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3 Wonderfully Inspiring Lessons Learned from Classic Literature

3 Wonderfully Inspiring Lessons Learned from Classic Literature

Study the classics, they say, but make your own rules. In a similar tone, Edgar Degas claims that “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” If the reader is indeed the one who writes the story by filling in the blanks with his own intellect, imagination and sentiment, then no literature piece is ever fully red, nor fully written.

Instead of being fossilized, forever closed structures with a single, universal moral, classic books have the power of opening themselves toward the world. If there’s anything universal about them, it’s the innate, deeply human truth that makes them applicable to every age and culture, and most importantly, to each of our lives.

So, let me ask you a question: when was the last time you drank vodka with Dostoyevsky? Sure, we’ve all had our fair share of “Crime and Punishment” during our high school years, but I dare you to pay another visit to poor Rodya!

Now that your consciousness – which envelopes both your self-awareness and understanding of the world – has fully developed, this failed overman will teach you a couple of life tricks more. First, you’ll be surprised at how many things you never understood in your mind’s youth; then, you’ll realize that Dostoevsky is every bit as hardcore as our modern Burroughses and Bukowskis.

Overwhelmed by pure ingenuity, elevated by a pageantry of style, you’ll see yourself anew.

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1. The Iliad: What Life is Really About

    Now, you can start your journey at the beginning, in the formidable company of one Gilgamesh, but the Plant of Heartbeat will keep slipping away. In consolation, you’ll learn a thing or two about immoderation, the power of twinship and inevitability of death; though born god-like, we all die as humans that we are. Similar, if not the same, is the destiny of your first companion, Achilles.

    Assuming you hadn’t dozed off at the English class in question, you’ll likely remember that one of the major themes in Homer’s Iliad is a quest for everlasting glory. A thirst for Kleos urges both our hero and his counterpart, Hector, though their reasons greatly differ. While the latter acts in the name of family, love and honour, Achilles does it all for the immortality. And, for the sake of immortality, he slaughters them all.

    The next time we encounter him, the glorified warrior claims he’d rather “follow the plow as thrall to another man, one with no land allotted him and not much to live on, than be a king over all the perished dead”. Without going deeper into the analysis of the Odyssey from which this quote is taken, I’ll remind you of this – the restless Odysseus finds him in the Underworld, deeply disappointed in his life choices.

    The moral is quite simple, yet universal and omnipresent: whenever you lust to achieve, take it slow. The ultimate victory – be that an everlasting legacy or not – is meaningful only when shared with your loved one (Briseis), your friends (Patroclos) and your family (Peleus), so be sure not to lose them in the process.

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    2. Hamlet: It’s the Thought that Counts

      What is the value of life in the face of death, and can human beings achieve immortality are questions old as time. To question ourselves and what surrounds us, however, is not only our prerogative, but our very nature; even when unanswered, questions compel us to grow and spread inwards and outwards alike. That’s why our quest for lessons to live by continues with the prince of inquisition himself, Hamlet.

      The madman that he is, Shakespeare’s Hamlet truly makes you wonder. The reasons we failed so gloriously to understand the significance of the world’s most contemporary drama are the very reasons behind Hamlet’s own flounder – the uncertainty of knowledge and the complexity of what makes it actionable. Is there any way of knowing the truth with utmost confidence? Are our own thoughts as elusive as the meaning itself? Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, meanwhile, and the evil prevails.

      Hamlet’s indecisiveness is understood too lightly and misunderstood too often. Rather than a lack of action, it implies the inner schism that tortures us all – are we heavenly beings or predestined fallers, inherently good or inclined to evil, human or dancers? Whatever the ambivalence, the reconciliation of contradictory wholes, as always, lays within a thought. The greatest critical thinker of them all, Hamlet chooses not to act until he fathoms the naked truth, if there is any at all.

      No lecturer is more monumental than Shakespeare, nor will there ever be one, and the lessons from Hamlet will only continue to pile up with time. For the time being, take the ultimate one: the world is endlessly complex, governed not only by reason, but emotions, psychology and ethics as well; the only way to glance at the truth is to think and evaluate. Only then, your actions are justified.

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      3. Anna Karenina: In Pursuit of Fulfilment

        Speaking of uncertainties, has there ever been a bigger one than Anna Karenina? The debates will never end. Rather than the most popular one (“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”), two other quotes from Tolstoy’s saga stir up the discussion.

        Throughout all interpretations, Anna Karenina stays the ultimate novel about marriage as the epitome of love and the (im)possibility of happiness and harmony: “Man survives earthquakes, epidemics, the horrors of disease, and agonies of the soul, but all the time his most tormenting tragedy has been, is, and will always be, the tragedy of the bedroom.” To compensate, like Stiva and Dolly (thesis), break molds like Anna and Vronsky (antithesis) or to seek marriage in love and love in nature like Levin and Kitty (synthesis), that is the question.

        Though choices are different for all characters, the pursuit of the other half is the same and eternal. A human life is nothing but a never-ending yearning for partnership and fulfillment, regardless of where, when and how. Both Anna and her long lost brother Levin linger in stark discontent, but while she gets terribly lost in her pursuit, he eventually finds his furrow. What makes them the same is the love that’s absolute and, more importantly, pure.

        So, should we judge our Anna or not? “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”, cites Tolstoy. Karenina’s motives may be pure, but her actions are soiled with blind, selfish determination. Love is a force of harmony, not destruction, and that’s only the main of many Tolstoy’s life lessons. We all bear or crosses and it’s not ours to judge, would be the second.

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        And, there you go – the true meaning of life, the vast importance of thought and the true nature of love are the three most vital lessons in the universe. Seemingly simple, they move us forward, compel us to search for the reason behind it all. Rather than lessons, these classical thoughts stand as a foundation that our humanity has been built upon.

        Along with Bulgakov’s “Master and Margarita”, which reminds us that “Manuscripts don’t burn”, thus introducing the question of art and its all-prevailing eternity, Camus’s “The Stranger” that argues that the ultimate freedom lies in acceptance of existence as it is, however, absurd or meaningless in the face of the universe it may be, and many, many others, the likeliness of Achilles, Hamlet and Anna Karenina hold the key to a simple, ruminated and fulfilled life. Ultimately, that’s everything we could ever wish for.

        Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/yIMy3ERBc3o via pexels.com

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        Aleksandar Ilic

        Blogger, Social Media Butterfly, Guitarist

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        Last Updated on October 15, 2019

        How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

        How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

        What is success to you? How to be successful in life?

        To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world.

        All of these are perfectly valid, indeed success is a concept that means different things to different people. Though no matter what success is to you, it almost certainly isn’t something will come easily.

        There are countless guides and books to being successful, however, as success is personal and unique to each individual. The advice contained in these books can often not be relevant. Therefore following the advice of a single individual can often be unhelpful.

        With this in mind, considering the advice of a great many people, people whose ideas of success were different both to each other, and quite possibly, to you can be a good alternative.

        What follows is a list of thirteen of the best pieces of advice from some of the most successful people who have ever lived. If you want to learn how to be successful, these 13 tips are essential:

        1. Think Big

          From Michelangelo Buonarroti, Great Renaissance Artist:

          “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

          There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous, just think of his statue of David, or the Mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

          Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist.

          Being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

          Oftentimes, people often decided to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier. This quote teaches us the danger of such a point of view.
          Instead be ambitious.

          2. Find What You Love to Do and Do It

            From Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul:

            “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.”

            This is a good quote to remember and think about when you’re at work.

            Imagine being as successful as possible in your current job. Ultimately you’ll probably find yourself working extremely hard and this it will take up much of your time.

            If it’s a job you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

            Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

            Not sure what your passion is yet? You should learn about this Motivation Engine first.

            Even if you’re not successful, you still filled your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

            3. Learn How to Balance Life

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              From Phil Knight, CEO of Nike Inc.:

              “There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

              All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

              If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

              However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

              If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

              In these ways, success, as Phil Knight says above, is helped by balance. Think of it as a balance between rest and work, or work and play.

              To achieve that balance, this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life can help you.

              4. Do Not Be Afraid of Failure

                From Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors:

                “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

                There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

                Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

                His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

                He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

                Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

                Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

                If you find it difficult to fight your fear of failure, here’s a guide for you: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)

                5. Have an Unwavering Resolution to Succeed

                  From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC:

                  “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”

                  This, in many ways relates to the above quote about learning from your failures.

                  It’s the easiest thing in the world to give up from a failure. The only way to push on is if you have the true burning desire to succeed, to not be moved or dissuaded from your goals.

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                  If you are not truly dedicated towards success, then each failure will hurt more, each set back will slow you down.

                  Success is hard; without the unwavering desire to succeed, this difficulty may seem insurmountable. With the desire, it is merely an obstacle to go through.

                  6. Be a Person of Action

                    From Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Genius:

                    “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

                    Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

                    Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

                    When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renaissance era Italy, we think of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Or think about the present day, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

                    You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

                    All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

                    Applying this to you?

                    Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

                    7. Cultivate Positive Relationships

                      From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “

                      The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

                      The best leaders and some of the most influential people (and Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best leaders and one of the most influential people to have lived) were not those who caused commotions, who fought with people or disregarded people; but were people who were friendly to those around them.

                      People liked them. They wanted them to do well.

                      This is key to good leadership.

                      It’s logical. If someone likes you, they want to help you; if you give them a suggestion, they’ll gladly follow through with it.

                      But if someone doesn’t like you, they may either refuse to help or actively get in your way.

                      What’s more, it’s always a good idea to cultivate good relationships. You can never tell who will prove to become someone who’ll be able to help you in a big way, or even be a good and supportive friend.

                      As such, help people and they may help you; and be good to people, and they my be good to you.

                      8. Don’t Be Afraid of Introducing New Ideas

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                        From Mark Twain, Famed Author:

                        “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

                        It is an unfortunate truth that those with the boldest ideas are often disregarded.

                        Most of us are taught from an early age to think and do things similarly to everyone else. This can be great to fill an existing role. But to truly do things differently (and all successful people did things differently), you need to think differently.

                        If you have a new idea, don’t throw it away because it’s new and different; instead, celebrate it. Your strange new idea might one day be the one that leads you to success.

                        9. Believe in Your Capacity to Succeed

                          From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company:

                          “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                          Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

                          It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

                          Keep dreaming!

                          10. Always Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude

                            From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America:

                            “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

                            Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

                            Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones. You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

                            If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

                            However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

                            11. Don’t Let Discouragement Stop You from Pressing On

                              From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America:

                              “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

                              It is an unfortunate fact of human nature — all of us in some way, doubt ourselves. This can be made far worse if others doubt us too.

                              When surrounded by doubts, giving up can actually seem like a good idea.

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                              Don’t pay attention to the doubts. If you are discouraged, ignore it.

                              If this discouragement moves into your mind and you begin to doubt yourself. It is important to ignore this too.

                              This is How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

                              12. Be Willing to Work Hard

                                From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.:

                                “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

                                You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” or you may have heard about the 10,000 hours idea.

                                Whichever way you frame it, they say one thing:

                                True success comes from work.

                                You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

                                Check out this article and you’ll understand Why Hard Work Beats Talent.

                                13. Be Brave Enough to Follow Your Intuition

                                  From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.:

                                  “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

                                  In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

                                  If you strongly believe and desire something, chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

                                  It’s like how your body can detect danger even when things seem safe.

                                  Ultimately then, you need to trust your own instincts.

                                  Final Thoughts

                                  What you might have noticed is that many of the above lessons are similar — most are about developing the right state of mind. This clearly suggests that the key to achieving success, in whatever you wish, comes down to the way you approach it mentally.

                                  Moreover, no matter what stage of life you’re at now, you can still make a difference and pursue success. You can make resetting your life possible when you do this: How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                                  More to Help You Succeed in Life

                                  Featured photo credit: Ryan Wong via unsplash.com

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