Sleeping in your clothes (hacking external expectations)

I was born stubborn. My parents called me “Mr Director” when I was a newborn. And they didn’t try too hard to break me in later either.

I could always be the first one walking the stairs. I didn’t have to sit on the bicycle on the bike seat but could run in the front, slowing the whole family down. I ate 3/4th of the chocolate cookies. I got bored easily and needed constant attention. And so on.

This ultra liberal upbringing is probably part of why I believe people should be given freedom to choose the life they wish (unless they harm others with it).

& the essential part of finding one’s way is to deconstruct what you’ve been told and taught. As Tim Urban from WBW put it: “[…] It takes some serious reflection to sift through the webs of other people’s thoughts and opinions and figure out who the real you actually is.”

One of the good (and easier) ways to find out about yourself is getting to know different life choices: from talking to the homeless guy at your corner through travelling the world to watching existentialist movies and talking to your friends who are in different life stages than you are.

One of my memorable triggers was reading books at a young age. First and Second World War classics that taught me all about meaningless deaths, murders, Holocaust and similar. And yet, the one situation I could not imagine or understand was a paragraph about Berbers who willingly sleep in their clothes. It was like a huge slap on the face. I knew already “You can not go to sleep without washing your teeth and wearing your pajamas”.

This was when I was around 12. During the next years I’d consciously fight the ideas given to me on clean plates. I’d often sleep in my clothes. Away from home. In a tent. Under the stars. On parties. And plenty of other things I was told people couldn’t/shouldn’t do.

Without deconstructing your upbringing and distancing yourself consciously from external opinions you’ll always remain a child: someone led by parents, strangers, motivating and manipulating figures. This deconstruction is what leads you to become yourself.

A couple ideas on how to free yourself from external expectations:
1, Motion: get ideas, learn new ways (if you don’t have an idea yet but you want to change)
– read books (a good list here)
– watch movies (my reccos here)
– meet new people
– start new topics with the same old friends
– strengthen your subconscious (go running or to the gym, eat less, spend less money)
2, Action: try something new today, overcome your fear, choose different paths
travel
volunteer
take up a commitment if you lack meaning
give up a commitment if you lack freedom
– freaking start what you want! Let it be walking up to that girl, starting that company, taking a day off, quitting your job – or whatever it might be. But rather than taking a second mortgage to invest in Bitcoin, please, start small. Chances are you’re already living the life you want – all you need is perspective to come to terms with it…

How to charity?

I’ve always been a left side thinker. I’ve always felt the rich should share more. I think it’s outrageous that 1% of the world owns over 50% of the goods. While I’m certainly not in the global 1% I have enough to give for charity. (BTW: feeling of having enough is more of a state of mind than strictly a financial situation: poor people give more for charity than the rich. (sources: US article, UK article). Even if you don’t have much/enough money you can still give your time to help others too.

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hands2give

1, Donating money
Doing charity is just like any other deal with spending money: getting a good product and making sure your money goes to the best place needs a good amount of research.

Here are my tips:
– look around. Maybe your nephew’s dream of playing football could come true if you gave him 20 bucks a week. Maybe the homeless guy at your corner needs 300 USD not to be homeless any more. If this isn’t (only) where you want to help:
– choose organisations that are active close to you
– give money to people you personally know / you trust
– if you don’t know such people, ask your friends (e.g. a simple Facebook question worked for me)
– get involved with the organisation (I’ve contacted several organisations that 1, didn’t exist in reality; 2, had no running projects; 3, seemed terribly ineffective)
– give charity to small organisations where your money matters (10 USD for UNICEF? Sure, they can get 3 free bananas for the employees in their Singapore office)
– choose organisations whose functioning costs are low. If 90% of your donation goes for the multi-million dollar salary of a CEO it might be the last time you’ve ever donated
– one-time vs. regular: a one-time donations can be useful for a project with a single goal or a movement but an organisation relies on regular donations
– count from your income and make a promise/resolution: “This year I’ll have 1% / 3% / 5% / 10% / 15% of my income/expense for charity”.

 

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2, Donating time
– make sure you feel good while volunteering. Otherwise you’ll not last.
– look for good company and inspiring people (not only an inspiring project)
– start small, don’t commit in the beginning: go and help in for a couple hours to a day to get to know the work and the people. Better try a dozen then leave one and never return
– if you want to make a change, help in regularly: even if just a little bit of time
– use the skills you are really good at / want to be good at: If you are good at teaching and languages and these are your interests, don’t look for flat renovations or health care because you are not skilled and you don’t want to be.
– in Europe there’s an organisation called European Solidarity Corps where one aged 17-30 can go to volunteer for 2 -12 months – with good financial support from EU

Don’t forget:
– you’ll spend 100% of your salary on something
– you’re going to spend those 24 hours every day doing something.
Why not to try to donate 1 hour weekly or 1% of your money? If for nothing else than to try out something new…

Volunteer Charity Help Sharing Giving Donate Assisting Concept
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Charity and volunteering are things you’ll never understand until you try them yourself…

What can you learn from getting beaten?

I never fought in my adult life.

I come from a peaceful city. There, when random people told they’d beat me up in the middle of the night frustration I’d say “let’s go for it”: and nothing happened. When someone was bullied or hurt around, it was never me. I’d score low on an “are-you-a-victim?” test.

But I wasn’t only involved in random alcohol-fuelled late-night conflicts in my life. In fact, I was involved with girls.

One, in particular, that’s important for us now. She was the sister of my best friend (who else?!) and she had just broken up with her boyfriend. After a couple of drinks we’d make out.

The next morning… …nothing happened. Except that she told me she was back together with the boyfriend. Not that it seemed to mean a lot: we were in Hungary while he was in the US.

Once again, nothing happened. It was very usual in my peaceful hometown. 2 years passed.

Then, one day after more-than-healthy amount of drinks when my friend told me not to go near his house I’d insist on visiting. The boyfriend was sleeping over too.

While watching the computer screen in my friend’s dark room I heard my nickname, turned my head and successfully blocked his first hit with my right cheek. I remember the sudden change of pace from late night sleepiness to suddenly becoming fully alert as the moment slowed down as the swivel chair slipped out from under me and I fell down. I hardly had enough time to take my arms in front of my face while laying on the hard floor.

I’m getting hits to my face like there’s no tomorrow.  I’m hardly able to block anything and I don’t even think about hitting back. Then he stops. (Later I got to know that my friend held his arm down.)

And he gives his hand: “Welcome to my world!” -and helps me up. It’s easy to get up. I feel I could jump as high as ever. Blood is pouring in my right eye. He’s well-built, sober, gym-goer, experienced fighter. Bosnian-American. I have not fought in my adult life.

We start talking. I’m surprised by my lack of courage: I’m not able to walk up and hit him. I’ve never done it to anyone. And I’m surprised by my wittiness. I’m bringing up the fact that I didn’t hit back. I -indirectly- call him stupid. I’m not afraid of him hitting me again. We talk while I’m making the floor more and more bloody. We shake hands at the end.

The next day’s miserable. I can compare the blood loss to the time when a taxi hit me and was taken to a hospital. In a movie this would be a warning of an Italian crime (the one before breaking the fingers.) I don’t go home until the evening. I ignore my mother talking about the police.

I knew, people would ask me for a while what happened. Some would decide not to talk to me. I knew the marks would soon disappear from my face. But essentially things would be back to very normal soon.

I learned something that one can not learn from books. The same way as a 12 year old girl would never understand how her life would be basically the same after her first kiss, falling in love and losing her virginity. Getting beaten up was like one of these things.

That night, unlike many in my hometown, made me stronger: someone who’s less afraid…

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nytimes (it’s not me)

TOP 10 movies that changed my life the most

I like watching movies. Having seen more than 1600 of them, including the TOP 250 by IMDb ratings should prove that.
I’m still grateful for this one thing for the girl I dated on and off after high school: showing me that movies can be as good as books. This was the beginning of my “art horizont” growing beyond literature. And watching movies is one of the few arts that one can enjoy in company.
Robin hood: The prince of thieves (1991, with Kevin Costner) – This is the only one from the list I would not really recommend now. But I still watched it at least 30 times (on Hungarian dubbed VHS) at home until I turned 12.
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Saving Private Ryan (1998) – other than the cruel scenes with death, blood, severed limbs and guts and intro to the horrors of war, this movie showed both meaningless, random deaths and an opportunity for a meaningful life. One of the first times I’d cry on a movie.

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American beauty (1999) – the first favourite movie of my conscious life. After watching it a couple times I decided I’d quit my job once from one day to another. And so I did, not so long ago. One of the best decisions of my life. Thanks, Lester!
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Good Will Hunting (1997) – have you ever wondered about the fact that Will hasn’t taken any job offer and just went after the girl? A message I loved in high school where everyone pushed me on a daily basis to decide what you want to do for the next 50 years. I learned that even if you are a whizzkid with numbers you can choose whatever else you want to do. (I was quite good in math and physics but was interested in literature and history – and chose this latter path.)
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Fight club (1999) – an introduction to counterculture and alternative lifestyles. Gave me strong ideas that one can live in an abandoned house without comfort, money, prestige, work, etc. It has had a lasting effect on my decisions & lifestyle until this day.
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Vektor (2004) – this one is a redubbed and recut version of Matrix (1 & 2). 2,5 hours of laughter: but only for fluent Hungarian speakers. A movie whose script we learned by heart from first to last sentence with a good friend while we watched it probably over 40 times from late teens to early 20s.
The fact that something great and well-known can be transformed into a comedy and every single scene can get a completely new meaning gave me a big push in my pursuit to prove: action is senseless and human life is meaningless. (To get an idea about this, you can watch a short German parody of Lord of the Rings with English subs here.) I wrote an article in Hungarian about this one.
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Hot shots Part Deux (1993) – the king of parodies… Having watched it several times it made us believe the world was a great place where there was nothing else to do for us – but laugh and enjoy ourselves. A feeling I hope more and more people are able to experience for some time.
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Cool Hand Luke (1967) – if I had to choose only one, this would be my favourite movie. The essence of non-conformity. Even in a most limited environment (harsh prison) one can stand tall and keep to his principles. This movie showed me that we can – and should remain true to our inner ideas under any circumstances.
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Rang de Basanti [Young revolutionaries] (2006) – although not a fan of Indian movies this one is right on spot. A most simple message: rather than complaining about the outside world and having fun all the time you can and should do something about it. I think a message as important in India as in Hungary or the US. This movie gave me a great push to get more involved in volunteering, civil associations and politics.
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Idi i smotri [Come and see] (1985) – I was raised a pacifist and have remained one. I think war is the single worst thing that ever happened to humanity and society. Idi i smotri strengthened this view greatly. This movie is the real thing. Belarus, Soviet Union in WWII through eyes of adolescents. The most haunting picture I’ve ever seen.
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Ikiru [To live] (1952) – I usually need some time to convince myself to watch 60 year old, Japanese, black&white movies from the 1950s. This wasn’t an exception: it probably “laid” on my computer for 2 years. Watching it gave me a whole new world of ideas on how to find meaning in terribly difficult circumstances. Also, it made me incredibly grateful for the life I have.
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Looking for more movies?
Check out my list of the movies I rated 10/10 & great war movies.

Which movie had the greatest effect on you and why?
Let us know in a comment here, on FB or in an email: drazsika@gmail.com

Are you fighting for freedom or against frustrations?

One of the bravest decisions of my life was to move away after a heated argue from home right after I turned 18.

I chose the coldest night of the year and I went to our abandoned weekend house – the place we’d visit once a year and none of us ever slept there. The place waited for me with walls and windows – but practically no insulation and no water or gas inside. Electricity there was but no heating. So I roughed an unforgettable night in -10 °C. It was one of many to follow. The conditions didn’t improve significantly through the winter (one night, drunk, a throw my keys from the bed and it broke the window: it didn’t change the temperature).

Although I had money, I decided to live on minimum expense. While my clothes were washed by my friends’ mothers, I printed fake cantine tickets (and was busted but with no consequences), found food on the street – and I clearly remember: I spent 19 euros during the first 30 days. Some of it for the cheapest available alcohol.

Although I spent much of my time at friends’ I returned every night to the little house, as if a loyal lover.

I stayed 4-5 months and then returned home to prepare for the final exams – and to leave for new destinations during the summer.

There were plenty of reasons why I left home. To become an adult. To experience independence. To try myself. To find a worthwhile challenge. To get away from boring everydays. But I think the most important reason was leaving frustration behind. It might sound stupid that dealing with so many discomforts including biking 20 kms daily, having issues with washing myself and my clothes was for leaving the frustration of a couple of hours of arguing at home: but there is a certain logic in this (I hope). I couldn’t stand senseless arguments and the role of a child. I couldn’t stand the authority and “knowledge of life” that my parents thought they possessed. I couldn’t stand being helpless in changing my own life.

But I had no issue suddenly becoming celebrated (by some fellow students) and hated (by teachers and other fellow students), withstanding cold and pain, losing weight, changing my lifestyle or facing new problems. Quite the contrary.

During those couple months I spent my days with very little distractions. I took going to school granted. So the time outside of it was the life I could control. As spending time “at home” was no option because of the cold I spent the better part of the afternoon in the library, reading. I checked my emails (a new thing back then) once a day. I had no electronic devices apart from my non-smart phone. I spent hours with friends and new friends-to-be many nights of the weeks. I ate less and biked more than ever.

It was the period of life that taught me the most about not being afraid. About surviving on bare minimum: money and living conditions.

And no matter how noble it all might sound: looking back, I think the main reason for leaving was just trying to get really far away from frustrations I couldn’t handle any more.

It might take away much of the noble angle of this story: but it makes it real too. Even any country that fights for independence: don’t they fight frustrations they can not bear any more?

2009 - 20 év munkájának eredménye
2009, Milan, Italy

Always have enough! (my way of hacking money)

Age 4, in kindergarten I had plans to become the richest man in the world. A year later I lowered the stakes: I just wanted to become filthy rich by becoming a bank-owner.

This is roughly the time when I started to save up money. I haven’t stopped since.

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Later, as my classmates started to take extra classes to become physicians, lawyers and get to great universities I began to blame money as the cause of nice teens becoming quasi-serious assholes around me. So I decided to quit the rat race before entering. My newest plans were to live off welfare (an easy solution those times) / gathering enough money and live off the high interest rates (this seemed easy too).

I was partly inspired by my father (my “poor dad”) who had an unusual strategy with money. He spent considerably less than what he made. Sounds like a pretty simplistic idea but it happens to work. (If you consider the old saying “A penny saved is a penny earned” = you earn money by buying the cheaper butter, it all starts to make sense.)

Looking at money through his teachings taught me half (and the more important part) of the story: you don’t need to be rich to always have enough money. My father clearly kept to his rules as I don’t think he ever invited anyone for a glass of beer and had refused to buy an ice cream to my mother on their honeymoon because it was too expensive.

Some of the high points I reached based on his teachings included:
– spending <1 EUR / day when I moved away from home during high school
– traveling cheap (my first solo trip cost ~100 EUR / 37 days)
– a (semi fake) press card with which I saved couple hundred euros on museum & other entry prices
– saving a couple hundred euros on transportation tickets (buying it half-way, not buying, semi-fake discounts, etc.)
– letting my friends buy the drinks in parties / stealing random people’s drinks in crowded clubs.

Megtakarítás-Nélkül-Nincs-Anyagi-Függetlenség10
peterbonyai

Experimenting with very low expenses completely killed my existential fear. I don’t think any more about “what would happen if I lost my job?“, “what would happen if the stock market collapsed?” and similar. What would happen? I’d have to solve different issues than today. Big deal.

My parents didn’t share these thoughts. “If you don’t have your Msc diploma in time all you can ever become is a trashman” and “you’ll starve to death with these votes” (I’ve always been among the very best students). After realizing that I had two hard-working parents in respected positions (pediatrician and university professor) not making much money (Hungary it is) I thought I’d never make an honest dime.

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So it came as a surprise when I started to learn the other side of the coin too: how to make money.

To escape my mother’s ever-present question ”have you found a job yet!?” I moved to my girlfriend to Poland after having finished my bachelor’s. Without knowing Polish I offered to teach Hungarian, English, Italian… …and chess. Soon I found out that with a ~10 hour workweek (including teaching chess in Italian!) I could make ends meet – more-or-less. It gave me an existential confidence: if I can make a living in an unknown Polish town without knowing the language why couldn’t I do it in a normal place – like at home!?

The first serious job of mine came out of nowhere: becoming a tour leader on river cruises made me earn a higher per diem than my mother and father together (okay, for a ~16 hour workday, 24 hours on call and away from home). But still. Without ever giving in to parental pressure to ”get serious” with a 40 hour workweek and an office, I could continue pursuing my alternative life dreams.

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Becoming an self-employed independent contractor and getting to know opportunities for a couple of years has allowed me to fulfill some of my early financial plans:
– choosing how many days I wish to work a year [as a tour leader] (~55 – 135 days so far)
– choosing how many days I wish to travel a year (~50 – 80 days so far)
– deciding at home whether and when I wish to work during the next week [as a local guide]
– having built up a bit of passive income means I don’t have work to survive
– having made enough savings to take a longer time (years) off if wanted
– having a child; eating out whenever wanted and invite for drinks all those friends who used to pay for the rounds 10 years ago
– pursuing activities that are not well compensated but are meaningful: volunteering to change the situation of kids in deep poverty, coordinating and teaching in an educational programme, organizing ultra-low cost trips for students, writing this article & blog.
charity (last year donating 15% of my expense).

All of these pursuits didn’t make me a millionaire or a particularly generous person. I often check supermarket prices. I give regular tips. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a new car. I have no expensive clothes or accessories. I don’t buy new gadgets before the old ones break. Our furniture are IKEA or used. I’m not rich by global financial means. But isn’t being rich means you are able to live the life you want to!?

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gobankingrates (I crossed it over)

Further articles from me in this topic:
8 tips to make sure you never to run out of money
Morals of measuring my money life for a year
– Enrich your life – stop worrying about money!
– What’d you do with a million bucks or how can you eliminate your money problems?
– How much money do you need?

& I recently came across very similar ideas to mine on mrmoneymoustache.com such as: Great-news: early-retirement-doesnt-mean-youll-stop-working

 

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A saint of Auschwitz

In short: a prisoner seemed to escape from Auschwitz. Ten random men from his bunker were chosen to die. Among them Franciszek, a Polish peasant who cried for his wife and children. Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic priest from the same bunker asked to take his place. The commander granted the request. 10 days with no food and he was still alive. Then the executioner injected phenol to his arm and he died.

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Maximilian Kolbe / wikipedia

Although incredibly sad, it’s an uplifting story. Some Catholic sites claim this will make your belief in Christ/Catholicism stronger. As for me, it’s a booster to believe in (exceptional) individuals.

I visit the Auschwitz camp (or at least its entrance) often because of my work. And even at home this story often comes to my mind. It’s a story that happened only once in the history of Auschwitz and I could never understand why the SS leader allowed someone to become a martyr there. But nevertheless, it all happened.

Now that I’ve finished Viktor Frankl‘s Man’s Search for Meaning and saw the mention of Kolbe I decided to dedicate an article to him.

As John Paul II said in 1982 when Mr. Kolbe was canonized: ”Maksymilian did not die but gave his life for his brother” Kolbe’s example certainly is a literal way of “giving your life” for someone.

I believe in our lives – waaaaaay less radical circumstances and decisions to make – we can and should dedicate our lives for someone/something else than ourselves. As Martin Luther King says: “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

Such conscious decision is one that sets apart many of my acquaintances – or my own life. Deciding to work and behave in a way that it doesn’t only benefit the the actor but the receiver too is essential to reach higher.

I’m not talking necessarily about altruism and self-sacrifice. I’m talking about a conscious decision FOR YOU to look beyond yourself.

1, understand that you are not necessarily / not much more special than the other 7,6 billion humans.
2, eliminate your passive actions including staring at the wall, watching TV, scrolling the news or social media, spending time with people ’cause you can not be alone, etc. (actions that create no value)
3, accept that you always have a choice
4, realize that your life can always carry meaning (even in a concentration/death camp!)
5, take your life as your responsibility: the here and now. (Let it be terrific obstacles like rampant social media posts, advertisements, evil friends, cruel teachers, high unemployment, too many choices and Donald Trump or something serious like a suddenly deceased parent or an unexpected terminal illness.)

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Sources:
http://auschwitz.dk/kolbe.htm
https://www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/the-saints-of-auschwitz/

Bye-bye nerve-racking Christmas

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You expect this, but you get:

Twentyforth, weneedthetree, laterisgood, doitnow, tomorrow, idivorceyou, igetthetree, thatsgood, howdoesitlook, yesplease, thenthatone, howmuch, thismuchforatree, letsmakeitfive, fiveandahalf, six, thefirstisgood.

Wegotogranny, idontwant, santacomes, iwantcartoonnetwork, grannytellsatale, iwantcartoonnetwork, stopthisnow, bringtheteddybear, threeisenough, higranny, sayhellonicely, togrannytoo, whydidntyousayhi, itdoesntmattershestinks, getin, getout, grannyshere, iwantcartoonnetwork, santawillbringit.

Bringupthetree, wheresthebottom, youtookit, itwasntme, itwasyou, butitwasyou, itsalwaysthere, butitsnotthere, causeyoutookit, ihatechristmas, idivorceyou, ihavethebottom, youseeyoutookit, itsbroken, gotothestore, halfpastfuckingthree.

Wheresthesaw, attheneighbours, whereisthediscgrinder, attheneighbours, wherestheneighbour, notathome, fuckhismother, hesvisitingher, fuckthetree, weneedthetree, ihatechristmas, icarveitwithaknife, butnotwiththatone, butitssharp, itsabreadknife, welleatrolls, letsglueit, goodlord, hecanwait, itsintheresee, itstilting, andnow, tiltstotheright, andnow, still, andnow, sougly, motherfucker, leavemymotheroutofit, puttheknifedown.

Wheresthedecoration, uppercupboard, nothingsthere, othercupboard, bulbsaregood, boughtthemlastyear, doesntlight, extrapiece, doesntgo, fuckthebulbs, weneedthebulbs, shortcircuiteorwhat, puttheknifedown, candles, thehousewillburndown, wedonthavetoheat, christmasfondant, wehavefivekilograms, fuckneedsthatmuch, thechildneedsit, branchball, sequins, beads, gingerbread cookies, wedonthavethetopornament, puttheangelontop, heslayingthechristmastree.

 

Packnow, itssomuchwaste, thencook, icooktripe, iwillnevereverdoanythingforyouagain, impackingnow, wheresthecellotape, atthepapers, wheresthepaper, atthedecorations, theresnothingwithchristmas, fuckthat, thereshappybirthday, fuckme, iwriteonitsanta.

Cometoeat, ineedcartoonnetwork, cometoeat, rightaway, cometoeat, rightaway, iwillnevereverdoanythingforyouagain, idon’tlikefish, butitstasty, ineedcartoonnetwork, santaisnotcoming, ilikefish, youputtoomuchsalt, stopitnow.

Puttherecordon, ineedcartoonnetwork, notonchristmaseve, silentnight, manger, shepherds, whatdidyouget, itsnotlego, dontcry, ineedlego, woodencube, ineedle-e-e-ego, yourfatherplayedwithit, ididntaskforthis, youcantsaythat, isaidlego, fuckinexpensive, notinfrontofthechild, dontbitch, thetreefell, fuckinglife, thebulbsareon, shortcircuiteitold, suchanicetie, youdontwearitanyways, itstilllooksnice, thechainisgood, youshouldnthave, moneydoesntmatter, andthelego, yourmotherwillbuy, dontcrybaby, iloveyou, iloveyoutoo.

Tomorrowatyourmother, ihatechristmas.

(Loosely translated from this cult article from 2011.)

It captures the essence of frustration, anger, hurry and money-spending that have become the new Christmas traditions.

A feast, supposedly about the birth of Jesus, the winter-solstice (more-or-less) and about the family and spending time together. And we end up being something like this:

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In my opinion traditions, organized religion, TV, social media, ads – are about people (usually) giving up control and passively taking in something that’s more-or-less good for them.
For a great number of people these things from TV to religion are ways to spend time, give meaning and system to their everyday lives.
For another great number of people TV and Christmas and the rest are just different distractions to overcome.

These articles are aimed for people in the second category. Just like most of the people who’ve surrounded my life in the last 15 years.

So, Christmas. Use your days wisely: it can be a good time to travel. It can be a good time to give presents to your loved ones. To have quality family time. To meet friends. To exercise: to do anything that you’d do a week earlier or later. And the same way as you wouldn’t ruin your days with excessive shopping, hurry, eating or cutting a tree on the other 362 days of the year: don’t do it now, either.

So, Happy Christmas to all of you, guys!

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own picture (Croatia, 2016. 09.)

 

Why are we so afraid of failure and settle for safety more than we’d like?

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Recently a friend was over and told me he bought one (okay, 0,85) Bitcoin. He said he was fully aware he could lose money but he wanted to try this for 2 years and now it seems the time has come – and he bought it.

I’m mildly interested in the whole thing – and I did not buy one (or 0,01) Bitcoin. One of the reasons is that I (really) don’t like to lose money. This year I lost on a business venture 700 euros. (Although I’m not sure lost is a good word – as the whole thing created value just didn’t bring money). At the same time from my main income source I earned about 35% more than I expected before. Way more than 700 euro.
Still, losing 700 euros hurts me. Earning much more unexpectedly doesn’t make me particularly happy (it does a bit, though). I think sometimes about losing 700 but I don’t think about earning thousands more.

So I started to think a bit: why is it that we take failure so seriously?

Then the obvious answer occurred to me: because one failure is enough to have it all gone.
– Imagine you’re the best hunter of the world but you miss a shot – and get eaten by a lion.
– Or you always keep your anger at bay. Except once. And you spend the next 20 years in prison.
– You’re a really faithful partner – except once a year, when you fail to be that – and it ruins your relationship.
– you never drink and drive – except this one time when you kill yourself another 5 innocent people.
– etc.

It’s more important not to be unsuccessful than to be successful. (I read this somewhere, didn’t make it up.)

In our culture, where everyone aspires to be a magnate, celebrity, a really impactful person – with a perfect body and a huge TV at home, we must stress statistical bias: out of 10 Donald Trumps one become a billionaire and a US president, 3 die poor and sad and the rest end up being (relatively) average Donalds. With one of them eating 10 times a week in McDonald’s. (Sorry.)

I had a time in my life when I lived relatively dangerously. A bit more than usual alcohol, bicycling and little-to-no safety standards. I had two minor accidents. I didn’t keep it safe: and it allowed me to eliminate plenty of fear. But statistically, one-to-three out of 10 Daniels in parallel universes live with a serious injury or worse now.

Don’t get me wrong though: I’m still telling you to invest. I’m still pushing you to challenge yourself, push your boundaries and try certain new things.

Just
1, understand why you (and everyone else) is so afraid of failure.
2, understand that many of your primal fears are not valid any more. You can stop caring about others’ opinions. Much more than 100, 200, 500, 10.000 years ago.
3, money is very different from health, relationship and the rest. You can lose money and not feel bad about it. It’s just a number, changing. Investments fail – even for the best investors. And it’s all right – as long as you don’t lose too much. (Buy 0,055 Bitcoin for 100 euro – and get done with it right away. It’s a way better strategy than always bitching about not being at the right moment at the right time.)
4, don’t worry to take any risks that don’t have long term negative effects. Tell your opinion to your friends. Wear that dress once. Publish that article. Go for that travel. Try to take that cool job. And make a rational, not an emotional distinction between what you should and should not be afraid of…

Meaning: if you have it, you have it all

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I can clearly recall a good friend writing to me few months back: “[…] you won’t have any communication with any normal person for 18 years, none of your dreams will come true […] but this child will bring meaning to your life.

I argued that having a child is just some very basic, very simple meaning. If you see that your child shat himself and cries – out of “meaning”, you’ll do something about it.

I thought someone as intellectually high-aiming as I am will not find much meaning in the basic level of the Maslow pyramid.
Man, was I wrong?!

What I forgot was that this type of simple meaning brought some of the best times of my lives: such as my solo bicycle trip at age 18: when finding accommodation, solving technical issues, eating, drinking and simply, surviving were some of the highlights…

It’s a bit past 7 am today and my 4 days old child lays on my belly as I type this article. Meaning there is. Not global, not very ambitious in a certain sense (although full of challenges now), not something special but meaning there is! Hello, meaning, my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again.

And meaning moves the world. Meaning makes you get up several times a night. Have you walk around, try your best, try again and not give up, stand the pain and failures. Meaning is the goal. It’s like the picture wired into your brain: this is my destination. It just doesn’t matter that you have to walk rather than taking a plane or that you hurt your feet and get lost without a map.

Meaning moves the world…