The Personal Evolutionary Process
As I mentioned before, I believe that life consists of an enormous number of choices that come at us and that each decision we make has consequences, so the quality of our lives depends on the quality of the decisions we make.
We aren’t born with the ability to make good decisions; we learn it. We all start off as children with others, typically parents, directing us. But, as we get older, we increasingly make our own choices. We choose what we are going after (i.e., our goals), which influences our directions. For example, if you want to be a doctor, you go to med school; if you want to have a family, you find a mate; and so on. As we move toward our goals, we encounter problems, make mistakes, and run into personal weaknesses. Above all else, how we choose to approach these impediments determines how fast we move toward our goals.
Of course it is true that people are born with differences in their various innate abilities. However, judgment is primarily learned.
I believe that the way we make our dreams into reality is by constantly engaging with reality in pursuit of our dreams and by using these encounters to learn more about reality itself and how to interact with it inorder to get what we want—and that if we do this with determination, we almost certainly will be successful. In short:
Reality + Dreams + Determination = A Successful Life
So what is success? I believe that it is nothing more than getting what you want— and that it is up to you to decide what that is for you. I don’t care whether it’ s being a master of the universe, a couch potato, or anything else—I really don’ t. What is essential is that you are clear about what you want and that you figure out how to get it.
However, there are a few common things that most people want.
As I mentioned, for most people success is evolving as effectively as possible, i.e., learning about oneself and one’s environment and then changing to improve. Personally, I believe that personal evolution is both the greatest accomplishment and the greatest reward.
Also, for most people happiness is much more determined by how things turn out relative to their expectations rather than the absolute level of their conditions. For example, if a billionaire loses $200 million he will probably be unhappy, while if someone who is worth $10 thousand unexpectedly gets another $2 thousand, he will probably be happy. This basic principle suggests that you can follow one of two paths to happiness:
- have high expectations and strive to exceed them, or
- lower your expectations so that they are at or below your conditions.
Most of us choose the first path, which means that to be happy we have to keep evolving.
Another principle to keep in mind is that people need meaningful work and meaningful relationships in order to be fulfilled. I have observed this to be true for virtually everyone, and I know that it’s true for me.
As Freud put it, “Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.”
The work doesn’t necessarily have to be a job, though I believe it’s generally better if it is a job. It can be any kind of long-term challenge that leads to personal improvement. As you might have guessed, I believe that the need to have meaningful work is connected to man’s innate desire to improve. And relationships are the natural connections to others that make us relevant to society.
做工不一定是一份职业，当然我觉得最好是一份职业。只要是一项长期挑战，可以提升自我， 就能称作是做工。我认为必须从事有意义的工作，因为想要提升自己是人类与生俱来的欲望， 所以我们在社会中才会自然而然和他人建立关系。
Regardless of others’ principles, you will need to decide for yourself what you want and go after it in the best way for you.