A open letter to the inspiring organisation Let America Vote.
Thank you for fighting the good fight! I am wondering what are the most effective things that I can do since I left the USA when I was 5 to go live in Europe? I feel a bit responsible for Trump since I never got around to figure out how to vote in the USA. I am born in California but my family lives in Florida and when I contacted the state department they sent me a link to a website where I got lost trying to figure out what my steps should be. Its people like me that did not or could not register that got that thing elected, and it has been a rude awakening. Freedom is definitely not free, its work, but work with a lot of benefits.
I even thought about leaving my comfortable life in Europe and moving back to the states to try to help, but I am not even sure what I could do to make a difference…plus I must admit that the quality of life in the USA is not something that is appealing to me after having lived here and traveled the world. But I can´t help loving my country and wanting it to become all that it can be.
Sorry for my ramblings, I am venting as well explaining my situation. Maybe I could be involved with helping Americans abroad registering to vote. I´m currently living in The Netherlands and have family around in Scandinavia. Hope that you could point me in the right direction and that you never lose hope. Godspeed
Bryan Allen Smith III
Terrorist and Trolls
It is heartbreaking what happened in Manchester, United Kingdom but what takes the cake is the #FakeNews following it. I never post BuzzFeed articles but it was the most comprehensive source that I found when I’m writing this.
And one thing that I like to add is that its not helpful that we are using every opportunity to “promote” ISIS. We have to change the narrative and highlight that these acts are done by madmen and not call them terrorist. Because sorry to say but that word has a positive concentration among people that are sick and tired or being treated badly and that is something that some people aspire to.
My good friend came with a really good point after reading what I wrote. He said “I hesitate to use the word ‘madman’ as I feel this promotes unreasonable fear of people who suffer from mental illness. What I’d prefer in this case is something akin to ‘murderer’ and ‘child killer’. Maybe a mix of terrorist and murderer, i.e. turderer. Turd for short.” And I agree with him that there is already enough stigma around mental illness so I don’t want to trough them under the bus as they are already more likely to be difficult situations already such as being thrown in prison because there are lack of facilities to take care of them. So my new way of describing the people that commit these atrocities is Turderes, lets see if that will catch on.
Was it ISIS?
Maybe we will find out that ISIS is behind this, they do have the urge to claim ownership over everything bad tgat happens and I would not be suprised if they start claiming respocebility for natural disaster eventually…but we need to first and foremost talk about how sick these people are in their heads, not give them the attention that’s the contributing part to them acting out in the first place. In many ways these are just grownup toddlers that have access to deadly tools. They are pathetic and so are the people that are trying to benefit from the chaos by posting #FakeNews
Again I recognize that I’m putting a bulls-eye on my head by bringing these things up, both by the online trolls and the other extremist, but the reason I have to write this is that we are not helping when we feed the trolls. Use that energy instead to take actual steps to creating a better world for everyone in it. We can do better.
First of all I have to clarify that I listen to a lot of music. Music is a big part of my life and personality. My first paid job was when I was performing in an Opera with some other boys from the boys choir I was in. I would always be singing and my family even remember a few times when I was singing while I was a sleep.
Then when I got older I discovered old school hip-hop and as someone that came from a background of a broken home with a struggling sick mother I connected to the lyrics in some ways of seeing that the world was broken and needed fixing. The lyricism of Jurassic 5, The Fugees with Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and NAS… (And as I’m writing this article I just found out that The Jungle Brothers are going to be in The Hague)
But here is where my dilemma starts, and I’m guessing that the hatred that I’m going to receive from expressing this dilemma…I have a hard time connecting with new music! :S I listened for a week at a time on repeat to Lemonade with Beyoncé, or Life of Pablo with Kanye West, or just everything that Kendrick Lamar…and, well, it just doesn’t do anything for me. There are one or two places where I go “Aww, snap, that is a brilliant turn of phrase/dope beat” (Yes, I know that I sound whack, but that is really my vocabulary), but most of the time I’m listing and trying to get into the groove or philosophize about the lyrics, and is simply feels uninspiring.
It really has been bothering me, but maybe I should not be surprised because every year I watch the MTV VMA and the Billboard music awards and I end up fast forwarding through most of it. I think that maybe I have just turned old and suffer from what South Park calls Cynical Asshole syndrome
What do you think? Is music getting less interesting or am I just turning into an old guy on the porch complaining about the world 😛 Would like to see the discussions develop, but please lets try to be civil and explain our arguments instead of just expecting people to understand where we are coming from when they don’t have the context needed to fully understand.
I really enjoy traveling. No. That’s an understatement. I live for traveling. How do you know that? Because we arrange our whole lives around traveling. We take jobs that allow us to take long trips away, we spend all our money on traveling instead of pimping out our place (where we never stay anyway) and almost all of our time we aren’t working we spend planning our next trip ;P
One thing that I love about traveling is getting immersed into the atmosphere of the place. And music is a big part of that. In fact, just like traveling expands your comfort level it can expand your musical taste. For example, I can’t say that I really enjoyed Reggae music before working a summer in The Gambia. But every morning my host would turn to his computer while he was still in bed and click play…and we would listen to it until we left the house. And after a while Reggae became the way of life 😉 It helped me chill the f. down and I went from being the stressed westerner that was freaking out over meetings not starting on time to understanding “African time”, from walking around at New York speeds to develop a leisurely walk ;P and from giving people a head nod to taking the time to “properly” great people and ask about their health and their family.
And during day long trips in buses in Pakistan, I started developing an appreciation for Eastern music and I’m still listening to Bollywood songs online. And that leads me to my idea.
I remember the TED talk from Ann Morgan, that read a book from every country in the world and together with my newfound hunger for Eastern music it’s inspiring me to do a project where I listen to only new songs I have never heard before. So here is my quest, to find a way to do that. I have Googled and asked around but so far none of the current options of online music streaming really work. So maybe I’ll have to learn some programming and create my own solution…or I share this idea with people that already know how to solve this and inspire them to take action. And why would you want to do this? Because it expands our world and makes it bigger. So, let’s find a way 🙂
First of all I don’t think its a sin to be rich!
Before going any further I need to highlight that “money is not the root of all evil”! And I might even add that “the love for money is not the root of all evil”! But its when we take anything and turn it into an ultimate thing then we can loose ourselves. I know plenty of people that are really good and and love making money. They like creating value in this world, taking something, that might not even have a lot of perceived value in the beginning, and improving upon it, to solve problems for other people. They like being “problem-solves” and “pain-killers”.
You are valuable,
even when you are not earning a lot
I like the Zig Zigglar quote “You can have anything you want, if you help enough other people get what they want”…as long as you understand how to capture part of that increased value. There are many people that invent amazing things that are never able to capture the added value (for example the mild-mannered oil engineer who unlocked the secret to making fracking work like it does today)
And there are a lot of professions that create a lot of value without ever being able to capture that value. For example teachers that influence students that then become valuable members of society. Or nurses, that often preserve valuable life and/or life quality. And then there are the often single mothers (lets face it, its more likely that the father ditches the responsibility than the mother) that do whatever it take to take the raw material of a child and instill in them values and teach them to become people of value. I know that I can never thank my mother enough for not giving up on me.
We are called to use our Talents,
and have them multiply.
The easiest way for me to illustrate that is by quoting scripture.
The Parable of the Talents
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a]and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
So, Are you the 1%?
Many of my friends are part of the 1%. In fact you maybe are, or at least know people that are part of the 1%. In the USA the qualification to be part of the 1% is , in 2013, you needed a minimum household income of $389,436 to join the club. And worldwide, all you need is an income of around $34,000. Hmm, maybe you just realized that you are part of the 1%
We are called to cultivate our talents,
in order to serve others.
Again its easiest for me to quote a view few places in scripture:
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:42-45
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. – John 13:12-15
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:35-46
Now don’t get angry
I have now gotten used to, fellow Christians, getting very upset with me, like a 2 year old toddler that can’t get their way, whenever I touch on this subject. And I guess that in order to shield me against the blow-back I’m going to say that “I’m not saying that being and minimalist makes me better than other people. But it makes me a better version of myself and I’m just trying to live an authentic life based on my values”.
We have enough resources for everyone to live a basic, sustainable lifestyle!
I have been there myself
I didn’t have a lot when I grew up. And I was happy…until I started comparing myself with other people. That is when I started developing the disease called “MORE”. I became restless and unsatisfied with what I had because I wanted what other people had. And often interestingly other people later admitted to me that they wanted what I already had. Later I started getting more and more of what other people had. And for a split second I would experience bliss…until I started looking around me again and realized that there was more to be had. I eventually became so sick (I’m going to call this Sick because I really think its a disease. Dis-Ease, not being able to be at ease) that I leveraged all that I had access to to be able to buy more and more and more…and then there was the big correction. A.K.A. the market crash.
And in that chaos and pain I finally realized that I never needed any of those things. There was so much that I already had that I never even utilized or enjoyed. And now I’m living life pretty much as a poor person, compared to my friends, but I’m still richer than most people in the world, including some of them because I have found this immense freedom from finding another set of value system.
I’m going to have to continue with my ponderings later as I really want to get into what I consider the source of our disease and how more we can find a solution. I would love to start a dialogue with other people that are walking the same path and I welcome arguments from other people viewpoints, I really want to be able to understand the issues we are facing and I’m open to other ideas.
I had come back from a trip to Spain and was wondering why I was back in the grey Netherlands when I meet a friend I hadn´t seen for a long time. She told me that she was now location independent and just got back from Bali and was going to Alicante. Wherever she had internet and her laptop she could work.
That triggered me to go back and learn new skills so I also could become a digital nomad and that is why I´m taking this course. But I never had to study when I was in school, I was fortunate in many ways that I picked up things easily just by reading and attending classes. However now I´m studying by myself things that I haven´t done before and I need to “Learn how to learn” and that is why I´m taking the Coursera course for that.
I´m focusing on taking my skills of communications, marketing and sales to the online world. So I need to systematically figure out what are the main things to learn, prioritize and tick of one by one, and put what I learn into action. Because if I don´t put what I learn into action I will forget, as we learned in this course. And also what use is it to me and the world if I know something and don´t use it.
There are luckily plenty of free courses and information how to study available, but its also quite overwhelming. It’s like drinking from a fire hydrant and that had lead to my analysis paralysis. My biggest challenge is that I´m used to things coming natural and easy and doing anything that I like to do as long as I find it interesting. But like Dr. Terrence Sejnowski mentioned in his interview that is not enough to be smart but you have to have passion and perseverance.
What I´m going to have to do to equip myself for this new career path is learning how to create disciplined routines that support me reaching my goals. I´m already highly creative and knowledgeable and that has lead to me being invited to be part of many brainstorming groups and think tanks for companies and organisations, but I know that ideas are a dime a dozen and the fortune is in the follow-through. Taking ideas from conception to completion and hopefully even bringing them to the point that they can stand by themselves while I go and start other ones is what I consider to be a lasting legacy.
So far in my quest for mastery of my mind I have learned a few tricks that I think will benefit me.
- Use the “Nothing Alternative” where I give myself the option to work on the task that I dread doing, or Nothing. I can stare into space or just think but I´m not allowed to do anything…except work on what I´m reluctant to do. And the pain of doing nothing is greater than the pain that Dr. Barbara Oakleysaid that our brain is trying to help us avoid when it encourages us to procrastinate. And like she said, the pain disappears when we start doing the dreaded task.
- I have used the “Pomodoro technique” before but it takes me some time to get into a “Flow state” so I follow the “Ultradian rhythm“and work on something for 90 min because the first few min are simply about getting into the zone. But I agree with Dr. Barbara that I need to reward myself when I´m done with my session with a walk or something to get.
I for example have a timer that turns off the internet at 11 at night so we aren´t tempted to stay awake. But learning here about that it´s good to go over what you want your brain to work on during your sleep so I´m going to change the timer to 10 and review my day for things that I can improve and go over the following day so my brain can prep for it.
I never went to the gym so I ended up taking a side job as a bicycle delivery currier so I´m going out a few hours a week exercising, no matter the weather…and I´m getting paid for it.
And we never have anything unhealthy in the house so when I have a “Snack Attack” there isn´t anything except a carrot or other healthy things for me to snack on. It has helped me reaching the 800gr of fruits and vegetables that we are encouraged to eat everyday to keep our health, and brain, in tip top shape.
So I´m working on “Learning how to learn” but I´m open to all suggestions and support that I can get. Its great to see that there are other people that also want to take their learning to the next level and I´m looking forward to get to know you.
Nothing Alternative in Roy Baumeister and John Tierney’s (2011) book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Penguin Press. One of the world’s most esteemed and influential psychologists, Roy F. Baumeister, teams with New York Times science writer John Tierney to reveal the secrets of self-control and how to master it
Ultradian Rhythms in Prolonged Human Performance. Army Research Lavie, Peretz ; Zomer, Jacob ; Gopher, Daniel http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA296199“Abstract : The recent wave of interest in rhythms in human behavior is erroneously attributed to the recent developments in the study of biological rhythms. In a recent historical review of the field of behavioral rhythmic research lavie(1980) uncovered several independent roots of research unrelated to questions regarding the nature and functions of biological rhythms. One of those roots was the rather naive ambition of educational psychologists to schedule school hours according with the optimal times for cognitive functioning such as mathematics, reading, etc, on the one hand, and activities requiring psychomotor skills, on the other. This research which attracted quite a number of investigators around the turn of the century, died away around the mid 1920’s. Recently it has been revived by the renewed interest in biological rhythms, sleep rhythms, and their interaction with behavior. The notion of an optimal schedule of human behavior is indeed an attractive one. In nature, optimal scheduling and synchronization of different behaviors with the geophysical environment is for many species a crucial survival issue. Displaying courting behavior at the wrong times of the year is dangerously maladaptive, while synchronization of courting and mating behavior with suitable environmental conditions ensures offspring survival.”
Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi “In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.”