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Monthly Archives: August 2013

I have travelled a lot the past 3 years since graduating university. My employer has allowed me to live and work in a variety of locations internationally.

In each place I have had to find and make new friends and after all this time have become quite good at it. I am very selective with people I choose as friends. I only want genuine, kind people who are able to discuss challenging topics with a rational and nuanced perspective. These people are quite rare.

I have grown tired of frequently changing my location and losing my connections – keeping in touch through the internet just isn’t as fulfilling. So I am moving to London soon where I intend to stay for a few years at least.

These are some of the methods I will use to meet some great people:

  1. Couch Surfing – I have made a lot of my absolute best friends here in the last year. It is a great site filled with travellers that you can meet in your local area. I primarily use this to find people who I might become good friends with. There are usually weekly meetings and other events and most people are not averse to meeting up from a direct message. I have hosted once but not used it to surf while travelling.
  2. meetup.com – I haven’t used this one much as there aren’t many events in my current city. But it seems to have a lot of cool events, especially in larger cities.
  3. Dating sites. eg. okcupid.com – Made some really amazing friends through this, doesn’t need to be used just for dating.
  4. Volunteering. – I plan on combining my passions of education and coaching to do some mentoring with school kids, preferably ones that need it the most. You can meet all sorts of Altruistic, like-minded people through volunteer organisations.

You have to be persistent. You have to be confident enough to single out people who interest you and to engage them in a one to one situation where you can really get to know each other through deep, meaningful and open conversation.

Whether you are moving to a new city or just want to upgrade your current social circles, give it a go!

The World as I see it is a compilation of various writings by Albert Einstein on a variety of topics. He discusses his philosophies on living, politics and hopes for the future. I think this excerpt speaks for itself.

The World as I see it

What an extraordinary situation is that of us mortals! Each of us is here for a
brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he
feels it. But from the point of view of daily life, without going deeper, we exist
for our fellow-men–in the first place for those on whose smiles and welfare all
our happiness depends, and next for all those unknown to us personally with
whose destinies we are bound up by the tie of sympathy. A hundred times
every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours
of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in
the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. I am strongly
drawn to the simple life and am often oppressed by the feeling that I am
engrossing an unnecessary amount of the labour of my fellow-men. I regard
class differences as contrary to justice and, in the last resort, based on force. I
also consider that plain living is good for everybody, physically and mentally.

In human freedom in the philosophical sense I am definitely a disbeliever.
Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance
with inner necessity. Schopenhauer’s saying, that “a man can do as he will, but
not will as he will,” has been an inspiration to me since my youth up, and a
continual consolation and unfailing well-spring of patience in the face of the
hardships of life, my own and others’. This feeling mercifully mitigates the
sense of responsibility which so easily becomes paralysing, and it prevents us
from taking ourselves and other people too seriously; it conduces to a view of
life in which humour, above all, has its due place.

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Great TED talk on vulnerability and empathy by Brene Brown, a psychologist that studies human connections.

To connect on a deep and meaningful level with our self and others we need to fully embrace vulnerability. We need to be courageous, without insecurity, genuine, without fear.

Only by sharing our true selves can we foster deep understanding of each other.

I cannot emphasise enough how important this is. It is a powerful concept.

“When we numb [hard feelings], we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness.”

“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.”

“People that have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging”

If all people are simply a product of their genes and life experience – neither of which is in their control – they cannot be responsible for who they are or even their actions.

I think that from this realisation we should look upon all people with compassion and mercy. How can we blame people for behaving within their nature any more than we can blame a wolf for taking a lamb. Like the classic fable by Aesop of the turtle and the scorpion.We should look at those less able than ourselves with compassion because they simply are what they are.

We can help them become strong by facilitating new experiences for them to improve.Although it is my observation, in most cases, that no weaknesses can be cured completely – they can certainly be moderated through persistence and patience. It really depends on how much time and energy we have to spare and if we think that a real difference can be made by helping.In any case the least we can do is be understanding and manage every person we meet with a gentle, benevolent, compassion.

Since achieving this mindset I feel myself empty of anger, empty of hatred, empty of sadness. It brings a general sense of peace and love to my being which is quite wonderful. I have incredible patience for everyone.A world where everyone thinks like this is one which I would love to live.  Let us all do our part by being an example to others.

An interesting article in the Economist which discusses a positive link between virtue and health.

THE Greek founders of philosophy constantly debated how best to live the good life. Some contended that personal pleasure is the key. Others pointed out that serving society and finding purpose is vital. Socrates was in the latter camp, fiercely arguing that an unvirtuous person could not be happy, and that a virtuous person could not fail to be happy. These days, psychologists tend to regard that point as moot, since self-serving “hedonic” pleasures generate the same sorts of good feelings as those generated by serving some greater “eudaimonic” purpose. However, a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and her colleagues suggests Socrates had a point. Though both hedonic and eudaimonic behaviour bring pleasure, the eudaimonic sort also brings health.

Psychosomatic medicine: The right kind of happy | The Economist.

This is an amazing short animation based on a talk by Matthew Taylor – Chief Executive of the RSA.

The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce): an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges. Through its ideas, research and 27,000-strong Fellowship it seeks to understand and enhance human capability so we can close the gap between today’s reality and people’s hopes for a better world.

See more at www.thersa.org

Over the Christmas of 2012 I had just moved to a new city, I knew no one and my office was closed for the holiday. I had 11 days off alone. I was filled with a deep feeling of loneliness. Although I knew it would pass and I was pro-actively engaging in making new friends the feeling persisted. So I wrote down the following thoughts to analyse my feelings and why:

This 11 days off spent mainly alone with no one has forced me to contemplate what loneliness means to me. Why do I need to spend time with other people? Why can being alone depress me? I feel the need to share my experiences with others (and even more importantly I want to share their experience), it is almost like the experience is wasted if not shared with another.

However, this is only the case if the experience is shared with a person who is in my life permanently. Not just some temporary relationship. This is why I currently feel unfulfilled in this aspect of life and have made finding a partner so critically important. Only a partner can fulfil this role, a person who will always be there to share experiences with. Of course children will also be there to share experiences with eventually but one comes after the other.

Now I ask myself, what role do friends play in this? Well a temporary friend is not fulfilling at all in this sense because they will go and the importance we place on each other and the experiences you shared will dissipate. A good and close friend, this can be fulfilling and it can last, because this friend will always be your friend even with long periods of scarce communication, you will always have that link and maintain those shared experiences. However, this is still not as fulfilling as a permanent partnership in which all aspects of life are shared. There is one important aspect to friendship here that should not be overlooked, it is the access to new ideas and perspectives on reality, and for this it is still important to have friends and meet new people, as long as you actually talk about these things.

This has got me thinking even more about who currently counts in this way to me? Well the answer is simple, the people I have shared the most experiences with so far are my Family, and through them I am linked to my childhood, especially through my mother, sister. Although they do not fully understand me and are probably not capable of this, the fact remains. Others from my past, good friendships but not with complete mutual understanding also link me to other experiences, such as school and work life. These memories we share bind us, and to some extent we lose these memories if we lose the people. And what is your life to date but a series of memories? If you lose memories you are losing a part of yourself, a part of your life! This is why people take pictures and write Journals and write books and talk about old times. They are clutching onto their lives, because to lose a memory is to die in a small way.

The next question is; should I think like this? Is it healthy? Shouldn’t I be satisfied with just myself? I think that obviously I would be better off not caring, and could in some ways stop thinking like this now that I realise that I do think like this. But I am not sure that I can because I think it is a hard wired aspect of my mind and not only that, it is to some extent a hard wired aspect of everyone’s minds. It is something that many people do not ever get completely fulfilled in (either not at all or partially). It is only possible for me in a partnership with complete mutual understanding and the ability to talk through everything and reach agreement through logic.

Our capacity for close relationships is limited by our brains, it simply takes too much mental effort, memory and time to have close relationships with people that our brains can only handle so many before the quality tends to diminish. I do believe that the research states this number as being 6 people.

So what am I doing about this? Well I am meeting as many people as I can through various ways, focusing on women -because I want to find a partner. Eventually this will be achieved. It is only a matter of time before we find each other.

Even though I already knew a lot of these things, I feel this explicit self-realisation, where I tie everything together has helped me to understand a lot about myself and because of this, these 11 days of semi- solitude have been extremely valuable.

Further I now look at who I shall send this letter to. Interestingly by sending this to people I am sharing an experience and thus mitigating my aloneness in some way. I am also thinking that by not sharing this thought then how can I validate it and also if it isn’t shared then it is just like an unshared life experience – worth a lot less.

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