A perfect world would not be called utopia

A perfect world would not be called utopia. It would likely be called a boring world. No discomfort. No problems. No issues. We would all get bored quickly and eventually be sick of it. If that world had smart phones, we would be staring at our phones 24/ 7. Way more than we do now. That’s what we do today, when we experience boredom for even a second.

“A world without discomfort is utopia. But it is also stagnant. A world perfectly fair in some dimensions would be horribly unfair to others. A utopia has no problems to solve, but therefore no opportunities either.

None of us have to worry about these utopia paradoxes, because utopias never work. Every utopian scenario contains self-corrupting flaws. My aversion to utopias goes even deeper. I have not met a speculative utopia I would want to live in. I’d be bored in utopia. Dystopias, their dark opposites, are a lot more entertaining. They are also much easier to envision.”  – Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable

A lot of us thrive on problems. To the point, that we manufacture them. We manufacture worry, concern, and depression. Obviously, a lot of people are actually depressed and have real reason to worry all day, but a lot of us don’t fall into that category. Most of us have every reason to be happy and content with our life.

How many of us know that person who is depressed, yet has every reason to be extremely happy and content? I know a few. This is a major reason why utopias will never exist among humans. If a utopia did happen we would quickly get bored and figure out how to undo it.

When breath becomes air

What would you do if you had been working to become a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist, right after getting your undergraduates degree, only to be diagnosed with a deadly lung cancer? You’re married, childless, in your mid-thirties and less than a year away from achieving your ultimate career goal. A career goal that not many have EVER accomplished.

Well, the above scenario is the life story of a brilliant man named Paul Kalanithi. I’ve been reading his amazing story/ book titled When Breath Becomes Air and it’s great, sad, enlightening, eye opening and amazingly written. Sadly, Paul passed away in March 2015 but his wisdom definitely lives on.

If you haven’t heard of this book, then you should buy it and read it. I’m 50 pages away from finishing it, and it’s one of those books that are very difficult to put down.

I found out that he has some additional essays that were published. I plan to read them soon. Check them out if you’re interested. I’m sure they’re good.

My Last Day As A Surgeon

How Long Have I Got Left?

Before I Go

Terra Incognita

Paul spent most of life reading literature about death and the meaning of life. He read all the great philosophers, writers and scientists who had written on the subject. He, then, went on to dive deeper into the question by working with patients who were actually faced with death. This was his goal all along, to answer the question of what’s the meaning of life.

Suddenly, faced with his own death, he gets the chance to see yet another perspective. That’s what his book is. He knows what the literature says, he knows how others react when death comes knocking on their door, and now he, himself, knows what it feels like to know that death is arriving at his doorstep.

And it did arrive. He died two years after his diagnoses.

Read the book. You won’t regret it.

“Although I had been raised in a devout Christian family, where prayer and Scripture readings were a nightly ritual, I, like most scientific types, came to believe in the possibility of a material conception of reality, an ultimately scientific worldview that would grant a complete metaphysics, minus outmoded concepts like souls, God, and bearded white men in robes. I spent a good chunk of my twenties trying to build a frame for such an endeavor. The problem, however, eventually became evident: to make science the arbiter of metaphysics is to banish not only God from the world but also love, hate, meaning – to consider a world that is self-evidently not the world we live in. That’s not to say that if you believe in meaning, you must also believe in God. It is to say, though, that if you believe that science provides no basis for God, then you are almost obligated to conclude that science provides no basis for meaning and, therefore, life itself doesn’t have any. In other words, existential claims have no weight; all knowledge is scientific knowledge.

Yet the paradox is that scientific methodology is the product of human hands and thus cannot reach some permanent truth. We build scientific theories to organize and manipulate the world, to reduce phenomena into manageable units. Science is based on reproducibility and manufactured objectivity. As strong as that makes its ability to generate claims about matter and energy, it also makes scientific knowledge inapplicable to the existential, visceral nature of human life, which is unique and subjective and unpredictable. Science may provide the most useful way to organize empirical, reproducible data, but its power to do so is predicated on its inability to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, envy, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue.” -Paul Kalanithi 

The good kind of brainwashing

For most people, the word brainwashing carries a negative connotation. That makes sense, since in most cases people are getting brainwashed to do something that is not in their best interest.

Ads and television commercials come to mind. We got thoroughly brainwashed into thinking that soda and fast food are good for our daily diet (many are still brainwashed into thinking this).

Dessert is okay with every meal, and ice cream is supposed to be eaten on hot summer days.

We need material possessions to complete us, and to become happy.

It’s totally the government’s fault (not yours or mine).

What else can you think of?

On the other hand, there’s the positive type of brainwashing, and there is a good kind of brainwashing. That’s when it’s working in your favor. I’ve been practicing this kind of brainwashing on myself for close to three years now.

What does it look like?

Well, it entails reading, listening and watching (YouTube) videos of people waaaaay smarter than me. Constantly, and all the time. Even re-watching and listening to people that have nearly the same point of views (think Gary Vaynerchuk and Tai Lopez).

To some, it might get boring and repetitive. You might even think that you got it after reading it the first time. That is, definitely, not the case though. If you did get it, then you would be doing it. Are you doing that habit you read about today? The habit Seth Godin talked about, or the one mentioned in Tim Ferriss‘s new book? If the answer is no, then you didn’t get it.

I realized, just how I got brainwashed into thinking that fast food for every meal was okay for many years of my life, I needed to brainwash myself into implementing positive life habits. Reading, exercising, eating healthy, practicing gratitude, being social, pushing myself and working hard.

I can, definitely, say that some of the brainwashing is beginning to work. I’m far from my potential but I can see some of the brainwashing doing its job (I still need more).

Ask yourself, what kind of brainwashing are you taking part in? Is it in your best interest or against you? Because, you are being brainwashed whether you want to admit it or not. We all are.

Being addicted to constant distractions

Last week, I spent my Thursday and Friday at the Search Love Conference in San Diego, CA. It was very good and I learned a lot about SEO, back-links, Google and content marketing. This post is not about what I learned though. This post is about what I observed while at the conference.

The conference included two long days of back to back to back speakers. It was mentally draining and at times I did feel my concentration levels faltering. I can definitely understand the need to look around, and play on your phone, to attempt to regain focus. But what about if I stared at my phone the entire time? Or maybe looked at my laptop the entire time?

At each location I sat, I was surrounded by one or two people completely immersed in their laptops. I sat in three different spots, in different areas of the room, and at each spot I was next to someone who was completely distracted on their laptop.  Literally, they were paying zero attention to the speakers. They probably looked up three or four times.

I could see their computer screens and they were browsing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, iTunes, news sites, the official conference website and checking their gmail. Really???

I thought it was pretty ridiculous that these people payed, to attend a conference, only to be checking their social media accounts the entire time. Talk about being addicted to constant distractions.

I’m sure there were many others that I didn’t see. Of course there must have been, because I wasn’t looking for them. I noticed the three or four people, I did notice, because they were sitting right next to me or in front of me.

I’m glad I wasn’t that person, and I hope I’m never that person who needs constant distractions.