0233 – Being a practical idealist

Went to a talk by John Hammock yesterday. He’s the co-author of the book ‘Practical Idealists: Changing the World and Getting Paid.’

I’ve never really quite thought of myself as an idealist before. I used to be more of a realist really. After all, it seems preposterous to sit and dream about great things, when clearly the world has issues that require fixing. I do dream about effecting change in the world, but after a while it’s almost like the world would slap me in the face and say ‘bitch, stop dreaming get back to the real world’.

But a practical idealist.. doesn’t sound too bad, does it? He’s practical at the very least, and practical is good. So I was intrigued. How do you be a practical idealist?

There were pretty interesting points Mr. Hammock brought up yesterday. The single biggest thing that I think would resonate with me and many of you who might come cross this blog, is that you gotta stop. You gotta stop, especially right now when you’re in the academic world. You gotta stop and think about what you love to do. You gotta stop and think about what makes you get up in the morning. You gotta stop and think about what you truly want to do in life?

I cannot emphasize this enough. It really is the most important thing – to give time to yourself to think about all these. And you know what’s the single most inexcusable excuse? I don’t have time. You can always make time. If you ever dream of being happier or changing the world or making a difference, you need to stop and do this. Or multitask. I do it in the shower. People do it on a run. People do it on a leisure stroll. People do it during yoga. People do it with close friends. Don’t think dirty, by the way. But seriously – just stop and think. I can’t tell you how many different things I’ve come up with during my shower introspections.

Another thing that was mentioned yesterday that’s really a common theme in everyone’s life is the issue of balance. Mr Hammock put it this way: ‘How much is enough?’ A lot of life is about finding the delicate balances between things that you want to do and things that you need to do. So in this case, you really have to be thinking about how much money you want to make in this life to be satisfied, and how much ‘success’ you’ll need before you can be content. I think this is where diversity comes in and we have different kinds of people from CEOs to high school dropouts that still live very happy and inspiring lives. So, in relation to my previous posts, you gotta realize how much of this societal values do you wanna adopt, and how much of your own values do you want to pursue.

That is perhaps the key – the delicate balance of life.

So maybe I can be a practical idealist after all huh. When I told Mr. Hammock that I want to make the world happy and realize that one doesn’t always have to follow the prescribed paths, he shook his head, chuckled and wished me good luck. And I thought that was funny and I smile every time I think about it, because it really is such a larger-than-life goal. But hey, I’m happy doing this. I’m happy trying to inspire people. I’ve been inspired so much this semester, by people like Mr Hammock. So if you read this, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you very much.

P.S. I hope you enjoyed this slight change of style/tone of my blog. I think I might be switching gears a little bit here. I’d be interested in going more into maybe the educational side of happiness (in terms of positive psychology – as understood by Pete the novice) if people want to hear.


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