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Cartoon by John P. Weiss
Levelling Up

5 cartoons to help you get more out of life

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But just to play it safe, I’ve included some terrific quotes to complement the cartoons.

The cartoons I drew and quotes selected are here to help you get more out of life. We’re all busy with work and the endless minutia of daily living. Immersed in our routines and commitments, it’s easy to forget the big picture.

Stuff like, “What kind of person do I want to be?” and, “Am I the person I always dreamed of becoming?”

No matter where you are right now, there’s a path upward. It’s never too late to change or improve yourself. Even when you think you’ve got it all together.

“If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.” — Henry Ford

So, without any further ado, here’s are the cartoons and inspirational quotes.

Achievement

Everyone wants to be happy. There’s a ton of self-help books out there, all dedicated to finding happiness.

The thing is, happiness is an ephemeral thing. It tends to come and go. Perhaps it’s Friday night, after a long work week, and you’re out on the town with friends.

You hit the pub, hoist a few beers, sing a few songs, and for a little bit you feel happy. It’s good to balance out the stressors of life with some enjoyable diversions. It’s just that the joy doesn’t last very long.

There is, however, one strategy that extends your happiness. In fact, it can generate a kind of baseline happiness that always stays with you. What is that strategy? Personal achievement.

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort. — Franklin D. Roosevelt

I’m happiest when I paint a nice landscape, or illustrate an article that reflects my best thinking and creative effort. It’s the kind of happiness that stays with me. I feel good about myself.

Focus on achievement in your life. Work on improving yourself, your work and your creative passions. When you invest in yourself and reach new heights, it’s immensely gratifying. And it brings lasting happiness.

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Habits

Willpower doesn’t work very long. Ask anyone who has tried to quit drugs or alcohol. Sooner or later, we give in. Author Benjamin P. Hardy wrote an excellent book about this subject.

Life can be hard. Good days are often bookended by bad days. To take the edge off, people turn to their cravings. Or worse, their addictions.

The solution to positive change lies in replacing bad habits with good ones. Habits and routines are our biggest assets in changing our lives for the better.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Will Durant

I meet people who tell me they’re writers or artists. Except, I never see them actually writing or painting. Some people are in love with the idea of something, but not actually crafting a life around achieving it.

— — —

Simplicity

My life significantly changed for the better when I discovered minimalism. I know that minimalism is the “in thing” right now, and a lot of bloggers are writing about it.

When I first discovered minimalism on a few blog sites, I thought that maybe it was a fad. But the more I examined my own life and habits, I realized how much needless clutter was getting in the way of a better life.

“Maybe the life you’ve always wanted to live is buried underneath everything you own.” — Anonymous

When my father passed away years ago, I had to liquidate a ton of his stuff. I had to find a consignment center to sell furniture and all the things in his garage. Other stuff I donated, and some things were thrown away.

It was exhausting. And I realized that half the stuff my Dad boxed away, he hadn’t touched in many years.

Walk through most American neighborhoods, and you’ll find cars parked in driveways and on the streets. Why? Because there’s no room in their garages.

“Elegance is achieved when all that is superfluous has been discarded and the human being discovers simplicity and concentration: the simpler and more sober the posture, the more beautiful it will be.” — Paulo Coelho

Our closets are stuffed with clothes we don’t wear. Our offices overrun with files we no longer need. Our digital lives buried in a sea of photos, videos, emails and documents.

So, I changed my life. I sold, donated or dumped the stuff I didn’t need. I simplified my wardrobe and use quick drying underwear and socks for travel.

Heck, I went to Ireland with two pairs of socks and underwear that I washed in the hotel sink. They were dry before I got up in the morning. Less clothing allowed me to travel with just a backpack.

Less is more. Less stuff to maintain means more time to pursue the things that really matter to you.

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Kindness

Sometimes, to put it bluntly, people suck. I see it all the time. Angry drivers cutting others off. Guys getting intoxicated and picking fights in the bar. Women gossiping about others they supposedly call their friends.

“It’s out hearts and brains that we should exercise more often. You can put on all the makeup you want, but it won’t make your soul pretty.” — Kevyn Aucoin

Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote the play No Exit (Huis Clos, in French) in 1943. As the website The-Philosophy.com notes:

“No Exit depicts the arrival of three characters — Garcin, Estelle, and Inez — in hell — which happens to be a drawing room. As the characters struggle to understand what sin has led them to hell, and what their punishment may be, they quickly gather that there is no torturer. No executioner. No flames to burn their souls eternally. It’s just the three of them, trapped in a deadlock. The other characters in the room are the punishment, as it were. The full version of the quote highlights this illustration of Sartre’s existentialist philosophy:

‘All those eyes intent on me. Devouring me. What? Only two of you? I thought there were more; many more. So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the “burning marl.” Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE!”

Fortunately, there are angels amongst us. Some are Saints, like Mother Teresa. Others may not be famous, but spread their kindness and compassion to help others.

Such people remind us that there is a better way. That we elevate ourselves when we put others first. Kindness is the antidote to world consumed with pain, hatred and violence. Because love and kindness are universal emotions.

No, I’m not some bleeding heart dreamer. Over 26 years in law enforcement taught me that some souls are violent, irredeemable monsters. Even Gandhi acknowledged, “I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence … ”

Sometimes, force is justified to stop or preempt a violent act. But what’s needed most in this world is kindness. Because kindness reflects the best of humanity, and our potential to make the world a better place.

— — —

Persistence

It takes discipline and sustained effort to succeed in life. Whether you’re building a business, learning a musical instrument, or aspiring to become a great artist.

People naturally look for shortcuts. Sometimes, there are little “hacks” and “tricks” to help you move forward faster. But in the end, most real success requires persistence.

It’s important not to confuse positive persistence with mindless repetition. Some people persistently do the same thing over and over, never recognizing that the results don’t change. They become Sisyphus.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” — Calvin Coolidge

Whatever it is you want to succeed at, take the time to do it right. Seek out mentors and quality instruction. Then, once you know you’re on the right path, embrace persistence.

It may take awhile, but then, Rome was not built in a day. Over time, your persistence will pay off. Others, perhaps competitors, will give up or move on. Meanwhile, you’ll still be plugging away, just like the tortoise.

And that’s how you win your race to success.

Before you go

I’m John Weiss. I draw old school, handcrafted cartoons and write about life. Get on my free email list here for the latest cartoons and blog posts.

This article first appeared on Medium.

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