Month: June 2013

Why so serious?

This is a little different post. In this post I tell you to do something and you have to try it out.


Smiling cereal

Live longer by eating healthy and smiling(at the same time?)

Yes. I think everyone should smile more often. There was actually a great exercise in a book by  Joe Navarro, an ex-FBI agent trained to be a human lie detector. The book focused on body language and how the body reflects inner feelings. One chapter in his book was dedicated to an idea that not only do your feelings reflect on your face, but your face reflects on your feelings also.

The idea is that from the beginning of time, a wrinkled and shrunken face with a tight mouth and lowered eyebrows has meant that the person is experiencing angry feelings. On the other hand, the same goes for a cheerful mood and raised eyebrows with an open smile. These connections are strongly entwined. When you are happy, you smile and when you are mad, you frown and when you feel proud you walk with a forwarded chest etc.

But what about the other way? Can you become infuriated, when you frown all day or more importantly, can you become happy when you smile all day? Well, try it and you will see that it works. The face brings the mind along. That is why I practise the following as much as I can:  where ever and whenever I remember, I try to smile as authentically as I can.

Caution: Side effects may include – mood swings toward the positive, happy thoughts, social acceptance, good relationships.

There are, of course, the nay-sayers: “I can not smile when I do not feel like it,” or “it will not work in a million  years.” And in some ways they are right. This smiling practise won’t work on them, because they do not believe in it. If they would just for once shed their doubts, it would work in an instant. Whenever I try to smile out of the blue, I lose control of my face – I’m just so surprised every time of how wonderfully this method works. And when you smile like that, you become positively radioactive. Everyone feels your positivity and wants to hop on the train. Smiling is the best thing you can do when you interact with people.

I think that possessing this kind of fail-switch that you can pull, when the current mood itself is not the best, is extremely useful. I like when everything falls together and I feel happy, because nothing is wrong and good things happen. But relying only on things that you can not control is a risky business. Everything can not go right all the time. Practising the “smile to become happy” gives you control over yourself. When you rely only for others to put you in a good mood, you give the power away and the side effects now include mood swings that are not guaranteed to be 100% positive.

Here rise some interesting philosophical questions, but they can be postponed to the future. For now, it is important that you smile:)

Be positive and enjoy your day!

(The book: Joe Navarro, “What every body is saying : an ex-FBI agent`s guide to speed-reading people.”)


What holds you back?

Freedom is an interesting concept and dear to all of us. Many wars have been fought over it (which have there been more – wars for freedom or wars for religion?) and (quite ironically) lives lost protecting it. But what is freedom overall?

It seems as the answer should be: not under occupation. Free from outside governance of your life. It is the universal, given meaning and it is certainly true. But the extent of the freedom is what is most interesting. Can you say that nothing influences your decisions or that no one makes them for you? Are you free, if you are just not in jail? Is freedom only determined by physical objects?

Well, in theory, the idea of complete freedom and free will is awesome, but in practice there are constraints. And again, we all have individually different constraints and we all tolerate distinct levels of detention. Some may be happy with not controlling their life altering decisions(decided marriages in Indian culture and in Game of Thrones) as some are distressed, when they cannot be outside later than midnight(any teenager).

To which extent should we fight for it? What is reasonable and what is intolerable influence? Is it fair that you are born into your society and culture, why should you follow the gives rules if you did not choose them? Some questions that are interesting to ponder over and those will be discussed in the future of this topic.

I’d like to talk about practical examples of limited freedom and again shift the focus to freedom in personal, not collective meaning. When overall the situation, decisions and outcome seem totally fair and free, but on closer inspection, discord appears. A process, that I am currently going through: finding (trying to find) a new job.

A friend of mine (I’m going to refer to him frequently in the future also) and I were arguing over the free market of labour. I am an economics student and the theory is that everything is regulated by supply and demand and the job creator and seeker will both be satisfied. After some hours of discussion, my views were somewhat changed, but still I rested on the theory. Now, I think that in practice, it isn’t so.

Actually, businesses have much more freedom as job seekers. For example, I applied for a job at the beginning of last month. I got to the interview and I thought I performed well. They promised to call me back with an answer after a week. Well, I got the call a week and a half later and they called me to let me know that the recruiting process will last for another month. “Ok. You are informed then. Goodbye.” I understand how “bizness” works, but I prefer Michael Scott’s approach. The people person’s paper people, e.g. people are not just another input of a production function. Although Toby suffered, all the workers were not lacking love and respect from Michael.

The previous time when I looked for a job, I had to work on two jobs at a time for the same reason. I was applying for two positions and got to the interview in both. The job providers were not in a hurry and usually, they preferred not to let appliers know about their preferences. Because I was in an information black hole, I had to assure both job providers my interest. I myself could not just give up on one offer and hope that the other would choose me. I had to maximize my chances. And they prolonging their decision making made things harder for me quite a bit. I strongly believe that a relationship between a business and a person should be as open as an interpersonal one(not that I believe that corporations are people and money equals free speech – @ColbertReport)

Well, the situation for the firm will stay good. I presume that they have so many candidates that they will get the position filled at the time of their choosing. But as for the individuals like me, what are we supposed to do meanwhile? Just sit and wait for that call for a month? I think this is a case of outside effort to reduce my freedom. They are taking advantage of my interest in the job to find a better time to hire. In this case, I would prefer them saying no to me, that would not restrict my freedom as much. And in this case, where there is uncertainty for the seeker for a long period of time, the process itself alters the decisions. And if the process is long and important, then keep the participants informed. It isn’t sufficient that you call at the last minute, even to say I got the job. In my mind, that shows lack of respect.

My macro economics lecturer made a great example that the unemployment in labour market functions very similar to finding a partner. There are always jobs and even at financial downturns, there are jobs available to everybody. But there are different mindsets and expectations. When you want a partner badly, then you probably will settle with your first suitor. You just do not like the uncertainty of single life. But if you are attractive and have many suitors, then most likely you will wait with your decision and mull over your options, because you do not feel the rush. At the same time, the suitors may feel quite unhappy – they are working hard to get the attention, but all they get is a maybe. .

To counter the possibility of finding a job that is not perfect for me, I decided that in the summer months, I will rest from work. I will try to find other ways to pay my rent. I think that will be interesting in itself. But during these 3 months I will search for a job with the mindset of finding the perfect match and I am not in a rush. Let’s see what happens. When you spend 5 out of 7 days doing something then it should be something you thoroughly like.

Happy searching!

What’s your top 3 favourite pastime activities?

Another edition of  Top 3’s. The part of the blog, where I ask a (seemingly) simple top 3 question and try to find out the answer about myself, hoping to encourage you to do the same. These lists are prone to changes the more you think about them and should be looked over again and again as time passes.

Top 3 favourite pastime activities

I think when finding everyday happiness, this is the right question to ask. Try to maximize the time you put into the components of this top 3 about you. You might think that finding the time for it might be hard, but the effort counts. The more you find time for these activities, the more quality time you will spend. And who doesn’t like quality time.

There are limits to some activities. For example, if you consider eating in good restaurants to be in your top 3, then that is an activity you could not  do all the time. Simply because you are not hungry all the time. But that does not mean, you should not find more ways to eat in good restaurants instead of eating in McDonald’s. Also I presume it is not healthy to eat all the time.

And I also think that this kind of list should be more or less self-orientated. I mean that you control 100% of your own actions, you cannot control others. So the more you focus on the things you control, the more likely it is that you get to control your amounts of quality time.

My top 3:

1. Playing/practising drums(and other instruments)

2. Writing for my journal and blog

3. Watching good movies and shows(this gets better if there are more people to share the experience with)

As I make this list, I already see that I am not searching ways to find time for some of these activities as much as I could. . I am from now on. .