My favorite parts of the book are the anecdotes; those snippets of wisdom that emerge from the real life experiences of people Dan has encountered. A fun story is about a man named Kevin, who in the 1960′s took his passion for playing frisbee and parlayed it into an idea to become a Frisbee goodwill ambassador in what was then the Soviet Union. I’m certain that in addition to bringing in income, he touched so many lives with his enthusiasm, that the ripples are being felt all these years later.
Dan quotes his old mentor Socrates in a section of the book that has him holding on to boxes and then piled on top of them cans of engine oil until finally his arms gave out and he dropped them. Chagrined, as Dan often seemed to be during that phase of his life, he acknowleged that it was a test of some sort that he had bumbled. Soc says “Life is not about success or failure, it’s about stretching yourself. How will you ever know your limits until you have tested them? And how do you test them unless you’re willing to fail brilliantly?” Failing, brilliantly or otherwise, is not something most people are inclined to want to do, but Dan frames it as if it is a worthwhile endeavor.
He shares an example of the importance of finding meaning and purpose as illustrated in one of my favorite movies: Groundhog Day in which Bill Murray’s character Phil re-lives the same day multiple times until he gets it that the way to have a truly rich life, is to strive for self improvement and doing service all at once.
Dan encourages the reader to be mindful with all that they do. A consummate quote collector, with words of wisdom liberally sprinkled throughout, he shares the verbiage of a Zen sage: ” When I’m hungry, I eat; when I’m thirsty, I drink; when I’m tired, I rest.” Simple as that…no worry, no fuss. Just do the next thing in front of you.
The Four Purposes of Life is a powerful tool inviting the reader to do the next thing to do. In the hands of one who chooses to create a more fulfilling existence, it can carry you to places you have only ever dreamed of going. Travel well~
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