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Stop & Listen

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A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.
He collected $32.
When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Acres of Diamonds

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In the mid 1800’s Russell Conwell, an educator & minister was approached by his following to assist them in getting into college. He felt very strongly about creating the opportunity for poor folks to get formally educated. He spent years raising the millions to establish Temple University!

He accomplished this by giving 6000 free lectures where he told the following TRUE tale of an African farmer:

The farmer excited about prospecting for diamonds spends his life in vain pursuit! Despondent, he threw himself into the river & drowned.

The new owner of the African farmers original property, the one he vacated to find his fortune, discovered a large crystal in the stream that ran through the property. He placed it prominently on his fireplace mantle.

True and lasting happiness comes through experiences of fulfillment

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We search all of our lives for happiness, living the delusion that it will appear during moments of personal wealth, pleasurable experiences or when our soul mate finally appears. The truth is that lasting happiness is a direct result of one’s contributions, spiritual insights, and expansion of our personal and collective consciousness. During the upcoming holiday season ask yourself:

Do I feel fulfilled? What will bring me lasting happiness?

If you answered the second question: If only I could receive that special holiday gift, be given that new _____ (fill in the blank), or manifest that physical changes that I’ve been wishing for, THINK AGAIN!

Our ultimate goal in life is always a spiritual one: i.e. peace, harmony, happiness (subjective state of joy), feeling “in tune” with the universe that you are part of.

Money doesn’t buy Happiness! 42% of those on the Forbes 500 richest list were less happy than the average person! Only 6% of lottery winners, reported being happier in life after they won.

When you begin working on your 2010 New Year’s resolutions keep only one thing in mind.

True fulfillment (more important than pleasure and longer lasting) can only be derived from making a difference in the lives of others/world (Golden rule), from moments of true insight, from feeling inspired and by becoming more aware (expanding your consciousness); recognizing that you are part of the wholeness of the universe!