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Albert Einstein
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
Albert Einstein

“It wasn't that I was tired of life, really - just my own. Other people's lives seemed perfectly worthwhile, and only the logistical difficultly of assuming them and the likelihood of being caught kept me from concocting some sort of swap.”
James Lileks, Falling Up the Stairs
tags: life

Barbara Post-Askin
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."
-Albert Einstein”
Barbara Post-Askin, Reflections of Liberty: Memoir by Barbara Post-Askin

Will Durant
“Aristotle's ideal man, however, is no mere metaphysician. He does not expose himself needlessly to danger, since there are few things for which he cares sufficiently; but he is willing, in great crises, to give even his life,—knowing that under certain conditions it is not worthwhile to live. He is of a disposition to do men service, though he is ashamed to have a service done to him. To confer a kindness is a mark of superiority; to receive one is a mark of subordination... He does not take part in public displays... He is open in his dislikes and preferences; he talks and acts frankly, because of his contempt for men and things... He is never fired with admiration, since there is nothing great in his eyes. He cannot live in complaisance with others, except it be a friend; complaisance is the characteristic of a slave... He never feels malice, and always forgets and passes over injuries... He is not fond of talking... It is no concern of his that he should be praised, or that others should be blamed. He does not speak evil of others, even of his enemies, unless it be to themselves. His carriage is sedate, his voice deep, his speech measured; he is not given to hurry, for he is concerned about only a few things; he is not prone to vehemence, for he thinks nothing very important. A shrill voice and hasty steps come to a man through care... He bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of his circumstances, like a skillful general who marshals his limited forces with all the strategy of war... He is his own best friend, and takes delight in privacy whereas the man of no virtue or ability is his own worst enemy, and is afraid of solitude.[78] Such is the Superman of Aristotle. VIII. politics”
Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy

Atul Gawande
“Consider the fact that we care deeply about what happens to the world after we die. If self-interests were the primary source of meaning in life, then it wouldn’t matter to people if an hour after their death everyone they know were to be wiped from the face of the earth. Yet, it matters greatly to most people. We feel that such an occurrence would make our lives meaningless. The only way death is not meaningless is to see yourself as part of something greater; a family, a community, a society. If you don’t, mortality is only a horror, but if you do, it is not. Loyalty, said Royce, solves the paradox of our ordinary existence, by showing us outside of ourselves the cause which is to be served, and inside of ourselves, the will which delights to do this service, and is not thwarted, but enriched and expressed in such service… Above the level of self-actualization in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, they suggest the existence in people of a transcendent desire to see and help other beings achieve their potential.
As our time winds down, we all seek comfort in simple pleasures; companionship, everyday routines, the taste of good food, the warmth of sunlight on our faces. We become less interested in the awards of achieving and accumulating and more interested in the rewards of simply being. Yet, while we may feel less ambitious, we also have become concerned for our legacy, and we have a deep need to identify purposes outside ourselves that make living feel meaningful and worthwhile.

In the end, people don’t view their life as merely the average of all of its moments, which after all is mostly nothing much, plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. A story has a sense of a whole, and its arc is determined by the significant moments; the ones where something happens. Measurements of people’s minute by minute levels of pleasure and pain miss this fundamental aspect of human existence. A seemingly happy life may be empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. We have purposes larger than ourselves. Unlike your experiencing self, which is absorbed in the moment, your remembering self is attempting to recognize not only the peaks of joy and valleys of misery, but also how the story works out as a whole. That is profoundly affected by how things ultimately turn out.”
Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
rahul mittal

Sadhguru
“Questioner: In the tradition, we were always taught to be reverential towards God or the highest aspect. So how to reconcile this with Mirabai or Akka Mahadevi who took God as their lover? Sadhguru: Where there is no love, how can reverence come? When love reaches its peak, it naturally becomes reverence. People who are talking about reverence without love know neither this nor that. All they know is fear. So probably you are referring to God-fearing people. These sages and saints, especially the seers like Akka Mahadevi, Mirabai or Anusuya and so many of them in the past, have taken to this form of worship because it was more suitable for them – they could emote much more easily than they could intellectualize things. They just used their emotions to reach their Ultimate nature. Using emotion and reaching the Ultimate nature is what is called bhakti yoga. In every culture, there are different forms of worship. Some people worship God as the master and themselves as the slaves. Sometimes they even take God as their servant or as a partner in everything that they do. Yet others worship him as a friend, as a lover, or as their own child like Balakrishna. Generally, you become the feminine and you hold him as the ultimate purusha – masculine. How you worship is not at all the point; the whole point is just how deeply you relate. These are the different attitudes, but whatever the attitude, the love affair is such that you are not expecting anything from the other side. Not even a response. You crave for it. But if there is no response, you are not going to be angry, you are not going to be disappointed – nothing. Your life is just to crave and make something else tremendously more important than yourself. That is the fundamental thing. In the whole path of bhakti, the important thing is just this, that something else is far more important than you. So Akka, Mirabai and others like them, their bhakti was in that form and they took this mode of worship where they worshipped God – whether Shiva or Krishna – as their husband. In India, when a woman comes to a certain age, marriage is almost like a must, and it anyway happens. They wanted to eliminate that dimension of being married once again to another man, so they chose the Lord himself as their husband so that they don’t need any other relationship in their lives. How a devotee relates to his object of devotion does not really matter because the purpose of the path of devotion is just dissolution. The only objective of a devotee is to dissolve into his object of devotion. Whichever way they could relate best, that is how they would do it. The reason why you asked this question in terms of reverence juxtaposed with being a lover or a husband is because the word “love” or “being a lover” is always understood as a physical aspect. That is why this question has come. How can you be physical with somebody and still be reverential? This has been the tragedy of humanity that lovers have not known how to be reverential to each other. In fact the very objective of love is to dissolve into someone else. If you look at love as an emotion, you can see that love is a vehicle to bring oneness. It is the longing to become one with the other which we are referring to as love. When it is taken to its peak, it is very natural to become reverential towards what you consider worthwhile being “one” with. For whatever sake, you are willing to dissolve yourself. It is natural to be reverential towards that. Otherwise how would you feel that it is worthwhile to dissolve into? If you think it is something you can use or something you can just relate to and be benefited by, there can be no love. Always, the object of love is to dissolve. So, whatever you consider is worthwhile to dissolve your own self into, you are bound to be reverential towards that; there is no other way to be.”
Sadhguru, Emotion

Jiddu Krishnamurti
“You know, there is the intellect, and there is pure feeling—the pure feeling of loving something, of having great, generous emotions. The intellect reasons, calculates, weighs, balances. It asks, “Is it worthwhile? Will it give me benefit?” On the other hand, there is pure feeling—the extraordinary feeling for the sky, for your neighbor, for your wife or husband, for your child, for the world, for the beauty of a tree, and so on. When these two come together, there is death. Do you understand? When pure feeling is corrupted by the intellect, there is mediocrity. That is what most of us are doing. Our lives are mediocre because we are always calculating, asking ourselves whether it is worthwhile, what profit we will get, not only in the world of money, but also in the so-called spiritual world—”If I do this, will I get that?”
Jiddu Krishnamurti, Book of Life, The: Daily Meditations with Krishnamurti

Mark Manson
“Once you accept the premise that a life is worthwhile only if it is truly notable and great, then you basically accept the fact that most of the human population (including yourself) sucks and is worthless. And this mindset can quickly turn dangerous, to both yourself and others.”
Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

Ernest Becker
“There is the type of man who has great contempt for "immediacy," who tries to cultivate his interiority, base his pride on something deeper and inner, create a distance between himself and the average man. Kierkegaard calls this type of man the "introvert." He is a little more concerned with what it means to be a person, with individuality and uniqueness. He enjoys solitude and withdraws periodically to reflect, perhaps to nurse ideas about his secret self, what it might be. This, after all is said and done, is the only real problem of life, the only worthwhile occupation preoccupation of man: What is one's true talent, his secret gift, his authentic vocation? In what way is one truly unique, and how can he express this uniqueness, give it form, dedicate it to something beyond himself? How can the person take his private inner being, the great mystery that he feels at the heart of himself, his emotions, his yearnings, and use them to live more distinctively, to enrich both himself and mankind with the peculiar quality of his talent? In adolescence, most of us throb with this dilemma, expressing it either with words and thoughts or with simple numb pain and longing. But usually life suck us up into standardized activities. The social hero-system into which we are born marks out paths for our heroism, paths to which we conform, to which we shape ourselves so that we can please others, become what they expect us to be. And instead of working our inner secret we gradually cover it over and forget it, while we become purely external men, playing successfully the standardized hero-game into which we happen to fall by accident, by family connection, by reflex patriotism, ro by the simple need to eat and the urge to procreate.”
Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death

Jess M. Brallier
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
Jess Brallier, Who Was Albert Einstein?

Gabor Maté
“There is no evidence from anywhere in the world that harm reduction measures encourage drug use. Denying addicts humane assistance multiplies their miseries without bringing them one inch closer to recovery. There is also no contradiction between harm reduction and abstinence. The two objectives are incompatible only if we imagine that we can set the agenda for someone else’s life regardless of what he or she may choose. We cannot. Short of extreme coercion there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to induce another to give up addiction, except to provide the island of relief where contemplation and self-respect can, perhaps, take root.

Those ready to choose abstinence should receive every possible support — much more support than we currently provide. But what of those who don’t choose that path? The impossibility of changing other people is not restricted to addictions. Try as we may to motivate another person to be different or to do this or not to do that, our attempts founder on a basic human trait: the drive for autonomy. “And one may choose what is contrary to one’s own interests and sometimes one positively ought,” wrote Fyodor Dostoevsky in Notes from the Underground. “What man wants is simply independent choice, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead.”

The issue is not whether the addict would be better off without his habit — of course he would — but whether we are going to abandon him if he is unable to give it up. Are we willing to care for human beings who suffer because of their own persistent behaviours, mindful that these behaviours stem from early life misfortunes they had no hand in creating? The harm reduction approach accepts that some people — many people — are too deeply enmeshed in substance dependence for any realistic “cure” under present circumstances.

There is, for now, too much pain in their lives and too few internal and external resources available to them. In practising harm reduction we do not give up on abstinence — on the contrary, we may hope to encourage that possibility by helping people feel better, bringing them into therapeutic relationships with caregivers, offering them a sense of trust, removing judgment from our interactions with them and giving them a sense of acceptance. At the same time, we do not hold out abstinence as the Holy Grail and we do not make our valuation of addicts as worthwhile human beings dependent on their making choices that please us. Harm reduction is as much an attitude and way of being as it is a set of policies and methods.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction