Zeal is a powerfully constructive force when combined with knowledge—and devastatingly dangerous when motivated by a misinformed mind. Neither the mind nor zeal will do much good without knowledge. Zeal must be cautious as well as warm—fire is good in a chimney, but it can burn down your house if it spreads to the rafters of your roof. Even the most well-intentioned zeal could prove to be harmful, if it isn’t tempered with knowledge. On the other hand, in the absence of zeal, everything seems to be done with a “ho-hum” or a “have-to” sense of obligation. Opportunity may open the door that leads toward success, but without zeal you won’t step through to take advantage of it. Knowledge can be taught, but it is much more difficult to make someone be passionate about something.
Just to clarify, the type of knowledge we are referring to here is that which is embodied by wisdom—the very name of our species, Homo sapiens, signifies "wise man." People often speak of knowledge and wisdom as though the two are the same, and both have quite a bit in common. The primary difference is that wisdom involves a healthy measure of perspective and the ability to make sound judgments about a matter, while knowledge is simply knowing. Anyone can become knowledgeable by reading, researching, and memorizing facts. Wisdom is knowing how to apply what is learned in a way that is beneficial. When balanced together, zeal and knowledge embodied with wisdom provide an indomitable force for successful living!
Wisdom is only acquired through experience, which also provides us more knowledge to navigate new challenges in life. If you are interested in trying new things and willing to reflect on the process, you have the ability to gain wisdom. Furthermore, by learning everything you can and spending time analyzing your experiences, then putting your knowledge into practice, you can become a wiser person. And with more wisdom, you will be able to avoid making repeated mistakes in the future. Here are some tips for gaining wisdom and knowledge:
Can you recall a time somebody was kind to you? What did that feel like? Kindness is defined as an act of being friendly, generous, and considerate, as well as affectionate, gentle, and caring. Studies have shown that kindness is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in interpersonal relationships. So much so, that many universities are now emphasizing kindness on applications for admission.
People flourish when they are treated with kindness and it becomes even more apparent with age. Showing kindness doesn’t have to cost anything or take much of your time. It can be as simple as a warm smile, a touch, or a word of encouragement. There is a strong relationship between feeling happy and simply being kind―it will be difficult for you to be angry, resentful, or fearful while you are showing kindness towards others. Consequently, when you act with kindness, it not only affects the other person, it elevates your own health and well-being.
Keep your eyes open for opportunities to show acts of kindness to others. Give an encouraging word or a smile, open a door for someone, help carry a heavy load, or any action made for the sake of caring. Other ways to practice kindness could be: celebrating someone you love; telling someone how special she is to you; paying a genuine compliment; giving honest feedback; sending a thank you card or e-mail; helping an elderly neighbor with their yard work; taking a picture of someone and sending it to them; sharing homemade food; or donating clothes and other items that will enrich others’ lives.
Imagine you have a massive metal flywheel, approximately thirty feet in diameter, two feet thick, weighing almost three tons, mounted horizontally on an axle. Your task is to get the flywheel rotating on the axle as fast and for as long as possible. At first you begin to apply great effort to get the flywheel to inch forward very slowly. You keep pushing and grunting, and after hours of perseverance you get the flywheel to rotate one complete turn. You keep pushing as the flywheel begins to move a little faster, and with continued effort it makes a second rotation. You continue to push in a consistent direction. Three turns, then four, five and six—it builds up more and more speed with each turn as momentum continues to build. Nine turns, then ten, and the flywheel moves faster with each turn—twenty, thirty, forty, fifty…a hundred!
At some point, momentum shifts in your favor, heaving the flywheel forward at greater speeds, turn after turn, as the law of inertia helps the heavy weight actually begin to work for you. You’re not pushing any harder, but the flywheel moves faster and faster. Each turn builds upon the work you have already done, compounding your investment of effort. Thousands of times faster, the huge heavy flywheel now moves forward with almost unstoppable momentum. If someone were to ask you, “What was the one big push that caused the flywheel to go so fast?” How would you respond? Was it the first push? The second? The fiftieth? The hundredth? Of course not. It was all of the pushes added together in a cumulative effort applied in a consistent direction. Granted, some of the pushes may have been bigger than others, but each single heave represents only a small fraction of the entire effort expended upon the flywheel. Success won’t happen to you in one fell swoop. There will be no single defining action, solitary lucky break, or gut-wrenching revolution. Instead, success will result from a cumulative process…step by step…action by action…and turn by turn of the flywheel of your life.
In order to build momentum, you must increase the things that move you forward and decrease those that hold you back. In other words, it takes creating good habits while letting go those that don’t serve you. By its nature, momentum requires a lot of upfront push to get the flywheel moving. Here are some tips to help jumpstart it in your life:
Over the past decade, an entire genre of books, documentaries, and movies have sprouted up on the subject of happiness. Additionally, a massive amount of research has been conducted to provide solid evidence that happiness and good health go hand-in-hand together. Scientific studies are continually finding that happiness can boost your immune system, lower heart rate and blood pressure, help combat stress, and increase longevity.
Have you ever known someone who is constantly grumpy and also happens to get sick a lot? It is an unlikely coincidence since research indicates there is a positive relationship between happiness and a strong immune system. Happy people are simply healthier and less susceptible to sickness. They’re also more resilient to the effects of stress and suffer fewer aches and pains. The ultimate health indicator is life expectancy―not simply in terms of length, but quality of living. In the end, happiness adds more life to your years, as well as more years to your life.
It is easy to think of happiness as a destination, but it is actually a way of living. Here are some scientifically proven ways to increase your happiness:
In The Tassajara Bread Book, Zen teacher Edward Espe Brown described a great truth that he learned from his kitchen practice. When Edward first started cooking, he couldn’t get biscuits to come out the way they were supposed to. He would follow a recipe and try variations, but nothing worked. His biscuits just didn’t measure up to the Bisquick and Pillsbury biscuits he made while growing up.
It didn’t seem fair. Those biscuits of his youth were so easy to make. For the Bisquick, all you had to do was add milk in the mix and blob the dough in spoonfuls onto the pan - they didn’t even need to be rolled out. The biscuits from Pillsbury came in a cardboard can. You just popped them open, put the pre-made biscuits on a pan, and baked them. They came out right every time. Now that’s what biscuits were supposed to be like – Bisquick and Pillsbury.
Edward grew frustrated because, to his way of thinking, his biscuits never turned out right, even though the people who ate them would extol their virtues, eating one after another. In his mind, these perfectly good biscuits just weren’t right, until one day Edward had an awakening, a real “ah-hah” experience, about his biscuits. “Not right, compared to what?” he asked himself. All this time he had been trying to make canned biscuits. Then came the revelation of tasting his biscuits without comparing them to some preconceived standard. They were wheaty, flaky, buttery, light, and earthy. They were exquisitely alive - in fact, they were much more satisfying than any memory of canned biscuits.
A moment of liberation comes when you realize that your life is fine just as it is. Only the insidious comparison to a neatly scripted, beautifully packaged product, made it seem insignificant or insufficient. You may have spent years striving to look “perfect,” always calm, directed, energetic, and collected. Trying to produce a Bisquick life – with no dirty bowls, no messy feelings, or hindrances, can be a frustrating experience. Effective leaders possess the wisdom to appreciate and celebrate individuality.
Are you a Bisquick leader? Always trying to fit yourself and others into a neatly packaged plan. Or are you willing to allow people to cook their own biscuits from scratch? Standards are fine. We need them to ensure continuity and quality of performance. But individuals also need a sense of independence without constantly being compared to or expected to perform exactly as others. Rigid standards lead to frustration and loss of creativity. Give yourself and others permission to be unique.
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