Mt. Rushmore

Studying is a subject a lot of us dread. We’ve all been through some form of schooling in our lives, and know how uninteresting and monotonous cramming information into our brain can be. I remember hating the home economics class back in junior high school because of all the cleaning we had to do. Plus, the food wasn’t good either. Studying can be a pain in the butt, but fortunately it can be turned into a passion.

We have to accept the fact that if we want to succeed in life, it usually takes a lot more than just filling out a lottery ticket. If we want to get a job as a sushi chef, we need to become experts in that field. Or, we might want to take up a new hobby, say, Tai Chi, which then calls for an action to start learning it.

The problem is that we tend to find excuses that prevent us from pursuing new goals.

“I’m too old to start doing sports.”
“I would need a lot of capital to start my own business.”
“I don’t have time to study world history.”

Eliminate negative emotions first

Excuses can be extinguished. We just need to eliminate all negative emotions, and find a way to encourage ourselves to learn something. If we harbor doubts about failure, we’re definitely not going to advance very far. Every conscious action is the result of a preceding thought.

If that preceding thought is negative and hinders productive actions, the resulting action will also be negative, or no action at all. Negative thoughts reproduce fast, so our first task is to eliminate the biggest negative thoughts that breed more excuses, and focus on positive thoughts. And though it may be hard to make a sudden change like this, we must understand and realize the fact that we will be stuck in this same deplorable situation unless we take action. Every individual being is in control of his or her own thoughts and actions—and no one else’s.

Find inspiration

Once we’ve made the decision to try to kill all negative thoughts about ourselves, we have to find a purpose, or multiple purposes if possible, for our new endeavor. We need to become active individuals who can get passionate about learning something new.

For me, inspiration has been the winning element in my own pursuits. The reason why I took up kung fu was Jet Li’s Shaolin Temple movies from the 80s. I was 15 years old, and I wanted to move as swiftly and as gracefully as he did in his fighting scenes. That is what inspired me to learn and keep continuing with kung fu. And I would occasionally go back to his movies to find more inspiration.

The world is full of inspiring people. Here’s a list of just a few of them.

  • Athletes. Michael Jordan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ryoko Tani
  • Comedians. Pablo Francisco, John Cleese, Charlie Chaplin, Eddie Izzard, Yoshio Kojima
  • Political figures. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Tarja Halonen
  • Religious figures. The Dalai Lama,Thich Nhat Hanh, Lao Tzu
  • TV hosts. Oprah, Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart, Howard Stern
  • Writers. Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, e.e. cummings, Mika Waltari, David DeAngelo, Dale Carnegie
  • Actors and actresses. Gillian Anderson, Sean Connery, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Walken, Toshiro Mifune
  • Film directors. George Lucas, Quentin Tarantino, Sofia Coppola
  • Magazines. Fortune, Playboy, The Economist
  • Who do you get inspired by? Please share it in the comments. Thanks!

In the modern age, technology has blessed us with the gift of global communication. Such masterminds as Sir Tim Berners-Lee (World Wide Web) and Steve Chen (YouTube) have endowed us with the means to share information among millions of people. While the Internet can be seen as an electronic landfill that houses whole libraries of misleading information, it can be a priceless source of inspiration.

Going online and connecting with people is an effective way to get excited about things. Connecting with people doesn’t, however, necessarily mean that we have to engage them in conversation. I mean, it is unlikely for most of us to start an IM conversation with someone like Richard Dawking or Al Gore. We can instead passively draw inspiration by listening to them or reading their texts. They’re still talking to us through a channel, but we just can’t respond to them directly. It is enough if we can get positive influence from them, and convert it into actions that lead to success.

To get things started, we must put an end to our negative thoughts that hold us back, and learn to embrace the world in a positive and constructive way. The way to improve and develop ourselves is to learn more, so let’s get interested in things by gathering inspiring stimuli from some of the gifted people of this planet, and sail towards personal success.