Thursday, November 12, 2015

How being nice makes you unhappy

Article also on my site

Free apples for everybody

Dear reader, you are the kind of person that wishes to make the world a better place, you are doing that by being a better person yourself and you consider it your job to do so.

I appreciate that sentiment very much and I love you for it.
But now it's high time to take a nice vacation from that job and I will tell you why.

Even a workaholic takes a break, so why would you always be such a nice guy/girl? There is no reason why you shouldn't take a break from being the wonderful person that you are. It is refreshing and in fact, people will appreciate you more for it.

If I gave everybody at work a free apple on every Friday for a few months, people would expect free apples every Friday. At first they would think "whoa, what a nice guy for doing that". After a while it becomes a regular thing and they would just expect a free apple on Friday.
But this Friday I don't have enough apples for everybody. And lo and behold, the people who didn't get an apple are pissed off and mean to me because they didn't get what they deserved. Now they don't like me so much anymore.

Strange how that works eh? I was just trying to be a nice guy but all I get is slack for a few tiny things that go wrong.
Sounds familiar?

Now I could make it my responsibility to deliver free apples for the rest of my life, or I could turn it around.
I pick Bob who said especially mean things to me and tell everybody, "no more free apples because of what Bob said, and I don't feel that my kindness is being appreciated at all".
Boom! everybody turns on Bob for ruining the free apple deal for everybody. And I am a really nice guy again.

Now I know I was being a real asshole. My relationship with Bob has been ruined, but now I can give free apples every once in a while which is much more appreciated.

This is a really simple example just to show you how people perceive your kindness and how it progresses over time.

If you are the "good guy" all the time, people will walk all over you, use you and abuse you. That's not because they are the bad people, psychology tells us that is just the way humans work. I know you are not like that at all, you try to fight those natural tendencies. You are truly a better person for it. But you are also really flat and unhappy.

You are flat because people walk over you, get it? Okay, bad joke, I'm gonna leave it in anyway.

But why are you so unhappy?
You get negative feedback for things that go wrong, that you do wrong. Being such a nice person as you are, you take these criticisms to heart and even start believing them to be true.
You see, we hardly remember the things that go really well, because there is nothing to fix. The things that go wrong are remembered because they may contain information that helps us change future similar situations for the better. So we are hard-wired to focus on and remember the things that go wrong.

You are unhappy because you are not being appreciated, everybody needs appreciation. Also you don't know how humans really work, how they can be manipulated and how you are being manipulated every single day of your life.

Also there is this weird feedback loop going on.
You think you are something, so you act like it. People perceive that(consciously or subconsciously) and act accordingly thus amplifying you belief.
In short. Negative feedback from multiple sources makes you believe you are a fuck up. But you should be asking yourself, why do you get this feedback? Are they right? And what are their real reasons?

What can you do to be more happy? Simple, just focus on the good things in life, you under-appreciate them. Read some things about psychology like Confirmation bias and other cognitive biases, or this excellent article Cognitive Bias Survival Guide. I really think every one should learn that by heart in middle school. Do that, and you will figure out that the world might not be what you always thought it was. Knowing yourself and other people will give you a greater understanding of the world and help you achieve your goals.

Also, practice being an asshole.
Try it, it feels great and gives you a lot of freedom. Just think about it, have you ever seen someone like that apologize or feel bad for the things they have done? No! because they own up to it. Or they don't even think about it. If they call you out on it, just say that you are practicing your assertiveness training or something. Or tell them Henry Hackit made you do it. Balance is the key to everything. This includes being an asshole sometimes.

People will like you much more if your kindness is something rare and to be earned instead of given away for free every single day.

Monday, April 6, 2015

What is the meaning of life?

Well there's a fun and lighthearted question for you :)

Dear reader, if you are human, you have probably asked yourself this question more then once.

So what if I told you I have the answer? I know the meaning of life and I am about to tell you. Would you believe me? Or would you question my claim?

Sure you would question my claim, you would debate and give me other meanings of life, but then how could we possibly know which one answer to life, the universe, and everything really is The Answer?

You could ask God. But he generally doesn't pick up the phone or do conference calls. So you'd have to wait till you are dead and ask him/her yourself. Which is of no use to us now, so that is not really an option.
You could turn to science, and the scientific method is really great at finding out things that might be true if they can be repeated and tested by other people, if the same result pops up, it is probably true. But it can't really answer this particular question.

There is just no way that we can prove that one particular meaning is the meaning of life so all that we are left with is an endless debate and many different opinions.

One answer that science can answer though is "why do we ask this question?"
It is in our nature. We have asked ourselves the "Why" question many times and when we come up with an answer it helps us to deal with the situation at hand in a better and more effective way.
"Why did that window pop up just now?" "Because you clicked the banner" So if you don't want any windows popping up, don't click banners. Situation dealt with.

But what if there isn't any answer?
Well then, our nature keeps nagging us with the question over and over again. Which is kind of what is happening right now and has for centuries so perhaps there is no answer?
That's it ok, end of article.
The answer to the meaning of life is, there isn't any.

But there is really no stopping this nagging feeling, is there? Unless you give up. But that is not really in our nature either, is it?

What if you knew the meaning of life, if you knew the reason why you are alive, what would that do for you? How would it affect your life? Would you be living your life in a more effective manner, would you achieve this apparent goal faster? And is that really what you are after?

And what about not knowing? Not knowing the answer to this question makes us aimlessly wander in all kinds of directions like we have been doing for centuries.

One of the reasons religion is so popular is because it gives us a goal, the meaning of life in almost any religion is to achieve enlightenment or a kind of promised land like Heaven or Nirvana. But the problem here is that there is no scientific proof that this is the real reason, goal or purpose of life in general or your life in particular. It is based on belief. But it has helped us give our lives a direction, it makes us feel better because we now have a purpose and a goal.

So religion gives us the answer and if you are not the kind of person who asks a lot of questions, then this is the time to stop reading.

Still here? Good, let's figure out the real answer then..

While science is unable to give us a definite answer, we could just have a look around us and see how things work and possibly infer a meaning from that.
So where do we come from? Evolution theory says that once upon a time, a long long time ago, we were just a bunch of amino acids in a pool on a planet with a lot of lightning storms.
We then found a way to replicate and build cells. Then we came up with the bright idea to clump together a bunch of cells.
Why did the single cell organism clutter together?
When you work together, you have more chance of survival.
The single cell had less chance of survival just on it's own. With dehydration as one of its major threats, it is far likely to survive in a big groups where only the cells on the outside take the big hits.
Each and every cell, is working together even at their own expense to keep the entire organism safe from harm. And it is That Decision that still governs each and every cell and with each and every cell of our body, also each and every decision we make. Because the brain are cells too.
It's simple, you just go from the micro scale to the macro scale. We humans are a weird bunch tho because we took it even further then our own bodies. We started working together in groups of humans and achieved grand things. That no single one of us could ever have done.
We don't even question why we work together anymore. We just do it because it is our nature.

From that first clutter of cells came a huge variety of creatures. Some went extinct and some of the oldest are still alive now.
So what is up with all that diversity? Well Evolution theory also teaches us that if a species gets too specialized they are more likely to go extinct if that specialization is no longer relevant. Situations have a nasty tendency to change just when you got used to them.
Now we have this system of life with a huge variety in all shapes and forms and even when most of this planet is somehow destroyed or has become uninhabitable, life is so diverse that it will most likely continue.
Life is like a brute force attack, it just simply tries every variation, every possible option until it finds the right answer and then they get to survive.
But what is the answer?

Through the ages life seems to have had one single drive, one reason and that is, to survive, to simply stay alive, procreate and try again.
Every organism dies, but when it does so, it will have passed on to it's offspring, all that it could to ensure the survival of that offspring.

So there you have it.
The meaning of life is to remain alive, produce, and ensure the success of offspring and be as diverse as you can.

Or in simpler words; Stay alive.
Because the rest comes naturally.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Why is this blog still up?

Straight to the answer: It is not in violation of the Terms of Service(TOS)

One particular article on this blog is, to say the least, controversial.

Twice this blog has been deleted now. People are able to report the blog for violation of the terms of service. The automatic response to this is to delete the entire blog and send me an e-mail about it.

I have been very careful not to violate any of the TOS but I am even in doubt about parts of it.

After the automated removal of my blog I am given the opportunity to appeal to this, which means that a Google representative of the blogger team has to have a look at the blog and decide if it is really in violation of the terms of service like the automaton has decided. It seems that it is not actually in violation because the blog has been reviewed and restored twice now.

I think it is odd that in the time that this blog has been up, only two people took the time to report it especially with one post being so popular that it has about 1500 views a day. I really thought I would piss off more people then that.

"So why did you write it?", everybody keeps asking.
I think I have explained it in the article and in the comments a few times, but people still think it is satire, so let's go again...
I am pro-choice. It is your life, you should decide what you do with it. But religion and governments based on religion have made it illegal for you to take your own life. My intended original audience is not the depressed,"my life sucks", "please kill me now" kind of people.
But if you do decide to kill yourself, you should really, really think about it. Think about the consequences, the people around your, the people who have to clean up your mess, and most importantly, the success rate of a suicide attempt.

I am just trying to make people really think about what they are thinking of doing. After that, it is still always your choice.

And then there are the people who, like my late friend, are really better off dead, but nobody will help them or let them die peacefully.
Another reason for me to write "It's my life" and "The best way to kill yourself" is the unfortunate and torturous demise of a good friend of mine. Struck with one of the most painful and incurable diseases this existence has to offer, he had nothing to live for nor any hope left. The only thing in his future was a painful death or a quick death, if only there was one person able and willing to help him.
He found none, not even me. So yes, I have thought about ways to kill him and have been searching the web for a way to do it quickly, painlessly and without any trace back to me.
Many hours have I spent. but my conclusion at the time was that I would have to train to be an MD and start my own practice before I would be able to help him.

Most religions say you will go to hell if you kill yourself, or anybody else.
But what if you already are in hell on earth?

Helping people in such a position is controversial and a crime and it is my opinion that it shouldn't be.

So, that's my honest answer, now you can stop asking.