What does it mean to live a good life? Indeed, it is an important question that has been pondered by philosophers, writers, and thinkers for thousands of years. One of those thinkers was Sir John Templeton (1912-2008), an American-born British investor, fund manager and philanthropist. Templeton had an impeccable education: he attended Yale University by paying part of his tuition by playing poker. He went on to study law at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Templeton was a brilliant stock trader and pioneered the use of globally diversified funds known as the Templeton Mutual Funds. Despite his enormous wealth, he remained humble, insisting on driving his own car and flying coach. Moreover, he was a very generous philanthropist, having donated more than $1 billion to charities through the John Templeton Foundation.
Templeton was fascinated by the question: what does it mean to live a good life. He studied the major scriptures of the world, as well as the philosophers, historians, artists, writers, and scientists who studied this question. Templeton was looking for a way to connect the dots, and what he discovered were certain commonalities, threads that were woven into the tapestry of wisdom. He called these lessons the “laws of life.” In 1998, he published The Essential Worldwide Laws of Life so that readers of every age could discover the universal truths of life, the life lessons that are present in every society and religion, transcending time. Templeton elaborates: “Following in the footsteps of Benjamin Franklin and others who have tried to pass on their learning to others, this book has been written from a lifetime of experience and diligent observation in the hope that it may help people in all parts of the world to make their lives not only happier but also more useful.”
One of the keys to living a good life is the importance of teaching and learning. Here are some excerpts from the chapter on learning:
There is a difference between acquiring knowledge and information and possessing wisdom. You may acquire knowledge from a university, your travels, your relationships, the books you read, and other activities in which you participate. But are you also gaining wisdom?
Wisdom is born of mistakes; confront error and learn. (J. Jelinek)
Defeat isn’t bitter if you don’t swallow it. (Ten Engstrom)
You can make opposition work for you. (Anonymous)
Everything and everyone around you is your teacher. (Ken Keyes)
We learn more by welcoming criticism than by rendering judgment. (J. Jelinek)
Only one thing is more important than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience. (John Templeton)
We can become bitter or better as a result of our experiences. (Eric Butterworth)
If you think you know it all, you are less likely to learn more. (John Templeton)
No one’s education is ever complete. (John Templeton)
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