Self help is truly one of the biggest industries in the world, with a size estimate of around 12 billion dollars in the US alone. That’s around 10 million stimulus checks, 24 billion oranges, and enough individual cans of tea to fill 225 thousand Olympic sized swimming pools. The estimate isn’t fully accurate either, as one can argue for just about anything to be considered ‘self-help’. There’s no one who doesn’t want to be better, and it’s a journey to get there. Here is Robin Sharma’s thoughts on producing a great life.
1. The Garden
Sharma uses a garden as a metaphor for rewards. Seeds that are planted in the garden directly represent the rewards in the form of fruits or flowers. Likewise, we can boil down our life to seeds and rewards. We plant the seeds in the hope to get a reward, and we are solely responsible for our garden. Providing good seeds with discipline, kindness, love, and empathy creates the proper situation where inner peace can be found. On the flip side, if the garden is fed with trash such as sinful thoughts, it will turn into garbage. Building and cultivating the garden involves a continuous emphasis on love.
2. The Lighthouse
Lighthouses have been used throughout history as a beacon for sailors to show the correct path for ships in the ocean. Without a lighthouse, these sailors and these ships would be sailing aimlessly, and won’t go anywhere. It’s the same thing with goals. If there is no end goal, we wander aimlessly with nothing determined.
3. The Sumo Wrestler
Sumo Wrestlers are big dudes. Wrestling big dudes means that they have to be big themselves, and they must have a full focus on strength. They also have to focus on strategy. Wrestling isn’t just brute force, it’s a tactical game. Continuous improvement is necessary here, but it’s also necessary in our lives. Building ourselves up means that we have to take in knowledge, discipline, and activities that we know can make ourselves greater.
4. The Underwear
In the book, the Sumo Wrestler is wearing a thin pair of underwear made from wire itself. Wire itself is a thin substance, but it ties together with other pieces of wire very well. Sharma uses the analogy of wire to showcase building small habits. Each individual piece of wire is a small habit, but together they can form something substantial. Even these small things have to be taken with the same gravity as big things, especially in terms of discipline.
5. The Golden Stopwatch
As the Sumo Wrestler is walking around, he attempts to pick up a golden stopwatch. As soon as he tries to pick it up, he falls to the ground. This golden stopwatch represents time, more specifically the control of time. There’s so much in the world that we don’t control, but we do control our actions in a day. Finding that sweet spot of building, fun, and relaxation in a day means that we have control of our time and of ourselves. Gold itself is used throughout the book. The story has been described as the “golden keys” of life, and the start of the book has the protagonist Julian be told that his life is hanging by a golden thread. The notion that gold itself is the prize is disputed, as happiness is not the pot of gold at the end of life, rather it is the journey of life itself.
6. The Rose
The rose is truly one of the most beautiful things in the world. The bright red, the layering, and the fragrance is a wonder to have. Simply noticing the rose fully brings apart a whole new world. Roses are also given to people, whether it be for love, for friendship, or for thanks. This giving is fantastic. It makes life better, because we aren’t the central part of it. We can give selflessly, and we can make ourselves better.
7. Path of Diamonds
Diamonds are a fantastic combination of chemistry and physics, where we have one of the shiniest, hardest, and clearest substances in the world. It looks great. Once we see these diamonds, we can get some great moments of happiness. Sharma writes that the path of happiness is studded with small diamonds. Happiness doesn’t mean completely ruining the short term, rather that there are short moments of happiness we can enjoy on the process. We can share in life’s small joys on the path to happiness, and we can feel great doing so.
The book is fantastic. Read it. It combines great storytelling, useful tales, and thought provoking ideas all into one. I especially loved the roses part, where giving selflessly would lead to happiness. I’ve come across giving roses previously, the context being appreciate those who deserve it before it is too late. Continually giving is the key for the next step of happiness for me.
My Action Items:
- Discipline: Finish all schoolwork by EoWeekend, finish a scientific review paper by the End of the Weekend
- Direction: Article out for the end of this weekend on what I plan to get done in my life
- Knowledge: Spend an hour in the next two days going down a rabbit hole of learning
- Build a habit of meditation every day. Start Sunday.
- Time: Timebox the rest of the week
- Roses: Thank you letters for teachers
- Diamonds: Make 5 people laugh daily
I’m Aniket, and I’m curious about how we can make the human experience better. If you would like to contact me, here is my Linkedin.