7 Lessons From the World’s Greatest Minds

photo by karlequin

Have you ever wished you could go back in time and have a conversation with one of the greatest minds in history? Well, you can’t sorry, they’re dead. Unless of course you’re clairaudient, be my guest. But for the rest of us, we can still refer to the words they left behind.

Even though these great teachers have passed on, their words still live, and in them their wisdom. I’ve made a list of seven what I believe are some of the greatest teachings by the world’s greatest minds.

1. Realizing Your Dreams

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
– Lawrence J. Peter

In order for us to achieve our dreams, we must have a vision of our goals. Writing down our dreams and creating a list of actions helps us stick to our plan. As it’s said “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. When we turn our goals into measurable actions, we gain clarity and are able to see the necessary steps we must take in order to achieve them.

Action: Visualize a life of your wildest dreams. What did you dream of doing when you were a child? What would you do if you had a million dollars? Create a vision for your goals and start breaking them down into small actions that you can take on a day by day basis.

2. Overcoming Fear

“It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, “Always do what you are afraid to do.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The best way to learn something is to dive right in to it. When we overcome our fear of failure, we learn that only those who are asleep make no mistakes. Fear is the only thing keeping us from experiencing a life of love and fulfillment. If we make a commitment to an uncompromisable quest for truth, we will realize that as we grow more into the truth, our fears start to disappear.

Action: You must define your fears in order to conquer them. Create a list of everything you’re afraid of and start facing them one at a time. Make a commitment to yourself now to not let fear rule your life.

3. Intention and Desire

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”- Guatama Buddha

Our thoughts determine our reality. When we stop thinking about what we don’t and begin thinking about what we do want, our lives begin to transform. Instead of working against our desires and intentions, we move into alignment with them.

Action: Create a list of your intentions and desires. Wherever you go, take this list with you. Read it when you wake up and before you go to sleep.

4. Happiness

“Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Happiness comes from an inner peace, understanding and acceptance of life; a perspective of truth that opens your eyes to the beauty of life all around us. Happiness cannot be achieved by external status, it must be an internal state that we realize when we see our innate perfection.

Action: Realize that happiness is a choice. In every decision you make ask yourself “how can I respond to make myself happy and fulfilled?”

5. Self Acceptance

“If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” – Jesus

When we stop trying to be what we are not, we realize our authenticity. Before we had knowledge, we were completely authentic. We learn to use knowledge to measure and judge, which is a powerful tool we have as humans. However we create an image of perfection in our mind of what we should be, but are not. We confuse knowledge for nature. We believe in the lie of our imperfection. When we realize this we can reclaim the truth of our perfection and live in love and acceptance.

Action: Make a commitment to never go against yourself. Practice non-judgment and realize that the same part of your mind that condemns you is the same voice that caused you to take the action in the first place. We don’t even have to believe what we say to ourselves.

6. Appreciation and Gratitude

“So much has been given to me, I have not time to ponder over that which has been denied.”
– Helen Keller

How many times do we count our misfortunes rather than our blessings? When we take time to open our eyes to the miracle of life we can see the many gifts that have been given to us. Remembering all the beautiful aspects of life and all the reasons you are blessed can immediately shift our mood. We can move from sorrow and despair to appreciation and hope.

Action: Each time you find yourself complaining about something, re-direct your focus to something you are grateful for. Make a habit of transforming your awareness of troubles into an awareness of abundance.

7. The Art of Simplicity

“I made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short.”
– Blaise Pascal

Perfection is not when there is nothing to add, but when there is nothing more to take away. As Bruce Lee once said “the height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.” True mastery of our lives is realizing the simple joys of life, removing distractions and clutter from our lives.

Action: The art of simplicity is knowing what to take away. Practice recognizing when you’re spending your time on unimportant tasks and re-focus on the important.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are other many great teachings that I did not include here because I felt like they were already expounded on thoroughly elsewhere, such as Einstein and Gandhi’s timeless classics. There are also great teachings to be found from our parents or friends.

If you have any lessons to add, I encourage you to share them with us in the comments below. Also, I want to give a special thanks to Manu for inspiring me with his “10 Golden Lessons from Albert Einstein”.

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65 Comments on "7 Lessons From the World’s Greatest Minds"

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[…] Gandhi, Tagore, Leary, Jefferson, Seneca, Keller, the list goes on. I compiled my own list of 7 Lessons From the World’s Greatest Minds and left my thoughts on each of them. If you have any comments or lessons to add, I’d love to hear […]

LifeTweak
Guest

Jonathan,

Thanks for your encouraging words :) We are the ones who should be thankful to you for providing fantastic articles such as these! I loved reading it! Jonathanmead.com is going to make it big someday :) I feel good whenever I read something from your little blog :)

Manu.

4mind4life
Guest

Hey Johnathan. Thanks for sharing such a motivating and inspirational post. Great job here and keep up the awesome posts ;)

Stephen Martile
Guest

Love the quote,

“I made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short.”
– Blaise Pascal

I can totally relate.

@Stephen | Productivity in Context
Guest

Great quotes, I love them.
I also agree with Stephen Martile about the quote from Pascal. It is easy to ramble on and on, it takes some work to be concise!

amibenya
Guest

There are only 6 ! Where is the 7th ?

Jonathan:

Thanks for pointing that out. The last one was marked 6 (it was really the 7th) and I thought I changed it back. Fixed. =)

Alex Blackwell
Guest

Great offering of these important lessons Jonathan. I especially like #3 – we do become what we think!

Goal Setting College
Guest

Hey Jon, dropping by to say thank you for the nice comment you left on my blog. And boy, was I impressed with your writing!

I particularly loved Buddha’s saying that “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.” It seems simple but the profoundity behind it is something we’ll only be able to relish if we actualize it. Thanks for the wonderful reminder!

Keep in touch!

Cheers,
Ellesse

Tom Volkar / Delightful Work
Guest

Another vote for number 7. I love this. “As Bruce Lee once said “the height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.” True mastery of our lives is realizing the simple joys of life, removing distractions and clutter from our lives.”

As I age more and more I’m impressed with brevity, in conversation and in writing. Perhaps what I’m really seeking is a simpler life. Thank you.

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JEMi | Tips for Life, Love, You
Guest

This post feels like some kind of affirmation to me. I’m this bright eyed young twenty something who is just now discovering the pleasure and depth life can present me on a daily basis with the discovery of each and everything listed here.

Excellent.

Charlie Gilkey
Guest

Great post, Jonathan. I posted last week on 12 Ways to Practice Courage that may complement your second point about overcoming fear. It can be found here: http://www.academicppd.com/12-ways-to-practice-courage/. Keep up the great work. Subscribed, SU’d, and Dugg.

Pat
Guest

Overcoming Fear-As I have learn this valuable lesson, it has allowed me to grow and to take on new adventures

Vitaliy
Guest

Great post, thanks for the uplifting experience.
I think now more then ever, we hear these quotes and sayings and it goes in one ear and out the other.

Let’s stop and smell the roses.

Vitaliy

Denver Web Design
Guest

Inspirational stuff. Some people think there are secrets to being happy… but there have been tried and true methods that have been around for ages.

Inspiration for Change
Guest

Fantastic post that compiles words of wisdom from the great thinkers of all time.

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Paige
Guest

I listened to a podcast on fear that was one of the best I have heard!
http://www.transworldynamics.com/content/view/48/30/

Thank you for sharing this article. I have passed it along to friends.

Evelyn Lim
Guest

Another vote for pt 3. I never realised how Buddhist teachings can be so powerful. A lot of them center around the mind and our life sufferings.

Stumbled and dugg!

Evelyn

Daniel Richard | WE
Guest

“If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

This is one that I could use for this period. :)

Robert Taylor
Guest

Great post. I really agree with it

paresh
Guest

nice useful stuff.

Brett
Guest

I just wanted to let you know that I linked to your article from my page.

If it doesnt meet your expectations please let me know and I will take it down.

I thoroughly enjoy your articles and happily recommend that my readers visit your page often.

Thank you

Brett

Juliusf
Guest

I think you took the Helen Keller quote way out of context. Yes, it does work like this. But, I believe she was referring to our government not giving the general population what they deserve. She was a huge backer of the communist party here in the United States in her time. Do some research, I feel like she was showing her distaste for the US government, not trying to inspire people.

novy
Guest

You are right – we should overcome our fear. Fear hinders our growth and stops us from living the life we want. “Everything we want is always out of our comfort zone”.

Personal Trainer
Guest

Tremendous list which I will use for my clients!

Mango
Guest
Lovin’ the site Johnathan! I have been trying to relay the lesson in #5 so many times to so many different people, and I think your definition does the best thus far. I’ve noticed more and more throughout daily life the ‘templates’ that people feel that they must fit, and I’m sure many people can relate. If everyone would simply be true to themselves, instead of trying to fit this perfect template that each person feels they must (think back to High School when everyone was trying to fit into a ‘click’, well, everyone’s still trying to do it, just… Read more »
Raz
Guest

Hi Jonathan,
I cant express how i feel but, will put these 7 lessons in my life.

Keep up the good work..:)

Raz

Coral
Guest

I linked to this article also, for the benefit of my readers (well, if I had any!). I think it’s brilliant.
Please let me know you’re not happy with the link.

Clemens
Guest

Elegant writing. Fuel for change.

Mehreen
Guest

Great post! :)
loveded the second, third and sixth point :)

AJ Kumar
Guest

Hey Jon,
great post! If you don’t know where your going, you’ll end up somewhere else…something that speaks very powerfully to me. :)

AJ Kumar

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[…] Mastering these will make a tremendous difference to your life! For more information and the action steps, view the post here […]

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MackyCan
Guest

this is a great post…i felt like someone just knocked me on my head saying “hello macky, wake up!”…:)

queen
Guest

its interesting that these great minds left some words of encouragement as a foot print,meaning they still want to teach more even after death and am happy to be one of their scholars

loveneverfails
Guest

i love your post. so inspirational :)

Rob
Guest

Thanks for the post, I like the actions you list after the principles so I can apply them in real life. Many times I read some of the timeless classics and have a hard time relating to my world – this post helps with that.

jackie
Guest

Thanks for this gift. I’m giving it to my daughter…

jackie
Guest

Thanks for this gift

Documentaries
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Hi , great article you have posted . Can u mail me back and tell me if i can post it on my website ? and what are the terms ?thx

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Mara
Guest

lovely post! thank you :)

Mitchell
Guest

Really one of the best posts I’ve read in a while that wraps “it” all up in one concise piece.

K
Guest

These are awesome! I’m going to post some of them on my office wall, in a highly visible place. Especially:

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”- Guatama Buddha

Our minds are everything, and most of us are only starting to figure that out.

Dean
Guest

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…” the simplest and most important way to live

talha
Guest

best work dude keep it up

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