The arrogance of belonging

Do you know how the maker of “Spanx” became so successful and brought her product on the market?
Side note: For those of you who don´t know what Spanx are: they are special kind of pantyhose that push your butt and belly in and make all your belly-rolls look more smooth under tight dresses for example.
After developing a prototype of her pantyhose she walked straight up to CEOs of major underwear companies and asked them to invest into her product. Why did she do that? Well, she just did not know any other way. She did not know the “official” path to success other inventors took. Here is a very interesting video of her success story.

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I love success stories and stories of people who are daring something so many others don´t. And I have come to see that these stories often have something in common. The entrepreneur/artist/person believes in the impossible. They believe that whatever they are doing might work and they have no time to hesitate.

These people give themselves permission to do incredible things. And to do so you need to be a tiny bit narcissistic, naive and well in some ways unaware. The people I admire so much, often lack sufficient information about the industry (like the Spanx lady did not have enough information about the undergarment industry and got her information from google searches).

But it seems that this kind of naive behaviour leads them to believe the impossible. And that´s the space when the impossible suddenly becomes possible.

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I am reading a book called “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “eat, pray, love”. She is writing about how to live a creative life beyond fear. She calls the described phenomenon “the arrogance of belonging”. In other words: You need to be arrogant to believe you have the right to create. And if you manage to allow yourself to do something, that´s when you are free to create whatever you wish. Nobody said it has to be perfect. But do it and do it for yourself.

I do, by the way, also believe this behaviour should be extended to other parts of our lives. Not just to entrepreneurialism. Creative living is, in my humble opinion, a lifestyle fitting to all parts of my life. I create, therefore I am. I have the arrogance to believe I belong and I have the right to create a beautiful relationship, career and many many creative projects in the future.

As Audrey Hepburn once said:

How can anything be impossible if the word itself says “I´m possible”!

 

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Why not?

I had a dinner with my grandparents a couple of days ago. Besides a lovely meal and lots of wine they also asked me about my plans for the future. They wanted to know where I was working and if I was planning on staying there. They wanted to make sure I was paying all my insurances and saved money for my pension. And they asked me what kind of career I wanted to strive for and what I expected from my life.

Well, I said. I want adventure! When I am old I want to be proud of the life I created. I am looking forward to high-fiving myself about the amazing job I´ve done.
My grandparents seemed not to be able to comprehend. Finally they agreed on: “Sweetheart, life can´t be all about adventure.”
People, I am asking… why not?
My girlfriend´s father is an architect. He is a big supporter of young talented people. And he sees giving young architects a chance not only as his duty, but as an incredible resource of innovation. Young architects are not biased by industrial standards and by a “that´s how we´ve always done things”- attitude. They actually are very little biased at all, one could say they are a bit naive. However, this attitude is what opens the possibility of them discovering alternative solutions to problems and what brings new perspective. And that´s what my girlfriend´s dad is looking for. Innovation.
Architecture is all about finding new angles to do things. It´s about breaking the rules and about reinventing itself. Adding someone to your team who thinks “Why not?” seems to be a crucial factor.
I believe we need to reinvent many things. Not only the way we build our homes.
We might need to reinvent the way we work and the way our economy works.
The times when we had one employer for most of our lives are pretty much over. Finding a safe job even seems like it slipped down to the end of our priority list. According to recent studies in the US every third person is unhappy in their jobs. Job satisfaction, development options and moral values seem to play a much bigger role.
That´s why I like to spend my life asking “I want adventure. Why not?”.
Because if nobody tells me I can´t, maybe I can!

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The bookstore overwhelm

I was never much into books when I was younger. My mom was a reading maniac, but I guess I could never relate to sitting still and staring down at a story written on paper.
Sure, I do read. But not nearly as regularly or as often as I hoped to.
Also, if I did enter book stores in the past, the books I saw were never able to grab my full attention. Some titles sounded good. But nothing that grabbed me by the core of my being and sucked me in like a rollercoaster adventure ride and spat me out in the end. And to be honest – that´s what I am looking for when reading. A book that keeps me interested, surprises me as I read and just does not let me go until I finished.
Here I was, accompanying my girlfriend to her favourite bookstore. It´s a hidden bookstore. Finding it felt like like Harry Potter entering platform 9 3/4 by jumping through a wall.
Already after entering the store I realised that something about the atmosphere was different than in other book stores. I was walking casually around the store browsing titles, passing along the shelves. It was a couple of minutes into our visit when I started to feel overwhelmed. Each and every book I touched seemed interesting to me. The titles I saw, the authors on the shelve. Everything seemed like it was made for me – or someone like me, with my interests, my goals and perspectives.
The feeling of excitement and connectedness took over.
Do you know that feeling when you are exposed to something or someone and all of the sudden you realise that you had been secretly searching for this item or person with all your being for a very long time? It blends into your existence with ease, like the perfect puzzle piece molding into the bigger picture of yourself.
You feel such relieve for finally having found the missing piece that you are overcome with joy and euphoria.
It´s when you begin to comprehend that you are indeed not crazy. That´s when you feel relief from your soul aching search for meaning and identity. You feel that maybe you can be understood and maybe there is people and things out there – just like you. A state of full connectedness, let´s say. And even if this state just lasts for a couple of seconds, it gives you ease – it soothes your soul and feels like a warm pet on the back from a close friend.
That´s how I felt when I entered the hidden bookstore.

Grinch 2.0: How the experience economy is trying to steal christmas

Until just very recently families could rely on christmas as one of the traditional holidays evolving around a jolly good mood and, of course, lots of gift giving. Families spent all of december preparing for this lovely consumer oriented holiday. Most of our wishes were of simple substance and fairly easy to fulfil. Wish lists included things like lots of toys, a bike, a gameboy, a CD, or maybe a puppy. Everything could be taken care of with a couple of trips to the mall. Gift givers and gift receivers were happy, and so were the retail companies and the government.

Things were running smoothly. But, suddenly people started to claim they were feeling overwhelmed and stuffocated from all the items around them. Some even stopped to wish for more stuff! Individuals do now go as far as to say Santa should downsize his toy factory, others already completely gave up on presents and instead started donating the equivalent money to charity.
Experts call this horrendous trend the “experience economy”.

A mayor shift is happening and this new behaviour is threatening the holidays as we know them.

 

Hideous wishes take over

I am now asking you to take a very critical look at this so called experience economy. These examples will explain the sheer volume of problems we will be facing this christmas. How should families react to these new kinds of unrealistic and oh-so-not-purchaseable wishes like:

  • Singing songs by the fire on a beach on Hawaii
  • Hiking in Nepal
  • Participating in the holy ritual of the dead in India

    Or let´s take a look at the wishes of a less extreme experienceist:

  • Meditate at sunrise in nature
  • Dance naked in the rain with friends
  • Volunteer in the community center to help for people in need

There is no way Santa is manufacturing any of these items in his toy factory. And even with the help of the whole family. We will not be able to make these dreams come true. You see where I am going with this?

 

Christmas might never be the same again

We can´t have a traditional christmas holiday where people stop buying decorations, downsize the whole event and start focusing on human interaction only. What is christmas when all the wishes we have can not be purchased anymore? Where would this world go if everybody stopped to shop for presents in December and instead thought of how they could create a better experience for others? What would happen to christmas if less turkeys were bought, less trees cut down and in general… less stuff bought? A christmas where it´s not about gifts but about long talks with friends and family, or about inviting strangers to your home, helping those in need and at the same time saving money for the next adventure?

 

Stop experiences before it´s too late

We have to set an end to this new trend before it´s too late. Our economy is build on consumers. Not on unreliable crazy adventurers who go and do whatever they feel like. Such behaviour is malicious and irresponsible. It is each end every individual´s task to be a functioning part in this society and to contribute to its growth. That´s why we need to stop dreaming of this non-materialistic nonsense and start to focus again on wishes that can actually be purchased. Don´t let experiences take away christmas as we know it. Save our holidays!

The pursuit of happiness – a trap?

Dear Mr Jobs. I love your Stanford speech. No matter how many times I listen to it, it never disappoints to feed my seeking soul with inspiration and new insights. Thanks to you, I am doing what my heart desires and am hoping to see the dots connect in hindsight. You gave me the courage to live a life out-of-the-box and to keep on searching.

I left my job because I was unhappy.

Time and time again I was told to do what makes me happy. To follow my heart. To find my passion. And if only I would do what makes me happy I would find peace and the ultimate goal: happiness.

I bought the advice. And went on a soul-searching adventure for the past 4 years. I travelled the world, lived abroad, fell in love, took time for myself and for my passions. One could say I was on the biggest ego trip fulfilling all my dreams and wishes. Exciting and insightful times indeed.

But now, I feel as if I was back to zero. I am still asking myself the same questions. And slowly I am starting to question the pursuit of happiness as my life goal. Did the things I do make me happy? Yes, they did. But they failed to truly satisfy my soul. I do not feel fulfilled. I feel as if I had to go on the quest to seek happiness just to find out that happiness is not a state one can be in. Happiness is an outcome of a moment. Happiness vanishes like sand in your hand as soon as you thought you reached it.

I was fighting so hard to be free. To get out of the system and to get out of the rat-race. And now that I am I am wondering where to turn next.

However, my mindset feels as if it changed. My first priority is no longer to make myself happy. I am now seeking for meaning in my work. To find meaning will then hopefully bring about the change I am anticipating for such a long time. And what may or may not follow is happiness. But now I am aware that happiness is not at all a measurement of a fulfilled life. Happiness will come and go. What will stay is something you truly believe in. To give your best and channel your strength to reach your goal. A small contribution to making this world a better place.

Meaning is greater than happiness. Lesson learned.

comfortable ≠ happy

Comfort.

Today I was sick at home and could not help myself but to watch cheesy love movies to keep myself entertained. And I felt like I discovered what I would call the comfort problem: The young couple falls in love. They fight their way to their loved one against all odds and after some misunderstandings and complications they finally fall into each other´s arms. THE END.

This is where comfort kicks in. Now the both of them are comfortable – and will live happily ever after. And I find myself planning and striving for this kind of comfort.

That´s what many people see as the ultimate goal in life. You know, having enough money to live without worrying. For most of us that means being able to pay your bills, finding a reliable partner, that we can come home to and who loves us unconditionally. Oh and let´s top it all off with some amazing children and a friendly social circle. What could be more comfortable than that?

Dreaming the dream is more exciting than living the dream

Why do so many people including myself believe life will just be roses and teddy-bears once you´ve built up to that so anticipated level of comfort? Actually, in my case, it has often been quite the opposite. Let´s take moving into an apartment with a romantic partner. Creating the idea was – exciting! Playing around with the idea in our imagination – simply wow! Apartment hunting and furnishing the place – lots of fun! But when it came to the act of REALLY living together… that´s when things all of the sudden were not so exciting anymore. Sure, I´d give it a couple of months. We can call it the “honeymoon phase”. That´s the time when you still wake up to your spous and say things like “Honey, I am so happy to live with you. You are the best person and partner I could wish for.” or “Good morning new flatmate – what shall we do today?”. But (in my case) things quickly turned sour and conversations were more about who should be doing the dishes this time or fights about who forgot to water the cactus. (NOT me.)

Yes yes, I know what you will say. Such is life and this is just everyday routine. That´s how it is and we all have to cope with it. But guys, I am not so sure about that. Maybe it´s just our extreme high level of comfort that leads us to complain about the little things? Or are we just too bored with our lives?

Maybe comfort should not be the ultimate goal after all.

But if not comfort – What goal could there be instead? I was about to create a goal for me and my year of 2015. However, when I tried to think about goals for myself, I paniced. I did not want any of these comfortable goals. The goals I want to create for myself are way beyond what I believed to be possible for me. So I had to open my mind and think a bit differently. A goal does not have to follow the traditional way of doing things. What is it that would truly make me happy? And that´s when I realized my goal could be to stay open to different possibilities. A NOT-goal so to say. I decided not to give in to the comfort of having a little box to creep into thinking “gosh, I am happy I finally put a lable on myself”. Instead I will be out there, boxless. Or you can put me into the “other” box if you wish. I´ll keep my mind open to new ideas and possibilities in the meanwhile.

Avoiding comfort is not the solution

However, avoiding comfort in a 21st century western country is pretty unrealistic. We are born into a world where materialistic discomfort plays a minor role. It was complete chance to be born into this kind of world. And I do not take it for granted. It is luxury we live in and luxury to be thinking about all this. This article was not born out of a “simpler-life-nostalgia”. And I am not telling people to stay away from comfort in order to live some kind of Ghandi anti-materialistic lifestyle in order to reach true happiness. Nevertheless, I do encourage you to see beyond the traditional goals of comfort like paying your bills, buying a house etc. And eventually create your own goals that you truly believe in and that will guide you to become a better version of yourself.

My uncle´s wisdom

This year I went to my hometown not exactly knowing if I actually wanted to.

I had invested a lot of time in my new home Berlin, and built a new life there. There were too many exciting things happening throughout the year of 2014 and I did not really feel like leaving. But christmas time is family time. So I booked my train ticket and packed my things for a week-long trip into my past.

And by the time christmas day came everything went just like expected. I ate too much, spoke too much and had a headeach from my relatives talking very passionately with each other. It seems like we have an unwritten rule in our family that forbids conversation between two people who are seated next to each other. It is much more accepted to shout across the table. The further your conversational partner away, the more points you gain.

I brought my analogue camera to capture parts of the spectacle. And I was also planning to hide behind it and look like I have something to do – just in case it gets boring or I have to escape to fantasy land because my voice is too exhausted.

However, it was not long after I unpacked my camera that my uncle started asking me questions about my analogue-toy. And it turned out he had a really nice, basically unused analogue camera in his house. He invited me to pick it up and give it a second life. An offer I could not deny.

Not the christmas break I expected

Two days later, I was sitting on my uncle´s couch with a glas of wine in my hand. And for the first time we actually had a normal conversation. I don´t know if you know what I mean.. But I tend to see my family members in the roles of how they relate to me. It is my mom, my aunt, grandparents, cousins and so on. Sometimes it is easy to forget that the “aunt” is also a real person with a character, real interests and hobbies. And most of all, that these people have amazing stories to tell and knowledge to share.

And on that evening I realized what I had missed out on all these years. The closest source of wisdom – my family. And when I realized how much I had neglected real connection to my family members a tear rolled down my cheek.

Some wisdom for sharing

Many things my uncle said to me that evening stuck with me and on my way home I started my voice recorder. The wine seemed to have enhanced my memory (or something like that) and listening to the recording now I seem like a drunk philosopher – or rapper. Regardless of my state of recording. I love some of the quotes from my uncle and I created images of them that I would like to share with you.

Clocks

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Big Game Life