The best from the best 2013: on compassion, forgiveness, and accepting uncertainty

A series of posts on what I learned about writing, uncertainty, sensitivity, creativity, and more this year from the smartest people who ever lived — maybe they can help you, too.

In this post, the best quotations/thoughts on :

How to be a better human being

This is stuff no one ever completely figures out.  I don’t think anyone can claim to be a completely compassionate and forgiving person.  Even if you think you’ve got a handle on it something comes along and destroys any understanding you have of it (like spending Christmas with your family).  But, that understanding can get deeper.  Someone (usually a brilliant writer) comes along and writes something so beautiful or simple or both on how to be a better human being and changes the way you see it.   At least for me and at least for now.   Here’s some of the stuff I read that made sense to me:  — MM



In his heart, the amateur knows he’s hiding.  He knows he was meant for better things.  He knows he has turned away from his higher nature.  If the amateur had empathy for himself, he could look in the mirror and not hate what he sees. Achieving this compassion is the first powerful step toward moving from being an amateur to being a pro.              — Steven Pressfield

The root of compassion is compassion for oneself. — Pema Chodron

Compassion has no room for blame, no need of right vs. wrong. Compassion requires that we understand—even if we disagree.  No one wakes up in the morning and thinks, ‘Today I am going to make an absolute mess of my life.’ — Dinty Moore

Compassion is about using a kind voice to ask good questions: what would help right now? What do you need most? or What feels hardest? —  Andrea Sher


Forgiveness doesn’t just sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old, fat guy you have to haul up the hill. — Cheryl Strayed

Real forgiveness is an intense healing journey with no shortcuts, no magical techniques, and no road map.  Real forgiveness can’t exist without true anger, true despair, true fear, and true emotional intensity.  — Karla McLaren

Accepting uncertainty


Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position.  But, certainty is an absurd one. — Voltaire

Nothing truly innovative, nothing that has advanced art, business design or humanity was ever created in the face of genuine certainty or perfect information.  Because the only way to be certain before you begin is if the thing you seek to do has already been done.  —  Jonathan Fields

Next post — on intuition and taking it easy

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