Book of The Month – June 2022 : From Strength to Strength

From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by [Arthur C. Brooks]
The roadmap for finding purpose, meaning, and success as we age, from bestselling author, Harvard professor, and the Atlantic’s happiness columnist Arthur Brooks.

Many of us assume that the more successful we are, the less susceptible we become to the sense of professional and social irrelevance that often accompanies aging. But the truth is, the greater our achievements and our attachment to them, the more we notice our decline, and the more painful it is when it occurs.

What can we do, starting now, to make our older years a time of happiness, purpose, and yes, success?


At the height of his career at the age of 50, Arthur Brooks embarked on a seven-year journey to discover how to transform his future from one of disappointment over waning abilities into an opportunity for progress. From Strength to Strength is the result, a practical roadmap for the rest of your life.

Drawing on social science, philosophy, biography, theology, and eastern wisdom, as well as dozens of interviews with everyday men and women, Brooks shows us that true life success is well within our reach. By refocusing on certain priorities and habits that anyone can learn, such as deep wisdom, detachment from empty rewards, connection and service to others, and spiritual progress, we can set ourselves up for increased happiness.

“To the overachievers, success addicts, and tired strivers who are fairly confident you can’t keep it up forever but will try anyway—this book is for you. Arthur Brooks shows you it’s possible to build a life that really does get better with age.” —Simon Sinek, optimist andauthor of Start with Why and The Infinite Game 
 
From Strength to Strength is a wise and inspiring guide to reimagining the rest of your life. If you’re a striver tired of striving, this remarkable book is for you.” —Daniel H. Pink, author of DriveWhen, and A Whole New Mind 
 
“Brooks appears to have a clear strategy here: first he horrifies you, then he bucks you up. An alternate title for this book could be The Good News About Your Inevitable Decline. Most of us strivers believe we can keep racing until we run out of road. Arthur is trying to save us pain and maximize our contributions to the species. Every ambitious person should read this.” —Dan Harris, author and former ABC News anchor 

Have a complete break with the past and see what happens…..

A black and white portrait photo of J. Krishnamurti
J Krishnamurthi

I think it is essential sometimes to go into retreat, to stop everything that you have been doing, to stop your beliefs and experiences completely and look at them anew, not keep on repeating like machines whether you believe or don’t believe. You would let fresh air into your minds. Wouldn’t you? That means you must be insecure, must you not? If you can do so, you would be open to the mysteries of nature and to things that are whispering about us, which you would not otherwise reach; you would reach the god that is waiting to come, the truth that cannot be invited but comes itself. But we are not open to love, and other finer processes that are taking place within us, because we are all too enclosed by our own desires. Surely, it is good to retreat from all that. Stop being a member of some society. Stop being a Brahmin, a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim. Stop your worship, rituals, take a complete retreat from all those and see what happens. In a retreat, do not plunge into something else, do not take some book and be absorbed in new knowledge and new acquisitions. Have a complete break with the past and see what happens. Sirs, do it, and you will see delight. You will see vast expanses. When your heart is open, then reality can come. Then the whisperings of your own prejudices, your own noises are not heard. That is why it is good to take a retreat, to go away and to stop the routine, not only the routine of outward existence but the routine which the mind establishes for its own safety and convenience. Try it sirs, those who have the opportunity.

Madras Jan. 5th, 1952, The Collected Works, Vol. VI

Be Like Cat

“When a cat falls out of a tree, it lets go of itself. The cat becomes completely relaxed, and lands lightly on the ground. But if a cat were about to fall out of a tree and suddenly make up its mind that it didn’t want to fall, it would become tense and rigid, and would be just a bag of broken bones upon landing.In the same way, it is the philosophy of the Tao that we are all falling off a tree, at every moment of our lives. As a matter of fact, the moment we were born we were kicked off a precipice and we are falling, and there is nothing that can stop it. So instead of living in a state of chronic tension, and clinging to all sorts of things that are actually falling with us because the whole world is impermanent, be like a cat.”

– What is Tao?, Alan Watts

If you can understand that everyone has come to learn….


You’re actually above the other only in your own idealization of your own behavior. You are not above them, they are not below you. They are having a different encounter with themselves, and perhaps learning through it, and perhaps giving you the opportunity to learn as well. If you assume that someone is not where they are supposed to be, you have decided for them based upon what you think they should be, or perhaps where or how they should behave based upon your idealisation of behaviour…..

This does not make them wrong. Do you understand this? It doesn’t make you wrong, either, but it certainly doesn’t make you right……

If you can understand that everyone has come to learn—how they learn their lessons is in some ways decided by them at a higher level—you learn not to judge.

You don’t have to enable, you don’t have to agree….

Do you understand this, yes?

– Paul Selig

Enlightenment

“Enlightenment is not something that occurs in the future, after 50 years of sitting cross-legged and saying “OM.” It is right here, in this instant. The reason you’re not experiencing this state of total peace and timelessness is because it is being resisted. It is being resisted because you are trying to control the moment. If you let go of trying to control your experience of the moment, and if you constantly surrender it like a tone of music, then you live on the crest of this exact always-ness. Experience arises like a note of music. The minute you hear a note, it’s already passing away. The instant you’ve heard it, it’s already dissolving. So every single moment is dissolving as it arises. Let go of anticipating the next moment, trying to control it, trying to hang on to the moment that has just passed. Let go clinging to what has just occurred. Let go trying to control what you think is about to occur. Then you live in an infinite space of non-time and non-event. There is an infinite peace beyond description. And you are home.”

David Hawkins from Letting Go

Do you think a bird lives in fear of dying?

Do you think a leaf that falls to the ground is afraid of death? Do you think a bird lives in fear of dying? It meets death when death comes; but it is not concerned about death, it is much too occupied with living, with catching insects, building a nest, singing a song, flying for the very joy of flying. Have you ever watched birds soaring high up in the air without a beat of their wings, being carried along by the wind? How endlessly they seem to enjoy themselves! They are not concerned about death. If death comes, it is all right, they are finished. There is no concern about what is going to happen; they are living from moment to moment, are they not? It is we human beings who are always concerned about death – because we are not living. That is the trouble: we are dying, we are not living.

J Krishnamuthi – Think on These Things Chapter 17