What Is The Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?

Giving — or getting — advice is a tricky thing. You have to be in the right frame of mind to hear advice and really learn a lesson from it.

And yet, given at the right time, by the right person, in the right way, advice can be life-changing. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that wise counsel can change the course of your future, and can influence some of the most momentous decisions from that point on.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What book has had the biggest impact on you?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘How do you show thanks?’


It can come from many possible sources. Some are expected, like parents or a mentor. You might come across it in an inspirational book, perhaps a teacher or a religious figure. Or it might come from a less-expected source, like someone you don’t know particularly well, or perhaps a fortune cookie. Inspiration can come from the unlikeliest sources, as long as you are open to it.

Have you gotten powerful, meaningful guidance that has stayed with you over the years? What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Related questions: What advice would you give your past self? Have you ever had a mentor? Been a mentor? Who inspires you? What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever learned?

 

What Does Spirituality Mean To You?

The word “spirituality” means different things to different people.

For some, the word may conjure up visions of a religious ceremony, attended by a cleric, with or without a choir and a sacred text.

Others might think of healing crystals and psychic readings.

Some people think spirituality simply means a walk in the woods, listening to the gentle sounds of nature.

Each person must decide the right way for him or her to commune with something greater than themselves.

Do you have a preferred way? Perhaps meditation? Praying? Ouija board? Tarot deck? Magic eight ball?

What does spirituality mean to you? Are there certain rituals you follow? And how did you come to your views on this very personal belief?

Related questions: Do you believe in the supernatural? Are science and religion compatible? What gives you purpose?

Do You Believe In Fate?

There are many examples of fate or predestination in our culture. It was meant to be. If it is meant to happen, it will happen.

The idea of fate has a powerful appeal. It relieves us of responsibility. And in a world where we are drowning in our responsibilities, that can be attractive.

Fate and Religion

Sometimes, the idea of fate is tied to religion. If God has a plan for all of us, then we can have hope for the future, and that things will turn out alright, even if they seem dark right now. We all need hope to get us through trying times.

However, doesn’t the idea of fate, or a grand plan, negate the very foundation of religion? It is important that we have free will, so that our choices, for better or worse, have some meaning.

Fate and Science

Nineteenth-century science promoted the concept of a deterministic universe. If we know the position of all the particles in the universe, and where they are going and how fast, we can predict where they will end up. The universe, in that way, is like a giant, complicated billiard table.

Quantum mechanics changed that. Uncertainty was discovered to be a fundamental part of the way the quantum world of tiny, fast-moving particles works.

So it would seem that science is moving away from the concept of the deterministic universe, which would seem to leave out fate. But we don’t live in the quantum world, and the scientific principles of a mechanistic universe apply perfectly well to objects our size and going at our speed.

Fate and Us

It is easy to see the appeal of fate when an important event is about to happen or a crucial decision needs to be made. If I have an interview for a job that I really want to get, it feels good to believe that the decision is already made and all the players are just going through the motions.

It can also bring comfort at a traumatic time. When someone dies unexpectedly, it feels good to think that it was not a senseless death, but rather that it was part of some larger plan of which we are not aware.

But is that realistic? It’s also important to our sense of self to believe that we have free will. Oftentimes, it seems that people simply believe in fate or in free will as they want, without any larger thought to consistency. But maybe that’s okay.

Do you believe in fate? If so, are there certain circumstances where fate is easier to accept? Or is the idea of fate simply useful as a crutch or as a way to hold on to hope?

Related questions: How much of our thoughts are our own? What beliefs do you have that might be wrong? Are science and religion compatible? Free will or predestination? Is it a cruel world?

How Important Is Ceremony?

In some ways, we exalt the ceremonies in our lives. Between following a prescribed set of actions and repeating certain words, a ritual can make us feel grounded in reality or soaring among the stars. A ceremony, whether it is religious or secular in nature, cements our place in a community.

However, our word choices sometimes suggest that they are not so important. For example, if a role is “largely ceremonial” it means it has few if any actual duties or responsibilities.

It seems that we often treat ritual as a sacred event, but one that is divorced from everyday relevance. And yet, everyone is surrounded by ceremonial activities, often in many different walks of life.

So which is it? Do we live our lives according to the rituals set forth from those who have come before? Or do the ceremonies we attend have at most some symbolic place in our lives, but no real significance?

How important is ceremony?

Related questions: What makes a tradition? What does it mean to be thankful? Why do we feel the need to belong? What do we have in common? What makes a community?