March Book- The Tournament

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Summary:
The year is 1546.

Europe lives in fear of the powerful Islamic empire to the East. Under its charismatic Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, it is an empire on the rise. It has defeated Christian fleets. It has conquered Christian cities.

Then the Sultan sends out an invitation to every king in Europe: send forth your champion to compete in a tournament unlike any other.

We follow the English delegation, selected by King Henry VIII himself, to the glittering city of Constantinople, where the most amazing tournament ever staged will take place.

But when the stakes are this high, not everyone plays fair, and for our team of plucky English heroes, winning may not be the primary goal. As a series of barbaric murders take place, a more immediate goal might simply be staying alive…

My Take, Why its worth a read:
Simply put it has a great storyline and it’s hard to put down. The Tournament is part historic fiction and part murder mystery which always has you wondering what will happen next. It’s always gives you an insight as to how things were back in the 1500s with monarchies, religion, and relationships between sovereign nations. Any book that is over 400 pages but takes me less than a week to read is worth recommending to a friend.

 

Favorite Quote:
“There’s an Oriental saying I like: “If aggression meets empty space it tends to defeat itself.”

About the Author:
Matthew Reilly is a New York Times best-selling author of eight novels that have been published in eighteen languages in twenty countries. He has sold more than 3.5 million copies worldwide.

5 Reasons Why The Key To Happiness Is Taking Pride In Small Victories

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By Paul Hudson via Elite Daily

All we ever want to do is win. We want victories, not losses. It’s not something that can be helped as we believe loss to be innately negative. Whether or not this is in itself true is a different story. Nonetheless, it is the general consensus.

The question most of us struggle with is, obviously, what we should pursue in life. What and whom. As the future can never be protected with total certainty, we are planning our entire lives on nothing more than dreams, wishes and hopes.

Life is often as hard as it is because we feel like it should be that way. We feel life is difficult because getting what we want out of it is difficult.

Success — true success — is incredibly rare in this world. We are all capable of greatness, yet most of us fail to achieve it.

Why? Because we fail to realize and accept the smallest of victories. We’re so busy focusing on the big picture, that the smaller gifts life has to offer us pass us by.

In the long run, smaller victories may arguably be more important than the larger ones. Here’s why:

1. They give you the confidence you need to continue in pursuit.

Having larger goals, which encompass smaller ones, is important in life. It gives us a sort of purpose.

Even if the goals aren’t unique or especially profound, they do give us a reason to do the things we do. As long as you find sufficient reason to pursue something or someone, you should go ahead and pursue it.

Of course, some goals are objectively better or grander than others, but as everyone is different, with different likes and dislikes, and different capabilities, as long as good results from your goals, they are worthy pursuing.

The larger the goal, the more people and other variables it involves, the more difficult it will be to achieve. You shouldn’t let this discourage you from pursuing your dreams, no matter how daunting it seems.


2. They create momentum.

The only reason we pursue our dreams in the first place is that our egos want us to; they believe we can accomplish great things and desire that greatness. And it’s great; it’s the reason people can accomplish things others believed impossible.

The amount of energy it takes to get from point A to point B, in this scenario, however, requires a lot of energy.

When we first get started, we’re excited and anxious to get ahead. We approach the tasks at hand with enthusiasm and curiosity.

As time goes on, however, without getting the slightest taste of victory, our egos begin to question themselves.

They begin to wonder if they are as strong and intelligent as they believed themselves to be. They question if it’s even possible for them to attain their goals.

What little victories allow for is momentum — with each little win, we feel more confident in ourselves. We feel reinvigorated and begin to once again find pleasure and fascination in our work and journey.

Without this momentum, we would — plain and simple — give up. We would have no choice as we wouldn’t be able to find the energy to continue.


3. They make your failures more bearable.

If you are going to attempt anything new in life, you’re going to fail the first time, 99 percent of the time. Failure is unavoidable.

While smaller failures tend to roll off our backs, the larger ones can often hit us square in the gut, forcing us to buckle over.

The problem with pursuing bigger dreams and goals is the grander the pursuit, the more brutal the failure. The higher up that mountain you aim to climb, the bigger and rougher the fall you have to prepare for.

Picking yourself up and dusting yourself off isn’t easy. It’s easy to imagine, but much more difficult to do in practice. We tend to take failure very personally — even though we really shouldn’t.

Little victories give us tiny boosts throughout our lives, comforting us and reminding us that greater victories await you — so long as you stick it out and refuse to give up. There’s a lot in life worth giving up; giving up on yourself is not one of those things.


4. They feel really good.

They do. There are plenty of ways victories — large and small — benefit us. But it all really boils down to the fact that they make us feel better.

They make us feel happier, less stressed and worried. Even the smallest of victories have a way of bringing a smile to our faces.

In life, it can be difficult to reason whether the path we choose is worth the trouble and the risk. As there are tradeoffs to be made around every corner, every time we pursue something important, we give up on pursuing something that may prove to be equally important to us.

Large victories obviously feel the most incredible, but that feeling doesn’t last indefinitely. As human beings, we have no choice but to live in the present, only reminiscing occasionally with an air of nostalgia.

While the joy from achieving small victories won’t last any longer, they are more common — meaning that you can hoard them if you wish.


5. In the end, what matters most is the total sum of your victories.

If a person’s life is the sum of all experiences, the sum of all thought, emotion, pain, pleasure, memories, then the best way to live life is to maximize the total good in our lives.

Of course, there are plenty of arguments to be had on how we are to define “good,” but if we are talking about personal victories then we should focus on personal goodness. In that case, the best way to live our lives is to maximize the goodness we experience, feel, and create.

Quantifying our experiences from a pleasure vs. pain perspective isn’t an incredibly difficult task. Some joys are greater than others, just as some pains are greater than others.

This, of course, gets incredibly complicated when we factor in the necessity of certain pains for the bringing about of other joys, but even if we keep things as basic as possible, it makes sense that our lives must be a combination of victories, small and large alike.

The larger victories obviously rank highest, yet the smaller ones are much more common — easier to come by. More importantly, they are presented to us regularly. Where as larger victories take years and years of hard work and focus to bring to fruition.

The true problem lies in the fact that most people have a difficult time accepting these smaller victories as victories. We fail to find joy or pride in them. Which makes sense as most of us don’t put much effort into the smaller things.

We allow them to pass by without much thought and therefore without much reward. The key to a happy life may very well be finding joy in the smallest of successes.

The beauty of this is that you can collect plenty of them while on your journey toward your largest and most important life goals.

Live The Life You Love: 5 Secrets That Help Uncover Life’s Meaning

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By: Catrina Linhard via Elite Daily

“Individual human beings die very differently. Some people die having lived a life with great purpose and few regrets. These are the people that come to the end of their lives with a deep sense of having lived a full human life.

“Others die looking back with bitterness at having missed what really mattered.” — Dr. John Izzo

Talking about death is weird. The certainty of it happening, mixed with the uncertainty of when it will happen creates an emotional seesaw that feels unstable and queasy.

But, we should pay attention to our reaction when it’s brought up because whichever way we fall on the scale determines our capacity to live our lives with meaning and purpose.

Are we afraid of death? Do we ignore its inevitability? Or, do we accept its certainty? Do we use it as motivation to find our passions and let those passions reign over the rest of our lives?

Dr. John Izzo found that those who were unafraid of death lived the most prosperous lives.

In search of the wisdom behind prosperity, Izzo interviewed more than 200 people, aged 60 to 106, to whom his acquaintances referred as people who had lived life with true meaning and purpose.

These people lived all over the world, grew up with different religious backgrounds and held a wide range of careers. Each of them carried stories of wisdom gained from the trials and tribulations of life.

After a one- to three-hour interview with each of them, he boiled down their insights to five secrets. He calls these bits of wisdom “secrets,” yet they are things we already know. As he states,

“Many of us live life in daily opposition to the wisdom we already have.”

Once we find the rhythm, we can start to bridge that gap between who we are and whom we should be:

Secret 1: Be true to yourself.

“The greatest tragedy in life is to spend your whole life fishing only to discover it was never fish that you were after.” — Henry David Thoreau

Being true to yourself sounds cheesy and clichéd, like taking advice from a generalized fortune cookie. It’s easy to roll your eyes at, but clichés are clichés because they’re true.

Here’s another way to put it: You have promise yourself to live with the strength to ignore outside opinions about all the other things the world wants you to be and know what will be best for you and your abilities.

This requires knowing yourself through an uninterrupted reflection on your experiences — a noble task in today’s age of information overload. Instead of comparing your life to those others lead, spend more time asking yourself what you want to do with yours.

“Sin” is a Greek word that means “missing the target.” Being true to yourself means finding your bullseye and creating an action plan to get there.

It’s okay to miss the mark, as long as you keep moving toward it. Ask advice of others, but for every big decision you make, ask yourself if it can take you where you want to go.


Secret 2: Leave no regrets.

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” — Harriet Beecher Stowe

Not one person Izzo interviewed said he or she regretted trying something and failing. Most people said they only regretted not taking enough risks. In his own words:

“Each time we play it safe we move further away from our truest selves.”

This is not to belittle the fear of rejection and failure because most of us who have stared fear in the eye can understand how real and paralyzing it can be. But, if we can learn to look past it, we’ll see that the bigger risk is not what will happen if we act, but what won’t happen if we don’t. What’s the bigger risk?

Dare yourself to look fear in the eye, accept its presence and find out what’s standing behind its shadow.


Secret 3: Become love.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” — The Dalai Lama

We can look at love in two ways: an emotion or a choice.

You can love dumplings, Instagramming your hikes and Christmas music, but to become love means to let that emotion drive our decisions. When we are confronted with obstacles, injustice or hate, we have a choice to respond with love.

Our egos might resist that response like hipsters resist coffee from a gas station. But, unlike coffee from a gas station, choosing to respond with love is as fulfilling and invigorating as a cold brew cup from Blue Bottle coffee.

Doing so will not take away the growing pains that come with the vulnerability of love, but in the long run, it will enrich your life.


Secret 4: Judge your life less and enjoy it more.

A cancer patient was once asked, “What’s it like to know that you’re dying?” He replied, “What’s it like pretending that you’re not?”

No matter what we face, we are all heading in the same direction at a rate we can’t gauge. What we can gauge is how much we enjoy the moments we have.

When we’re caught in the stress with which life comes, we can’t forget to rejuvenate the soul by feeding it. We can’t feel guilty when we take time for ourselves.

When you have a bad relationship with yourself, chances are, your relationships with others won’t be that great, either. The relationships we build are what make life most worthwhile.


Secret 5: Give more than you take.

“Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as I can before handing it on to future generations.” — George Bernard Shaw

Imagine yourself at 70 years old, sitting in a rocking chair, reflecting on your life. You’re probably tired.

Are you a good tired or a bad tired? Are you exhausted with pain or are you exhausted having lived a life worthy of praise?

We will get out of this life exactly what we put into it. If we focus on taking care of only ourselves, we will have only ourselves. Yet, if we focus on finding our gift so we can give it away, we will receive two-fold. We lose nothing by sharing our light with others.

Ask yourself what you’d like to leave behind and achieve a good kind of tired by putting these five secrets into practice.

Quote for 3-27-15

“P.S. You’re not going to die. Here’s the white-hot truth: if you go bankrupt, you’ll still be okay. If you lose the gig, the lover, the house, you’ll still be okay. If you sing off-key, get beat by the competition, have your heart shattered, get fired…it’s not going to kill you. Ask anyone who’s been through it.”
Daneille LaPorte