Thinking in Absolutes

In our pursuit of our goals, in our dreams, and, in life, we must think in absolutes. No gray area. It’s all black and white. If we settle for something mediocre, we usually get it, selling ourselves short and end up leading unfulfilled lives. We must go for the brass ring, the whole ten yards. Here are some quotes where we must think in absolutes. And that can be encouraging for some but, for others, that can be intimidating.

In pursuit of our goals, we need to step out of our safety zone. We want to take a chance but are truly afraid. What if we fail? Or we get rejected? What if people laugh at our ideas? Will we survive? Heed the words of Helen Keller: “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” And the wisdom of Dwight D. Eisenhower: “We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.”

In our pursuit of our goals, we must risk. There is no other way. Hear the words of Andre Gide: “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”. And my favorite called “The Dilemma” – it’s the last four lines that packs a punch. (When I first saw this poem, it was published in an Ann Landers column, author was unknown. Since, then, one of our readers of this newsletter corrected me by saying there is an author. Unfortunately, I have lost that letter.)

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental
To reach out for another is to risk involvement
To expose feelings is to risk rejection
To place your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, has nothing, is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow but he cannot learn, feel change, grow or love. Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave. He has forfeited his freedom. Only a person who takes a risk is free.

In our pursuit of our goals, we are often taught to think in terms of S.M.A.R.T. goals –

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable, Achievable
R = Realistic, Reasonable
T = Timely

S.M.A.R.T. goals are obtainable. Yes, reachable. But we are playing it safe. There is very little challenge. If we are going to have any success, we must think beyond S.M.A.R.T. goals. We must aim high. In the words of the late businessman and motivation author W. Clement Stone: “Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.”

But absolutes apply to our day to day living. It’s what makes life worth living. We must make sure our lives really matter. Have we made the most out of our lives? Are we making a difference? Are we making a better world? Or are we living for ourselves? Dr. Frederick Loomis tells us: “Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think.” And the message from the movie “Shawshank Redemption” suggests: “Get busy living or get busy dying.”

It’s been said that if we pursue our calling, our purpose, happiness is the by-product. But in our search for meaning, many of us are trying to find happiness as the main objective. But we must give up this search. It is a myth. Searching for such happiness can never be satisfying. Wrote Eric Hoffer: “Search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.” We must think about others and their welfare. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., asks: There is only one question that matters. Who are you serving?” And on Jackie Robinson’s tombstone reads: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

Finally, we would be wise to learn to be more loving, cultivating a sense of care, understanding and compassion for our fellow man. We have no choice. Dr. Leo F. Buscaglia teaches us that “man has no choice but to love. For when he does not, he finds his alternatives lie in loneliness, destruction and despair.”

Ken Munro

Ken works as a security guard. He's a struggling writer of sketch comedy and pieces on spiritual issues. He wants to set up a non- profit comedy troupe for the community, entertaining in hospitals, drop-in centres, etc. He has established a troupe for psychiatric and physically-challenged communities to participate in. He is also interested in the plight of psychiatric patients and other poverty-related issues. Ken can be reached at This article cannot be re-published without permission.