Recently, I had to give a speech about my life and rather than boring everyone with the details of where I was born, where I’ve lived, what I do, blah, blah, blah, I thought it would be more interesting if I spoke about how I think. After all, the choices I’ve made in life have been influenced to a great degree by my thinking, so worthwhile to give this some focus.

So for my speech, I took 20 quotes that have shaped my thinking. Now these are not necessarily my favourite quotes and I could have picked from a thousand other. I also wonder whether the author really said it and if in fact did, how different it would have sounded in the original language. I digress, but these are all quotes I have read or re-read in 2018 and they have hit home several times this year, helping me learn, understand, form a worldview and continue to shape who I am.

I have loosely categorized these under 5 distinct headings, each of these something I consider a key ingredient to live a life full of happiness, meaning and relevance. I wrote about these previously in It is all about the How…

Be Aware

Look around you. Take it all in. The people, the sounds, the sights, the smells, the tastes. What is happening? Why is it happening? What am I thinking? What am I doing?

This is to be aware. To take it all in. To ask the questions that matter. To seek our truth, as long as this takes.

“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Being aware is hard work as not all questions will be answered. We need to learn how to love our questions as these matter as much as the answers, sometimes even more.

“He not busy being born is busy dying.” Bob Dylan

We need to be “busy being born”. When we are aware, we take it all, we adjust, we are born every second, every day. This awareness and rebirth propels us forward.

“The art of moving forward lies in understanding what to leave behind.” Seth Godin

And for us to move forward, we need to know what to leave behind. Many times, we need to leave behind a lot more than what we think.

But ultimately, awareness brings us to our reality, our truth, our path.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” Dr. Seuss

Be aware.

Connect Positively

We live in a great, big world.

We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibres connect us with our fellow men.” Herman Melville

Our connections run broad and deep. This is both exciting and daunting. How do we know who to spend time with, who to trust, who to share our awareness with?

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Ernest Hemingway

Most people are good, trustworthy and care. Put yourself out there and connect with someone and then someone else, and then someone else. Connect positively.

And that means with yourself as well.

“If you are lonely when you are alone, you are in bad company.Jean-Paul Sartre

How can you connect with others if you cannot connect with yourself? And guess what, you are a great person. Now feel and act like one.

“People take their cue from you. That’s it. If you act like you belong in the room, people will believe you do. If you act like your opinion matters, others will, too.” Evelyn Lieberman

Connect positively.

Be Active

This is our fuel for life. And it is simple.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Arthur Ashe

Move, walk, run, exercise. Do something active.

Show up. Trust the process.Seth Godin

Yes, I get it.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Haruki Murakami

Do not tell yourself this story of pain, change your narrative. Start, focus on the process, change your story. And all along,

“Show class, have pride and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.Paul W. “Bear” Bryant

Be active.

Keep Learning

Never stop.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.Mahatma Gandhi

There is nothing more satisfying than picking something up and digging deep.

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.” Lewis Carroll

Explore, learn, understand, have an open mind, question things.

“It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.” Joseph Joubert

Keep learning, be curious, challenge your mind. You will find solutions to problems you never thought you would.

“When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”   R. Buckminster Fuller

Make it beautiful.

Keep learning.

Give

So important. And when is the right time for this?

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.Dalai Lama

Always and never forget,

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Sir Winston Churchill

and remember that,

No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank

But to give is not all about money. There is so much more we can give.

“Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.” PJ O’Rourke

Let’s learn to give our time, our insight, our ability to listen, our respect.

Give.

I aim to live a life full of happiness, meaning and relevance. I want to be a contribution to this world, to those around me, and frankly to anybody who can use me. Thinking leads to action so how you think, really matters.

What are you thinking right now?