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Borrowing lives

"I needed to figure out how to change my entire life. Because the current one was going so badly. I had to borrow a life. I had to borrow many lives. Maybe I borrowed your life. I had to read books. When you read a book you are taking someone's entire life that they have nicely curated for you into a 200-400 page book that you can read in a week."
- James Altucher

Stories like this are quite popular. And abundant. You are always hearing examples of how people in certain situations have endured and overcome the obstacles and are now happy and successful. They make for good reading. And they make up the most popular category of content that sells. 

But inspiration is not quite as simple. In my experience, a lot of people end up thinking they are inspired when they are actually not. Which is why we see a lot of people starting up for the sake of starting up, because they feel they are inspired looking at all the successful entrepreneurs. That's not inspiration. That's just wishful thinking. Wanting to be something that you see and think is cool. 

Inspiration is when we feel the urge to do something that we care about or have a feeling that we'll enjoy doing, as opposed to merely replicating what we see someone else doing. 

When James talks about borrowing lives, he is not talking about mimicking what they've done, but absorbing learnings from mistakes and decisions without actually having to make them. When you read about how someone ended up achieving what you're now trying to or overcoming what you're now trying to, merely doing the same rarely works. 

To each his own.

No two situations, like no two people, are perfect replicas. So what ought to be done to go from there to the desired situation is also not the same. Different things work for different people. Reading about what others have done in such situations throws light on how they went about doing something. Rather than looking at that as an instruction manual, we should be able to tinker that for our own suiting.

It is equivalent to following the law in spirit as opposed to following it in word.

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