everything in between.

I know you can feel it. I can too.

We’re coming to a tipping point in the Systems we’ve built throughout the previous centuries.

These Systems can’t last if we want to last as a human race.

The game of Power, Corruption, and Deception are fading, making way for an up to date and well founded System.

Is it difficult to believe that it’s possible to have Systems built on Trust, Cooperation, Shared Success, and Forgiveness that disciplines with love and does not punish mindlessly?

When a baby is learning to walk and they fall, do you punish them?

Do you tell them “You’re no good. You’re never going to be able to walk. Don’t even try it. Go to your crib.”

Or do you lift them up and encourage them, knowing that they will walk one day.

In life, when we humans are learning to “human,” and we make a mistake we are usually punished for it.

There’s no love in punishment so there’s no real growth. I understand if you believe there is love in punishment because that is what recent generations have been raised to believe. But many many studies show how punishment is not working!

Here is an article from Psychology Today discussing the many ways punishment impacts your child, including how punishment does not teach your child accountability. Also 10 ways to guide children without punishment is included in this article.

Here is a Pinterest page sharing many articles on how to love your kids and others unconditionally as well as how to deal with aggressive or inappropriate behavior in others.

I don’t know the full solution but I do know that discipline with love would help.

Is that hard to do? Absolutely.

And it’s easy to punish.

We all know that beautiful things take time to flourish, such as a flower. It needs cared for and nurtured to grow. If we punish the flower by cutting part of it off it will never be able to blossom into the flower it is meant to become.

Of course there will be resistance and some discomfort against the new System, as there is with all fights for justice, but in the end “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice,” as MLK Jr. once said.

They say if it’s not broken don’t fix it…But we’ve got ourselves a broken System.

I do love my country but don’t you also want a better life for future generations of all backgrounds?

Education. Politics. Athletics. Business. Hollywood. And just about all current Systems have some corruption within them.

You can’t blame them though. That’s just how it’s been. 

But it’s a new day. It’s a new era.

The shame blame game will hopefully come to an end and love with discipline can take its place.

No one is perfect, and until we can fully realize that and change how we deal with all our imperfections and how we treat each other, we just won’t last.

Who am I to write this? Just a flawed fellow human on this journey of life, trying to figure it out.

But we adapt. That’s what we do as humans. Look at history.

Shall we adapt once more?

If you believe in a new System you might also like this relative & unique rap song I recorded in the studio called “Cloud 9”

What methods do you believe would contribute to a more stable and just System?

45 Mind Opening & Inspiring Joe Rogan Quotes

1) “Pretend that your life was a movie and it started now, what would the hero do? What would the person that you respect do? What would the person that you admire, and inspires you do? Do that. Live your life like you’re the hero in your own movie.”

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2) “We define ourselves far too often by our past failures. That’s not you. You are this person right now. You’re the person who has learned from those failures. Build confidence and momentum with each good decision you make from here on out and choose to be inspired.”

3) “If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe.”

4) “Not knowing the truth doesn’t make you ignorant. Not wanting to know the truth is what makes you ignorant.”

5) “It’s very important to help people figure out how to manage life, to help people figure out how to think, help inspire them, help show them what can be gained from setting goals and achieving them and that excellent feeling – and that becomes contagious.”

6) “Treat everyone as if they were you. If we really are one, then I am you and you are me.”

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7) “The time you spend hating on someone robs you of your own time.  You are literally hating on yourself and you don’t even realize it.”

8) “Haters are all failures. It’s 100% across the board.  No one who is truly brilliant at anything is a hater.”

9) “My act is so completely and totally uncensored that the only way I could really pull it off is if I treat the audience like they’re my best friends.”

10) “Your attitude has a giant effect not just on your life, but on other peoples lives around you.”

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11) “There’s a direct correlation between positive energy and positive results in the physical form.”

12) “Life is strange. You keep moving and keep moving. Before you know it, you look back and think, ‘What was that?’”

13) “In all my travelings, all my life adventures; I have to say I still don’t know what life is, absolutely no clue, and it is a subject that is constantly on my mind. One thing I do know for a fact is that the nicer we are to our fellow human beings, the nicer the universe is to us.”

14)“There really are no grown-ups, just kids that got old and had kids of their own.”

15) “That’s my only goal. Surround myself with funny people, and make sure everyone has a good time and works hard.”

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16) “We got sidetracked and diverted into these boxes, that they call ‘companies’ and ‘corporations.’ And we got stuck in these containers that they call ‘cubicles’ or ‘offices.’ So our time, instead of it being invested in making pottery or fixing cars or doing something where you have a passion or some sort of connection to. Instead of that, you’ve sold your life to sit in a box and work for a machine; an uncaring machine that demands productivity. It doesn’t understand you. It doesn’t want to understand you. No natural behavior. Everyone is wearing clothes they don’t want to wear. Everybody is showing up and doing something they don’t want to do. They have no connection to it. That’s the problem with our society. And then what’s the reward? Go home and get a big TV.”

^^You can hear this quote & more in this short youtube video.

 

17) “Get better at whatever you’re doing. So what if you suck at it now. Everybody sucks at everything when they start. But if you love it, and don’t lie to yourself, then get better at it.”

18) “No matter how civilized we are and how much society has curbed violent behavior. Human beings still have the same genes they had 10,000 years ago. Our bodies are designed to have a certain amount of physical stress and violence in them. We’re designed to run from jaguars and fight to defend our territory.”

19) “Here’s the craziest thing about life, this is the thing that nobody really considers; you know as much about what life is all about as anybody who’s ever lived, ever. That’s the craziest thing about us. We’re all just kinda wandering through this going “‘You know what you’re doing?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Oh, I do too. I know what I’m doing.’ ‘Okay. Good, then.’” But really no one has a clue.”

20) “Reality really is a theatre. There’s no other way to describe it.  It’s all so nonsensical, ridiculous and chaotic.”

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21) “The quicker we all realize that we’ve been taught how to live life by the people that were operating on the momentum of an ignorant past the quicker we can move to a global ethic of community that doesn’t value invented borders or the monopolization of natural resources, but rather the goal of a happier more loving humanity.”

22) “I realized a long time ago that instead of being jealous you can be inspired and appreciative. It carries more energy to you. That can be an awesome and motivating force that can improve your life if you choose to be inspired and not jealous. One has no benefit whatsoever, the other is an incredible resource for creating momentum and improvement.”

23) “The key to happiness doesn’t lay in numbers in a bank account but in the way we make others feel and the way they make us feel.”

24) “Very few people actually look up at night and go wow, that literally is infinite. We are floating in infinity. It is easier to see infinity than it is to see the ground. I have more view of the infinity.”

25) “To really appreciate life you got to know you’re going to die.”

26) “When someone comes along and expresses him or herself as freely as they think, people flock to it. They enjoy it.”

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27) “The universe rewards calculated risk and passion.”

28) “The audience changes every night. You’re the same person. You have to speak your mind and do the stuff that you think is funny and makes you laugh…I never want to compromise my act just to get a laugh.”

29) “Work for that feeling that you have accomplished something…Don’t waste your time on this earth without making a mark.”

30) “Discomfort is your friend. It doesn’t matter if you’re sick, if you have kids… if you’re a pro, you go to work…The worst choice that a man can make is to become comfortable.”

31) “Bad breaks are an opportunity for you to reboot, to reassess, get better, figure out another way through your challenges. The people that look at those challenges and say ‘Well why do I have those challenges?’ – They’re cancer. They are dangerous people to be around. They will rob you of your enthusiasm and won’t give you any fuel.”

32) “All the time that you spend complaining, you could instead be hustling. You could be chasing your dream. You could be figuring out what you’re doing wrong and improving your life.”

33) “The people I know that have the hardest time keeping it together emotionally are people that don’t work out.”

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34) “Do things that are difficult. It’s very important to struggle. You don’t get to know yourself without struggle. You don’t know who you are until you get tested.”

35) “In order to be truly great at something you have to give into a certain amount of madness.”

36) “One of the most fascinating lessons I’ve absorbed about life is that the struggle is good.”

37) “90% of success is just showing up. Get there and start working. You’re not going to feel perfect everyday. There’s gotta be those days you push through.”

38) “If things aren’t going the way you want them to go, then do something about it! Quit talking about your problems and go out and do something to fix them!” 

39) “The brain is the general and the troops are the body.  Write down your goals and get stuff done.”

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40) “Fuel people are the ones out there hustling and always getting things done. My friend Jocko works out at 4:30 in the morning every day. Why? Because he doesn’t want to. That’s how you do it. You go and get after it and don’t make any excuses.”

41) “Resistance is the key battle that you’re going to fight for the rest of your life, but the key to overcoming that resistance is to fight it. Every day you do so, you have won the battle for that day.”

42)“There’s levels to dedication, to discipline, to drive to focus to obsession. There’s levels to it – and if you’re sitting on the sidelines saying “It must be nice”, you just don’t get it.”

43)“Greatness and madness are next door neighbors and they often borrow each other’s sugar.”

44) “100% of all haters in the world are unrealized potential.”

45) “I want to make sure that everything that I’m creating, I’m creating it so other people get enjoyment out of it. And that’s the reward that you get for that.”

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