“Nonstop You.” ~Airline advertisement
“You do things when the opportunities come along. I’ve had periods in my life when I’ve had a bundle of ideas come along, and I’ve had long dry spells. If I get an idea next week, I’ll do something. If not, I won’t do a damn thing.” ~Warren Buffett
Let's conduct a practical comparison of the wisdom embodied in each of the quotes above.
Nonstop you may be hip, but it isn't wise.
Stick with me as we keep this very basic for the time-being.
Followed literally, the slogan implies that rest is irrelevant. A cursory examination of basic evidence brings exactly the opposite conclusion.
Nighttime happens. Weekends happen. Vacations happen.
They are necessary. They recharge and rejuvenate us. Rest connects us to natural rhythms that are inescapable not to mention enjoyable elements of life.
It's just a simple marketing message and not at all a big deal of course. But it's interesting to consider what the underlying attitude is and the cultural implications that such a message is connected to.
Life is, for example, like seasons, or the ocean, or our own breath. For each of us, and everything in nature, it goes through cycles of expansion and contraction. When we learn to tune into that and see where we are in any given moment relative to those cycles, we learn to relax and move more in flow, more in alignment with ourselves. When we fight to be in expansionary mode all the time, it is a recipe for dissatisfaction and ineffectiveness.
This fight can also lead to the sense that we are doing something wrong and even a sense of despair. Yet of course a seed that sprouts in winter is doomed.
Given that it is a marketing message, it seeks resonance with its audience. And such a large company obviously does a lot of work and throws a lot of resources at defining such a message.
The message appeals to a frequency of stress and anxiety in the audience, which has learned to subconsciously believe perhaps that this is what makes someone important.
Generally speaking, we, our western culture, practice stress and anxiety on the way to arriving somewhere else. When we arrive somewhere else, we think the outer conditions will remove the inner tone of our lives. But we perfect what we practice. The stress and anxiety won't go away because we reached some external milestone. We'll have fed stress and anxiety super-size meals and expect them to be skinny.
If we want to learn to be at peace, if we want to be happy, we need to learn to practice the art of being at peace, and learn to cultivate happiness step-by-step. The long way is the short cut because it's the only way that works.
And that is in no way mutually exclusive of having meaningful external goals. The point is that they can go hand-in-hand and understanding and acting on that is a higher level of practice and habit.
If for some reason you don't find yourself seeking peace, then that's of course fine. What we want is up to each of us. But what I'd like to encourage is not giving into the trap of wanting to be at peace and then following a path that isn't going to take you there.
Now let's bring our attention to Warren Buffett's wisdom.
You know, I always heard he is super intelligent and wise, but I never really had much exposure to his thinking until recently. I came across a page with 107 of his quotes and I was impressed to see what a remarkable man he is in many respects. I don't know much about him, but I can definitely learn something from him.
The quote above indicates one of the great keys to his success, from what I can tell. What I read in this quote is self-trust. Self-trust is foundational in us doing anything meaningful, self-expressive, and powerful in our lives.
How often, with a message of nonstop you bombarding us in all sorts of ways from different angles, might we feel something is wrong if no ideas are naturally occurring to us? How often might we compensate by trying to effort a solution? How often is there fear that that slow moment is going to somehow become permanent? (Maybe my best days are behind me! As fingernails find teeth to help them become chewed.)
So we fight against it rather than flow with it. And instead of truly enjoying a natural opportunity to gather strength for the next moment of expansion, we waste it by feeding our fear, stress, and anxiety. It puts us in touch with our innate fear of inadequacy. Quality of life suffers and our own effectiveness is limited. Because we essentially insisted it be summer while the days were getting shorter and colder. And so we missed the chance to drink hot chocolate and get warm by the fire.
In our western culture, we tend to value material success over many other possible ways of relating to life. While studies confirm this emphasis is undue beyond $75k USD income/year, I don't condemn this choice in a general way. I also like comfort and luxury, and to each his own anyway. (We will go deeper into money in the future.) What I suggest though, for me as well as you, whether we are after peace, wealth, both, or pretty much anything else for that matter—learn the Marvelous Lesson of Warren Buffett and Nonstop You. Because there are a lot of messages, noise, and paths that will take us places we didn't mean to go.