“You either progress, or you momentarily stay where you are until you progress but you can’t fail”.

This is a quote from Paddy Brosnan from our podcast This Works. Paddy is a mindfulness and meditation teacher, an inspirational speaker and an author.

Life is hard enough as it is, especially as an entrepreneur or creator, so I find the above quote uplifting. For a long time my life resembled the opposite of this philosophy for living. I largely tried to live by the rules that were given to me by my religion and society at large. I assumed that these rules were established to help me to live a good life. In my mind a good life was being liked by other people, being seen as a good person and being successful and achieving great results.

What were those elusive results I was chasing? Why did other people need to like me? God only knows because I didn’t put a lot of thought into it, I just assumed that my life was meant to feel this way.

If I did have a philosophy then it would probably be something along the lines of ‘always do the right thing’. This may not be a bad philosophy to live by, after all Google founded itself around the concept ‘do no evil’ but I didn’t have a clear sense of what the ‘right thing’ was and if I did the wrong thing then there was no retribution, just unprocessed feelings of guilt and shame that I would never know what to do with. Now I’m not a robot, so needless to say, I didn’t always do the right thing and make the best decisions.

It wasn’t until my early 20’s that the fog started to lift for me. It was then that I realised how much I resembled a sea at ship without a rudder. I started to realise that I was supposed to create my own philosophy and not live my life according to some general-purpose rulebook.

When was the last time you achieved anything by being vague and general? As a polymath people often look at what I do as being vague and too general but when it comes to my life philosophy I am more specific than most specialists. My philosophy to life is all about continuous learning, either I win or I learn – the essence of  Paddy’s quote.


Over the years I have found this philosophy to align well with reality. It doesn’t give me a clear cut solution to every problem I am faced with but then again I don’t think that is what philosophies are meant for.

What it does help me to do is to curtail my tendency to self-deprecate and it shifts my mind from focusing on the problem staring me in the face to the solution that lies just around the corner. It also helps me to detach my results from my personality. The belief that my personality is permanently causing a block is no longer the case for me as I begin to realise that I just haven’t learned the lesson yet, but I will.

This philosophy eliminates a lot of personal suffering in my life. It turns my current limitations into potential opportunities. It helps me to experiment more often which in reality increases my chances of stumbling across new solutions and having more moments of serendipity.

Above all else, this philosophy rekindled the natural curiosity I have about the world and it helps me to enjoy life more, both the good and the bad times.

For further insights from Paddy listen to the podcast here.

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Denis Murphy
Denis is an author, linguist, software engineer and podcaster from Ireland. At heart he is a polymath. His many interests range from foreign languages to computer programming. He speaks 4 languages including French and he is currently learning Japanese. On his podcast, The Happy Mindset, he helps fellow polymaths to make sense of their many interests through solo episodes and conversations that explore human psychology, creative writing and what it means to lead a happy and fulfilling life. He discovered his love for creative writing after some mental health issues he experienced in his early 20’s. His first book was published at the end of 2019 and is called Taking my Life Back.


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