The end of Minimalist Happiness

This is the last post on this blog.

Thank you reading, following and commenting (constructive too!) both on- and offline, for every message and reaction.

The reason for finishing is:
SHORT VERSION:
I’m happy I’ve invested this time and energy. I’ve learned plenty what I want to be, but also about what I don’t: a self-help writer. It’s time to stop this blog, but not all writing for good. New topics and ideas shall come later.

My projects now are very practical and long term and different than in 1,5 years ago:
– baby Alex, my wife Gosia, my close family
the EU lessons project
Budapest Explorers, the guiding company we’ve recently founded.

Time has come for me to be a doer: for another active, practical period to begin and an observing, self-developing, writing-for-writing’s-sake to finish.
Although I have no idea how and when but I’m pretty sure I’ll be back with new topics to write. Until then you can follow my not-overly-ambitious, but honest fatherlyobservations.wordpress.com

& the LONG VERSION:

It was certainly an interesting period of my life, in November 2016 when I began this blog.

Finishing a long season with new cruises and bus tours (I worked in over 10 countries that year!), several different companies to guide, hardly ever seeing my wife for months and a lot of free time on my hands with the unbearable lightness of life settling down on me.

As my own actions and relations seemed somewhat senseless I thought all could be improved if I worked on myself.

Without the soothing presence of my wife, my inner self (demons?) told me to achieve more, and do all of it better, faster and stronger.

Finding a whole ideology, popular knowledge and a world built on these very basic principles was fascinating: a real new beginning. I thought I found something precious, important and concealed: the secret world of something important: self-development.

When reading sillier and sillier ideas on how to live one’s life from modern religious, moralizing fundamentals to senseless commonplaces (you can become whoever you want to be) and incredible self-centeredness with the surreal low point being corporate brainwashing with its 26 million sold copies (Who stole my cheese?) – I thought the original idea (e.g.: read books and change for the better) was good but you needed common sense, criticism, background knowledge and other necessary skills to determine what’s in it for you (Mark Manson: self help is for OK-to-GREAT people but it’s mostly consumed by BAD-to-OK people).

Soon my initial self-help style articles were challenged by different travels (mainly Middle-East and SE-Asia) and spending time with my wife.

Self-help and development slowly turned into something I always thought it would be: shallow, limited, short sighted and empty.
So I’d write about criticism of self-help and whatever idea I came across within the realm of “minimalist happiness”: money, time management, charity, one even about Auschwitz

As articles seemed too short projects (1-4 hours each) I began to write a book about eliminating unimportant and not enjoyable things from life. After thinking it through often I scrapped dozens of pages to turn / restart the project into a very personal account of the most important events of my life. It is half-finished at the moment.

On the blog I’d cover more personal stories including travels, getting beaten, moments of freedom, etc. (these shall be parts of the book if it’ll be finished)

My idea of writing a book about eliminating unimportant parts of our lives. I’d return to a my high school transcript: show some real beauty of the world I know.

My original goal of writing until December 2017 is fulfilled.
Working an hour on the blog every day was fulfilled too, at least last year.
I’ve written 107 posts.
And it’s time to finish. Being minimalist and happy as a priority has been challenged in the meantime. With my son born, happiness (and my existence) has got an extended meaning while minimalism seems a very individualistic approach that doesn’t fit so much a life with a baby.

Although I have no idea how and when but I’m pretty sure I’ll be back with new topics to write. Until then you can follow my not-overly-ambitious, but honest fatherlyobservations.wordpress.com

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Monteriggioni, Tuscany, Italy

Grandpa, now only in my memories

My maternal grandpa, Ferenc, was born on 9th December 1930.

 I, Daniel, was born on 9th December 1988.

My son, Alex, was born on 9th December, 2017.

29 years for each generation and all males are born on the same day of the year.

Today, on 17th May 2018 my grandpa died, age 87. Three times 29, three generations.

He was my first close family member to die.

I’ve always felt he was the closest to me. He became a soldier, a professional military officer following and giving orders, someone talented who got a chance for education and career from the Communist system (unlike several generations of his family before), someone who’s never had long hair, never listened to rock music, never went to concerts, never bicycled around Europe or founded a company: he valued order, security, comfort – and so he seemed the complete opposite of me when I was a teenager and in my early 20s.

Yet, I’m as stubborn, strong-willed, realistic, earth-bound, frugal as he is. From what I know from his life I would have chosen the same values, the same way of living, the same loyalty – to an institution, a wife, a family, children and grandchildren. This is how my grandpa is. Was. Was. Was.
This morning he “is”, this evening he was.

Birth and death, mysteries in our modern, well-rounded, modern lives.

How could I ask whether the wind ever blew through his long hair? – when I was 15. And how dare I remember a happy sparkle of his disapproving eye? – which might just be a false memory?
How long will I remember that one of last sentences he told me when he couldn’t eat or drink was about a cold bottle of Kőbányai beer on a summer day: the joys of life as he remembered.

87 to die, I’ve known him for 29 and there are no hard feelings, there is no grudge, hatred, darkness or regret.

Sadness there is, but it is there for myself, for my grandma who’s left alone and for my mother who doesn’t have a father since this morning.

I could have visited more, I could have talked more and let him talk more, could have spent more time, could have become more involved, I could have…

But he wasn’t a baby. He got a heart attack while working on the sun (so close to the earth, growing fruits and vegetables: yet another mystery!), caring about his garden, 35 kilometres from home.

I tried to spend quality time. I tried to listen. I tried to live a good life – that could have supported him and that could make him proud (through being happy and being who I am).

I cried a lot today. I remember less than half a year ago, seeing my son born, I cried. And today I cry again. So I cry for myself, for my mother, for my grandma and for all of us in the family.

Papa. I don’t think you hear me in any way. But living forever, or well, longer than 87 years, 5 month, 1 week and a day (I know this because soon we’ll introduce solid food to Alex) means that my mother and her sister are here, I’m here, Alex is here and with all your actions you’ve shaped this world.

You tried hard, I know that. I’m not to judge (no one is) so I just repeat it for myself: you’ve made my life possible and you’ve made it better with your actions.

I thank you, honestly, with all my heart.

You left as you lived: with strong will, with a backbone.

I’m no soldier but I salute you, Ferenc: Papa…

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Small Alex with his great-grandparents: Ferenc and Mária

In my perfect world there are no heroes

I started to watch a movie yesterday: Michael Moore’s Where to invade next. While Michael never looked good, on this one he really is ugly (and you have to watch his face half the time). The movie gives a positive message about Italy, Finland (and surely other places but I’ve only watched the first 40 minutes) [which is a negative / critical message for the US].

The world he shows called “Italy” where ‘working class’ people go on 8 weeks of paid holiday yearly and have amazing benefits and 2 hour lunches and all the bosses and CEOs are caring and nice people (as well as everyone smells and looks “right after having sex”) – well, it exists as much as Cuban healthcare superior in every way to US healthcare (Sicko). I lived in Italy, unlike Mr. Moore.

But, it still feels amazing to hear a positive message. When our lives are gradually getting better in so many ways (yes, in Russian and Hungary and Poland and China and most parts of Africa and Brazil and wherever too) we still just moan and bitch about it all.

The other mental food I’ve been taking in lately is Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan which in its beginning has some amazing insights on heroes: “Who is more valuable, the politician who avoids a war or the one who starts a new one (and is lucky enough to win)?” […] We glorify those who left their names in history books at the expense of those contributors about whom our books are silent. We humans are not just a superficial race […]; we are a very unfair one.”

Once I told a bus driver whom I hired for a tour about the fact that humanity was at least twice “one button” away from extinction. (Cuban Missile Crisis1983 Soviet nuclear false alarm incident; 1995 Norwegian Rocket Incident, more here.) He looked deep into my eyes: “Doesn’t this make you think about someone up there watching over us?”
I’ll be honest. It totally does not. On the contrary. If there was “someone” helping us he’d surely spare us being one button away from extinction. I hope, at least.

Melting the two parts of this article together without any subtlety or nobility let me just say: I hope in the future there are going to be less and less heroes & once we’ll live in a world where heroes will be as scarce as black swans…

7 reasons why you should not follow the news

Notice: this is an article for those who don’t have “business” out of the news. If you are a journalist, TV person, politician – then, well, probably you didn’t click here, anyway.

1, it takes plenty of valuable time

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2, it’s passive consumption (TV being the most passive way as you can not choose what to watch)

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3, it gives you a false idea that you’re globally important (it’s pretty amazing to know what Trump is saying right now but it won’t give you a chance to change)

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4, you’ll find yourself reading about eggs of Polynesian tortoises: and forget about it in less than an hour

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5, there are news every day but most days nothing really important happens

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6, even if something important happens somewhere (let it be a new small planet discovered or genocide in Myanmar), it’s most likely not important for you

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Today (2018.05.06.) are historical elections in Lebanon. What do you care!?

7, when something important happens you’ll hear about it anyways, more than you’d want to

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& my story:

I was 21, on Erasmus in Calabria, Southern Italy. I didn’t know who was Angela Merkel or Lady Gaga. I didn’t know much of world’s largest criminal organization (‘Ndrangheta) operating out of the region I live in. I wasn’t a global person in this sense.

Paying attention to things in front of my nose let me have more important changes in my mind than knowing global politics: had amazing parties, got together with my future wife, made friends, traveled around, talked to locals, biked to places no one goes to, etc. Can you imagine someone saying on his deathbed: if only I had payed more attention to the news?

It was about 4 years ago that I became interested and a bit involved in matters of general concernments. Soon, I completely stopped playing computer games and decided to read news instead. The one real benefit was talking to people – about daily happenings that weren’t important – but had the sense of importance as they happened just right then – and even made it to the news. I didn’t really become smarter or got a broader view from it. (But I could argue more effectively as I could relate to very recent happenings.)

Then a couple weeks ago, before our Hungarian elections I followed news every day for over an hour. I did it because I participated. This month was frustrating and the election being over (a defeat for people like me) was like a breath of fresh air as I disconnected from the daily flow of infinite – and mostly useless information.

Following the news is just like any other useless addiction for me. I was more up-to-date (unlike I’d been with a computer game or passive social media consumption) but it had nothing to do with my life goals.

I can only recommend not following the news at least for a month – and see how it goes from there.

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arabedrossian.org

Life plan, revised

I’m planning to lead my life based on the following values (in no particular order):

1, solo
– constant intellectual growth and challenges:
– visiting new places
– meeting new, inspiring people
– reading new books, watching new movies
– create (writing)
– work challenges (e.g. new company)

2, personal
– stand by family and friends (in particular my wife and son)

3, common
– actively working for a peaceful world (at the moment through education)

Big words.

But they make sense because they only cover a tiny part of the world (I know, way broader than “I’ll bring 1 million people to Mars” or “I’ll research independent  regulatory functions of Zcchc11”.

And what they don’t cover – I don’t want to care about.

I’m narrowing down my interests. It’s not easy but I’m leaving behind things I could do – and believe to be able to do well. But I’m trying to make a difference and focusing means letting go.

The apropo of this article is that working with a group for a couple days away from home and my child gave some perspective, energy to think and a couple nights of quality sleep.

Let’s see how it will work to fit the big ideas into the everyday reality…

Have you ever really lived?

Have you ever decided not to let go, no matter?
And continue to stand?

Have you ever been so tired you couldn’t stand –
but were still glad to be going?

Have you ever closed your eyes and still kept going –
all into the unknown with discomfort and stingy joy?

Have you ever succumbed in joy so much
you wanted to get out but had to stayed?

Have you ever felt you had to stay for good
’cause that’s what everyone wanted you to do – and still quit?

Your greatest principle of all – have you quit it
to do good for someone else?

Have you stopped yourself judging others
just for the sake of silence?

Have you broken silence against all norms
’cause even persecution’s better than being an accomplice?

Have you ever been -jumping in deep water- accomplice
in unconditional love?

Have you ever loved someone
who didn’t deserve it but needed you?

Have you ever said – I’ll always be here when you need me
– and stood by your promise?

Have you ever broken a promise so hard and sharp
that it’d just hurt?

Have you ever been hurt for someone you care for?
Have you ever really lived?

Today I grew a year older

I’m breaking my promises by writing about something that’s not becoming part of my book. But, what the hell.

Yesterday was election day in Hungary. The most saddening and least likely result (for me!) came out: practically things stay as they are (the extreme right wing governing party reached 2 third of the votes, the left got weaker, the right got stronger).

Today has been a very unmotivated day (I’m practically never ill but today I couldn’t eat). Oh yeah, I’m never unmotivated either.

The words that can describe my mood the most are: bitter helplessness and mental hangover.

It was a great reality check: people in Hungary are not like me. I’ve known that 80% doesn’t speak English. Probably <0,001% has an English language blog. People don’t have foreign wives. People don’t live in inner Budapest. People worry about paying bills. People, people, people – and me.

I’ve been politically active recently: going to demonstrations, talking to people, creating memes, sharing articles, writing opinions, offering a ride to my grandparents, etc.

Well, we: city people, international people, English speaking people: we lost today big time in Hungary.

And this article doesn’t lead anywhere.

Minimalist it is. Happy it is not.

But you know what: I’m a little bit proud to be unhappy. Once I read a book about Nazi Germany during the war and the protagonist said: “it’s only fools who are happy in times like these”.

I am not convinced any more (at all) that personal happiness is the ultimate goal. In times like these it’s time to look into yourself and see what you can do when you are back to your enthusiastic self.

I’m not going into politics. I’m not founding a new party.

But I’m ready to make a difference. Probably through education, radically expanding the program of EU lectures in Hungary and in Europe.

Wish me luck!
Daniel, who grew a 1 year older today….

Have you ever felt you’ve said it all already?

I used to write a lot when I was younger: 14 to my early 20s: including a novel, a short(er) novel and probably over a hundred short stories and maybe a dozen poems. And hundreds of pages of diaries. It was about art, emotions, love, easing anger – and of course, self-expression.

In March 2016, however I decided to write partly to change the world with it (no, not to topple political systems and start or end civil wars) – but to express my opinion on public issues. One of my first articles (and the most read and shared) was on Muslims & terrorism. The project ended with the 100th article as planned and it took a little while to “put myself together” again and narrow down my topic.

In November the same year I’d begin on new waters: writing in English and having let a lot of topics go I’d focus on self-improvement (whatever it really is). This is when Minimalist Happiness began. It was supposed to be a 1 year long project with about an hour dedicated to it daily on average but I’m still writing it.

And I can’t say I’m running out of topics (I have over 300 article ideas saved) but I’ve run out of topics to research more in depth. I feel more fascination now with successful writers who take their time to write long form articles (Mark Manson, Wait but Why) although they seem to have their limit too (Wait but Why’s last article came out a year ago!).

I feel that I’ve said it all – because I’ve found ways to proactively participate and make a change with direct actions:
– I’m a father for almost 4 months and I raise my child with my wife
– I’ve founded a “part-time” company with a friend
– I’m trying to extend greatly an education program I’m managing
– with elections coming up in a week I’ve got way more involved than in the rest of those “4 year” blocs…

Writing is great – I’m still working on the book that aims to sum up the 16 (12?, 11?, 14?) most important things I’ve learned in life. I still believe I have thousands of pages in me – but in a relatively open society like today’s with so much to do and change and opportunities to do that: I think writing’s getting a break for a while.

Hope it’s all right with you: I’m always up for a conversation, anyways! 🙂

you just needs to fool sometimes…

“Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.” (Kurt Vonnegut)

Money. Fitness. Body. Enterprising. Marketing. Travel. Problem solving. Leaving your comfort zone. […]

Topics all self-improvement readers know too well. But the more you think, read, talk about these (or hey, other) ideas, there’s a big danger: you’ll start taking yourself dead serious. You will find yourself more valuable because of the thousands or millions your earn, because of the weights you lift, because you’ve been to over 100 countries in the world, etc.

Alone at home, in the evening with your partner or friend(s) or family: leave this all behind. [I’m not saying we are all equal or equally important, at all. Yet, measurable metrics as the above ones cause arrogance, condescension, egotism, often smugness. /Consult your doctor or pharmacist about risks and undesired side effects./]

It was just 2 months ago when I began to write a serious article (about my top 10 movies) and I couldn’t help but notice 2 out of ten were spoof comedies and a couple others were often described as comedies. I was surprised. Am I not the constantly looking, self-developing and improving, writing, organizing, managing guy?

Not only. When I certainly L-O-V-E to fool.

A culture coming from my father and mother (I’m not sure I’ve ever heard people laughing so much – and on such silly jokes as they do) and it was continued with my friends and partners. Fooling make me believe the world is a great place where there is nothing else to do for me – but to laugh and enjoy myself. I hope more and more people feel this…

I remember one particular occasion, meeting my best friend at his place at 10 pm. I really had to share with him the day’s saddening story from the same girl who was giving me saddening stories for years. But his sarcastic face (one of his memorable jokes being about the non-existent but very visual description of the diarrhea of the girl) and his body language convinced me that it just did not matter. So he started another story. And I had another one. We both had something to say all the way until the morning when I had to leave. We never went to sleep and talked the night through… …and I did not manage to tell the story (it’d needed 15-20 minutes of focused time). That night, although I can’t recall more than what I wrote here, is a top memory, an all-time high. It showed the best of a safe, pleasant, free, young, healthy world in and around me. All I needed was a friend…

“Laughs are exactly as honorable as tears. Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion, to the futility of thinking and striving anymore. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” (Kurt Vonnegut)

Humanity: a nation of babies

I’m a father of a 3+ months old baby boy, Alexander.
I’ve already spent hundreds of hours with him, less and sometimes more focused. I’ve learned a lot about him and about babies. No wonder. I expected that I’d feel this way.
But one learning seems more important than all the rest for now: I think I’m just like him.
I eat and I’m grumpy when I don’t get food.
I need a toilet.
I want my wish to come true, right away.
I don’t like to be bored. I look for stimulation.
I listen to my instincts and emotions.
I love playing.
I try to learn every day, non stop.
Clearly, we are not the same though. He struggles to fall asleep and I help him.
He needs food now and now and right now.
I can set up an account with a fake UK phone number to order one and pay from money I earned. Etc.
But after all, the differences are differences of quality. The fundamentals of our existence are one and the same.
It feels like we’re living in a modern, well-developed world. But in a couple decades this type of life shall be considered dark aged.
We, humans are essentially the same creatures we’ve been for hundreds of thousands of years: way before civilization.
How could we truly convince ourselves we ever grow up!?