Show where I’m wrong and I’ll change; Dissecting Meditations, a personal journal by Marcus Aurelius Part #12

What you are getting into: 547 words, 3mins read

Here, I will share my contemplations upon reading the published personal journal of Marcus Aurelius, a roman emperor from 161-180 AD. Thoughts mainly stemmed from Stoicism, and Marcus Aurelius used the notes for guidance and self improvement. It’s a translated book by Gregory Hays, or you can read it online.

For this and upcoming posts I attempt to dissect quotes I favour upon reading the book.

If anyone can refute me — show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective — I’ll gladly change.

It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.

Most want to be right. Some want to be right all the time. Some are willing to agree to disagree. Just how many are willing to question their own beliefs and maybe accept their view could be wrong?

Header image attached is an incredibly accurate depiction when two stubborn loggerheads are duking it out. From an outsider’s POV, it’s just a matter of perspective. We know that from a third person. And how many times we get caught in such situations? It is our own folly, myopia, and failure to recognise different views can exist, apart from ours.

It takes tremendous work to convince someone otherwise. So respect people who points out your own faults. It would have taken them consideration thought in delivering the corrective message. Thank them for their hard work, if you can (let go of your crushed ego).

Photo via Pixabay

Paul Graham wrote about this in his sticky yet politically right essay:

Do religion and politics have something in common that explains this similarity? One possible explanation is that they deal with questions that have no definite answers, so there’s no back pressure on people’s opinions. Since no one can be proven wrong, every opinion is equally valid, and sensing this, everyone lets fly with theirs.

I think what religion and politics have in common is that they become part of people’s identity, and people can never have a fruitful argument about something that’s part of their identity. By definition they’re partisan.

Which topics engage people’s identity depends on the people, not the topic.

The most intriguing thing about this theory, if it’s right, is that it explains not merely which kinds of discussions to avoid, but how to have better ideas. If people can’t think clearly about anything that has become part of their identity, then all other things being equal, the best plan is to let as few things into your identity as possible.

Need not be religion or politics. That’s not the point. It’s about disengaging your beliefs from your identity. Is having only few things as our identity the best possible way? Will we have better ideas once we discard the identity we have so carefully created over the years? Or is it that being mindful that ideas we conjure carries identity baggage the key to better thinking?

Circling back to Marcus Aurelius’s original thought, how can we catch ourselves engaging in self-deceit and ignorance? That’s something to reflect upon..

Tackling the hidden dichotomy of adulthood: Money is Everything Vs Money is not Everything

money map

Recently I was having a conversation with my friend and we touched on this sticky topic: Is money everything or money is not everything? We got into an interesting debate, and clearly, neither one of us were willing to back down from our viewpoints. It got me thinking, how much do I know about this topic? How much do I understand? Why haven’t I spend sufficient time pondering about this? What is my view on this? And so I spent 2 weeks talking to friends, reflecting upon my past experiences, and doing a little research on my own.

Here are my findings.

Disclaimer

I’m neither a subject matter expert on economics nor Nobel Peace Prize laureate, these are my opinions based on my observations, research, and general experience. It is also meant as a satirical, opinionated, and critical piece trying to promote self reflection and discussions.

Arguments supporting ‘Money is Everything’

1. If you have no money, how are you going to do anything?

cash rules everything

The first and perhaps the most powerful statement of all time. Dished out to shut out money haters. One could argue all day and never win because we simply need money. We need money to buy food and water for survival. We need money for transportation. We need money to buy clothes. We need money to buy a home for shelter. We need money to buy a phone for communication (or the latest Apple X or Samsung Note X). We need money to do stuffs. If we have no money, we simply cannot survive.

2. Money makes the world go round.

Currency is the basis for trade, used as a medium of exchange for goods and services. The common denominator of most trades uses money as currency. Try explaining that we exchange food using money to a 2 year old kid or an alien who just arrived on earth is just pure garbage.

But that is the world we live in. This goes deep into STEM disciplines, but for the layman, let’s just accept the fact that everything in life requires money.

everything is money

3. If I have $X, I’m will be/can __________

If I have $X, I’m will be happy.

If I have $X, I’m will not worry.

If I have $X, I can travel around the world.

If I have $X, I can visit michelin star restaurants.

If I have $X, I can buy my dream car(s)/ house(s)/ watch(es)/ iPhone(s)…

You get the idea.

People here are purely in pursuit of hedonistic pleasures, which quickly turn into a never ending treadmill where one is constantly seeking the next fix.

Kind of how Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) describes himself in Wolf of Wall Street.

It also grinds my gears that when people say if they have $X, they will be able to invest the money, which in turn generates even more money. I’m no expert in investment, but I do know there’s no investment that is risk free. Statistically saying, even if the risk rate is 0.0000001%, you still can lose money, right? But the unwillingness to forego this argument is madness. Why? Because when you have no money (i.e. currency, or resources), what you have is time. If you have a keen mind to learn and better yourself (i.e. spending your time wisely, see what I did there?), one day you may well earn enough kah-ching to do the things you want.

Arguments supporting ‘Money is not Everything’

1. Money is the root of all evil

Because money makes people do really mean things, like war. Lives are lost. Once you lose your life, you can’t really get it back anymore. Therefore best not to let money run your life.

2. Some things in life are priceless

Like altruism, which is defined as ‟a mental state that seeks to accomplish the welfare of others.”

A truly altruistic deed must not be motivated by the desire to gain some personal benefit, either in the short or long term, or by the wish to be praised or to receive a token of gratitude, or by the fear of being criticized should we not come to the help of others. An action is not considered altruistic if the sole aim of our behavior is to ease the personal distress that we feel when faced with the suffering of another.

In short: You can’t really buy altruism.

Like air. The air we are breathing can’t really be brought with money. It’s just free.

air is free

Like meaning of life. Most of us aren’t born with an end goal. We do not know why we exist on earth. We don’t know what are are meant to be or do. Even with all the money on earth, you cannot buy the meaning of your own life.

You create it.

Like the genuine look your partner or children gives you can’t really be brought with money. You simply just can’t pay someone $1million to love you genuinely.

500 days of love

3. Genuine relationships can’t be bought with money

Relationships requires a lot work to nature. It takes a cumulative series of goodwills and compromises to achieve the state of genuine mutual connection. Similarly, you just can’t pay someone $1million to the friendship or love.

money can buy love

Summary

At the end of the day, like everything else in life, balance and moderation is key. Even if you have acquired $X, you won’t be truly happy if you don’t have genuine relationships. On the flip side, even if you purely undergo altruistic pursuits, you still need money to survive. Different phases of our lives requires us to pursue each notion more than the other, what’s important is to bring ourselves back when we get carried away.

Header photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash

Believing the phrase ‘everything is just a google search away’ is hurting your success in life

What you are getting into: 664 words, 4mins read + 4mins video

critical_thinking

Photo via Pexels

“It is shortchanging our intellect if you believe everything is just a google search away.” — Nicholas Carr

Internet is changing our brains.

The world we live in is hyper connected. A lot information is just a google search away. Hundreds of thousands of content are created every single day. Billions of emails sent per day. You won’t even be able finish YouTube videos uploaded a day in your entire lifetime.

google_search

A google search typically yields millions of web results. We typically read a few articles and start forming an idea of what’s happening. So, have you ever questioned if the top few results are manipulated by SEO experts and therefore the content you googled were ‘false’? The first few results may not be the absolute truth. Same goes for news publications (countries’ news censorship) and social media. It’s content are carefully crafted for the mass public, think public relations.

social_media_endless_scroll

Studies show that the average person spends 50mins on Facebook every single day. If you sleep for 8hrs, work for 8hrs, spend 2hrs on basic survival and hygiene like eating and bathing, 50mins of Facebook time is 13% of your free time. That’s not even counting commute time which the average person would have. If the average person spends 13% of their free time on Facebook, with the recent rise of fake news, how do they form an educated and informed opinion?

deep_thoughts

Disclaimer: I am not against the plethora of information available on the internet. It serves us well. It helps us to connect with people all over the world. Thus making everyone even closer, and humanity a little better.

Ask yourself honestly, when was the last time you spent time doing nothing, without getting bored?

When was the last time you spent some time daydreaming?

When was the last time you read a book without distractions? Enjoyed a good book without the constant buzz of notifications?

And when was the last time you had an opinion without googling for answers?

When was the last time you questioned the source of information? Be it news, books, articles, podcasts, MOOCs, Youtube tutorials, messages circulated via chat apps, etc. You have been well informed about the rise of fake news and how it is being contained at the moment. Even for mass media, sometimes news publications are politically controlled too. Do you believe everything you read, especially online?

Depending on where you are and where you get your source of news, it is really important to think about the relevance, validity, context, and accuracy of the content.

Nicholas then proposed these key points to practice:

  1. Pay attention
  2. Control your mind
  3. Think conceptually
  4. Think critically
  5. Think creatively

How much of your opinions are formed based on the information you consume? How much do you consume? Are your opinions merely opinions or they are facts? Don’t confuse opinions vs facts.

lebowski_your_opinion

The 5 key points requires years of practice. If you would like, please feel free to deep dive into specific techniques. But before you do, may I suggest that you write them down, find a place to relax or go for a walk, and ponder about it — whether are you practicing them.

Now, if you have reached this point, turn off the internet if you can, and get some offline time to think. Go sit somewhere without computing devices or internet.

Get some headspace. Go back to the real world. Not everything exists on the internet.

nature_walk