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George Clason published, The Richest Man in Babylon, in 1926 to enlighten Americans with telling parables from the ancient city of Babylon. Surprisingly, the basic principles of gaining and maintaing wealth are the same today as they were in the lustrous city of Babylon many centuries ago before the birth of Christ. The acquisition of gold has tantalized man since the beginning of civilization for it has brought respect, honor, pleasure, safety, and security to many who have sought it. Even today, everyone must work to make a living. Each individual makes his share to spend, save, or invest. Making money is a means to survive in society, and it has been such since the beginning of cooperative society. Work is symbolized with the $ symbol, whether we like it or not.

In the book, Arkad, the richest man in babylon, explains his desire for wealth:

In my youth I looked about me and saw all the good things there were to bring happiness and contentment. And I realized that wealth increased the potency of all these. Wealth is a power. With wealth many things are possible. One may ornament the home with the richest of furnishings. One may sail the distant seas. One may feast on the delicacies of far lands. One may even build mighty temples for the Gods.

And, when I realized all this, I decided to myself that I would claim my share of the good things of life. I would not be one of those who stand from afar off, and enviously watching others enjoy. I would not be content to clothe myself in the cheapest raiment that looked respectable. I would be satisfied with the lot of a poor man. On the contrary, I would make myself a guest at the banquet of good things.”

If we all must work to make a living, why not work hard and smart. There is nothing wrong with hard work where the fruit of our labor is wealth. Arkad makes a great point by saying that he would not settle for less than what he was capable of. Every human being is capable and has the potential to do many great things with the infinite energy of passion, desire, and purpose. Money is an ends to a mean which makes life easier to lead without the clout of living bill to bill.

As being a Sikh, I am taught from religion and commonsense that money will not bring eternal satisfaction, contentment, happiness, or peace. It is but a trap of falsehood in the overall illusion of Maya, and I do agree with this point. However, Guru Nanak strongly believed that a spiritual life should not be led in isolation. It is important for a person to raise and care for family while working for an honest and truthful living. Hard work has never be denied nor looked down upon in Sikhism as long as the individual remains free of greed, attachment, or ego. Humility is the main ingredient to success in all aspects of life.

Socially, culturally, and mentally money plays a large role in the ease of life. It does not make life free of struggle, but a surplus of money makes it more bearable; many doors and opportunities swing open to the whims of wealth. Hence, it is in the interest of wise men to learn the fundamental laws of gold. Those who receive money without guidance or wisdom lose it quickly, because the source is not renewing. Wealth comes from an ongoing stream of funds from income, investment, and interest.

Arkad had five vital gold (wealth) laws :

The First Law of Gold – Gold cometh gladly and in increasing quantity to any man who will save not less than one-tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and that of his family.

( One tenth or more of one’s income should be set aside for investment. A budget should be instated to constantly keep one dollar out of every ten for investments to ensure future security and wealth. It is extremely important to skip out on some of life’s appealing lures, in order to ensure a future of wealth gain. Discipline is the difference between a fat purse or a lean one.)

The Second Law of Gold – Gold laboreth diligently and contentedly for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment, multiplying even as the flocks of the field.

(The money saved must be working for you. It must become your working slave through investment. The principle will begin to multiply in sound investments giving rise to new generations of wealth who will also work with you to make more. Do not divert this wealth for spending until the money has become an army working for you. Each dollar created is one more dollar working to create more through effective measures. The stream must be large and fast enough to feed itself.)

The Third Law of Gold – Gold clingeth to the protection of the cautious owner who invests it under the advice of men wise in its handling.

(Invest with the advice of those who are successful and honorable. Trust is a shaky word, but let their checkbook do the talking for the man. An experienced man in any field will be the one to seek during times of investment. His advice is free and worth much money and future safety.)

The Fourth Law of Gold – Gold slippeth away from the man who invests it in bussinesses or purposes with which he is not familiar or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep.

(Do not invest in some area where you have no experience or prior knowledge, because loss will be your lesson. Stick with what you have learned and studied through experience. A man who studies the body for ten years, a doctor, should not invest blindly into making a new restaurant chain unless he is also a chief.)

The Fifth Law of Gold – Gold flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings or who followeth the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers who trust it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment.

(Amazing returns and unbelievable profits are fit for disaster. Something that sounds to good to be true is probably just that too good to be true. Let the Madoff scandal during this year be a reminder not to fall for the stairs. Be safe and keep your money bound to consistency and security. Safer margins for growth are much healthier in the long run than blind faith in huge profits. Huge risk = HUGE LOSS or miraculous luck.)

Be smart with money, and let it work for you. Patience is the key along with the right eye to see opportunity when it comes knocking on the door. If you save that one tenth you might just have the capital it takes to take advantage of the lifetime opportunity when it comes.

Let ninety percent of your income be the chips unto which to enjoy and cherish the goods of life, and let the remaining ten percent go to work for the future wealth for yourself and the family. Make yourself a guest to the grand banquet of life, and enjoy all their is to offer by playing smart and wise with wealth or else be left watching others enviously. For myself, I am not the type to watch.

stephen-covey-7-habits-of-highly-effective-people

I highly recommend this book to everyone and anyone who wants to make a better change in their life. It is a beautifully written book with years of research, experience, and intelligence wrapped into seven intensive habits for living a more effective life. I will be rereading Stephen Covey’s book many times over in my life to make sure that I remember my commitment to myself and those around me.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Private Victory

Habit 1 : Be Proactive

Habit 2 : Begin with the End in Mind

Habit 3 : Put First Things First

Public Victory

Habit 4 : Think Win/ Win

Habit 5 : Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Habit 6 : Synergize

Renewal

Habit 7 : Sharpen the Saw

The book is a must for those looking for an understanding of how to structure one’s perception of a effective life. Most importantly this book is not a quick fix that will change your life in minutes. It takes years to master and learn all there is to learn in this book. It opens new avenues and alleys in the structure of perspective to ensure growth in all dimensions as a person. Books offer a fresh view on things that seem understood and dull, hence opening windows to the soul. Read this book to understand and grow as a person, and I promise you this will be worth the money spent.

As I reread this book, I will be expanding on each habit based on my own experiences and how these habits unfold in my life. The difficulties with some habits, and the pressures that make them so difficult to follow. A disciplined life takes energy and devotion to follow compared to one where nothing seems to matter. I decide to follow the path of discipline myself, and I love to soak up  as much knowledge and support that I possibly can when the path seems too straining to stay upon.

copy_of_blink

I finally finished Blink by Malcom Gladwell today after my chemistry midterm. Two things achieved in one day, however taking the chemistry midterm proved to be much more bland than the book. The midterm was a piece of cake, a walk in the park, a give away, but I slaughtered it to some extent. I got an eighty-five on the midterm when I should have gotten a hundred. I did not study for the midterm aggressively because I was over confident in many ways and justifiably so, because I had aced all the quizzes and I knew the material. Nonetheless, as soon as I sat for the test my stomach began to churn and extreme hunger took over my body. I ate a burrito and some dried fruits before the test, but then I was starving in the lecture hall. I do not know how much my hunger, anxiety, or my over confidence had to do with the results, but I will live with it. No time to sulk or cry about spilled milk, as my father sometimes puts it. Now that I am over that rant, back to the book.

Malcom Gladwell makes the case that subconscious gut instincts play a major part in life. At times, we need to trust our instincts instead of an increased amount of information that may make us feel safe or comfortable. The “locked room” or the unconscious which controls the many subtle stimuli entering our brains holds a lot of powerful information that is untapped. It shapes the way we see someone, what we buy, how we react, our emotions, and our outlook in many involuntary ways. In the blink of an eye we make millions of associations, assumptions, and inferences in order to react to the stimuli presented by the environment. If we were conscious of every single thought associated with the mind, we would never be able to sit and focus. The unconscious takes care of the bulk of stimuli.

It was very interesting reading about the accounts of cops who have come into contact with deadly suspects and have had to use force. In the blink of an eye, the mind reverts to tunnel vision, shuts off sound, spikes the heart rate, and transfers a lot of blood to contract the core muscles. This creates a human shield ready for impact but leaves the person weak and clumsy. How amazing is that. Try to remember some event in your life that made you really frightened or angry and you just could not think, speak, or move. The point of this may seem counterproductive in a deadly situation, but it is the body’s last resort for survival. The final blow must be survived, and the body does everything to increase the core strength while zoning out all the extra stimuli which is distracting. Time seems to stop and everything happens in slow motion. Hence, it is important to rehearse such events as a robbery or mugging because when the heart rate reaches a certain point the mind begins to go blank and parts of the brain begin switching off. Basic motor skills and memory begin to fade in excessive anger or fear as a result many people cannot even dial 911 in scary incidents. The body becomes unresponsive and numb.

An unfortunate story of a man named Diallo unfolded many years ago resulting with 41 bullets piercing his body in the Bronx of New York. Ironically, he was black and innocent. A police unit was on the way to a crime in a nearby neighborhood when they saw Diallo, a recent black immigrant, on the porch of a home at twelve in the morning. They concluded that a man standing alone on a porch in the Bronx at night must be up to something and most definitely armed with a weapon. They preceded to get out of the car to question him. In reality, he was taking a breathe of fresh air and had just witnessed a robbery so he was scared to death. Intimidated and scared he ran toward the home. When the cops began yelling out loud for him to stop, he tried to reassure them of his innocence by pulling out his ID from his wallet. The cops perceived it to be a gun and began shooting. He was dead on the spot with forty one bullets sprayed in less than three seconds.

The police made many errors in reading the suspect’s face and potential danger, because in the blink of an eye they had created a whole story based on assumption, stereotype, and perceived danger. Their perception became their reality, and Diallo ended up a dead innocent man. When they saw the wallet, one officer fell to his knees after saying, ” Where’s the F’in gun” and cried. They were not bad men or racists looking for a fight, but they just read the situation wrong because time was against them. The body was sensing eminent danger, and when the suspect reached in his wallet, the mind saw a gun and it reacted quickly for protection. The heart was beating, the vision narrowed, the surrounding quite, and all the focus was on his hands and nervous face. Bam, bam, bam… he was gone.

The conscious human mind is always trying to look for patterns, rational logic, and numbers. The more research we do and the more facts we gather, the better we feel about our decisions. There is no pressure when we have time, so we take our time and plan. However, when time runs out and we must act on instinct many people crumble.

Malcom Gladwell gives a great example of the Chancellorsville Civil War battle between Union general, Hooke and Confederate general, Lee. Hooke was confident because he had two air balloons in the sky gathering information on Lee’s position. He had many spies in Lee’s base, and his army was twice the size of Lee’s Confederate army. Hooke was an intelligent general who had created a genius plan for the battle that would ensure Lee’s defeat; he was very confident. He was going to surround Lee with an army coming in from behind while preoccupying him from the front. In turn Lee would have to retreat to Richmond where he would be forced to surrender by a huge force of might. Everything was going as plan, but then in the moment Lee did the unpredictable. General Lee charged toward Hooke after being cornered with a ferocious valor. Against his perfect plan, Hooke was forced to withdraw although he had many men. That night as the Union army under Hooke set up camp, they were attacked by Lee during supper and subsequently defeated. The plan was immaculate on paper. Hooke had all the information he needed but Lee had gut and instinct. General Lee knew how to handle himself under pressure and sense the inherent weakness of a over confident Hooke. It was the greatest defeat of the Union during the Civil War.

This story has a direct correlation to the war in Iraq. The numbers, statistics, and planning may seem immaculate on paper but real wars unfold on the ground. Each gun battle and suicide attack is unpredictable and demoralizing to stability. The billions in funding, the thousands of troops, and the best military missed the point that gut instinct and power of the moment is much more telling than sheer facts. Valor, courage, and anger can be strong in men who fight with their hearts. Underestimating the human will to survive and fight forever will be a big blunder of military. Under intense pressure even the greatest men crumble just as Hooke did with such a great advantage. The advantage exists in every battle to the man who can control his judgement under the pressure emitted by a lack of time and fear.

Mr. Malcom also went into great detail about the nature of facial expressions and how revealing they are. It is truly amazing to imagine how much can be told my the contours of the fascial muscles. There are over three thousand meaningful muscle arrangements in the face that stand for a specific emotion, and the emotions they represent transcend cultures and boundaries of the world. They are truly universal doors to another’s emotions unhidden and revealed. The genuine nature of people is written all over their faces. Have you ever confronted someone about something that they were hiding and all of a sudden there face goes white. As if they were struck by a train, they stare back speechless. Sometimes these facial expressions last only a few milliseconds but they are always there. Tomkins had studied the facial expressions to the point of totally reading lies, emotions, behaviors, and internal conflicts. He could unravel the depths of man by simply looking at the facial expressions and remnants of wrinkles and lines. He was probably one of the best in the world. I found it to be truly fascinating how much emphasis our minds give to both the words and fascial expressions that carry them. Both are so intrinsic to understand and communicate. A lot is picked up by the subconscious flittering our true feelings on the template of the face.

Overall the book was good, but it was not great. I am glad I read it and it has opened up the door to studying more into the subconscious mind in the future. It is a nice stepping stone to learn more about those snap judgements that we make every second in the Blink of an eye.

I have a Spanish midterm tomorrow so I better get studying.

I was unsure of picking up a nine hundred page novel with the holiday vacation coming to an end soon. I would have to invest a vast amount of time reading if I were to finish before university started. However, I started and finished a happy man. The novel was one of the best I have ever read in a long while, but let it be known it was “unique” in every way possible beginning with vulgarity and ending with human closure.

I would not recommend this book to everyone. Like I said before, the vulgarity was strong and the scenes a little too vivid. However, past the vulgar insights into Dominick’s life was a blanket of true human trial with despair and anguish. The lack of censorship ensured a more real feel to the plot. The hidden spew of toxic ash which is emitted within every human being was thoroughly exposed. The anger, resent, envy, selfishness, ego, and pity all malignantly cast together to form a man of negative thoughts and actions. One who cannot control outbursts for the tempest within is becoming too strong to keep inward and hidden.

We are all sinners is not just a line created by some superfluous ancient mouth, but a blunt reality. The sins which we all carry every single day of our lives accumulate and then suffocate the soul in the worldly arena of life. The mind continues to bubble up old memories, recreated, from the depths of our subconscious minds. The new memories spark old emotions and hinder both spiritual and physical growth. We become trapped in memories remade through the looking glass of our own subjectivity, so we wither. Like a play re-scripted in the mind, we watch helplessly as spectators. During the day, actors and actions as fake as a dream evoke emotions from the past  which sprout outwardly to become who we are. Those who depend strongly on the mental illusions shown before us in the midst of the day in a daze, die many times a day. The thoughts we harbor and acknowledge as our own leek out into the character we become.

To liberate oneself from self-destruction and yield positive circumstances is to remain rightfully in the present moment and avoid all contact with the decietful past. It is there, but we must bring closure and see past the theatrics. I wish to live not with the past but with the present, while acknowledging that what happened then so happened. Forgiving was the vital key to Wally Lamb’s novel. Learning to renovate the mind after decades of resent is to allow the universe to open and welcome new oppurtunity.

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