O Captain My Captain – Robin Williams

O Captain! My Captain!

Tribute to Robin McLaurin Williams
(July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014)
who has passed away on Monday at age 63. Although Robin is no longer with us now, his work and contributions will be an everlasting legacy that serves as an inspiration to many generations to come.

His wife, Susan Schneider, said in a statement on Monday, “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings.”
She added: “As he is remembered, it is out hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

My initial exposure to Robin Williams was from the film “Dead Poets Society” where he starred as John Keating. An unorthodox English teacher, he taught us how to look at the world in a different way. To always Seize the Day – Carpe Diem, to make our lives extraordinary, to challenge social norms and status quo, and to be passionate about what you love and have the courage to follow your dreams despite discouragement from neysayers.

Below are some famous quotes you can find in the film Dead Poets Society:

I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life… to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Poetry, Beauty, Romance, Love, these are what we stay alive for.

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

“There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.”

“Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!”

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?”
Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

17/8/2014 – Just finished watching Good Will Hunting. Written by Affleck and Damon, the film follows 20-year-old South Boston laborer Will Hunting (Matt Damon), an unrecognized genius who, as part of a deferred prosecution agreement after assaulting a police officer, becomes a patient of a therapist (Robin Williams) and studies advanced mathematics with a renowned professor (Skarsgård). Through his therapy sessions, Will re-evaluates his relationships with his best friend Chuckie (Affleck), his girlfriend Skylar (Driver), and himself, facing the significant task of thinking about his future.

Sean: Thought about what you said to me the other day, about my painting. Stayed up half the night thinking about it. Something occurred to me… fell into a deep peaceful sleep, and haven’t thought about you since. Do you know what occurred to me?

Will: No.

Sean: You’re just a kid, you don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talkin’ about.

Will: Why thank you.

Sean: It’s all right. You’ve never been out of Boston.

Will: Nope.

Sean: So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You’re a tough kid. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, “once more unto the breach dear friends.” But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms “visiting hours” don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you… I don’t see an intelligent, confident man… I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you’re a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my fucking life apart. You’re an orphan right?

[Will nods]

Sean: You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally… I don’t give a shit about all that, because you know what, I can’t learn anything from you, I can’t read in some fuckin’ book. Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I’m fascinated. I’m in. But you don’t want to do that do you sport? You’re terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief.

Will: [about Skylar] Don’t worry about me, I know what I’m doin’. Yeah, but this girl is like, you know, beautiful. She’s smart. She’s funny. She’s different from most of the girls I’ve been with.

Sean: So, call her up, Romeo.

Will: Why? So I can realize she’s not that smart, that she’s fuckin’ boring? Y’know? I mean…this girl is like fuckin’ perfect right now, I don’t wanna ruin that.

Sean: Maybe you’re perfect right now. Maybe you don’t wanna ruin that. I think that’s a super philosophy, Will, that way you can go through your entire life without ever having to really know anybody…My wife used to fart when she was nervous. She had all sorts of wonderful idiosyncrasies. You know what? She used to fart in her sleep. [they laugh] Sorry I shared that with you. One night it was so loud it woke the dog up. She woke up and gone like “oh was that you?” I’d say yeah…I didn’t have the heart to tell her…[cracks up] Oh God…

Will: [laughing hysterically] She woke herself up?

Sean: [in hysterics himself] Yes!…. Oh Christ….aahhh, but, Will, she’s been dead two years and that’s the shit I remember. [Will stops laughing] Wonderful stuff, you know, little things like that. Ah, but, those are the things I miss the most. The little idiosyncrasies that only I knew about. That’s what made her my wife. Oh, and she had the goods on me, too; she knew all my little peccadillos. People call these things imperfections, but they’re not — aw that’s the good stuff. And then we get to choose who we let into our weird little worlds. You’re not perfect, sport. And let me save you the suspense. This girl you met, she isn’t perfect either. But the question is: whether or not you’re perfect for each other. That’s the whole deal. That’s what intimacy is all about. Now you can know everything in the world, sport, but the only way you’re findin’ out that one is by givin’ it a shot. You certainly won’t learn from an old fucker like me. Even if I did know, I wouldn’t tell a pissant like you.

Will: Why not? You told me every other fuckin’ thing. Jesus Christ. Fuckin’ talk more than any shrink I ever seen in my life.

Sean: I teach this shit, I didn’t say I know how to do it.

Will: Yeah…You ever think about gettin’ remarried?

Sean: My wife’s dead.

Will: Hence the word: remarried.

Sean: She’s dead.

Will: Yeah…Well, I think that’s a super philosophy, Sean. I mean that way you could actually go through the rest of your life without ever really knowing anybody.

Sean: [smiles uncomfortably] Time’s up.

Related Post:
Robin Williams Inspirational Movie Speech


Promittere – Because I said I would

Because I said I would is a social movement dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the importance of a promise.

Founder Alex Sheen’s father died of small cell lung cancer on September 4th, 2012. His father was good with his promises, so Alex titled his father’s eulogy “because I said I would” and created the promise card in his memory. Eventually Alex would decide to resign from his corporate position in order to advance because I said I would‘s mission.

To encourage positive change and acts of kindness, because I said I would send “promise cards“ to anywhere in the world at no cost. People use these cards to remember the importance of their word, for promises both big and small. It might just seem like a piece of paper, but those promise cards have motivated people to stick with their commitments to better humanity. A heroin addict’s promise to stay in rehab. A young girl’s promise to stop cutting herself. Or a simple promise to volunteer at the local food bank.

This social movement came into the spotlight when a video confession was recorded and released to the public of a drink and drive fatal accident.

Matthew Cordle has been sentenced to 6.5 years in prison with no chance of early release and a lifetime driver’s license suspension. As Matthew promised, he plead guilty and took responsibility for the horrible crime that ended Vincent Canzani’s life. Because I said I would recorded and released Matthew’s confession video with the hope that it would convince others to make the commitment to not drink and drive.

During the sentencing hearing, Cordle read a statement to the court: “The true punishment is simply living. Living with the knowledge I took a man’s life.”

On a lighter note, look back at your life and reflect on it. Think of all the broken promises and unkept resolutions that you fail to fulfill. You can make things better if you stay true to your promises.

Write your promise down and let it be a symbol of your commitment.

Stay true to your word. Don’t give up.

It may just be a piece of paper, but sometimes you just need something to hold on to.

Get your promise cards and start with a small promise to yourself or your loved ones.

Visit the website to find out more: because I said I would

Sam Berns Philosophy for a Happy Life

Sam Berns's Philosophy for a Happy Life
Sam Berns’s Philosophy for a Happy Life

Sam Berns was a junior at Foxboro High School in Foxboro, Massachusetts, where he had achieved highest honours and was a percussion section leader in the high school marching band. He had achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.
17-year-old Sam Berns was diagnosed with Progeria, a rare, rapid aging disease, at the age of 2. He outlived the 13-years expected life expectancy and continued living his life while raising awareness about the disease.
Despite being stricken by a terrible illness, Sam did not let the disease define him, and encouraged others to live with a positive mentality, something he stressed during his talk at the TEDxMidAtlantic conference.

In his TEDx talk, he spoke of his heart’s desire: to play the snare drum with the Foxborough High School marching band. The trouble was that the drum and its harness weighed 40 pounds and Sam barely weighed 50 pounds. Together with his parents and an engineer, they managed to develop a snare drum apparatus weighing only about six pounds, thus fulfilling his ambition of performing and marching with the band.

The main takeaway from the talk is his attitude towards Life despite having to live with such a rare illness

Sam Berns’s Philosophy for a Happy Life:

  1. Be OK with what you ultimately can’t do, because there is so much you CAN do
  2. Surround yourself with people you want to be around
  3. Keep moving forward
  4. Never miss a party if you can help it

No matter what I choose to become, I believe that I can change the world.
And as I’m striving to change the world, I will be happy.

He was featured in the documentary Life According to Sam, which premiered on HBO on October 21, 2013.

Tribute to Sam Berns (October 23, 1996 – January 10, 2014)

Hundred Family Surnames 百家姓 with Pinyin

The Hundred Family Surnames <<百家姓>> is a classic Chinese text written in the tenth century. The original list consists of 411 surnames, but was expanded to 504 surnames. 60 of these are duo-character surnames. The text is arranged in a poetic manner – lines of eight characters – to facilitate memorization by school children. The first four surnames – 赵, 钱, 孙, 李 – are believed to represent the most important families in the empire at that time. Other than this, the surnames are not arranged in commonality.

The Three Character Classic <<三字经>>, The Hundred Family Surnames <<百家姓>>, and The Thousand Character Classic <<千字文>> are prominently known as San Bai Qian <<三百千>>, from the first Chinese character in their respective titles. These three texts are widely used in China in the past to educate children on basic Mandarin literacy, and most importantly, the deep and rich Chinese culture that are described within these classics.

Below is the copy in Simplified Chinese with Pinyin of the timeless classic.

The Hundred Family Surnames



































































































































































































































































































































The last four characters in red indicates the end of the list.

Here in Singapore, the top three most common surnames are 陈, 林, and 李.
Kudos to that! [My surname is Tan (陈chén) and our respected founding father of modern Singapore Lee Kuan Yew has the surname Lee (李lǐ)]

See related page
One Hundred Names – China Sage

101 Motivational Quotes & Images Compilation

Managed to compile 101 Motivational Quotes & Images!
The page is finally completed!

Visit the static page in the link below to view the wordpress compilation.


Alternatively, the author has also compiled them into a powerpoint presentation for offline reading.
You may download the slides from the following URL:


Want to change the world? Start off by making your own bed!

University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address

Adm. William H. McRaven is the ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. He is a Navy admiral and former commander of SEAL Team 3, acclaimed for leading the mission to find Osama bin Laden. On May 17, Adm. McRaven delivered the commencement address at his alma mater, University of Texas at Austin.

10 Valuable Life Lessons by Adm. William H.McRaven

  1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
  2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
  3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
  4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.
  5. If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.
  6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.
  7. If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
  8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
  9. If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
  10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away starting to change the world — for the better.

It will not be easy.

But, YOU are the class of 2014 — the class that can affect the lives of 800 million people in the next century.

Start each day with a task completed.

Find someone to help you through life.

Respect everyone.

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up – if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and — what started here will indeed have changed the world — for the better.

Below is the full video transcript:

It’s been almost 37 years to the day that I graduated from UT.

I remember a lot of things about that day.

I remember I had throbbing headache from a party the night before. I remember I had a serious girlfriend, whom I later married — that’s important to remember by the way — and I remember that I was getting commissioned in the Navy that day.

But of all the things I remember, I don’t have a clue who the commencement speaker was that evening and I certainly don’t remember anything they said.

So…acknowledging that fact — if I can’t make this commencement speech memorable — I will at least try to make it short.

The University’s slogan is,

“What starts here changes the world.”

I have to admit – I kinda like it.

“What starts here changes the world.”

Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT.

That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their life time.

That’s a lot of folks.

But, if every one of you changed the lives of just ten people – and each one of those folks changed the lives of another ten people — just ten — then in five generations — 125 years — the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.

800 million people — think of it — over twice the population of the United States. Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world — 8 billion people.

If you think it’s hard to change the lives of ten people — change their lives forever — you’re wrong.

I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the ten soldiers in his squad are saved from close-in ambush.

In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a non-commissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn’t right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500-pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers.

But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn – were also saved. And their children’s children — were saved.

Generations were saved by one decision — by one person.

But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.

So, what starts here can indeed change the world, but the question is…what will the world look like after you change it?

Well, I am confident that it will look much, much better, but if you will humour this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better a world.

And while these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform.

It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status.

Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward — changing ourselves and the world around us — will apply equally to all.

I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, California.

Basic SEAL training is six months of long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.

It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.

But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships.

To me basic SEAL training was a life time of challenges crammed into six months.

So, here are the ten lessons I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.

If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centred just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack — rack — that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task – mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that we were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs – but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

  1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students – three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy.

Every day your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surfzone and paddle several miles down the coast.

In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in.

Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain. Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.

For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.

You can’t change the world alone — you will need some help – and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.

  1. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class which started with 150 men was down to just 35. There were now six boat crews of seven men each.

I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the the little guys — the munchkin crew we called them – no one was over about 5-foot-five.

The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African American, one Polish America, one Greek American, one Italian American, and two tough kids from the mid-west.

They out paddled, out-ran, and out-swam all the other boat crews.

The big men in the other boat crews would always make good-natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim.

But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the nation and the world, always had the last laugh – swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.

SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.

  1. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.

Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection. It was exceptionally thorough.

Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt-buckle shiny and void of any smudges.

But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle — it just wasn’t good enough.

The instructors would fine “something” wrong.

For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed into the surf zone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand.

The effect was known as a “sugar cookie.” You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day — cold, wet and sandy.

There were many students who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right — it was unappreciated.

Those students didn’t make it through training.

Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.

Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie.

It’s just the way life is sometimes.

  1. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events – long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics — something designed to test your mettle.

Every event had standards — times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to — a “circus.”

A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics — designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.

No one wanted a circus.

A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue – and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult – and more circuses were likely.

But at some time during SEAL training, everyone — everyone – made the circus list.

But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Overtime those students — who did two hours of extra calisthenics – got stronger and stronger.

The pain of the circuses built inner strength — built physical resiliency.

Life is filled with circuses.

You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.

  1. But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.

At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a ten-foot high wall, a 30-foot cargo net, and a barbed wire crawl to name a few.

But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three-level 30-foot tower at one end and a one-level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot long rope.

You had to climb the three-tiered tower and once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.

The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977.

The record seemed unbeatable, until one day, a student decided to go down the slide for life – head first.

Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward.

It was a dangerous move – seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training.

Without hesitation – the student slid down the rope – perilously fast, instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.

  1. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

During the land warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente Island which lies off the coast of San Diego.

The waters off San Clemente are a breeding ground for the great white sharks. To pass SEAL training there are a series of long swims that must be completed. One is the night swim.

Before the swim the instructors joyfully brief the trainees on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente.

They assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark — at least not recently.

But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position — stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid.

And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you — then summon up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away.

There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.

  1. So, If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

As Navy SEALs one of our jobs is to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping. We practiced this technique extensively during basic training.

The ship attack mission is where a pair of SEAL divers is dropped off outside an enemy harbour and then swims well over two miles — underwater – using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target.

During the entire swim, even well below the surface there is some light that comes through. It is comforting to know that there is open water above you.

But as you approach the ship, which is tied to a pier, the light begins to fade. The steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight – it blocks the surrounding street lamps – it blocks all ambient light.

To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel — the centreline and the deepest part of the ship.

This is your objective. But the keel is also the darkest part of the ship — where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, where the noise from the ship’s machinery is deafening and where it is easy to get disoriented and fail.

Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission – is the time when you must be calm, composed — when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bare.

  1. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.

The ninth week of training is referred to as “Hell Week.” It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and one special day at the Mud Flats — the Mud Flats are area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slues — a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.

It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors.

As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some “egregious infraction of the rules” was ordered into the mud.

The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit — just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold.

Looking around the mud flat it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over 8 hours till the sun came up – eight more hours of bone chilling cold.

The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything – and then, one voice began to echo through the night — one voice raised in song.

The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiastic.

One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing.

We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well.

The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing — but the singing persisted.

And somehow – the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.

If I have learned anything in my time travelling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person — Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan — Malala — one person can change the world by giving people hope.

  1. So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.

Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the centre of the compound for all the students to see.

All you have to do to quit is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims.

Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT — and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.

Just ring the bell.

  1. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away starting to change the world — for the better.

It will not be easy.

But, YOU are the class of 2014 — the class that can affect the lives of 800 million people in the next century.

Start each day with a task completed.

Find someone to help you through life.

Respect everyone.

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up – if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and — what started here will indeed have changed the world — for the better.

Thank you very much. Hook ‘em horns.

Overcoming Hopelessness by Nick Vujicic

Nicholas James – “NickVujicic – is an Australian Christian evangelist and motivational speaker born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterised by the absence of all four limbs. As a child, he struggled mentally and emotionally as well as physically, but eventually came to terms with his disability and, at the age of seventeen, started his own non-profit organisation, Life Without Limbs. Vujicic presents motivational speeches worldwide which focus on life with a disability, hope and finding meaning in life. He also speaks about his belief that God can use any willing heart to do his work and that God is big enough to overcome any disability.

I never met a bitter person who was thankful. Or a thankful person who was bitter - Nick Vujicic
I never met a bitter person who was thankful. Or a thankful person who was bitter – Nick Vujicic

Quotes by Nick Vujicic:

  1. If you can’t get a miracle, become one.
  2. You are awesome just the way you are.
  3. Life without limbs? Or life without limits?
  4. FAITH: Full Assurance In The Heart.
  5. If I fail, I try again, and again, and again.
  6. You can’t even stand without risking to fall.
  7. Some injuries heal more quickly if you keep moving.
  8. The greater the struggle the more glorious the triumph.
  9. God’s love is so real that He created you to prove it.
  10. FEAR is often described as False Evidence Appearing Real.
  11. I am God’s creation, designed according to His plan for me.
  12. People always complain that they can’t do this and they can’t do that.
  13. Trade the life of self pity, that I was living, for a life of purpose!
  14. In life you have a choice: Bitter or Better? Choose better, forget bitter.
  15. There are things in your life that you can’t control and gotta live with.
  16. I never met a bitter person who was thankful. Or a thankful person who was bitter.
  17. Don’t put your life on hold so that you can dwell on the unfairness of past hurts.
  18. I am gonna to try and try again, because the moment I give up, is the moment I fail.
  19. It’s a lie to think you’re not good enough. It’s a lie to think you’re not worth anything.
  20. What really matters are the lives you touch along the way and how you finish your journey.
  21. I have the choice to be angry at God for what i don’t have, or be thankful for what i do have.
  22. Keep moving ahead because action creates momentum, which in turn creates unanticipated opportunities.
  23. The challenges in our lives are there to strengthen our convictions. They are not there to run us over.
  24. God gave you just one mouth but He gave you two ears, so you should listen twice as much as you speak.
  25. To wish for change will change nothing. To make the decision to take action right now will change everything!
  26. For every disability you have, you are blessed with more than enough abilities to overcome your challenges.
  27. I encourage you to accept that you may not be able to see a path right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
  28. But there is one thing better than going to heaven and that is to encourage at least one other person to go with me,
  29. Having faith, beliefs, and convictions is a great thing, but your life is measured by the actions you take based upon them.
  30. Pain is pain. Broken is broken. Fear is the biggest disability of all. It will paralyze you more than being in a wheelchair.
  31. Marriage is a long-term commitment. You should only step into that commitment if you truly love the person and want to spend your life with her.
  32. Sometimes you may feel like you are just about to realize your goal only to fall short. That is no reason to quit. Defeat happens only to those who refuse to try again.
  33. Have you ever felt trapped in circumstances, then discovered that the only trap was your own lack of vision, lack of courage, or failure to see that you had better options?
  34. I may have absolutely no control over what happens to us, but we can control how we respond. If we choose the right attitude, we can rise above whatever challenges we face.
  35. Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31).
  36. The greatest rewards come when you give of yourself. It’s about bettering the lives of others, being part of something bigger than yourself, and making a positive difference.
  37. If you aren’t where you want to be or you haven’t achieved all you hope to achieve, the reason most likely resides not around you but within you. Take responsibility and then take action.
  38. Once you accept that perfection is just a goal, screwing up isn’t so hard to handle. Each misstep is still a step, another lesson learned, another opportunity to get it right the next time.
  39. Risk, then, is not just part of life. It is life. The place between your comfort zone and your and your dream is where life takes place. It’s the high-anxiety zone, but it’s also where you discover
    who you are.
  40. If I fail, I try again, and again, and again. If YOU fail, are you going to try again? The human spirit can handle much worse than we realize. It matters HOW you are going to FINISH. Are you going to finish strong?
  41. We easily become trapped in the ‘someday’ mentality. Someday I’ll have all the money I need to enjoy life. Someday I’ll be able to spent more time with my family. Someday I’ll have time to relax and do what i love doing.
  42. Yet I also believe that when you do unto others, blessings come to you as well. So if you don’t have a friend, be a friend. If you are having a bad day, make someone else’s day. If your feelings are hurt, heal those of another.
  43. Recognise instant self-gratification for what it is. Resist the temptation to grab for material objects like the perfect house, the coolest clothes or the hottest car. The if I just had X, I would be happy syndrome is a mass delusion.
  44. The key is you have to trust that God only has the best in store for you. If God says no to something, He says yes to something even greater. It is when you fully surrender all of your desires to His will that His perfect will is done.
  45. To keep moving up, you have to abandon the security of that ledge and reach for another hold. Letting go of that sense of security.. is the challenge. … think of yourself as climbing a ladder. To move to the next rung, you must give up your grip and reach for the next one.
  46. We can’t, and we should not, compare sufferings. We come together as a family of God, hand in hand. And then together coming and standing upon the promises of God, knowing that no matter who you are, no matter what you’re going through, that God knows it, He is with you, He is going to pull you through.
  47. Life isn’t about having, it’s about being. You could surround yourself with all that money can buy, and you’d still be as miserable as a human can be. I know people with perfect bodies who don’t have half the happiness I’ve found. On my journeys I’ve seen more joy in the slums of Mumbai and the orphanages of Africa than in wealthy gated communities and on sprawling estates worth millions. Why is that? You’ll find contentment when your talents and passion are completely engaged, in full force. Recognise instant self-gratification for what it is. Resist the temptation to grab for material objects like the perfect house, the coolest clothes or the hottest car. The if I just had X, I would be happy syndrome is a mass delusion. When you look for happiness in mere objects, they are never enough. Look around. Look within.

Below is a video presentation with transcript by Nick Vujicic in Serbia (TEDxNoviSad) on how he overcame hopelessness and becoming a miracle in someone else’s life through his disability.

Video Transcript:

Thank you very much.
Guys, my name is Nick Vujicic,
I was born in Australia in 1982,
moved from Australia to California in the year 2006.

And my life story – I’m just thankful
that people have seen my life
on some sort of level – whether it’s just YouTube videos
or seeing pictures of a limbless guy smile.

You know, people always ask me
you know, what happened to you
and how did you overcome what you’ve been through?

The title of the message that I’ve been given
is “Transforming the walls into doors”.
When I speak corporately,
the line that I like to use is
“changing obstacles into opportunities”.

Now, I am very well aware to share with you as well.
I know that there are a billion people going hungry today.
I know that this year, a million people will commit suicide.
That is one every 40 seconds.
I know today there are 120 million slaves
and I’ve met six slaves
and I’ve seen the top of the pyramid as far as business
and met the billionaires.
I’ve met bankers and I’ve also met orphans.

We’re all looking for something.
We’re all looking for hope.
Hope you can’t just have just because you were born with hope.
No, we’re born with pain.
We’re born and live through difficulties.

In our life – my parents always taught me
that even though we don’t know
why I was born this way, that we have a choice.
Either to be angry for what we don’t have
or be thankful for what we do have.

The power of that choice was the first thing
that I had to overcome and decide for myself,
especially in the early years of school.

A lot of kids would come up to me and tease me.
And I have been speaking at 5 congresses,
I’ve met 7 presidents all around the world.
My largest crowd was 110,000.
I have 30 thousand invitations for me to speak.
So wherever I go, I talk about the value of life,
I talk about anti-bullying messages
for the school systems in different nations.

The greatest thing is love.
When we feel like we don’t have enough love
and we don’t have enough hope,
we start losing strength to live.

For me in my life as a child, I had a big wall.
I was surrounded by four walls and a low ceiling of opportunity.
I was set free in so many different ways
and especially surviving from day to day
with my parents who loved me, who encouraged me,
who told me I was beautiful the way that I was
and not to worry about what other people said about me.

I was actually the first special needs child
to be integrated into the mainstream education system
in Australia and I was awarded Young Citizen of the Year in 1990.

And the world is a hurting place and the world needs hope
and world needs love.
Without hope, we feel like, ‘Why are we here?’
Well, brokenness. Here’s mine.

Today, I still have no arms and no legs, but everything’s changed.
For me, I was looking for hope and happiness
and I couldn’t see it for many years.
In fact, if this side of the table represents my hope,
truth encourages me to become all that I can be.
But then we have lies, everyday,
coming in our mind, people who discourage us.
You know the people that you have in your life
who, no matter how good of a day you’re having, they’ll bring you down?
Or no matter how bad of a day you’re having, they’ll bring you even lower?
You know what I’m talking about?
Think of the 3 biggest discourages in your life.

They’re not your biggest discourages.

You are.

It only takes 3 seconds for me to tell you something discouraging
but then, you may never forget my words.

I’ve met so many 50-year-old women and 40-year-old women
who still remember what their fathers told them that they wish they’d never heard.

Words are powerful.
And when you hear those words and then your mind starts growing with these lies.
“Nick, you’re not good enough, just give up, you’ll never get a job”,
“You won’t get married, you can’t even hold your wife’s hand”.
“What kind of a father are you gonna be
if you can’t even pick up your kids when they’re crying?”
You’re alone. Sure, your parents hug you.
But their hugs can’t heal you.

Just give up. Just give up. Just give up……

At age 8 I thought that I should commit suicide. Why?
‘Cause I didn’t have hope. I thought I didn’t have hope.
Today you can see that I had hope.

What’s the word, believing in something you do not see? Faith.
Words can only do so much. Hugs can do much more than words,
but when hugs can’t do anything, that’s where faith kicks in.
For me, words and hugs were not enough, but I had no faith.

So I tried to give up.
At age 10, I tried to drown myself in 6 inches, or 15 centimetres of water,
in my home.

I told my dad I just wanted to relax, but really, I wanted to end my life.
I had enough. (Serbian) I had enough.
The first two times I rolled over.
I was trying to work out how much air I hold in my lungs before I let it out.
And the third time, in my mind, knowing that I wanted to get out of here,
because of the bullying in my life, ’cause I was going to be a burden to my parents
and I had nothing to look forward to.

I realized at that moment that if I actually went through with committing suicide,
I would leave a greater burden for my parents than they already had.
There was one thing less hopeful or more burdensome
than having a child without limbs.
What is it? A child without limbs who gives up.

So when I saw in my mind my mom and my dad
and my brother crying at my grave
if I went through with it, that one thought saved me.

If my parents never told me that I was beautiful the way I was.
If my parents never told me that I was special and that I was loved,
I wouldn’t be here today.
So I encourage every single parent
who tries their best to encourage their teenagers,
especially in the West, many teenagers put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on their door.

I’m sure, the conversations all around the world between a parent and a teenager:
How was school? – Fine. – What did you learn? – Nothing. – Did you do your homework? – No.
And that’s the conversation for the day.
And when you try to tell your children that they’re beautiful, they say,
“Of course I’m beautiful, I’m your son, your daughter, of course you’re gonna say that”.

But they’re right.
Every single human being has value
and my value is not determined on how I look
or what job I have, or where I’m from, where I was born,
how much money, all that stuff is nothing.

So many teenagers, you know, tease each other
for how we look and I tell the teenagers,
“Do you think that I’m cool enough to be your friend?”
And they’re like, “Yeah, of course”.
I say, “But I have no arms and no legs”, and they say, “Doesn’t matter.”
And I say, “Really? So it doesn’t matter that I have no arms and no legs?”
They say it doesn’t matter.

I say then, “Actually, if it doesn’t matter, then why do we kill each other with our words,
if it actually doesn’t matter?”
Why do we look [at] ourselves in the mirror and see ugly instead of valuable?
I want to ask you today, what are you looking for?
If I gave you a billion dollars, would you be happy?
If you gave me a billion dollars, I’d be very happy.

But then if my mom dies tonight, am I happy? No.
With all the money in the world, I’d never be happy.
Right? ‘Cause money is something that cannot heal the soul.

So many teenagers are looking for love which, love does heal the soul,
love does complete the soul.
But even sex before marriage, I was a virgin before I got married.
Yeah, I’ve got a gorgeous wife, we’re pregnant with our first son.
And I don’t need hands to hold her hand.
I only want to hold her heart.

And you know, how am I going to hug my kid?
So many kids that come up to me, it’s amazing.
They put their hands behind their back and hug me with their neck.
And I’ve realized in life, even the worst parts of my life
can be turned into good.
And even more special.

So many teenagers are looking for love so they are going to go do this,
and go do that and have sex before marriage.
For me, sex out of marriage is like a 5 dollar Gucci watch.
Sex within marriage and having sex with someone
who loves you, who is committed to you for the rest of your life,
going to be the mother or father of your kids, that’s what love is.
You can sleep with as many people as you like
but never know for sure, “Do they love me?”

Love is a life-long commitment. You see, there are choices in life.
And we’re looking. I want to ask you, what are you looking for?
If I can just drunk, why not, man? I’ll only live once.
Well, if that’s the way you believe, great.
But for me, I’m a greedy man, I don’t want to live for 90 years.
I want to live for billions of years.

And I know that every day, my choices will affect this life,
other people’s life and my eternal life.

You gotta come to the truth of knowing who you are and why you’re here.

William Barkley, he said, the greatest two days in anyone’s life —
they day you were born, and the day you knew why.

So, “Uh, you’re ugly”.
No, I’m beautiful the way that I am
and if you can’t believe that for yourself
so many girls, specially, stay with their emotionally abusive boyfriends
because, “If I break up with him, then who is going to want me? ”
See, we all want love.

That’s why we do what we do sometimes.
To get into the crowd — I am going to swear, I am going to be cool —
that’s what this world is —
“I want to look like her, if I was taller, shorter, smarter, more popular”
whatever you want, it’s not enough.
Until you find the truth.

I’m wonderfully and faithfully made.
There is a greater purpose for my life.
I am here for a reason.
Sure, I didn’t get a miracle.
Yeah, I believe in a God who can do miracles
and I have a pair of shoes in my closet.

Why? I’ve seen blind people seeing and deaf people hearing.
That’s fine if you don’t believe me, I’ve got it on camera.
But I realized something.
If God doesn’t change my circumstances
he’s gonna use my life to be a miracle for someone else.
When you don’t get a miracle, you can still be a miracle for someone else.

I’m gonna close off with this beautiful story.

I was in Southern California —
I have 2 organizations,
a non-profit organization and I have a for-profit.
I probably spoke between years 2007 and 2010, 1000 times, 600 flights.
And I’ve spoken to 4.5 million people face to face
and in the last 48 hours here in Serbia, we’ve reached 5 million through media.

So, we have the heart of people to love others.
We want people to love each other, love yourself
dream big and never give up.

We are all looking for hope, aren’t we?
What are you looking for?
Money, drugs, sex, alcohol, pornography, fame, fortune.
Never satisfies.
It’s never enough.

But I have come to peace, so check this out.

When I was 24 years old, 5-6 years ago, I was in California.
And I’d never met anybody else like me.
When I was 10 years old, I wished I would have met somebody like me.
Never did, didn’t get that miracle.

But at 24, in Califronia, I saw a little boy
with no arms and no legs, 19 months old, just like me.

I knew he was going to be bullied,
he was going to go through depression, he would feel alone,
I knew that he would get worried if he’s ever going to have a girlfriend
and so on, and so on.

I got the father to bring him up on stage in front of 2000 people.

And everyone was crying.

And it was a materialization of when you don’t get a miracle,
you can be a miracle for someone else.

I am not a superhero, I go through ups and downs, so do you.
But take one day at a time
and if you haven’t found that piece of knowing who you are and why you’re here
and where you’re going when you’re not here.
For me, I want you to know that’s how I’ve overcome.

I don’t have any walls.
My book’s called “Life without limits” and what will be, will be.
I’ve acted in a short film, 30 awards.
I got best actor in a short film.
I’ve done my own music video.
I’ve written 2 books, first book — 30 languages, 800,000 copies.
I’m 29 and we know a billion people know who I am.

Not to bring out my pride or my name or my status,
trust me, I’m just like you.
But I hope you are inspired to know
that if I can dream big, so can you.

There are no walls.

Find your peace and you’ll make your walls, doors.

Thank you so much.

There Is Hope – Nick Vujicic

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