How do you know you’re healthy?

I’ve been in the army for nearly 8 months now. The last two have had me training to be a paramedic. Not a fainthearted dirtbag anymore, but a soon to be savior of lives. I would say that previously I was a little bit afraid of blood and definitely would have frozen in case of an emergency accident. But this medical course has served its purpose and now I have the necessary reflexes, the knowhow and basic skills and to be useful to people in need of help. As a part of my training I get to work as an apprentice paramedic in the ambulance, which is awesome. This kind of work drains slightly from your pool of emotional empathy, but really makes you appreciate human life.

Contradictory to popular belief, I’d say 90% of the calls are actually unnecessary. Most of the calls are made by people who just fear for their lives too much or have nothing else to do than detect symptoms of diseases. They’re making up problems or thinking their condition is worse than it really is. And a lot of it is caused by minuscule knowledge of their physical condition and health in general. A frequently occurring mindset is: „I am sick. There is definitely something wrong with me. If the doctor says I’m well, then I don’t believe him. I have earned the right for a treatment and someone needs to take care of me this instant.“

It’s good to live in a welfare bubble, but what if it burst? Should you be ready? At a certain age you start to face your mortality, and it can be frightening. But it should not paralyze you or make you paranoid.  If you feel there is something wrong with you, but you are aware what’s going on around you, then firstly go see a general practitioner yourself. Force yourself to take the reins. All injuries and illnesses are not lethal and there is a lot you can do yourself to get back to a better state of wellbeing.

The emotional stress both from those avoidable calls and from calls with critical nature give way for the compassion fatigue to happen. On one hand, the calls for serious injuries(car accidents, heart attack etc.) are so intense that they are mentally tiresome. On the other hand, a throng of people complaining about their high blood pressure can be very wearisome, because realistically they are calling ambulance for no good reason. Many find it surprising to hear that their vitals are considered fine and that they are perfectly healthy. They just need some recurring comforting and insurance. This kind of thinking is ultimately a self-fulfilling prophecy that wastes the ambulances energy. Could  less stress from patients who take things to their own hands instead of calling the ambulance can have a positive effect on the chance of successful(on time) treatment of critical patients?

You can live longer by having more confidence in yourself. Take it from the ultimate authority - Stephen Colbert.

You can live longer by having more confidence in yourself. Take it from the ultimate authority – Stephen Colbert.

Life can be lived by being sure you have taken care of yourself well or by being reliant on a diagnosis. Are you well because the doctor says so or are you well because you feel so? Of course there are examples like the risk of cancer. Women over 30 should regularly go check themselves, but the statistics need only to draw your attention, not worry you. Knowing yourself and your body keeps you from being a victim because someone says you are.

The more you stay in touch with your health the better. Care, but do not worry. And follow through. Saving others’ lives may be important, but it all starts from people making steps to save their own.

What are feelings?

It’s time to enter the season that is spring. Getting rid of the darkness and stepping into the colorful light of blooming flowers. Hibernation has ended. Time to substitute alarm clocks with morning sunlight. Days are long again and the spirit of life resurfaces. As seen from my written posts, winter was a difficult time for me. But I’m back on track with my writing. I have even found inspiration to start a new paintings after about half a year. I guess I’m more of a summer person. . Spring is said to be the season of love and it seems appropriate then to write my thoughts about it.

My friend, who hasn’t been active on the romantic-, or even the social scene, recently found a girl he liked. He decided to act on it and consulted me for advice. I tried to give him my “love doctor” advice, but soon I discovered that the best I could do, was just to encourage him to act as he deems right. That’s because contrary to my advice to be patient, he just dived in and opened himself to her. And it paid off. The girl left her boyfriend and got together with my friend. 2 months later, they are living together. To my knowledge, that good friend of mine hadn’t even had romantic interests before. Quite astonishingly fast series of changes.

Now, my theory is that people know their mates (for lack of a better word) when they see one. And be it something supernatural or just chemistry, they can feel if the attraction is both ways. We all have the “spider-sense” of love. Having courage to act on that intuition is another matter, though. There’s just something about approaching others that people are afraid of. The moment you lose your confidence and start to sulk, you lose 50% of your chances of ever being with someone.

Why do you feel down, when you get turned down? Why do you feel bad, when something does not go according to the plan? I consider it interesting, when I’m turned down. It’s a challenge. And if you struggle through it, you will a) understand yourself better b) understand others better. I would imagine that a great many of us are chasing after the opposite sex, but when the prize is acquired, they don’t know what to do with it. What does that mean to you – having a partner? Is it something that makes you feel better or is it something that makes you feel better about yourself? There’s a difference, you know. One is about the joy of life while the other is about reinforcing an idea you have about how you are supposed to be.

Happens every year.

Happens every year.

So why should anyone be desperate to find someone? (I am of course talking from a perspective of a 23-year-old man and do not understand the urge when a women is nearing 40). Obsessions are bad, that I know. A relationship starts with patience. Patience to wait for the other. Because there may be a connection between you, but perhaps you are in different states of your lives. Let’s say that before you met, one of you had a partner or lost someone and just isn’t compatible yet etc. The connection can materialize, when you reach similar grounds with your minds. Sometimes it works right away, sometimes it takes longer. It just takes time and honesty to make things work. The bond between people gets stronger with each minute spent together and the more you open up to each other, the stronger the bond gets. And it is universal, it can happen with anyone. Best friends are often those, with whom you have spent the most time together.

Physical pull is something that you cannot control, it is just there. And that can be recognized. When using both – your intuition and your rational thinking, you can pretty easily calculate if you are on the positive or the negative side. You cannot work out, however, if it is going to work between you in the end or if you are even getting together to make something work. That thread has to develop itself. People are too different for figuring relationships out in 100% theoretical mode. And because of that, one has to act on hunches and not overthink it. If you cannot, then my very first post will describe a method of making things easier on the mental part:

We spend too much time being afraid of what the other one thinks, has thought or will think of us and not enough time getting to grips with our own thoughts of ourselves. The thing I suggest is to go for it no matter what you think. The biggest mistake of them all – letting a chance go past you. It’s comparable to my idea of chance – if you don’t buy a lottery ticket, then you have 0% chance of winning. If you buy 1 ticket, then your chances increase infinite times, because you now suddenly have odds of winning. How many times is 1 out of a million (or 0,1 or 5 or 900 or. .) better than zero? Yes, it’s infinite times – you can multiply 0 with anything you want, you won’t get a different number. Considering that usually sharing your feelings is free, then why not increase your chances of finding a partner by infinite times? The proof of the pudding lies in the eating.

Is love a chemical reaction? Certainly. But there is magic in it that I don’t want to forget. Be happy to share your life and experience.


Poker Philosophy – is the world unfair?

This is my second installment in the soon to be series of mental revelations through the ways of poker. Last one can be read This time it will be a fundamental and groundbreaking discovery that warped my perception of life in general. Poker played a large part in my understanding that the world is unfair.

Fairness is an interesting concept and in a typical poker game the subject of earning the win comes up over and over again. Everyone likes to think that they have earned the rewards they are getting and oft times the rewards they are not getting at that moment. Even if the odds of hitting that sweet river card are not in your favor and you still go in and get lucky, chances are that after the session, when collecting winnings, you think yourself having earned it fair and square.

In case you are winning, life doesn’t seem so unfair. Of course you expect even more good things than you’re getting at that moment, but overall it’s fun. And in that moment you tend to think you deserve it, too. You reckon that you have done so much good and have been such a remarkable person. You warp you inner conscience in your own favor. In poker that takes place every game. It is not luck, it is justice for your previous bad luck.

But actually, luck is the opposite of having earned the win.

The delusion of grandeur in poker (and in life) is expecting calculated odds to carry out as they should in real life.

I define luck as the difference of probability from the actual outcome. It’s the simplest way- if the odds were in your favor and you lost, then you are unlucky, if you were more probable to lose the pot and you won it, then you are lucky. Conditions for having luck is another matter. Stakes come in and luck gets another dimension. Situations happen, where the probabilities of hands act out as they should, but the outcome is drastically different than equal. Let’s say two opponents win a coin flip each two times, but the stakes on those flips were different and one player comes out winning. You cannot control your luck, but it is somewhat possible to manage your exposure to it.

I call that controlling the process. As well as a poker player would know, the outcome is something that you cannot control. You can influence it by following odds, but in the end, your sample of hands is so tiny that the computed odds and actual odds of outcomes can differ drastically. When I go in AA vs. KK, I have 4 to 1 odds that I win. Now if the opponent hits a king and wins, then out of 1 sample hand, the real percentage of him winning against me is not 20%, but 100%.

Now that is a drastic difference. I would call it unfair even. Of course you can say that it’s bad bankroll management, when you can’t get out of an unlucky streak. But every situation in life isn’t financial.  (QI Death probability bananas cigarettes etc. )Let’s say every driver on the highway has a 0,01 percentage of getting into an accident and dying. I wouldn’t say every driver goes out giving that number a thought and even if the accident happens exactly to 1 driver out of 10000, it can’t be called “fair”. Life is a poker game against the world around you, you might beat the odds or you may not, the real gravity comes from stakes of those odds.

The main point I want to come across is that the outcome of life is highly operated by luck – you may increase your odds, but it there’s always a chance that the unwanted happens. There is no possibility of getting so much tries that the outcome would follow the theoretical probability. One thing that you can do is give yourself the highest chance of success and that’s what you should focus on. So when luck happens and you are ready for it, you have the maximum capabilities of making the most of it.

As bizarre as it seems, knowing the fact that life is unfair is a key part of reaching happiness. Your position of psychological control becomes much more impervious to outside influence. Unfair things just happen, accept it and move on, don’t dwell on it. Start another process. Move yourself into a position where odds are best and hope it goes well. Give everything you got. Even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you wanted, then know that you gave everything and life is just unfair. Move on again.

Most of all – don’t dwell on the thought of others having more luck than you. It’s just not healthy. You’ll have it one day also.

When are you in the moment?

New year, fun times. Recommended actions: look back to the passing year and try to set goal for the next. What I do is short term (month or two) and long goals (tasks for the whole year). It’s useful, fun and surprisingly effective.

Now for less material issues. I consider myself a romanticist. I may not be romantic all the time, because I am definitely a pragmatist too, but I do wonder. And the ability to wonder is a trait that I cherish quite a lot. “Anything that tries to explain the world mechanically, has not really seen the world,” – a quote that has sparked the most emotion from me the last month. I think it’s refreshing to sometimes just shun the explanation and focus on the beauty itself. The elegance of a growing flower, a stunning view, the movement of animals, crashing waves, thick forest, herd of humans. Love it.

Following is a vision from a music festival last summer. In front of the small free stage, where a folk artist is playing for dancers, sits a little blond boy. I imagine he had blue eyes, too. And he was sitting and staring. Not watching, but glazing. Like we all do sometimes, when our attention gets lost and we stare without a thought. That boy was about 3-4 years old. I just can’t imagine, what was going on in his head at that moment. But the fact that he was not playing, dancing or watching, but instead was in the moment, surrounded by all of those things and yet he was in his own world, is so pure to me. He was in that moment, he was the moment. What could have been the reason for that boys stare? That pureness is something I would not want to lose.

Osho is a good author and I have enjoyed the few of his books, which I have read. I discovered him when I was still in business school and was looking for some book to improve my intuition. I guess to improve my poker skills or my salesman skills. And I stumbled upon Osho’s book that took a whole different approach to intuition that I had expected. And that discussion evolved into a statement: your intuition is your body and heart. Your mind is a tool. You should follow your heart and use your mind as a tool. And you can find contact with your intuition through meditation.

There's lots to learn from this guy. I wonder what he's thinking.

There’s lots to learn from this guy. I wonder what he’s thinking.

My friend Karl (not quite Pilkington, but close), who I’ve mentioned before, has defined meditation as a state of complete emptiness. A state of isolation, where you are completely alone and thus you eliminate the possibility of comparison with others and elevating through that absence. This is based upon the theory that one of the things that cause unhappiness in life is the moment of comparison with someone more successful/beautiful, etc. When you win 600 €, you might be happy, but if you find out that your neighbor has won 2000€, then you feel comparative unhappiness. I, for instance, have found this kind of meditation when playing drums. Practicing an exercise or when improvising, it’s easy for me to forget everything else, even control of my limbs and feel the flow. I discovered it when I played “Flight of the Bumblebee” on xylophone to an audience for the first time. Halfway through the piece I noticed that I don’t know what I’m playing, that my hands are moving without my thinking and that if I tried to remember what’s next, I would lose the flow and fail. What a wonderful feeling it was.

Many books and many speakers and many articles talk about why having a “non-grown up” attitude is and that people need to rediscover it. Leave your job, start having fun, etc. But I think they’re wrong. I think that the point is not in changing, but finding the joy in what you have. And that leads to getting enjoyment out of absolutely everything. And that’s because you love yourself and you love being with yourself. If you love the idea of being just with yourself, even if you are completely alone, then life becomes much less threatening and much more enjoyable. If all else fails, you still have yourself and that’s just awesome.

Some are afraid of being with themselves. Scared of being with their own thoughts. Fearful of  their own body. And that is an issue that screams for a solution. You are the only one that you can count on in this life and the only one with whom you have to spend your whole life together. If the problem of accepting yourself is solved, then you improve the rest of your entire life in one sweep. It’s a constant battle, but if the success in life is measured by happiness, then it’s a battle worth fighting. One way to build up change is to not accept the present state and use that as a motivation to change your life. But maybe a more peaceful way is to start accepting the present and let the flow of life take you with itself.

Try to find something that inspires you, be in that moment and let yourself forget everything else.

Should you live like it was your last day?

We all like to think that we are very rational people, that our decisions follow a constant set of rules and all in all have a pretty good image of ourselves. When asked why we act in some way, we usually have a rational sounding answer. We  can’t stand having no answer and we don’t love admitting making mistakes.

My friend, who self-diagnosed himself having Asperger syndrome, said in an ongoing discussion that at the last moments of hislife, it seems logical to him to choose having a banana over saving a family’s life. Explaining that the personal gain and expected value of the eaten banana goes up drastically, when your time is so limited – you basically improve your whole remaining life and also, you won’t have to face the consequent problems of guilty conscience.The act changes however, if you’re not going to die at the next moment – if he’d have more time to live, he’d save the family. Now I’m not yet able to perfectly interpret and understand what’s going on in his mind, but I got interested with the possibility of changing personal values when your own state changes. Do we have an inner code that we follow and how often and why do we change it?

Our decisions change, when our situation changes. From mathematics it should be fully logical. You would say that I’m a dummy, if I start thinking why the outcome of A + B is different than A*A + B or  B + D. But outside mathematics, drastic changes of world view seem illogical. Or is it my own rational instinct of holding on to previously made decisions and stay away from contradicting myself? Is the comparison itself so absurd that it wouldn’t come up in reality and my mind can not comprehend a situation, where I would choose bananas over people.

Staying on course of mathematics and physics, Daniel Robinson from The Teaching Company made a good lecture on Newton. As I interpret Isaac Newton’s philosophy, he  was dividing matters into two categories:

  • An ideal situation – the theoretical happening, where everything is “as it should be” and follows a concrete theory.
  • A practical situation – observations and real situations

Hypothetical and approximate results are not to be compared with the absolute truth – observations have variables. So Newton was an advocate of solving problems as ideal abstractions,  returning to the hypothesis and comparing observational data with the ideal theoretical solution and seeing how these two match up. “An idealised model of an imaginable world can be used to frame and test conjectures regarding the facts of the actual world.”

So, according to him, we could have an idealized code that we use to make everyday decisions and the ideal theoretical system should explain all practical situations.

The One Ring

One ideal to rule them all.
One ideal to find them.
One ideal to bring them all
and in the enlightenment bind them.

Following the idea of an ideal, we come to Kant and his moral imperative, which states that you should act in the way as you believe could be implemented as a common practice or law.  That is, find the theoretical ideal code and follow it always. And that means not giving in and no discussions on the “price” of the decision you make. The “price” can be explained by a little joke: A woman, who agreed to have intimate relations(oh, so gently said) with a stranger for a million gold coins, was asked if she would do it for two coins instead. She blurted, offendedly: “Who do you think I am?” The outburst was met with a calm statement: “Well, we made clear what you are, now we’re just determining the price.” So you either follow the rule always or you do not follow it.

That is the way people often act, however. And clearly illustrates the point which came into my interest in the banana case. There are many people who would take the million, but would offend to a smaller offer. Does that say that we don’t have the ideal or that this is just the practical world and we can’t see all the variables.

Now, I embrace the fact that we do not know the reasons why we act. Or that in most cases we go by the “gut feeling”. I think that’s perfectly normal and Kant’s imperative is the theoretical view of life and not quite a practical one. In practice, there are too many different situations and backgrounds to decisions that a presence of one golden rule is nigh impossible. But knowing about the possibility of it creates an interesting goal to work towards.

It’s amusing that people are using “I didn’t have a choice” defence so often. That means, they know they did something that does not go by the(ir) moral norm, but they had a reason for it. But that’s it. You had a choice actually, and you chose your way. You just scaled the options and found one is better for you than the other. It’s as simple as that. It may seem that your hands were tied, but you still chose to act in the way you did. To save their perception of themselves, they choose to believe that it was not them, who must take the responsibility and the situation was caused by something else.

So is the question “was it wrong” a good one? How to start measuring the correctness of these “I didn’t have a choice” decisions? Is there a way? I think that sometimes it is enough that people understand they have a power over their actions. You made a choice that didn’t correspond with your previous ideals. Maybe you should think about that and reorganise your perception of yourself rather than take a defencive stance? Take responsibility in you own mind. It only helps to grow mental powers as you are not shifting decision making away from yourself.