Went today for a little hiking on one of the hills outside the city I live in. On the way there I could not help but notice how the car traffic increased steadily in the past years. I don’t know exactly the statistics and the car ownership percentage, it’s just an observation. Another phenomenon that I observed is the steady increase in the average weight of the people in this country. There might be a correlation here, a lot of more polluting cars, less movement, more sedentary lives, less exercising and less hiking. Speaking of hiking, there are very few people hiking in the area where I usually go. Maybe it’s better that way, it’s a beautiful place and more people might be a nefarious factor for the area, I already witnessed nefarious human activity in the year during the past years.
Admiring the beauty of the nature, exercise, clean air, peace, tranquility, freedom, charging your batteries with energy and positive thoughts – a hiking in the woods is all about these things.
I also found and collected some elderflowers with the purpose of making a delicious elderflower cordial back at home.
Life is like a game of poker and living a good life is all about playing the cards that fate gives you to the best of your ability. It’s not about regrets and having no regrets. What does this means anyway? Doing everything you want? Well, you can’t do anything you want and you can’t have anything you want so of course that there will be regrets. There is no person alive or dead that lived a life without regrets. There is no person alive or dead that had in life all they ever wanted. Nobody’s given the best cards all the time. On the other hand, nobody’s given the worst cards all the time. We have to make do with the cards that we are dealt and we have to make lemonade from those lemons that are thrown our way and to make strawberry smoothies from those strawberries that are thrown our way.
Seeing the good in the bad things that happen to us is a life well lived. Seeing the bad in the good things that happen to us is a wasted life. I don’t want to be able to say “I have no regrets” in my last years of existence, I want to be able to say “I lived the best possible life with the things that I’ve got”. I have many dreams and I want many things, smaller or bigger, but I have to internalize the fact that I will never have some of them. I want to find happiness and joy in the small things in life, to always remain curious and enthusiastic about the world around me, to have passion, to be interested in discovery and exploration, to experience the least amount of idle time as possible. I might not achieve all the things in life that I want and I might have regrets but I will certainly consider my life well spent knowing that I managed to squeeze out the flavor of life with the things that I’ve been given and that I wasted no time. That would be, for me, a life well lived.
Not long ago I made a post about Flow and the Optimal Experience of Life which addresses subjects like the modern pursuit of happiness, the culture of personality and how to live a more happy and fulfilling life. Well, one of my interests is neuroscience and I’m always looking to discover and to learn more about how the mind works and one thing that I learned so far is that Homo Sapiens, the Wise Man in Latin, is actually an emotional creature prone to various shortcomings and biases. So, no matter how many words I write and how convincing I’m trying to make my posts, appealing to rationality will always be less persuasive than appealing to emotions, hence in this post I will give concrete examples that can be seen and heard, examples on how to find flow and to achieve an optimal experience of life.
It started with a Youtube video recommendation, having the words Oslo and Norway in the title and a thumbnail with a guy holding a bottle in his hand. Well, I’m not really into guys with bottles in their hands and it did seem a weird recommendation but I do am interested in Norway and in the Nordic culture in general so I said “What the hell, it’s a short video anyway, let’s see what’s about” and clicked on the video. It was a strange video with a guy doing strange but simple, creative things, I’ve never seen these kinds of videos before. So I went to this guy’s channel and watched a second video and a third video. And I continued watching. I was trying to figure out what this guy is up to. And then I realized it:
The Happiness and the Joy is in the Smaller Things in Life. What this guy, Tor Eckhoff, is doing on his Youtube channel, apetor, is basically having a naive, childlike approach to life. He is more than 50 years old but he is having a fresh, inquisitive, creative approach to the world around him. He is living in a small city, somewhere on the long, rugged and fjord like coast of Norway but this is not stopping him to find fun ways to discover the environment that surrounds him and to live a full and interesting life. Somewhere on the path of growing up we lose our child-like view of the world, something small like a puddle of water or mud, ice and snow, a frog, a butterfly, a flower, a stick, would excite us and trigger our imagination and make us come up with fun ways of using them because that’s how children discover the world that surrounds them. Everything is new and exciting for a child, everything is interesting and worthy of exploration. Somewhere on the line we lose this simple joy derived from simple and small things, we lose the Joie de vivre, the Joy of Life, we start acting like adults in a world where there are less and less discoveries to be made. We start learning how the world works and we start forming mental models that most probably stick with us our whole lives and in this process things start to look “Deja vu”, already seen, they start to excite us less and less and to lose their flavor.