A few basic ideas on finding purpose in life

I’ve been reading “The Rough Guide to Happiness 1” from Nick Baylis (I just can not remember the spelling of his name).

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amazon

I’m not sure what to think of the book – and it seems like is a completely unknown one with 25 reviews on Goodreads where well-known self-help books get 40.000+ votes and even the Rough Guide to Italy would have 123 of them.

I’m struggling through this dry and impersonal book that tries to go around the whole topic of human happiness through chapters like: sub-conscious, conscious, body, loves and passions, our social nature, environment and even “saving our soul from technology”.

But at the same time it gets me wondering, too. How is it possible that I’ve never learned about any of these topics at school. Purpose of life? Feeling good? Creating healthy relationships? Aren’t these as important as physics, literature, biology and grammar?

However trite, it’s the truth: We’re emotional illiterates. We’ve been taught about anatomy and African farming methods. We’ve learned mathematical formulas by heart. We haven’t been taught a thing about the mind. We’re ignorant about what makes people tick.” (Scenes from a Marriage, movie, 1974)

Mr. Baileys Baylis gives us a couple ideas on where to look for personal life purpose clues:
– Our childhood and teenage interests that may have been neglected
– The subjects that never fail to grab our attention
– Whatever we daydream about
– Experiencing first-hand a host of activities that we might have prematurely presumed are not for us. (A drama class or local choir, dinghy sailing or mountain walking, landscape painting or natural science.)

Let’s keep asking ourselves for whom, for what and for where would it feel well worth turning off the television, keeping fit and getting focused, because our heart beats faster at the mere thought of it. Whom, what and where do we hold in such value that we’re inspired to set off in full sail on their behalf?”
(The Rough guide to Happiness)

To sum a little bit up in what I think about purpose:

  • We all have some downtime in life – and we let our thoughts flow. You might be thinking of your mother. Or chemistry. Or being a musician. Or building a house. Growing vegetables. Or, more probably, something chaotic and abstract: but still, thoughts that circle around some topic(s). Or, if you’re very interested in everything: your mainstream thoughts still exclude some major topics. It’s a good start.
  • And the continue getting to know what you like, YOU HAVE TO ACT. Without action there’s no purpose to your life.
    /My story here: I wanted to be a hostel owner, a small-time businessman because I didn’t want to say I was just a tour leader. Initiating the project included hundreds of hours of work, my best friend moving to a new city and volunteering in a hostel, negotiations on buying a place, business plans, etc. Then I went to work to a hostel to gain experience. All it took was about 10 night shifts that I fully gave up on the idea of running or owning a hostel. It doesn’t even sound good me any more. The advice for all possible future…

    • Writers? Write!
    • Porn actors? Do porn!
    • Engineers? Go to the closest universities’ engineer class and work somewhere where you can see what engineers really do.
    • whatever it is you’re contemplating on: DO IT!

If you think long term, your life needs a purpose. Finding one is often as hard as finding a partner or a friend for life. But do take your time and don’t make compromises. It’s one of those things you’ll look back on your deathbed and will either tap your own shoulders for choosing well or will terribly regret. Don’t choose the latter option!

8 tips to make sure you never run out of money

Until recently I’d never understood why and how people ran out of money.
Then I realized how interested I’ve always been in money: in kindergarten, (between wanting to be a mechanic and a trashman) I wanted to be a banker. And apart from it the richest man on Earth.

And I set out to reach my goal: I started to save money when I was 4 years old. I thought this was a good way to get rich because my parents were collecting discount coupons and my father would spend 2-3 hours doing the weekly shopping, making sure to always buy the best value. I thought my family was rich, back then.

At one point I made art from saving money: I’d spend less than 20 USD a month living at home and not more than 100 USD a month traveling, at age 18. I wanted to eliminate money from my life. But recently I’ve realized money is an excellent problem-solver and it can be used for charity.

Now I like money again. It can be a great asset to make the world a better place. With every penny we spend we make a little change somewhere.

 

1, Measure: monitor your income and expenses!

This is the apropos for me writing about money: I’ve measured all my income and expenses for 1 year. I’m too tired to make the accounting so I’ll write a separate post about it.
I’ve used the app My Finances.

My_finances
Google Play

 

2, Create an emergency fund

Tomorrow’s gonna come.
If you get your salary monthly and you have a tendency to spend it by or before the end of the month, create an emergency fund (of let’s say 1000 USD). Try not to touch this money no matter what kind of emergency comes. If you have to, fill it back again as soon as you have some income.

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lifehacker

 

3, If saving money doesn’t make you feel better, make financial plans.

They should: as you realize they directly bring you closer to fulfilling your dreams. E.g.:
– I need 4000 USD for my boyfriend and me to visit Thailand for 4 weeks
– I need 25000 USD to get an apartment with a good mortgage
– I need 120 USD to buy the Christmas present my partner wants

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4, When buying: focus on the benefit and never on the pleasure of buying

The pleasure of buying (when you have any higher goal in life that can be reached with the help of money) is like cheating on your love because you are drunk ’cause you can’t resist. Or eating a pork knuckle when on a no-meat diet. It’s an instant pleasure that you regret later.

When traveling last winter in Vietnam I’d usually pay 4 USD for a room for a night. I could have payed 40 (or 400) USD but all I wanted was a bed for a night. It didn’t make a difference that others were in the room. It didn’t matter that the location wasn’t perfect.
If all you need is a bed for a night – why would you pay for any extras?

More on this here: How much money do you need?

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bellable

 

 

5, Be cautious when making your important financial decisions

All right, I know. It sounds pretty basic and quite dull.
But making financial decisions like: what kind of car, travel, apartment / house and when are one or few time occasions in your life. So you don’t have experience in making these decisions (unlike: which bar to hit; which washing powder to buy, etc.)
Take your time, think these decisions through. Talk to expert and pay for his advice. Bargain hard if you can.
Lowering on your future apartment’s price can mean a year without work in your life.
Going on a vacation in South-East Asia in January will cost you 10 times less than skiing in Switzerland.
Buying a really good used car can be a deal that will save you from looking at grocery prices ever again.

I have a friend with a quite good sense of money management up to a couple thousand dollars. When it came to a new apartment, he made a really bad deal that’s going to affect his life for the next 30 years. It would be better for him to care less about money on a daily basis but make one really good deal with the apartment with the same or less effort.

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mortgageloanmanager

 

6, A penny saved is a penny earned

Buying the your 800 USD TV the next day when it has a “Red Friday” 10% discount means that you’ve earned 80 USD with this move. It sounds silly but it’s true.

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justdoodle/penny

 

7, Don’t try to be a millionaire!

Millionaires often fail or make decisions when they risk it all. Billionaires do it over and over again.
I can not teach you how to be like them. But the question is: do you really want to be like them?
I, for one, don’t.
Money is not a topic on which I’d like to spend several hours every day. Being a millionaire with all its perks – and risks wouldn’t be a life I’d want to live more than what I have now.
And most likely you wouldn’t either.

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Your dream life? (varchev)

8, Don’t act like a millionaire!

I’ve met a guy with a new Samsung phone who went to the gas station to charge ’cause he had no electricity at home. Dirt-poor looking Cambodian teenagers often flash iPhones.
I’ve never had an iPhone or an expensive Android.
I need a device for calling, texting, Wifi, mobile data and some applications. I don’t need an expensive status symbol in my pocket… Do you need a 3000 USD watch? A Louis Vuitton bag? A 5 bedroom house? A Ferrari? A yacht? A hotel chain with your painting in the lobby?

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And still in this section: never take a personal credit if not for investment. If you don’t have money for a big TV:
1, buy a smaller one,
2, wait until you have enough money for it.

Cheers!

Taking the bus or walking to success?

Success in this article refers to reaching personal goals.

Taking the bus means becoming part of someone else’s project.

Walking means following your own ideas.

Taking the bus refers to a more traditional lifestyle. E.g. you want to make money so I’ll be part of a project that makes money (=you get a job).

Walking would involve inventing something or starting an own business with a new product or go out hunting after you burn all your money.

In an ultra-individualist view one can not reach success by riding the bus.
In an ultra-communalistic world one can not be successful by walking.

Taking the bus is easy. The problem is that you don’t get exactly where you wanted to go.

Walking is hard. The problem is that after you leave the road you might arrive to a deep forest – and that’s all you’ve done.

I’m taking a bus in many things in my life. (Clothes, cars, furniture, working for companies as an independent contractor, having a monogamous relationship, etc.)

One of the things where I’m trying to walk (although I’m more like stumbling), is this blog. It’s turning a year old in a couple of days.

I wrote more than 60 articles. My original idea that I’d work on average an hour daily is more-or-less completed: when it comes strictly to writing articles that are published here, I probably did less. When it comes to researching, ideas, books, movies and stubs I did, read, watched, wrote in connection with this project it’s easily , triple, quadruple or more.

I could have followed a pattern how to reach out to readers. How to search-engine-optimize. How to earn money, how to make this a successful business. I could have taken the bus to (at least mild) success.

But I decided to walk.

It’s partly laziness. It’s partly non-compromising. It’s partly counterculture. It’s partly schadenfreude over my own failure. It’s fear from failing if I give all in. But mostly, it’s laziness.

When I was hired to be a cruise manager as my first serious job it instantly took a(n express) bus to success: money, travels, a certain type of freedom, living up to high expectations, challenges and breaking some of the stereotypes I was raised up in. And I sped pedal-to-the-metal but arrived somewhere far where I never wanted to be.

Walking is always slower. You can not take a highway. Rather you wander off in the woods. Easy to lose your way. Difficult to beat a new path. At the end you might not arrive anywhere. You’re likely to walk alone. True, all true. But aren’t we all here to find higher meaning, to conquer challenges and fulfill our own human potential?

Do you know the cheesy quote: “If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.”? It implies that working for someone else’s goal is inferior than working for your own. It implies that the way to “build your dream” is through a job. And that it’s something negative to work for others’ goals. I greatly disagree: we are not all born to be entrepreneurs, to lead teams, to invent stuff and to live a unique, special working life.

On the other hand I still believe we all can be special. Not necessarily at work. Not as a Guinness recorder or an Olympic award winner. But as a number 1 or 2 girlfriend, husband, mother, drinking partner, joker – something.

At the end I never started this blog out to be “someone” or make money. At the end, free rendering from Vonnegut (To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.) I started to write this blog to grow my English language skills, writing skills and think through what’s important and worth living for. Then I started this project to give a hand to, to help others.

A year will have passed soon. I’ve helped others much more with working, volunteering, charity and just being there than with this website (although I’ve had few positive responses here too).

Riding the bus is always easier. But the time might come that the path I’ll have walked will look clear enough to follow – or even wide enough to build highways on it.

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marcandangel

My way of living in the moment

Growing up in unpredictable 1990s in a small Hungarian town in a family that was extremely fragile to change it shouldn’t have been surprising that by age 16-17 I was asked (more than once weekly) to finally decide what I wanted to do with my life – until retirement, at least.

 

The fundamentals were set by my parents (who never changed a workplace or attended a job interview in their lives): the best high-school available, a great university and an intellectual job with some prestige and money. Lawyer, medical doctor, academic career – something along this line.

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Hungary, 1995 (flickr)

This idea seems to work more-or-less for my sister who’s pursuing an academic career but it completely backfired on me. My life goals, at age 18 included:
– doing physical work soon,
– living off subsidies / somehow gather a bit of money and live off the interest rates,
– willing to be homeless,
– finding new arguments that life was completely senseless,
& hitting the bar tonight.

I was very determined to prove that my parents’ fears (you’ll starve to death with this behaviour!; you’ll become no one; you’re already an alcoholic; if you don’t finish university on time all you’ll ever become is a trashman!) were not valid for me.
Apart from a system change (in Hungarian Communism/Socialism one was considered a criminal who did not have a job while enterprising was illegal) my parents had been probably over-worried and one-track minded already in the old system.

Régen Balatonnál
mid-1990s at Lake Balaton, Hungary my father, sister and me

Being convinced that I’ll never earn good money in life and being radically averse to my parents’ working style (complaints, boss, underpaid, being afraid of change) I set out for independence: something that the protagonists would do from the books I’d read.

Turning 18 and legally becoming adult, I moved away from home after an argue and lived for a couple months alone in the family’s small house at the edge of the town with no heating or water supply. Apart from the oven and the light bulbs I had no electronic devices. I chose the coldest day of the winter to move and I will always remember the first, long night with temperatures below -10 °C and no proper blanket.
Although I had about ~1000 USD savings from gifts and prizes I saved up from kindergarten I’d spend no more than 20-25 USD a month. I knew it wasn’t too sustainable but limiting myself in ways and giving up learning day-to-day, paid language lessons, playing on the computer, listening to music, just “being at home” or eating more than needed (I lost over 10kgs in the first month) brought me plenty of strong happiness.

I’d have showers at school or friends’, created long-lasting friendships, accepted every meal and beer invitation, read a lot in the library (a book every 2-3 days) and would drink plenty (on a memorable evening I rode my bicycle home after ~2 liters of the cheapest red wine, not holding to handle bar – and closing my eyes for 16 seconds: when I opened them, I was just a few milliseconds before hitting the concrete sidewalk with my face – and the next day we had the official photo-shoot).

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2007, Lake Balaton, Hungary

I returned home before graduation when it got warm. I felt the mission was completed. Graduating (with only excellent votes) found me restless again. In summer I left for the Baltic Sea alone by bicycle (~3000 kms return). Being faster than expected & having more thoughts (mainly about girls) to think through I extended the journey a bit and returned after 37 days and ~4500 kms. I spent less than 5 USD /day including everything.

2007 taught me how to live in the moment. Cruelly cold winter nights and totally unpredictable days on the bike where one couldn’t say at the beginning of the day where he’ll sleep at night -and whether it will it be the rain, police a random person (or who knows what) or a proper rest that’d wake one up- taught me how not to think and worry about the future. Finally, I understood that we are no less than the birds on the trees or the mice in the forests: we stay alive without comfort, worries and fear of the future.

I properly learned to let go. A long life, a career, prestige, responsibility, positions, money, long-term relations are all meaningless if you look no further than the afternoon.

I’d value alcohol, the spur of the moment, spontaneity, love, positive emotions, easy friendships and romances. I had little-to-no worries and fears and would make sure never-to-very-rarely feel any negative emotions. I promised myself not to miss any opportunity, ever.

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2008, at home

Paul Kalanithi, when trying to find meaning while terminally ill – wrote: “Tell me three months, I’d spend time with family. Tell me one year, I’d write a book. Give me ten years, I’d get back to treating illnesses. The truth that you live one day at a time didn’t help: What was I supposed to do with that day?”

Back then, I only knew what to do with that one day. I would have failed to answer all the other questions. I even felt that everyone should fail to answer them…

Living in the moment was a radical turnaround. It helped me to leave behind much of the learning from home. I consciously gave up being (too much) socially awkward, reserved, penny-pinching (my father never invited anyone for a beer and failed to buy an ice-cream to my mother on their honeymoon), worried, troubled, dependent and prejudiced.
And I gave up much of being responsible, caring, empathic, long-term thinking, predictable too.

Living in the moment has helped me to:
– form new acquaintances, short romantic relations
– have great parties
– travel extensively
– find jobs easily
– live in different countries
– learn languages
– deconstruct many of my inner barriers.

And didn’t let me be:
– a reliable family person
– a reliable boyfriend
– successful in completing long-term projects (I wrote quite little from age 18 to 25 even though I had stories and ambitions)
– resistant (I took opportunities and offers I knew I should have let go)
– emphatic
– socially sensitive
– serious in cases when I knew it was needed
– part of public events (I wouldn’t know how was Lady Gaga or Angela Merkel)
– appreciative of deeper meaning.

Siófok 2008
On a bike tour with friends, 2008, Lake Balaton

 

Living in the moment gave me the best stories of my life. I’m glad I pursued this goal that still seems so much more interesting, real and deep than earning money, gaining prestige, working towards goals I don’t believe in, faking life – and a lot more.

But I’m really glad that this period of life ran its course and I managed to let it go. Living in the moment meant for me that I didn’t care about many I should have, I looked down on others with worries, fears, issues: meaning.
Being a great drinking partner is fun and shallow. Being there for a troubled person is not fun but deep. And just as I lived before, I’m getting back to a more ordinary life when I use much of my energy “writing it” rather than “living it” and when I’m being drawn to new, unknown depths of meaning (rather than shallower achievements) as I have become a husband and will be soon a father…

 

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2015, Wedding

Enrich your life – stop worrying about money!

Life is a long enterprise.

And in a long enterprise it pays out to have long a strategy.

When it comes to money, it’s no different.

Yet, many (most) people fail to commit to a strategy better than “I have the money: let’s spend it!” and “I don’t have any more money. Let’s take credit!

We could talk a lot about instant gratification, evolution, the simplified meaning of carpe diem but we’ll skip it this time.

What can you do to do better than this?
– measure. Use a (free) application to get to know your spendings (and income). I’ve used MyFinances
– save 10% of whatever your income is
– go down to the small details (rather than all kinds of sports – say to take 9000 steps daily; rather than gifts for my kid – my kid’s happiness; rather than the newest phone as a status symbol – a gadget that allows me to phone and check my emails) and pay only for what you really need)
– if you have financial goals, make a plan (this type of car, house, college fund, etc.), start working towards it
– if you have dreams that need money: count how much you need (an extended Thailand vacation for 2 costs more like 5000 USD than 50000 USD)
– get rid of what you don’t need – let it be a big house you rent, a large car, a gigantic fridge, 250 books you weren’t going to read the first place, tools you don’t use, etc.

 

When it comes to money in the Western world it tends to be forgotten that one can live a very good life without spending much money.
When it comes to money in the Eastern world it tends to be forgotten that one can earn good money and can make his life better with it.
In both cases saving money tends to be an issue.

Even though people tend to overcomplicate, money is a simple story. (read more here) If you have more than what you need you can tick it off the list. (As long as making money is not your life goal. I sincerely hope it’s not.)

Money is a can of something that can be exchanged to certain values. But unlike other values like time and love and friendship, money needs little care. Money can be stored on a bank account and most probably it will be able to be recovered after a long while.

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favim

Money can buy basic goods. Safety. Esteem. It’ll help with belonging and love. And not worrying about money will certainly have a say in whether you’ll dedicate your life to self-actualization.

Money’s one of the issues people rarely leave behind as a worry. But let’s not forget, money’s an asset. What people don’t manage is not money but their own wishes and desires.

A friendly couple was looking for an apartment for 100.000 USD (average Budapest price. The girl inherited unexpectedly 100.000 USD. Did they buy the apartment the originally wanted and kept the money to have savings the next 2-3 decades? Or invested the money to have some passive income?
WRONG: they bought another apartment for twice the price.

Another couple decided to buy an apartment. They looked and looked and looked as 3 years passed and by the time they were forced to buy one they decided to get the maximum credit possible – and bought a place for the full amount.

A former colleague needed a car while being on a minimum salary with some extras for working the nights. He bought a new, shiny car that he could show to everyone.

Most of my colleagues work from March to November. Being independent contractors they earn well. Yet, when I often meet them in February they are down to their last penny and sometimes can hardly afford a coffee. “You know it’s soooo easy to spend money when you don’t work.”
I always listen and I can never relate.

And these colleagues and acquaintances are very good with money, all-in-all, compared to most in the society. (I read recently that only half of Hungarians have any kind of savings while in US an average household saves 3,6% every month).

I’ve even heard from a friend how exciting it is not have enough money: life seems so much more alive then.
I could relate to this one. I remembered my 5 week bike trip where problems “were real”: getting shelter (I had principles of never to pay for accommodation), buying food (supermarket most of the time),  climbing mountains, meeting my daily goal (at least 100 kms a day but I ended up doing more than 30% more on average).
Not having money is the real thing and a certain type of excitement: but I hope most can find more useful hobbies…

All of us are wired to do the default thing (check out David Wallace Foster’s “This is water” commencement speech). And the default thing in our society is believing that you need to earn more. And you need to buy more. And money is never enough.
This is a default viewpoint you have to leave behind to stop worrying about money. What you earn is (most probably) enough to keep a life in dignity going. And do you really need expensive things to show who you are? Grow up, man: you are not your credit card…

 

What’s your biggest issue when it comes to handling money?
Let us know in a comment or on the FB page!

One step is plenty at a time…

The Maslow pyramid has given me food for thought for 9 years now. In the beginning when I learned about it at the uni, I thought it was bullshit (partly because of the professor’s simplifying description). Then I’ve used it for several articles over the last 2 years. And recently, I’ve read the original work, Maslow’s classic, the Theory of Human Motivation from 1943. I recommend it to all who are interested in human (or his own) behaviour.

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simplypsychology

Reading the original gave me a lot of new ideas on what’s important in life. (I’ve written about important things here before.) Usually, when you have a terrible hunger, the important thing seems to be… …food. And safety, love, esteem. Eventually, for at least few, self-actualization.

I volunteered a couple of times in a Rroma (gypsy) community close to where I live. Once, an 11 years old girl asked me what I did the week before. “I traveled to Ukraine with students. I organized the trip.”
Why?” – she replied.
I told her some things about discovering new cultures, work experience, getting away from home, etc.
That girl has never been to Budapest, 1,5 hour drive away from her village. She has never seen a river or a lake in her life. Later that day I learned that someone tried to rape her in broad daylight lately.
If I were her, I’d ask the same question: why would you EVER travel to Ukraine?!

When you’ve never written an article don’t aspire to be the editor of New York Times. When you can’t figure out how to pay back your debts – don’t aspire to be a millionaire overnight. When you can’t hold a relationship for over 2 weeks don’t dream of marrying Emma Stone.
I know it’s not easy. It’s difficult to acknowledge that you are not special. (see my article here) Every society and social class has its ways to get away from it’s disillusioning reality: let it be television, a Caribbean vacation or some legal drugs.

Your current dreams might include something fairly small like:
1, get some dinner / warm shelter for a night
2, have your own room where no one is abusing you
3, keep up the friendship with the person that has been getting more distant from you
4, getting at least 45 likes under your newest photo on FB
5, finish the project you’ve been working hard for a couple months.

It’s important to have a set of values and a framework for life – a long term goal – to which you can easily relate to (e.g. I want to travel 50 countries by the age of 30). But equally as important as this is to realize how many tiny ([very] boring) steps lead up to your big dream. And your life can be about focusing on and enjoying these ([very] boring) steps.

If you have any dream, any quest, any challenge going on – focus on it. Leave out the rest. Wanting to be on the top, right away is just another distraction like TV or social media.

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 Jumping overnight – like winning the lottery or suddenly becoming a leader of a country or a company you never wanted to lead can have terrible results… See: “My life sucks since winning the lottery“.

What do you think? Let us know in a comment here or on our Facebook page!

Should you listen to life advice? (And the best advice I’ve ever found)

I’ve always been very reluctant to listen to other people when it was about my life. It was easy to understand that my Math teacher knows more about Math or that my colleague with 20 years longer experience knows tricks I don’t.

But when they – parents, relatives, teachers, friends, colleagues, preachers, girlfriends, religious leaders, moralists – told me how to live my life I’ve always had a strong feeling to shout at them: “FUCK OFF FROM MY LIFE!”
When they pushed me I’d ask back: “How would YOU know better what I need!?”

The usual answers relied on authority. “I’ve lived longer than you.”, “I’ll beat you if you don’t do it!”, “I’ve lived through most of this century.”, “I know a lot more people than you do.” and similar.

It often seems to me that to be a successful “life-adviser” / self-help person giver I should try to emphasize my authority. “How much money I make / how independent / happy / satisfied / motivated I am / how much I’ve traveled, etc. But I hate authority figures. So I won’t bore you with my life-advice. Anyways, I haven’t met anyone to whom it would really work.

So, it’s an easy enough message: Don’t listen to anyone!
But the thing is that we all listen. If you don’t want to end up like a guy living in his room with no connection to reality, believing to be of an alien species, the smartest guy on Earth or the unrecognized leader of the world, you’ll have to listen. To the stupid politicians, anchormen, neighbours, friends, colleagues, your father’s repetitive advice to become a lawyer and your average Tuesday afternoon Brazilian soap opera star too. And even if you don’t like it, they’ll all affect you.

And we listen for a reason. Most of doesn’t even have the vaguest idea what to do. We rather watch TV shows that we know are stupid rather than taking an effort to hunt down some first principles and “your way”. Even your local priest’s or next door self help advice might be more apt than the bullshit that comes to your mind when you are bored on those lonely afternoons.

 

So there are two distinct parts to the self-help story.
1, you are unique snowflake. Unique in a way that no one really knows (possibly yourself included)
2, you are utterly average. Not just an average 2017 man or woman – but an average human being: living just like all those people did in the last couple thousand years, to say to least. So you can clearly rely on all knowledge brought together about how to live life from 5000 year old religions to last year’s self-help bestseller. Including your father’s advice.

And number 3, that disqualifies all poor and great life advice: any advice is only good for people who can use them. Sorry, most of humanity.

I like life advice because I’m interested in the individual. And I’m always surprised about the sheer simplicity of the advices I’ve received. “Do the most secure job.”, “Never start a business!”, “Life is struggle for survival. If you enjoy it, it’s not work!”, or self-help people: “Start a business!”, “You can do whatever you want to do!”, “Be filthy rich!”, “Be really famous!”, “Lose a lot of weight!” or religions “Don’t lie!”, “Don’t kill!”, “Don’t commit adultery!”

I mean, I know people are simple. But… …really?! Guys! Life is a bit more than this, wouldn’t you think!?

So, I’ve been looking. Quite a lot in the last about 15 years for good advice. And not long ago – surprise, surprise – I’ve found some. Here it goes. This is the closest description of how I want to be:

1, a fully functioning person (Carl Rogers), including

– A growing openness to experience (move away from defensiveness)
– An increasingly existential lifestyle (living each moment fully)
– Increasing organismic trust (trust own judgment and ability to choose the right behaviour)
– freedom of choice (believing of playing a role in determining own behaviour)
– creativity
– reliability and constructiveness
– a rich full life (experience joy and pain, love and heartbreak, fear and courage intensely)
(Rogers, Carl: On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy)

2, the autotelic person / person of flow of Csíkszentmihályi “who seem to enjoy situations that ordinary persons would find unbearable.”
(Csíkszentmihályi: Flow)

3, and Maslow’s self-actualizer:
– efficient perception of reality
– comfortable acceptance of self, others and nature
– reliant on own experiences and judgement
– spontaneous and natural
– task centering
– autonomy (resourceful and independent)
– continued freshness and appreciation
– profound interpersonal relationships
– comfort with solitude
– non-hostile sense of humor
– peak experiences (feelings of ecstasy, harmony, deep meaning)
– socially compassionate
– few friends

What do you think? Do you know how you want to be? Do you take life advice seriously? If yes, based on what?

Let us know in a comment or on our Facebook page!

You are not special: and it’s perfectly all right

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My parents have been telling me from earlier than I can remember that I was exceptional. I was the smartest kid around. The greatest philosopher. The best writer. A talent in all sports from chess to triatlon. An academic. A master student. A money expert. And a lot of other things I’ve managed to erase from my memory.

This way of thinking set me on a course of success and highs with awards, world-wide travels, plenty of stories to tell and impressive personal records and it also made me believe I was better than the rest of the world. That I was a number 1 special entity while the others (except a few good friends) were flawed, not complete and not interesting.

I think I’ve always been relatively cautious and I didn’t run around telling how cool I was. But, for example, listening to others rather than telling my own stories – is still a challenge.

Realizing that I was flawed and had unsolvable issues (just like you do), took me more than 25 years. It came as a shock. It didn’t let me sleep for weeks and challenged most important relations of my life. But overcoming the shock was a huge relief and a very deep breath of fresh air: a new life, indeed.

Suddenly I understood that the strategy I’d had before: not to ever feel bad for even a second, live a life in constant excitement and seizing the day every day – was not only inhuman but utterly superficial too.

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This is what it is. Believing that you are special and important is superficial. And superficial people usually have issues understanding even the basics of human life: birth, long lasting relationships, family, parenthood, retirement, death. Superficial people are very often unsuccessful at the end. No matter that you travel 175 countries, have sex with 250 women and earn 35 million dollars – you can still remain a loser.

All we need to do is navigate to a news site or turn on the TV and in a second we are shown people at incredible highs and lows. An average Joe wins a million dollars on the lottery. A guy is elected US president. A 24 year old female pilot becomes an Instagram heroine. At the same time a guy drives a truck into the crowd. Another one kills his own father. Families are killed by the thousands in Myanmar. Etc.

Being the fastest Marathon runner of the world seems special. Training for 15 years to get there, every day? An average Monday afternoon for this guy now? He’s running. Again? Running!? Of all the things he could do? I don’t think he’s so special.
Being a headline politician seems special. Going to meetings on weekends for 4 decades, owing favours to dozens of high rollers, being dirty and working late nights? An average Monday afternoon filled with paperwork and quarrels with the secretary? Not so special.

Breaking news and their “special people” whom we forget about in 5 seconds or the next day are not real. You are shown extreme highs and lows but nothing from the rest. Your friends, your family, yourself: you are all real, on the other hand.

Living a real life and not willing to be so special and important is a relief that can help you more than Jesus Christ. Not wanting to have the best phone, the most expensive suit, the highest paid position, the fanciest partner and the presidential suite is a relief. You let these fake dreams go and you can live your average life and pursue your average dreams. Let it be laying in your sofa for a couple months, going to Africa to help, buying an apartment after 30 years of paying credits, take care of your family, party hard for a year or live in Tunisia for the rest of the year.

The ugly truth is that you are not very special and important. And the pleasant relief is that none of us are… Realizing this shall make you believe that what you are doing right now, today, this week, month and year is real and important. Even if your work never receives much publicity, your face will never be on the headline and millions of people won’t recognize you, your life and actions matter a lot, nevertheless… And usually they matter the most for the people that you care about…

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A self-help book that will make you feel really smart (&disillusioned) in 45 minutes

Dr. Spencer Johnson: Who moved my cheese?” is the dumbest book I’ve read in my (adult) life.

I’ve reached a whole new level in the self help industry : the most insulting read of my life from the recommendation list of James Clear, one of my favorite self-help author.

In Hungarian we have a term called “szófosás”. It means “diarrhea of words”: this book is an just an hour long read that says no more than
“Things change. Adapt. Laugh at yourself.”

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“Who moved my cheese?” is an insulting attempt to close your mind on an intelligent reader. Sniff, scurry, hem and haw are the four characters that are those drawers where every person is supposed to fit in. The book only describes 2 of the 4 characters (since 2 are human (!?) and 2 are mice). So practically you have 2 choices to “find yourself” in this “motivational business fable” where you are portrayed as a rat mouse in a race maze  that runs for the cheese and when it disappears you have 2 (two!) choices: adapt and find new cheese or don’t adapt, be miserable and get fired.

I felt like sitting on one of those very long, boring, senseless and still, insulting US company kick-off meetings that can mess with your brain for a couple weeks after. Anyways, the mice in the maze it’s not all there is. There is a group guys in a class reunion that talk about this story (WTF!?). And by the way, what kind of reunion is it where all people talk about is leaving your comfort zone and how to make better business? (and everyone from the class is a businessman!?)

This book convinced me further on that you really don’t have to be smart or special in any way to make money or be famous (26 million pieces sold worldwide, translated to 37 languages!) or to write one of the bestselling business books of all time.

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Then it hit me. Am I the member of the same species that holds a book that shouldn’t be taught above the age of 3 in the highest esteem? And suddenly I could feel my ever-optimistic faith in humanity leaving me (I’ve read the book at the entrance of the Auschwitz State Musem, in front of the former camp while waiting up on my group of passengers).
But fortunately I found the top-rated reviews of the book and I instantly felt better. I realized (hoped?) that it wasn’t individuals that bought this book but corporations, trying to squeeze more out of their employees. 26 million pieces sold and -even though just a 1 hour read- probably half of the printed copies were never read. I had a laugh.

Best moments from the other reviews:
– I think that I would have enjoyed the Spanish version better. I don’t speak Spanish.
– [the book’s characters] are the type of people for whom warning labels are placed on hot coffee cups
– If your boss gives you this to read find a new job.
– I wish I could un-read this book.
– So, who moved/stole their cheese? That question is never answered.
– 
My 9 month old son has books with smaller type and which make more sense. The author is worse than Hitler.
– It only took about 15-30 minutes to read, but I was begging God to give that time back to me.

 

Let us know what you think and check us on Facebook! 🙂

 

Sources:
Goodreads

How can you find a good movie for tonight?

When I started this blog I wanted to write about BIG things. Important, life altering decisions and solutions. By now I calmed down a bit.

When it comes to writing I’m trying to write something more practical and something I know about. I’m pretty good at find good movies.

SPOILER ALERT: Finding a good movie is a bit like finding a good travel destination: the more overview you have the more you know what you want. And the more attention you put into the movie the more you’ll be able to take out from it. If you start with a clear head, full of energy, dedicating your full attention, do some trivia reading and opinions after the movie, take the effort to get to know the background story, prequels and sequels, alternate endings and versions… …if you go deep down you can find diamonds.

If you have a slight idea what you want to watch (Titanic, Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump, Matrix or your favourite Bulgarian movie) – go on IMDb.com (Internet Movie Database), type in the title and scroll down. There’s gonna be recommendations for 6 movies “People who liked this also liked…”. It works all right.

If you have no idea what movie you like or this version didn’t work then let’s presume you are not so special. Meaning: you’ll like movies that others rate the highest. Then your place is IMDb TOP 250: the 250 best movies based on regular audience’s votes. (If you decide to watch it all, get ready for the fact that the list is changing, new movies appear to be more popular than they end up in a couple weeks and that you’ll be introduced to cinemas from Hollywood in the 1920s through Bollywood and Japan to South America. I’ve seen all of the movies about 3 years ago and now I’m “down to” 235 movies watched. (My earlier article about this is here). TOP 10 movies: Shawshank redemption, The Godfather I & II, The Dark Knight, 12 Angry men, Schindler’s list, Pulp Fiction, The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King, The good, the bad and the ugly, Fight Club.

Or, if you are looking for critically acclaimed ones, the “1001 movies you must see before you die” is a pretty good one. (I’ve seen 351 out of them – IMDb shows this after you rate movies).

If you don’t care about regular voters, critics but are like the cinema-goer masses your list is the highest grossing blockbusters. Top 10: Star Wars: The force awakens, Avatar, Titanic, Jurassic World, The Avengers, The Dark knight, Rogue One, Beauty and the beast, Finding Dory, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

Then, you are reading my blog. If you think my opinion is relevant: my favourite movies (272), my war movies list (46) and all the movies I’ve seen with my ratings (1569).

To fall in love with movies you’ll need patience and energy – and a lot of different type of movies. I’d suggest the following ones for a wide perspective, without any specific order. Pick those that sound interesting:
Hearts and minds (US war documentary)
–  Bowling for Columbine (US social documentary / Michael Moore documentary)
Underground (Serbian cinema / Emir Kusturica)
Ringu (Japanese horror)
Waltz with Bashir (Israeli movie / animated movie / war movie)
Cashback (sexy American movie)
Tropa de elite (Brazilian action movie)
Los cronocrimenes (Spanish time traveling movie)
Rang De Basanti (serious Indian movie)
The act of killing (Indonesian documentary)
The Best years of our lives (1940s Hollywood)
Festen (Danish dogma film)
Arrival (new US cinema)
Whiplash (movie about music at its best)
– Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (Japanese anime / Studio Ghibli)
Das Leben der Anderen (German cinema / movies about communism)
In Bruges (UK cinema / black comedy)
Boyhood (a movie filmed for 11 years)
– Idi i smotri (Soviet cinema / war, as it is)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (spoof comedy)
Ikiru (Japanese cinema / Akira Kurosawa)
Inside Out (Pixar animation)
Zeitgeist (documentary based on false facts)
Kin-dza-dza! (Soviet cyberpunk)
Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog)
La Grande Illusion (1930s French cinema)
Amores Perros (Mexican cinema)
Paris, Texas (sui genere, US cinema)
Simon of the desert (surrealist cinema / Bunuel)
Brat (Russian cinema, 1990s)
This is Spinal Tap (false documentary / Rob Reiner)
I vitelloni (Italian cinema / Fellini)
Head-on (modern Turkish cinema)
Five broken cameras (Palestinian ultra low budget documentary)
District 9 (South African cinema)
The Blues Brothers (US, music, classic)
The Holy Mountain (ultra-surrealism / Jodorowsky)
A prophet (French prison movie)
Kukulka (sui genere, Russian cinema)
Mephisto (German cinema / István Szabó)
Amour (new French cinema)
Circles (Bosnian cinema)
Adams aebler (Danish cinema, dark)
Kolya (Czech cinema, 1990s)
Waking life (topic: dream)
Egészséges erotika (sui genere, Hungary 1980s)
Hedwig and the angry inch (gender)
La planete sauvage (sui genere, Czech-French animated)
Ostre sledovane vlaky (Czechoslovak cinema / Jiry Menzel)
Being John Malkovich (sui genere, US cinema)
Kontroll (new Hungarian cinema)
Delicatessen (sui genere, French cinema)
Victoria (movie shot in one take, new German cinema)
The passenger (slow movie / Antonioni)
Funny games (mindfucking movie / 1990s German cinema)
The man who wasn’t there (sui genere, US cinema)
Train to Busan (South Korean zombie movie)
Pi (sui genere, US cinema)

Don’t forget: being in motion (reading this article, downloading, checking cinema tickets, reading reviews) – these make no sense without watching the movies. Take some action: dedicate your full attention to a new movie tonight!

 

Let us know what you think in a comment or on our Facebook page! Thanks for reading.