read the label

Lately I started reading labels to understand how a product (food or cosmetic) is made, what are its ingredients.

If you do, you’ll start to notice the difference between the claim and the reality.

For example there are foods “High in fiber” that contains around 3% in fiber, while other contains 20% (yeah, you read that well).

Or should we talk about cat food and analize claims like 70% meat and 30% vegs & fruits?
30% is fresh meat, while the remaining 40% is meat from unknown source and quality, The third ingredient are potatoes, around 18%. which is clearly a filler.

Not all claims are equal.

the mask

Yesterday I was at a concert of a famous “Cartoon songs” singer, it was full of people of all ages, many of them around my age.

One thing I instantly noted is how different men behave from women.
They only sung “male” songs, they jumped only on that and so on.

This might seem obvious but it’s not, because they would probably know couple of “girly songs” too.

There was a guy, though, in this crowd, that simply jumped and sung each and every song.
You might think he was a fanboy of some sort, but he was not. Quite a nice guy, well dressed.
By looking at him there was nothing unusual nor something that might’ve indicated his passion for such songs.
He was there with his beautiful girlfriend which was clearly there for love, not for interest in the songs.

He didn’t keep his mask on, instead he put it off and played like when he was a child.
A beautiful reminder to our daily lives.

pitfalls of happiness

Today Anthony Bourdain killed himself and a dear friend of mine asked (on facebook), what is that can makes us be happy?

It’s a tough question and it’s easy to dismiss it as “money can’t buy happiness”.

Truth is, happiness has many pitfalls, the main one is that there exist a definite image of happiness, the one where everything goes well and nothing goes wrong.
If we tie our minds to this image as our way to define our success in life it’s clear that, at some point, we will understand that we are failing too much and therefore it’s impossible to achieve it.

Another pitfall is that we link together happiness and success, thus we link our emotional state to what we achieve or not, and the subsequent message is that if we don’t achieve, we’re not worth it.
If we always achieve each goal, we might even be happy, but that is not guaranteed, why? Let’s look at Bourdain, he had everything, yet he killed himself.

We might think that it’s this desire to go forth that makes us alive, therefore we need to keep improving in a neverending search for perfection, but isn’t it like following the aforementioned image of the perfect happiness?

Another pitfall is when we say: Happiness is not a goal, it’s a journey.

Which, by the way, is probably one of the most realistic way of describing happiness, yet it contains another pitfall: that happiness is in each and every day. Like if we should find happiness in our days and so on.
What happens if we get 100 shitty days? guess what…

So? Should we surrender to the fact that we can’t be happy?
Well… I’m an optimistic person, and yet there’s one thing I’m sure of: you (we) will get bad days.
Days when work will go bad, days when you’ll have no money, days when a friend will day or be seriously sick, days when everything will go wrong.

You can’t avoid them. They will be there, and you can’t even ignore them or faking your emotional state.
And here it lies the biggest pitfall of all: the idea that happiness is something we can find outside.
Happiness, or a better defined “calmness” is something we can only achieve within. Nothing from the outside can give us a stable emotional state, and as long as everything from the outside can decide how we feel we’ll be always influenced by them, instead of us.

Whenever I write things like this I’m always worried about the whole self-help circle, because if you’re into the self-help methodology of books and so on you might think that by “thinking of being happy” you are working on this “finding happiness within”, but no. It’s not that.
We can manipulate our emotional status, but to build a foundation, a balance that comes from within this won’t be enough. You’ll easily notice that you are still influenced by the waves of life, and you’ll need to recover through the same “self-help” tricks.

Which obviously means you’re simply using a temporary cure, not something definitive.

So yeah, life will always throw shit at you, and no, happiness is not linked with something material like money, work, or job.
If it is, it’s because it’s the wrong happiness, you’re being tricked.

judgement vs understanding

“He doesn’t care about me, he didn’t think about it at all” This contains a judgement.

“He didn’t think about calling me, I wonder why. Maybe he was busy?” this contains some facts and a question.

While they might seems the same, they are quite different, both in terms of how they respond, and how you respond to the words.

making the pain go away

In work, there is the concept of important and urgent. Important is something that makes the difference, now or in the long term, urgent is something that requires your attention.

Important is quiet but decisive, urgent is noisy and static.

Today a collegue wrote me because one of our customer was literally shouting shit at her. It was not pleasant at all.

She wrote me the order of importance of the tasks and the first one was the one from the shouting customer.
Funny fact, it wasn’t a customer, we didn’t have a confirmation of his complain, but he was shouting.

I pointed out that it was silly to give such amount of work to a non-customer that was complaining, yet I wanted to help.

The tricky thing here is that when someone is shouting at us we want that pain to go away, that insecurity and fear and we prioritize based on that, instead of looking at the whole picture.

gaijin

In japanese there is a word that means “foreigner”, a person that does not belong to this place.

It’s Gaijin, and if you will ever happen to stay in japan for a long long time (like 10 years), chances are you might still be called gaijin, because you will still be gaijin.

The curious thing about the japanese language is that when you talk directly to a person, let’s say Jon to Kate, you use a part of their “Mr”/”Mrs” that describe your relationship with them.

For example if Kate is simply an acquaintance of Jon he might greet her with something that resemble the phrase “Hi Mrs Acquaintance Kate”.

While if she sees Jon as a friend she might say “Hi Mr Friend Jon”.

This would happen all the times they meet. Which means they would always state the relationship each and every time.
And gaijin might be repeated that often, since you will always be a gaijin..

I love Japan culture, and I wanted to digress a little bit because in the last few days a friend of mine always write me sms such in Japanese Addresses form, like “Hi Friend”.
He never did that, and now he does this all the time.

And I must admit I was somewhat unsure what to think and a little nervous.
I realized in the end that my problem was that he was stating it all the time, making the word “Friend” less and less important, thus removing value from such word.

In japanese this wouldn’t happen because it’s the language itself that doesn’t allow you to change this format, but in other languages you’re removing power from your verb, and the more you write, the less it’ll be important.

how to raise an argument

Let’s say you felt betrayed by a friend and now you both hate each other, how do you manage that? You might try to ignore it, fake the relationship, or think about how to fix it.

Maybe you won’t be able to fix the issue with him/her, but at least having such desire is a good thing.

But how to do it?

You might be tempted to go straight to him and say “Oh you’re such a bad friend, you don’t care about me, you only care for yourself”, but what’s the point here?
The message is all about you trying to blame someone else. What’s written here is that you want more care, but it’s not even written, it’s hidden in the words. 

Given this phrase it’s obvious that the outcome will raise a heated discussion with no great way to exit it without some extra problems.

Also, if you frame the question that way you are not talking about the problem itself.

So, what other options do we have here?
First: the way around question

This is easy: You ask the opposite question: “Did I do something wrong that made you upset?”

Here’s the thing: We only know our version of the story and it would be pointless to desire a resolution witouth trying to understand what’s their point of view, right?
I know that it might sound like if we’re not protecting/explaining our reasoning, but it’s not about being right. It’s about discussing and understanding.

Option 2: What I felt

Sometimes we forget that if we explain our struggle and if we open up our vulnerability, good things might come.
So another option would be to say “I really felt betrayed and lost when you did X, I thought about it all day and it made me really sad, why you did that?”

It will clearly open up the discussion, but we’re not judging the action, instead we’re exploring our world of emotions and asking them for reasoning behind it.
Obviously if the reasoning is sound we should accept it because, as I said, we’re not trying to be right or to prove someone wrong.

And that’s about it. 
There will come a time when both option will fail, and in such cases if you’re out of ideas you might as well accept the fact that this isn’t the right time to discuss this. 

There might be some extra walls to pass in their/your defence that we can’t simply overcome today.

jungle rules

I truly believe that we should all either survive to our problems or die by them.

I do try my best to help people around me, but in the end it’s clear that we should all take on our problems, face them, and fix our lives. There are no shortcuts, no easy ways. It’s just failing, trying again, until we succeed.

Some people make it, some other don’t and they get drowned by the consequences as if life is something we can’t manage.

Few weeks ago I was deeply saddened by an event, I was shocked and felt powerless in front of that situation. I still do have some scars left, yet today I remember that  few months ago, another problem that felt impossible to overcome was living in my mind.

Both problems will disappear in a couple of months, or maybe years. Who knows, in the end they’ll all become dust.

Once we fix one problem, we will get another one and this never-ending story won’t change.
The point is: they are not “problems”.

It’s life.

what death leaves us

There are a hundred ways to both act in death and react to death.

What will happen at your funeral? Will it be joyful or sad. Will it give people a chance to think about their future or simply leave with no message?

There’s a lot behind a death, a person leaves an empty space yet if they’re lucky enough they can leave something behind, something more than that void.

My mind goes directly to the father of a dear friend that to me left one of the most memorable marks in my life.
He was a great man, a man that everyone loved, joyful but without excesses. He was great, really.

On his funeral I think he asked his dearest son to remember everyone that even though we parted ways with him that we should not sadden. He left a gift at the exit of the church for the people attending the funeral.

It was amazing.

Today I was at a different funeral, and there was no such message, and in those moments I wonder: What’s the gift that we plan to leave at our funeral?
What’s the message, the ideal?

None or something?

a cat understands only the now

They don’t have a past, they can’t link situations in the way we do, nor they do care about the future.

Cats only live the present.
Which is nice because when you want them to learn something you have to do it “now”. You can’t blame them if they do something wrong and you’re not there, you can’t blame them after ’cause they won’t be able to link them.

But in the present, they’re 100% aware.

Something we should learn too, so that the past won’t drag us and the present can be full of presence.