The Efficacy of Wide-ranging Interests

Posted on October 2, 2015 by Robert Ringer


I happened to bump into an old acquaintance of mine the other day whom I hadn’t seen in years. What I remembered about him was that he was one of the most narcissistic people I’ve ever known. And, true to his old self, he immediately began talking about money.

At one point in our conversation, I said to him (though I don’t recall the exact context) that money is not the endgame, but merely a means to an end. To which he snapped, “People may like to believe that bull___t, but the truth is that money is the endgame.

A minute or so after his heart-warming comment, I happened to mention the efficacy of having a wide range of interests over and above those things that have a direct impact on your financial success. He responded that my words sounded like altruism to him, which took me aback. Believe me, the one thing even my biggest detractors have never accused me of is being an altruist, so he clearly missed my point.

What I was trying to say to him was that by becoming too self-absorbed in their own pursuits, many people tend to lose their sense of proportion. I find it has a calming influence on me whenever I remind myself of just how small my exploits and activities are compared to the total output of the human race, and also how little of what I do has any effect at all on most of the world.

Looking at it through a cosmic prism, we tend to get very excited and impressed with what goes on in our little corner of the world during the brief period of time we’re here. We are, in fact, quite naïve when it comes to vastly overestimating our importance. The best antidote to this mistake is the development of a broad conception of the life of man and his place in the universe.

Each of us is alive for a only brief period of time, and we have only that short time span to learn whatever we can about our planet, the universe, and life itself. The world is a buffet of comedy and tragedy, bizarre events, and mysteries. These buffet experiences, I believe, are essential to a life well lived, to a life of meaning.

Learning about new and different things and experiencing things outside of our normal realm gives us a sense of proportion. And one of the direct benefits from keeping a healthy perspective on our place in the universe and the world is that it takes our focus off petty issues, trivial misfortunes, and dreading what fate may have in store for us.

If we fail to take an interest in the full spectrum of life, we grossly underuse the greatest gift that life has to offer: free will. Being aware of the brevity and minuteness of human life opens one’s mind to becoming part of the world — the whole world — as well as the universe. Only man has the power to do this — at least that we know of — because only man is aware of his awareness.

So even though a sense of proportion makes us realize how insignificant we are in the overall scheme of things, we should never forget that we are, paradoxically, perhaps the most significant matter in the universe. And the more we open our minds to connect with the universe, the more heightened our awareness becomes.

Why? Because connecting with the universe gives us an unlimited source of power. Call it God or any other name that makes you feel comfortable, but if your mind mirrors the universe, it becomes, in theory at least, capable of accessing everything in and about the universe. Perhaps it can even lead one closer to the answers to the greatest mysteries of the universe, to wit:

Who are we?

Why are we here?

What is our purpose?

How did the universe come into being?

And, of course, who or what is God?

Likewise, if your mind mirrors the world, it becomes, in a sense, as great as the world. Just having a better understanding of our little planet would be a pretty good start on learning something about life.

The significance of all this in our day-to-day lives is that having wide-ranging interests is good for both the mind and the soul. That’s because, as with perspective, having interests aside and apart from our chosen professions helps us to relax our minds and dissipate anxiety over trivial matters and irrational fears.

And while I have no data to prove it, my instinct tells me that having a wide array of subsidiary interests is probably a lot healthier for the body as well. You might want to test this theory by making a conscious effort to explore new channels and see if it leads to a more relaxed mind and a heightened state of awareness.

One thing that’s for certain is that our schools focus far too much on the acquisition of specific skills and far too little on expansion of the mind, the heart, and the soul.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

23 responses to “The Efficacy of Wide-ranging Interests”

  1. Ellis Baxter says:

    And, at last, RR returns to his old self … Best post in several months…..!

  2. davidneyens says:

    Absolutely! Thank you for this post. It applies to our personal lives and most certainly to the ultimate failure of many business owners and corporations – they shovel out and internalize their own importance instead of serving their customers that allow them to exist in the first place.

  3. Avery Horton says:

    More wisdom. Thank you, Robert.

  4. Jack Agnew says:

    That is some great thinking! This is my first read of your posts. I am in awe!

  5. Richard Lee Van Der says:

    Yes, this essay is an excellent reminder, Mr. Ringer! I just finished reading two books, companion volumes, 100 GREAT STORIES and 100 LIVES OF GREAT PEOPLE. Reading those two thick volumes gave me perspective. Though my life as lived has been significant, I see how small it has been by contrast to the Greats! Those who lived deep… and large.

  6. Rip Read says:

    As always…well and clearly stated. As you already know, I am completely “in touch” with the Universe…in every way…having hand painted millions of tiny stars and all manner of deep space objects over the past 14 years.

    Your message is one that the majority of this world needs…and needs to wake up to. Each morning that it’s not raining, I ride my scooter to one of two excellent beaches in my neighborhood…to see and feel the rising sun. There is no greater perspective than to each day watch the sun, our star, rise from the “bottom of the sea”…climbing thru the cloud banks and bringing the promise of a whole new day…today.

    I further connect to the planet…and the forces we live with and for, by digging my feet into the shifting sands, knee deep in the Atlantic, stepping off the edge of the “real world” for a half hour or so, appreciating all that nature brings…most especially the early awakening of the sea birds as they search for breakfast in the surf.

    First come the gulls…hundreds of them…many in well defined groups. Next, always, come the most excellent flyers, the pelicans…also usually in groups…smaller groups. This morning I watched a group closely as they skimmed off the surface…less than a foot above the water, in a single file line…3 of them…coasting, quietly, at about 20 miles per hour, just a few feet away. Today I was also treated to another fine aerial show by the gulls, flying all around me, and past me…in both directions, very quickly, and sometimes just inches away.

    My point…like yours Robert…summed up so astutely by the classic blues rock band The Chambers Brothers, in their epic Time Has Come Today, is this “…there are things to realize!”

    Thanks as always…hopefully some money and material chasers will wake the “f” up…the Universe knows they need to…some are just slow learners…they’ll be back!

  7. Scott theczech says:

    Al Davis, National Football League pioneer and innovator coined a phrase with which many are familiar…something like this: "Just Win Baby!" [I added the exclamation point for emphasis, I think] Soon after hearing this, doing my best to father 3 boys, and being a student of Robert Ringer my mind thought: "Just Perspective Baby!" …just perspective.

  8. Gary Waltrip says:

    Robert Ringer is many things, but Robert Ringer the philosopher is my favorite. I have been pursuing this awareness of which you speak. I am reading books on psychic awareness, and they help me to better connect with the Universe. They deal with such theories as the Universal Mind, the Akashic Record, oneness with all things, and other topics. Regular meditation is a must.

    I do agree that different interests and focuses help the mind and soul. I'm a CPA, but also a string bassist with a jazz band. Exercising both sides of the brain, right and left, makes the whole brain work better.

    I love your philosophical insights, Robert. They are an important reason why I have always held you in high esteem.

  9. Jim says:

    This is more like the great thinking, perspective, thought provoking and insights I have come to expect from you. Keep Doing It.

  10. Phil says:

    Another great one. The meaningful stuff in life encompasses so much more than just money. A 48 year old relative of mine with a modest lifetime income has a wife who just inherited $1.5 million from an hitherto unknown source. The two have been married 20 years with a kid and were relatively happy. Now divorce is on the horizon and utter misery. I think that they would both give back the money to get back the modest lifestyle and a happy family life.

    • More than enough money gives freedom! Maybe with money each person in the couple you cite may have more opportunity for personal self-realization.If they have good judgment of course. Money, like guns etc. are not inherently evil. Depends of a person's judgment and use.

  11. Scruffy Rubric says:

    I must say I am rather surprised at this RJR I did not know much about until coming here. Having read your books, I thought you were on the same page as your old friend. But I must say I am relieved to know that you do have a soul – amen (lol).

    Robert saying that money is not the endgame is so heartening. It is not the endgame, it is a means to an end, exactly like this Robert has said. The Robert I read always said that if you aren't spending all your time on money pursuing activities, you were wasting your time……hmmmmm. Money is just energy, nothing more; it allows one to buy life's experiences. Without money one is sunk spiritually. You are like a ship without the rudder…

    And we need a wide range of interests? – Whoa….And life is like a buffet? Very good. The more I read Robert, the more impressed I am still becoming. He is a renaissance man!

    This statement Robert wrote is the simplest yet most effective way to say it: "Only man is aware of his awareness." I am putting that one on my simple most brilliant statements file. And mentioning we may be the "most significant matter in the Universe" is thought provoking. I have wafted back and forth, but I now believe this whole gigantic universe is ours. Period. After all, whats the diff, there may be gazillions of universes with life on them. Who knows, and does it matter? If each of us is busy doing what are calling is, it doesn't – just continue going down the path.

    The question then is – what path, which path, and am I on the right one? There is a way to know, and I just found it out. It's wonderful…

    • Phil says:

      Interesting and insightful post, though I never picked up the idea from Robert's books that one is wasting his time unless he pursue's money. Not quite sure how you reached that conclusion. He is indeed pretty clear on the importance of value for value transactions, but makes clear that they need not be financial in nature. For example, in what the uninformed may consider ironic, that one proposition – that trading value for value is the basis of all worthwhile, long-term relationships – has been one of the underpinnings of my 17 year marriage. It is the antithesis of selfishness. And given that my wife and I are of modest means, it is usually manifested in the form of making time to listen, be there, etc., rather than financial gifts. Obviously the parent-child and mentoring types of relationships are somewhat different in nature, but even then, to get the best "outcome", attention must be made to the needs of the other party.

      Also, he mentions that the level of income that makes one person happy may or may not be what is required for another person. The key is that no individual has a right to coerce others into supporting whatever that income level might be.

      At any rate, that is my take. His writing have always helped me focus on my own responsibility for my life. Great stuff.

    • Caroline says:

      I am always curious to hear how people discover their path. Please share!

  12. Robby Bonter says:

    This column lies somewhere between "The love of money is the root of all evil," and "It's all about bucks, kid, everthing else is just conversation." lol.

  13. peter says:

    Good post, a heart attack 5 years ago forced me to slow down and gave me time to learn about new ideas. Since then I have learned to play a musical instrument, have written 500 blog posts and 2 books, started speaking in public and becom a regular church goer after an absence of 40 years.

    I don't have as good an income as before, but life is good.

  14. JOSEPH says:

    Robert, I couldn't agree with you more. I think that if we are pursuing one thing and it consumes all of our energy and thought we risk becoming one-dimensional in nature. I agree with you whole heartedly that it's important to become as well rounded as we possibly can. Obviously, we can't know everything an and be everything, but we certainly can expand who we are as people in many ways so we can get a better understanding of who we are and have a better idea of what life is all about. In my opinion one of the best ways to do this (not the only way of course) is through reading. When I was 19 I "discovered" books. One day I walked into a Coles bookstore and found myself in the self-help psychology section and I couldn't believe what was in front of me. Books on how to make money, get healthy, learn the stock market, how to run a better business, achieving self-esteem, and so on and so forth. It was amazing! And, yes I found your books too which I enjoyed immensely. So, through time and I began to learn a lot of different books on a lot of different topics and it helped me to evolve as a person. Now, not every book you read is going to be a 10 out 10 but if you keep looking you will eventually find that there really are a great number of books that you can learn from and apply what you're learning. If only school was as interesting as these books were! For the small price of a great book the learning done from that book is absolutely priceless! Anyhow, I wish that more people would read and that they would make school much more interesting than it is today. Well that is my take on your article. I found book reading to be a great way to expand and to live my life.

  15. larajf says:

    Money is the a reflection of the service we provide, and it is the means by which we can enjoy things and have freedom. And I agree that money can never be the end in itself. I'm working towards freedom to live my life within certain boundaries.

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    The Macrocosm is the external Reflection of the Microcosm.The More we explore the outer version, the more we expand the inner vision. After a stage, the inner world can project itself outwardly and we become Seers and Inventors, or we become more philosophical as we understand the Outer World , more and more.

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