A man once contacted a large number of celebrities, sportsmen, stars and famous people. “How do you achieve success in life?” he asked them, and then later collated their responses into a book. Charles J. Acquisto’s Wisdom to Grow On basically boils down to:
- Continuously grow and educate yourself by reading and listening.
- Actively engage with life by persevering or striving.
- Focus on small steps in your day-to-day living—use time wisely, in other words.
- Work on maintaining harmonious relationships through love and honesty.
- Work towards a greater good in the form of a religion, cause, dream or personal goal.
- Stay happy by maintaining a positive attitude.
- Accept everything that comes your way, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Be the change that you would like to see.
Most of this advice is what you’d expect. None of it particularly moved my earth, but there was nothing that you’d argue with.
The strongest message that came through, though, was the exhortation to be true to your self. ‘Live authentically’ spelled out letter after letter. Only then, the respondents insisted, will a person be serene. Only then, as Anne Wilson Schaef puts it, will you be “in tune with your own inner guidance, awareness, integrity, spirituality and morality”. It’s good to demonstrate who one is by doing what one loves and is drawn to. ‘Dare to be different. Dare to be your deeper self.’
I find it ironical that people need to be told to be themselves. Sea anemones don’t. Salmon don’t. Even our pets need little instruction. It just goes to show how thoroughly our behavior and thinking is pervaded from without. On the one hand we live in an age of information, but on the other there’s obviously a clear and present need for us to learn how to ignore most of it.