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Marty Nemko, a career coach, author and radio talk-show host in the San Francisco area, who has very practical career and educational advice that I highly recommend, wrote a very personal article titled “What the Hell is the Meaning of Life”. This article is the conclusion (here is the first) of a seven part series in response to Marty’s question.

Marty wrote,

“Here’s my current thinking, highly subject to revision. It comes down to being nice to everyone possible: look for opportunities to give heartfelt praise, a kind letter to a long-long friend, an unnecessary gift, etc. Don’t expect anything in return–you too often won’t get it. Take pleasure in the giving itself. That approach to life will ensure you do some good, it doesn’t require Herculean effort, and you will feel good no matter how other people respond.”

Your “current thinking” about being nice and giving praise is good advice however when you say “don’t expect anything in return – you too often won’t get it”, you sound a bit defeatist. As you say, be nice, kind and express goodwill however also remember to be optimistic, enthusiastic and always focus one the best within others. Don’t despair if they don’t respond ideally.

Finally, you ask, “how do you wring the most from life?” Broaden your perspective. You are more than what you think you are. Working with life from a higher, spiritual perspective, as discussed in Part 1, is the only true satisfaction you can have. It’s what lasts. The potential for this exists for all of us regardless of our wealth, prestige, gender, race or health. After all the sun shines for everyone, right?

I want to give Marty the “last word” on the question of the meaning of life and I recently visited his website and found this recent entry on his blog which mirrors some of my comments in my article “The Meaning of Life: Rise and Shine”(which he hadn’t read before he wrote the following), and, along with all of what Marty writes is solid, sound advice. Marty wrote,

“Today, my client, Evan Wright, asked me, “How do you get so much done?” Here’s what I said: It starts with the spiritual. The meaning of life to me is defined primarily by how much I contribute to the world. If I act merely to give myself pleasure, my life has made little difference. So, I rarely procrastinate; work is not only what I should do, but want to do.”

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Do you have a situation where you need to tap some strength and courage? Maybe it’s something relatively small like being more outgoing at parties, apologizing for a mistake you made or telling your spouse your true feelings. Perhaps it’s a larger issue like confronting a neighbor about a problem, discussing sex or drugs with your teenager or making a big speech in front of coworkers. Either way it helps to have an example of true strength and courage that you can look to for inspiration. As you see such an example you can imagine that you can find a bit of this courage within yourself. You can also tap this source of strength. The following is just such an example.

Wafa Sultan is an Arab American psychiatrist who appeared on Al Jazeera TV (Qatar) on February 21, 2006 to debate a professor at Al-Azhar University, the world’s main Sunni Islam school. Watch the following video clip and notice the true strength and courage that she is exhibiting. Reportedly she’s had numerous death threats and this is her second appearance so she fully knew what she was getting into. As the clip goes on you’ll notice that it increases in intensity as she’s called a heretic by her opponent and as she explains to the Arab world the respect that the Jews deserve. (TIP – after you click play, right click then hit Zoom, Full Screen, to get the full effect. Hit Esc to close).

The source of this is the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI TV). They also have an earlier appearance by Wafa Sultan on Al Jazeera TV. Transcripts of both clips are also on this site.

Through Kathy Shaidle’s site ++ relapsed catholic ++ religion politics entertainment blog, I found a link to The Big Pharaoh who, in an article titled Why I am not excited about Wafa Sultan, has valid counterpoints to Wafa’s appearance summarizing that,

“We don’t need former Muslims, we don’t need atheists, we don’t need lesbians, what we need are reform minded Muslim thinkers. Only these people have the necessary legitimacy to pull us from the dark abyss we’re in now.”

However what The Big Pharaoh fails to stress is that it’s great that someone is stressing rationality in public in the Muslim world (as, appropriately enough, well exhibited in this cartoon). This rationality will shine through to a certain percentage of the Arab people. Further Wafa is exhibiting true, as opposed to false, strength and courage. What’s the difference? False strength and courage is found in the terrorists who kill innocent people under the guise of self-sacrifice for a greater good however it is really self-centeredness as they are mainly focused on how they will receive virgins in heaven and how they will be “revered” by their friends and family. Wafa Sultan is exhibiting true strength and courage as she is centered on improving the Arab and Muslim standing in the world rather than her own interest. In fact she is saying this with no concern for her own life! She is not promoting a book or any other profit-making venture. She is showing true mercy and compassion for the Arab Muslim nations. Let her be an example of mercy, compassion, strength and courage for all the world to see.

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Hi. I'm Brendan McPhillips

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