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There's more to life than money
Published on Friday, 13 Aug 2010
Illustration: Bay Leung
Book: Life Is What You Make It
Author: Peter Buffett
Publisher: Harmony Books

From living in the shadow of his billionaire father Warren Buffett, to forging his own path in life, Peter Buffett has cultivated important values that earn him the "rewards of self-respect and peace of mind".

In Life Is What You Make It, a personal and candid account of the journey of the Emmy Award-winning musician and philanthropist, Buffett fleshes out the values that he has developed along the way, including his views on the value of money, the notion of privilege, the meaning of success and the idea of giving back.

Buffett is not a typical rich kid. Rather than taking a short cut to a high-flying career in finance, or indulging in opulence, he followed his passion and became a professional musician. He left university and sold his inheritance of shares - had he saved them in the bank, they would now be worth about US$72 million - in order to buy time to figure out if he could earn a living by making music.

"People think I'm either lazy or crazy, but it happens to be true, because I used my nest egg to buy something infinitely more valuable than money," he writes.

Buffett started his career writing commercial jingles, eventually becoming the musical mind behind early MTV bumpers, and film and television scores.

He believes we can live our lives to the fullest only when we become who we are meant to be. This, in turn, requires the courage to transcend conventions and circumstances.

As we tread our paths, we may consider ourselves superior (or inferior) to others. But, as Buffett reminds us, no two people have the same mix of advantages and disadvantages. Even those who seem privileged - people born into a wealthy family - face crippling limitations, such as family pressure and social expectations, which prevent them from directing their own lives.

Therefore, no time should be wasted on complaints or jealousy or, on the other side of the coin, smugness at being born well-off, since nobody deserves anything when they are born.

The only thing that matters is to pursue the destiny that feels truly like our own.

This kernel of wisdom is particular relevant to our increasingly affluent society, where many young people are lost on the purpose of life and simply choose a safe option, or the path of least resistance, such as by following the footsteps of their parents or leading an easy lifestyle. Reading Life Is What You Make It will hopefully encourage them to reprioritise their values in life.

 


Five insights

  • Our individual development is aimed at self-respect which can come only from earning our own rewards.
  • Our goal is the peace of mind that derives from choosing our own lives.
  • At the level of our society, our most meaningful progress is that which brings us to a point of being able to give back.
  • Giving back isn’t just an add-on to a successful life. It is an integral part of who we are and what we do.
  • All of us should be proud of our lives because making a life is a profound and sacred process.

Inspiration in October

Title Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life

Author Nick Vujicic

Publisher Doubleday Religion

Subject Motivational/true life story

This inspirational book, written by an extraordinary man and due out in October, offers practical advice on how to live a life of fulfilment and happiness. Born without arms or legs, Vujicic discusses his emotional battle dealing with his disabilities before he found his sense of purpose. He is now an internationally renowned motivational speaker, and believes it's important for people to find their life's purpose, whatever difficulties stand in their way.


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