Of Kids and Legos

Studies in the psychology of happiness list the factors that contribute to wellbeing. Not surprisingly, good health is most important, followed closely by a satisfying social network. Having money for necessities and simple comforts is important, though the curve flattens out once we have “enough.”

Statistically, having children is a wash; those with kids and those without have the same chances of feeling satisfied in life. Two parents in China experienced the downside of little ones, when their four year old son, unable to read a “Do Not Touch,” sign, destroyed a $15,000 lego critter that had taken three days and 10,000 legos to create.  Oops!!!

The creator, who identifies himself as Zhao, said he feels “frustrated and depressed,” though he understands the act was not intentional. I am reminded of Tibetan sand mandalas, especially as China is warming up to Buddhist practice again. The sand mandalas are ritually destroyed after use to demonstrate the impermanence of all created things.

Still, I certainly sympathize with Zhao. I managed to screw up or set back painstaking projects at work from time to time, even without a four year old to help. The end result was that I became very careful…

Here’s hoping Zhao gets back in his groove!

The best graduation speech, ever.

It’s that time of year.  I seldom pay much attention to graduation speeches.  I can’t remember anything said at my own, nor do any quotes come to mind from celebrities whose commencement addresses get soundbytes played on the news every June.  But there is one graduation speech I’ve read and listened to many times and continues to be a source of inspiration.  You may know it.  If not, I’m happy to pass it on.

Steve Jobs at Stanford, 2005

Steve Jobs at Stanford, 2005

In 2005, Steve Jobs, whose academic career consisted of one semester of college and a few audited classes, was chosen as the graduation speaker at Stanford.  In his brief but memorable address, he spoke of finding one’s true vision, following our hearts, and not wasting our all-to-brief time walking someone else’s path.  Here are three of my favorite quotes from the speech:

“You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

About getting fired from Apple:  “It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love…the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it…keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

I invite you hear everything this visionary had to say that day, in a  text version of the speech, and / or this video clip.