The Game of Life and How to Play It.

I read Florence Scovel Shinn’s book (titled as this post is) recently and found a lot of inspiration. Her story itself is fascinating, an illustrator, actress, author and New Thought leader and teacher born in 1871. She was married then divorced (rare for a woman of her time) and in other ways seems like quite a maverick for her time. She feels like a powerful woman with such conviction in her writing.

Here are some of the gems from the book:

On facing fears:

This happens so often! If one is willing to do a thing he is afraid to do, he does not have to. it is the law of nonresistance, which is so little understood. Someone has said that courage contains genius and magic. Face a situation fearlessly, and there is no situation to face; it falls away of its own weight.

Minding your speech:

There is an old saying that man only dares use his words for three purposes: to heal, to bless or prosper. What man says of others will be said of him, and what he wishes for another, he is wishing for himself.

Harmony and nonresistance:

The inharmonious situation comes from some inharmony within man himself…So we see man’s work is ever with himself.

The Chinese say that water is the most powerful element, because it is perfectly nonresistant. It can wear away a rock, and sweep all before it.


Embracing “darkness” by looking towards “dawn”:

One of my students once asked me to explain the “darkness before dawn.” I referred in a preceding chapter to the fact that often before the big demonstration “everything seems to go wrong,” and deep depression clouds the consciousness. It means that out of the subconscious are rising the doubts and fears of the ages. These old derelicts of the subconscious rise to the surface to be put out… It is then that man should hap his cymbals like Jehoshaphat, and give thanks that he is saved, even though he seems surrounded by the enemy.


Good one-liners:

Many should watch himself hourly to detect if his motive for action is fear or faith.

So often, one goes for one thing and finds another.

One’s ships come in over a calm sea.

Unique self-expression, talents, and contribution/purpose:

There is for each many, perfect self-expression. There is a place which he is to fill and no one else can fill, something which he is to do which no one else can do; it is his destiny!

The thing man seeks is seeking him—the telephone was seeking Bell!

Steve Jobs and Turning Don’ts Into Actionable Do’s

As a lover of TED and other inspirational talks, I’m shocked I didn’t listen to Steve Job’s popular 2005 Stanford Commencement Address “How to Live Before you Die” until today (hat tip Scott Dinsmore). He reminded me of the importance of moving forward by following our joy, even when it doesn’t make sense at the time. For example, he took a calligraphy class and fell in love with fonts and spacing even though it seemingly had no “real world” value. He later used this know how in designing the interface for Apple’s Macintosh computers.

It’s a wonderful speech and I recommend you carve out 15 minutes to give it a listen. He ends with some advice. Here’s what he says:

“Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others opinions drowned out your own inner voice. And most important have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

I love the sentiment behind Job’s advice. As a language enthusiast, I got hooked into the words themselves. For me, how we say something isn’t mere semantics or word play. It directs our thoughts and ultimately our actions. “Don’ts” instruct us on what to stop doing but do a poor job of instructing us on what to start doing instead. This is pretty major in the case of Job’s advice because what he wants us to stop doing is living the status quo which is, by definition, what most of us are doing! What are we to do instead? When his advice is reframed as “do’s” a new path unfurls before us as does a new direction. We begin to draw the map of a brave, new life. (This is an internal process some of us do automatically.)

Here’s Jobs’ advice reframed as “Do’s” (I kept the last line intact because it’s already a stellar “do” statement):

Your time is limited. Be certain you are living your life by your design. Protect it  from outside influences like cultural expectations and the status quo.Think for yourself. Live by the results of your own deep thinking and understanding. Draw your own conclusions. Listen to your inner voice. When others opinions get noisy, get quiet. Hone your hearing. Create practices to dialogue with your inner voice. Give it permission to speak up. Give gratitude when it does and act in ways that honor what it’s told you. And most important have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.

When I initially had this idea I thought it’d be easy because, I conjectured, I would just change “don’t” to “do” and write the opposite of what he said. But, as in any translation, I found myself with many options. Perhaps you’d like to weigh in on how you’d reframe any given piece of his advice as a do or tell me how you thought I did?

Life Skills: One-Liners: Considerate & Effective Content Sharing

When you share a link on facebook or twitter, instead of posting the title, post the one most impactful, interesting, entertaining, or useful sentence of the article/blog entry/video/etc. Whatever touched you most, fired you up, or made you laugh.

Titles are often enticing: “Find your Purpose in 5 Minutes!” “10 Steps to Your Happiest Year Ever.” And content, well, it’s easy to disappoint with hyperbolic titles like those.

If you’re sharing content, you found some benefit and think your friends would benefit, too. Help your pals and followers parse out what’s worth reading to them by giving them a real taste of the content you’ve linked via the one most impactful sentence.

Bonus: Even if they don’t follow the link, you’ve still given them a life-enriching nugget, rather than an empty title.