Posts Tagged ‘life’

Quote of the day

A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.

François-René de Chateaubriand

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Finnish efficiency

I am thoroughly impressed by Finnish efficiency!

On the first day I had signed my contract, got my badge, a laptop, a phone, the keys to my personal office, setup my university account, and my license to operate the coffee machine. 🙂

On the second day I had registered at the police, got my foreigner ID, registered as a resident, applied for social security, got my tax card, applied for a transportation card, and opened a bank account.

Couldn’t be any faster!

On the other hand, some things don’t seem very welcoming for foreigners. For example:

  • I had to pay 50€ to register at the police, which boils down to a hefty “immigration tax” which should not be there.
  • All my social benefits (social security, health insurance, transport discount, etc..) expire the moment my contract terminates
  • I need to wait 3 payslips before the bank gives me access to web banking (and I can change the PIN of my card).

Some friends even told me about circular dependencies in the set of documents you need to register (though I didn’t have any problem). Definitely an interesting mix!

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Quote of the day

The best way to verify that you are alive
is by checking if you like variations.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Vita fugit sicut umbra

Life passes like the shadow.

Sundial motto

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Living in the present

The Passage of Time

Finding the equilibrium between the anxiety for the past that fades away and the resignation to the future that advances inexorably.

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The two things I need to overcome to live better: Sloth and FoF (Fear of Failure).

Sloth is when I refrain from doing something because of the effort it requires.

FoF is when I refrain from doing something because of its possible negative outcome.

In either case, they might stop me from acting.

I am essentially lazy. For me inaction is somewhat pleasant. On the other hand, I recognize that too much of it is detrimental. So I always try to force myself into action. I try to create an environment in which action is as easy as inaction: have stuff to read or to do very close by; when in doubt say yes to proposals; leverage the elation of the moment to get my projects to a point where the rest is downhill; place reminders in common places (so that I always consider finishing that on-line course instead of aimlessly wandering throughout the Web). This post was written thanks to these tricks. I wrote its outline on the spur of the moment and  I saw its reminder almost every day. It took a while but eventually I got it done. (note to self: it works!)

I find that fighting Sloth for me is somewhat easier than fighting FoF. Probably it is because I am less used to FoF: I am not someone who gets easily scared. I like travelling and having new experiences, I enjoy surprises, I have learned to adapt to different situations (workplaces, flatmates, whatever..). But there are a few situations where FoF kicks in. In these situations, I feel nervous, clumsy and awkward. This happens only on very personal matters, the ones I am unwilling to face, or sometimes (to a much lesser extent) when in a difficult situation from which I see no way out.

FoF is also harder to fight because of the risk. If you are just lazy there is no risk in acting, but if you are scared it takes some courage to make a move. It takes self confidence to trust yourself enough. You need a hint of carelessness. Know that life is as it comes, and you have to let it go a bit to actually enjoy it.  From time to time, be a bit loony too 🙂

Whatever you do, you don’t have control on everything. Whatever comes, you are only a small part of an immense universe. If you look at all of this in the right perspective, if you think that anyway the worst you can do is to screw up a bit, then here fear goes away. Think that in the world there are people that have a life much harder than yours, who have to fight to survive. Look at the proportions of your problem, and most likely you will understand you are lucky, very very lucky to be worrying about your current tiny matter: it means you have no bigger one.

This fight is not an easy one. But as for everything, recognising it is the first and most important step.

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Continuous growth

The idea that an economy can grow at will is something that seems inconceivable to me. The news are always speaking about GDP growth: if it doesn’t grow enough, then there is something wrong. Consumerism and always wanting more and more is what drives this process of growth. Quoting from the film The Age of Stupid: “Capitalism’s only goal is ever expanding growth, but ever expanding growth on just one not expanding planet is impossible”.

Most of the people in developing countries want to be exactly like that, they want to emulate the U. S. Be rich, have big cars, live in big houses. This is linked to the idea that success and money are the only important things in life. This philosophy of life is probably mainstream in U.S. but I think it is deeply flawed: owning things does not bring happiness.

Always active, always on the go, no time for thinking because we are busy doing. And even when on holiday there is no relax: boredom is the only result of inaction. A restless mind cannot change its pace at will, and will try to find something to do even when it should be resting. In a world flooded by information, social networks, etc… more importance should be given to quality than quantity. Quality of human relationships, of readings, of thoughts. There are things in which more is worse. I think it is a bit Zen or minimalist. Favoring deepness to broadness.

What I see, from my humble and small point of view, is that people tend to be too busy working out the details of their choices to be bothered with the great picture. They probably do not see the effects of their actions. Is this behavior of selfishness? Is it “Game Theoretical”? Caring only of one’s profit disregarding the global state of affairs? Is this a different incarnation of the tragedy of commons?

I put also myself in this folk. I was stuck in my own small problems. But as I gain more experience, I am changing my mind on many topics. Now I am starting to consider a broader view. Making money and accumulating stuff is not the goal of life (not of my life, anyway).

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The habit of looking to the future and thinking that the whole meaning of the present lies in what it will bring forth is a pernicious one. There can be no value in the whole unless there is value in the parts. Life is not to be conceived on the analogy of a melodrama in which the hero and heroine go through incredible misfortunes for which they are compensated by a happy ending.

Bertrand Russell,
The Conquest of Happiness.

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