Are You A Prometheus?

Prometheus

Prometheus – The Greek God

Has a Prometheus ever given you fire?

According to Greek mythology, the Titan Prometheus created man out of clay and taught them to walk uprightly as the Gods. But at that time, the Gods considered man to be an animal; men were creatures without the gift of fire, which made their earth a cold, dark, and harsh place.

In time, Prometheus learned to love mankind and wanted to help them move forward. Because of this love, Prometheus disobeyed the command of Zeus and stole fire from Mount Olympus. He then descended to earth and taught mankind how to build fires. With this gift, mankind could cook their food, build tools, stay warm—and perhaps most importantly—they could have light in the darkness. Some even say that Prometheus lingered and taught man the ways of godliness: organization, medicine, science, writing, mathematics, and agriculture.

In a jealous rage, Zeus punished Prometheus for eternity, banishing him from Mount Olympus forever.

But in spite of Zeus’s fury, mankind was never the same. The gift of fire—or the gift of light—gave them power to become as the gods.

Now I ask again, has a Prometheus ever given you fire? Has someone given you the gift of light when your world was cold, harsh, and dark?

I believe that at various points in our lives we all experience moments of Promethean fire. For whatever reason we may feel as though we are wandering in darkness—lost and afraid. But then someone comes who, because of love, gives us light. And with this light we are able to continue moving forward.

If you have identified someone in your life who has been as Prometheus—someone who gave you light during a period of darkness—I encourage you to reach out and thank them.

And then I encourage you to be as Prometheus—to give the gift of light to others. Because at some point, all of us struggle to move forward and all of us need the light of a Prometheus.

This blogpost was inspired from a section of the book Your Life Isn’t For You, now available on Amazon.com!

About these ads

My Book Is Officially Published!!!

Your Life Isn't For You in Russia

Holding an advanced copy of my book on Red Square in Moscow (click on the image to order the book)!

Wow! Today is the day that my book, Your Life Isn’t For You, is officially published. It’s a wonderful, absolutely terrifying feeling!!

Here’s the description of my book from the publisher:

In this book, Seth Adam Smith expands on the philosophy behind his extraordinarily popular blog post “Marriage Isn’t for You”—which received over 30 million hits and has been translated into over twenty languages—and shares how living for others can enrich every aspect of your life, just as it has his. With a mix of humor, candor, and compassion, he reveals how, years before his marriage, his self-obsession led to a downward spiral of addiction and depression, culminating in a suicide attempt at the age of twenty. Reflecting on the love and support he experienced in the aftermath, as well as on the lessons he learned from a difficult missionary stint in Russia, his time as a youth leader in the Arizona desert, his marriage, and even a story his father read to him as a child, he shares his deep conviction that the only way you can find your life is to give it away to others.

Your Life Isn't For You

Click on the cover to order your own copy! :D

And here are some great reviews from some really awesome people:

“A brilliantly written and insightful book. Seth’s vulnerability and honesty are irresistible—pulling you in and opening your heart to the possibility of a life without walls.” —Michael J. Merchant, President, ANASAZI Foundation

“Seth’s amazing book illustrates a powerful and proven path to happiness and gently reminds us how easily we forget this profound truth: focusing on others brings the deepest joy.” —Lindsay Hadley, founder and CEO, Hadley Impact Consulting

“Seth Adam Smith has figured out some of life’s greatest lessons through remarkable life experiences and by listening to the great teachers that were placed in his path.” —Sterling C. Tanner, President and Executive Director, Forever Young Foundation

Order a copy today and let me know what you think!

The Hidden Message of Red Square in Moscow…

Holding an advance copy of my book on Red Square. Click on the image to order a copy!

Holding an advance copy of my book on Red Square. Click on the image to order a copy!

In June, I had the amazing opportunity to revisit Moscow, Russia—one of the most beautiful and wonderful places on earth.

As I stood on the cobblestones of Moscow’s famous Red Square (home of St. Basil’s Cathedral), I couldn’t help but think about the true meaning of the term “Red Square.”

The following passage comes from my book, Your Life Isn’t For You:

“Interestingly enough, the name Red Square does not refer to the red bricks of the surrounding buildings; the word red in the Russian language has several meanings. In its archaic form, the word Красная (krasnaya) meant both “red” and “beautiful.” During the sixteenth century, the merchants that traded on the square nicknamed it “beautiful” because of the breathtaking presence of St. Basil’s Cathedral.

“But there’s an even deeper meaning to the color red. In American culture, red has been associated with anger, horror, blood, and death—all very negaitve connotations. But in the Russian culture, the color red is almost the exact opposite. Red is the color of passion, of revolutionary growth, of the blood that keeps us alive, and is a symbolic color for the sun.

“Red, therefore, means both light and life. In a poetic sense, as I was standing on Red Square, I was standing on the very heart of Russia. And in the heart of Russia, my heart was changed.”

Check out the video below to see footage Red Square (all of it filmed by me). Special thanks to David Tolk for letting me use his incredible music.

The Legend of the Northern Lights

“Look to the light and swim to the top of the Great Mountain. There you will find your home. There you will swim in the eternal river of the sky.”

I worked on this legend (and video) for a very long time. I  included it in my book, Your Life Isn’t For You, with the sincere desire that it will help guide others forward. If it inspires you, please—as a special favor to me—share it with others.

I am profoundly grateful for Ashley Collett (for creating such amazing illustrations) and for David Tolk (for allowing me to use his beautiful music). Underneath the video is the FULL text of the legend.

It is said that not long after their creation, the salmon lost their way. Aimlessly, they swam in the rivers and waters of Alaska. But in their wanderings, they found neither home nor rest.

Overcome with fear and despair, they began to fight among themselves. But their fighting only deepened their fears and worsened their condition.

Then one day, a legendary being appeared to them at the base of the Great Mountain—a beast of unspeakable wisdom and healing: the White Bear. The Bear came to the edge of the waters and called to the salmon.

“Look to the light of the North Star,” said the Bear. “Look to the light and swim to the top of the Great Mountain. There you will find your home. There you will swim in the eternal river of the sky.”

The salmon wondered at such a thing. Could it be true? If they followed the North Star, would they be able to swim in an eternal river?

Some of the salmon ignored the White Bear, while others fled in terror. Bears often ate salmon; perhaps his offer was just a clever trap. The smallest of the salmon peeked out of the water and spoke to the Bear. “How can we swim upstream? It is against our nature. We do not have the strength.”

“If you look upward and fight onward,” replied the Bear, “you can conquer the Great Mountain.”

And so it was that those who chose to follow the North Star began the long journey to the summit of the Great Mountain. Swimming upstream was tiring, difficult, and painful. Some of the salmon turned back. Those who remained began to feel discouraged.

“Look to the heavens,” reminded one of the salmon.

The other salmon looked up. High above them was the night sky, filled with numberless glittering stars. Despite the darkness of the hour, the light from these stars reminded the salmon of the Bear’s promise.

With renewed energy, the salmon fought to swim upstream—growing in strength and desire with every passing moment. As they moved forward, the salmon discovered that they were being filled with a beautiful new light. Their bodies underwent a transformation, changing colors from silvers and grays to magnificent greens and reds.

After a long time of difficult swimming, the salmon made it to the very top of the Great Mountain.

And as they peeked out from the water to look upon the stars, they found—to their astonishment and joy—that they could touch the night sky. It was not an endless expanse of air as they had assumed, but an endless expanse of water.

The night sky was as the White Bear had spoken. It was an eternal river.

These former wanderers wanted more than anything to swim in that water, to live among the stars. But something inside of them held them back. They looked down the mountain to the valley below and distantly saw the other salmon lost in the darkness below. “What about them?” they wondered aloud. “We want to share this joy and happiness with them as well.”

As they said these things, the White Bear once again appeared before them. He told them that in order for the salmon to help those who were struggling below, they must swim in the eternal river and become a light for those who were wandering in darkness. But in order to swim in the eternal river, they would have to give up their lives.

Knowing what they truly wanted, the salmon let go of all their doubts and fears, and dove into the night sky—passing from this world into the next. Then, they who had become so full of life and light themselves became the Northern Lights—a river of light to guide the way for others who wander in darkness.

And from their death sprang a new generation of salmon, who swam down the mountainside to show others the way home.

I Made A “Literal” Tree!

“I think I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree.” (Joyce Kilmer)

I love reading and I love autumn. So, naturally, I ripped out the pages of some of my favorite books, plastered them on the wall, and painted a tree above my desk. Now I have a “literal” tree in my office!!!

Ain’t it purdy?

Literal Tree 01

That’s my desk right there. See it? I’ve had the same desk ever since I was six. True story. And I’m NOT parting with it.

Literal Tree 02

This is what it looks like up there. Neato torpedo.

Literal Tree 04

This is a leaf. It isn’t real. I taped it to the wall. No plants were hurt in the making of this wall. (Except for the trees that were cut down to make the pages of the book—sorry guys!)

Literal Tree 03

I got this paint at Target. I got the brush there too. I got the leaves from a friend. I got the desk from my dad. I got the natural lighting from God. High fives all around!

Justin Bieber and the Nude Photograph Backlash

I try my best to be an optimist, but sometimes the news gets me down. The world seems particularly depressing as of late: the situation in Ukraine, the Ebola outbreak in Africa, violence in the Middle East, the gruesome beheadings by ISIS, and so much more.

There are so many problems in the world that are practically screaming for help—yet Justin Bieber is once again trending on Facebook:

Justin Bieber News

Trendy?

To be fair, many of the things that trend on Facebook are merely headlines for a day—they flash briefly before giving way to larger and more pressing stories. Yet it never ceases to amaze me that a person like Justin Bieber commands so much attention. He seems to care so little about the world and yet the world cares so much about him.

Why? Why do we give so much time, energy, and money to such trivial things? Some time ago I tried—to the best of my ability—to bring attention to the Yazidi genocide in Iraq. I conducted a video interview, wrote an article, and contacted numerous media contacts.

The result? The article had less than a thousand views.

Immediately afterward, I posted an article called “7 Things That Will Make You Laugh.” I’m sad to say that the article has had significantly more clicks and views than my article on Iraq.

To be clear, we’re talking about genocide vs. giggles.

On the flip side of all this, I applaud the backlash against the nude photographs that were stolen from numerous celebrities. It’s been remarkable to see a significant portion of our society rally around the victims of a disgusting crime. With the amount of energy and zeal behind this, it sends a clear message to any would-be wrongdoers and I have no doubt that the perpetrator will soon be found and brought to justice.

Seeing all of this, I hope that we can also invest the same level of energy and zeal behind other worthwhile causes. Because the world is screaming for help—and we have the power to help—but are we listening?

20 Life-Changing Books!

Life-Changing Books

If you want to change your body, change what you eat and how you exercise. If you want to change your outlook on life, change what you read and put it into practice.

Listed below are twenty life-changing books. Unless you are determined to be miserable (which, strangely enough, some people are) these books will change your life for the better. Click on the titles to order a copy for yourself, then mark them up and put them into practice.

Man's Search for Meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning

1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – In this book, the author details his experiences in an Auschwitz concentration camp, while simultaneously sharing his perspective on living a meaningful life. The book has sold well over 10 million copies and has been consistently listed as one of the most influential books ever written. From the book: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

2. As A Man Thinketh by James Allen – Although you could probably finish this little booklet in less than an hour or two, its words are powerful and profound. Words like these: “A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”

3. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – In this book, the author addresses how to find deep personal worth while living in a world that is constantly bombarded by messages of who, what, and how we should be. From the book: “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – This is a fantastic, beautiful narrative about finding out who we are and fearlessly chasing our own “personal legend.” In this book, Coelho says: “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo – Does this book really need any explaining? It follows the life of reformed convict, Jean Valjean, and illustrates the power and beauty of redemption. From the book: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

6. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch – Diagnosed with terminal, pancreatic cancer, professor Randy Pausch delivered his “last lecture” at Carnegie Mellon in September of 2007. His lecture was structured around the hypothetical question: “What wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?” The book fleshes out the ideas presented in the last lecture and was co-authored and approved by Pausch before he died. From the book: “The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.”

7. To Kill a Mockingbird – To put it simply, Atticus Finch is one of the best, noblest characters ever written into existence. From the book: “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

8. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck – Where do I start? This book is honestly one of my absolute favorite books of all time. It is packed with incredible insight and solutions for confronting and solving some of life’s greatest problems. For example, consider this: “Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and wisdom.”

9. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson – This book helps you overcome “the small stuff” that can drive you crazy. It is filled with supportive and thoughtful suggestions on how to live a more peaceful life. From the book: “…when you let go of your expectations, when you accept life as it is, you’re free.To hold on is to be serious and uptight. To let go is to lighten up.”

The Seven Paths

The Seven Paths

10. The Seven Paths by the Anasazi Foundation – This poetic, evocative story presents the meditations of an ancient Anasazi tribesman who learns that the point of life’s walk is how one is moved in the heart. He walks seven paths, each teaching a lesson symbolized by an element of the natural world: light, wind, water, stone, plants, animals, and, finally, the unity of all beings with the Creator.

11. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne – In this bestselling book, various individuals share their insight and experience with “The Secret” (the law of attraction). While this book can get a little mystical, it does a really good job at explaining how our mental outlook can affect all areas of our lives (for you business types, I would also recommend Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill).

12. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey – This book is consistently listed as one of the most inspiring books ever written and has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. From the book: “But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”

13. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis – If you’d like to read some more inspirational fiction, check out these classics by C. S. Lewis. Not only are they entertaining, but they’re also filled with timeless wisdom about addiction, sin, guilt, and the nature of man. Plus, the seventh book is quite possibly one of the most beautiful fiction books I’ve ever read. From the book: “Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

14. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – I’m a fairly introverted person, so I’m not exactly going out of my way to meet new people. But this book provides some great, practical advice on working with and helping people. I’m a big believer finding happiness  From the book: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

15. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino – This book probably isn’t what you think it is, but I won’t spoil the surprise. From the book: “Wealth, my son, should never be your goal in life. Your words are eloquent but they are mere words. True wealth is of the heart, not of the purse.”

16. The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis – In this allegorical story, a busload of sinners leave the depths of hell to see what heaven might be like. When they get there, they are told that they can stay in heaven if they can give up the sins that are holding them back. Through an array of characters struggling with different vices, C. S. Lewis masterfully illustrates that, more often than not, we are the very things that are holding ourselves back.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief

17. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I don’t even know how to describe this book. It’s beautiful, heart-breaking, yet very comforting—all at the same time. It tells the story of a little girl growing up in Germany during World War II. There is one scene in the book (which was left out of the movie) that is absolutely astounding—reading that one scene is worth every minute spent reading the whole book.

18. The Shack by William P. Young – After his youngest daughter is murdered by a serial killer, Mackenzie Allen Phillips receives a mysterious note—apparently from God—telling him to return to “the shack,” the scene of the crime. What happens next is a spiritual journey of love and forgiveness that forever changes his life. From the book: “[...] love is much stronger than your fault could ever be.”

19. The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett – This book is a massive collection of some of the greatest stories ever told. I actually have a copy of it on the corner of my desk right now—one of the stories in that book changed my life.

20. Sacred Writings – I don’t know if you’re a religious person or not, so this one is entirely up to you. But I believe that many religions contain incredible, invaluable, time-tested truths—and we would be foolish to simply ignore them. At the very least, there’s something to be said of getting in touch with your religious/cultural roots.

If you like any of these books, please be sure to check out my upcoming book “Your Life Isn’t For You.” In it, I draw upon inspirational stories from history and literature to illustrate my deep conviction that the only way you can truly find and live your life is to give it away to others.

Did Mitt Romney REALLY Lose?

Mitt-Romney-successful

Mitt Romney

Ever since the 2012 Presidential Election, I have wondered, did Mitt Romney REALLY lose?

Now, before you get yourselves all worked up over politics, cool it. This isn’t about politics. I’m just trying to convey an important idea.

Whenever a major election comes to an end, the “loser” tends to disappear from the spotlight—becoming little more than a joke for talking-heads and an example of what not to do for future candidates. But for some reason, Mitt Romney’s name keeps surfacing in a favorable light. In fact, two well-known MSNBC commentators recently lamented the fact that Mitt Romney isn’t currently the president.

But again, this isn’t about politics. It’s about something much deeper than that.

These past few years, I’ve had the privilege of working with a number of charities that have benefited greatly from the efforts and donations of Mitt Romney. And, although I’ve never met him, I know a lot of people who have worked closely with him. From what I can gather, Governor Romney is a prodigiously charitable and sincere man.

Not only has Mitt Romney donated millions to charities, but he’s also rendered incredible, heart-warming service to those in need.

Knowing just a handful of things he’s done to help people, it’s hard for me to understand why some people dislike Romney so much. Throughout his political career, a lot of people have attacked him for being wealthy. But truthfully, Governor Romney spends a lot of his resources to help other people.

Here is just one example of many:

In 1995, Romney heard about the Nixons, a family who moved to Boston. Soon after, a car wreck left their sons paraplegic. Romney called and asked if they were available on Christmas Eve. Romney, his wife, and his sons arrived with a stereo and other gifts for the crippled boys. Romney offered to put them through college and supported them through numerous fundraisers. As their father told Kranish and Helman, “It wasn’t a one-time thing.” (Source: National Review)

Recently, Mitt and Ann Romney inaugurated the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases—a research center dedicated to fighting MS, Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s, and brain tumors. If you’ve followed my writings for very long, you’ll know that I’m particularly sensitive about a number of issues, one of them being multiple sclerosis (my grandmother had MS). I can’t describe to you how much something like this means to me.

So with that in mind, I ask you again: did Mitt Romney really lose? He lost the election, sure, but he gained a wider circle of respect, media attention, and influence, which he’s now using to promote wonderful, meaningful causes and help thousands of people.

I think there’s a lesson here for all of us: When we are met with defeat, we don’t simply lose. Not really. The only time we really lose is when we give up on ourselves and others.

And from what I can see, Mitt Romney not only won, he is still winning.

Why You Should Read to Your Children

Read to ChildFew topics are as near and dear to me as reading. I absolutely love books and the power that words have to transform our lives and heal our souls.

When I was young, my dad sat down and read a bedtime story to my sister Jaimie and me. Now, he may have read to us on other occasions, but that is the one and only time that I can remember him doing so. I remember where we were, the words that he read, and even the inflection in his voice.

The story he read—and the meaning behind it—made such an impact on me that I have carried that same book with me throughout my life. (True story. It’s on the corner of my desk right now.) The story transformed my life, and it’s now the backbone of my non-fiction book that will be published in September.

Now, why am I telling you all of this? Because although it may seem like such a simple thing, taking the time to read to children can change their lives for the better. Not only can it have a positive impact on their character and future relationships, but multiple studies have highlighted the educational benefits of reading to children at an early age.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association:

“Toddlers are like little scientists.” They explore with all their senses, learn trial and error, cause and effect, and their brain growth increases through personal interaction with parents, grandparents, caregivers, and even other children. Reading aloud, laughing, talking, and exploring books together from an early age significantly improves language development and literacy outcomes for children in the long run.”

To meet the need of these “little scientists,” one of my friends is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for a new type of book called Pictivities. The project is so innovative that it’s actually been selected by Kickstarter as a Staff Pick:

“Pictivities is a new series of board books for young children. The books are designed to generate interaction between reader and child by linking pictures to words and actions. On each page there is a picture button that shows an object, animal, or person. Each image is also linked to an action. You prompt your child to touch the button and then you both say and do the action together.”

All the words and pictures for the first Pictivities book are DONE and the funds generated from this Kickstarter campaign will help finance the first print run of the book. As they’re nearing the deadline, I would humbly ask that you check out their project and donate generously. The authors themselves have partnered with several organizations to help donate copies of their books to charity.

Reading to your children is so important and I couldn’t endorse this project more. Please click on the image below to watch their video and make a pledge to help make Pictivities a reality.

Reading to Children