Life, an Incredible Opportunity

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Life is an opportunity that over 108 billion people before us have had and then as lost as is the nature of life: there is a beginning and an end. Therefore to be alive is wonderful opportunity to do something!

In addition to biological evolution, there is also the evolution of culture and spirit. Spiritual evolution means becoming more human. As G.K. Chesterton put it: “a dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” We are blessed with brains that create the human mind, which allows not only to go with the flow, but to go upstream or any other direction we wish.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

The difference and human blessing of life lies in our brain, which allows us not only to live, but to learn and live better as well. This means we are no longer bound only to progress through the biological evolution, but through cultural evolution.

Other animals certainly are social and therefore have the ability for cultural evolution as well. However, very few of them are able to stop and contemplate on life on such level as humans can. We learn comparatively fast and therefore our culture, way of doing things evolves as well.

On individual level, it’s our own decision to exercise this superpower of choice each day. Well actually thinking and deciding something new for each day would be possible, but not very convenient. Although we have the ability to contemplate, it is rather energy intensive. Therefore it’s useful to use both of the abilities, the ability to contemplate and the ability to do in a harmonious way.

Contemplate and discover your values and goals. Then work on these goals every day habitually.

Do not dream of life without work. Work is the opportunity, ability to create something greater than what you were given. What will then happen? According to the law of karma, if you do good things, good things will happen to you.

Put your priorities straight using the priority category method and then live your purpose and plan.

In life you will get more things done, if you are really good at prioritizing and deciding what is important and where you can add the most value. You will be able to create more value and well-being to your environment, which then again means that you will also receive more and then we all flourish.

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I’ve taken it as my mission to help other people to realize the love for life. This comes from my personal experience with the meaninglessness of life, which led to depression and sickness.

Have a great evening!

Janne

Life is Long Enough to Discover and Give Your Gift to the World

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On Wednesday I wrote Purpose of Life which is to fulfill the needs of others at higher levels. In the end once we start to fulfill the needs of others at higher levels, we will also in the end get what we need the most.

In there I mentioned the shortness of life, which I today want to overturn.

My thinking before has based on accepting the shortness of life, today I decided to look a bit deeper in what does it actually mean. Therefore I decided to study some texts of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, one of the Stoics. Unlike settling for the plain quotes, I read his Shortness of Life. Here the famous quote about the shortness of life continues with another equally important sentence: “it’s not that we’ve a short time to live, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it’s been given to us in generous measure for accomplishing the greatest things, if the whole of it is well invested.”

Combined with the second sentence, there is an abundant world view and gratitude in place. Length of life is enough, we’ve been given plenty it’s just the matter of how we use it.

Brilliant! So we have plenty of time, the question is then for what?

Here I would like to bring another Stoic called Marcus Aurelius to reply to this one. I listened his audiobook and one thought in particular has stuck with me: it is to work according to ones’ nature.

Nature here means your tendencies, strengths and inclinations. Literally it is about around which activity are you willing to persist and master in order to benefit others? These abilities, activities can be rather creative and used through times in combination with other qualities and abilities often resulting in unforeseen consequences.

Diversity exists; whole evolution is based on advantages and strengths. For example in the nature there are for example 20 000 bee species alone, each with certain specializations. Human mind is also capable of such diversity, so therefore we have huge diversity of personalities, strengths and tendencies.

Effort to discover and develop that nature is what matters. With such effort you will fulfill your purpose manifold.

In this time – purpose continuum, our conscious ability do direct our attention (focus) is the one thing that determines, if our time is abundant or short.

Life Gives You More, When You Give More to Life

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“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Time is the most precious thing we have, we only have this moment. How we use each moment is the game of probabilities in the future moments: how will we fare in the upcoming moments of truth?

Through human history, what has separated us from the other species dwelling on this earth is the cultural memory: we have recorded culture, and therefore stories to tell how we got here so far. Creativity is the evolutionary advantage of our species and also a bit of requirement for our long term survival. And as a collective we can choose to create or stay passive and wither away, if we are capable in dialogue that is.

When we are too much in the mind of the collective, we may forget as even an individual can have huge impact: think of leaders, rebels, activists. Individuals can unite the masses, this shouldn’t be forgotten.

Each one of us, is individual capable of personal development, we will change, so why not to try to do it consciously? By starting to invest into ourselves, we will start to unlock higher levels of creativity.

Buddhists have serious example of creativity and even self-imposed impermanence, i.e. in the form of sand painting. That itself represents very well that the creation is worth it even if it is impermanent. I love the Buddhist thinking: we should strive for higher forms of creativity, despite the fact that everything may be destroyed in a flash. Since we are living we are a fluke of probability, so why not to see how long our luck can take us? We have to take the chance and play it for the longest run imaginable, only then we will have the chance to see the

Life requires that we give something, before achieving something. Failure is high probability, it rarely ends the game, instead the experience gained from that failure increases the odds of success in subsequent attempts. It’s because of this actual learning curve, that we all should be investing to our personal development. Only once we’ve accumulated enough experience and expertise we may start to benefit others.

Are you creating today? You may succeed right away, however it’s very unlikely. Make the probabilities yours, no make the probabilities ours, because your art has the possibility to be the game changer.

Give life the best art you are capable of and the collective human kind may evolve and live to see beauties of life and more.

Positive mindset for the long run

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What makes so positivity so worth it? And on the other hand why is negativity still around?

I think the key difference for positivity is the hope and belief that things will get better, thus we are ready to invest and create for the future.

Negativity on the other hand often times just feeds on that which has been created and believes everything is therefore limited.

Evolutionary basis and advantage in negative thinking is of course when people who think like that happen to be right. My guess would be actually that this capacity in built-in most of us under right circumstances: i.e.. when your basic needs are not met.

Same goes for positivity as well, when the circumstances are right we can focus to be more positive and long term thinkers.

Other people influence a lot to our lives and I think from the basic needs the feelings of psychological safety is quite tricky. We need social connections that accept us, yet we are also willing to adapt in order to fit in. Then again fitting in without getting accepted gets us into another dilemma and from these kinds of situations the negativity can emerge.

With this awareness we can start building more positive mindset in a long run.

What is the evolutionary purpose of creativity?

saturn-341379_1280Evolutionary perspective to the topic to creativity is interesting, because it is exactly creativity that allows humans to have another form of rapid evolution, this is called culture.

So there is the actual biological evolution, that has come to the conclusion of the human body and mind. The evolutionary decision to leave the mind more open to learn new things has a huge disadvantage at first: humans take a long time to grow up and they are really helpless as a children. On the flip side, as a children we can grow and get into the existing group culture really quickly by learning facial recognition, language and behavior. In other words we learn very quickly as a children and our ability to learn and adapt is still maintained as adults. Thanks to the human mind, we are the most adapted species out there out of any: in a very short time we’ve come to habit this planet and as a first species we’ve flung ourselves out of this earth as well.

It is obvious that the biological evolution got us up to only to a certain point. According to the Yuval Noah Harari in Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, essentially our starting point was on a Savannah in the middle of the food chain. We did not eat after the lions, we waited for the scavengers like hyenas and such to get to the carcass and only after that we would go and crush some bones with the stones and such. Our minds allowed us to somehow survive, then it allowed us to survive and finally thrive.

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What made the transition of just surviving to thriving? Most importantly it is creativity and culture.

Culture is the collective way to do things: it is all the agreements and also the silent agreements to do things. People who would be living in Savannah that would be the usual routine of the group. Track down some carcass, wait and wait until our turn and then finally eat what’s left.

Most of us are willing to change the proven track if we are faced with hunger. However, what makes human societies especially special is this creativity which is essentially bringing new ideas into the culture. Essentially how this happens is story telling, which is the tool of the leaders.

The creative ability facilitated by human mind has allowed as time and time again to renew our culture, way of doing things. First we got from the middle parts of the food chain to the top thanks to the fire and bunch of other innovations. Then we essentially settled every corner of the world and even the orbit. It is the flexibility of the human mind and the culture, collective way of doing things that has allowed us to get here, so there is some evolutionary advantage in not having to have always a plan what to fill the minds with.

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Resistance to the new ideas

Yet the road to this point wasn’t straightforward and without resistance. Culture itself as a way of doing things is kind of status quo, so to challenge that with new ideas requires a lots of effort. To be successful in this effort, one needs courage as well as the story telling skill to persuade others about the new way of action. Stories are often rejected on the first time we hear them. Actually our minds are hardwired to reject anything unfamiliar. Our minds love things that are familiar. This kind of thinking process belongs to the automatic and quick thinking group, we automatically rejects unfamiliar things without being at all rational about it. And even consciously we probably just want to show of our power by rejecting the new idea once or twice.

So how do new ideas become familiar then, if that is the requirement? Simply: repetition. Today there are even some more sophisticated strategies to get peoples attention and it’s what we call marketing. The new becomes familiar through repetition and once people have got their chance to reject it, will they reject it the second time? What about third time? Through my own experience as a marketer it’s just amazing how people change their minds after a few conversations over the years about a idea.

Why some creatives die before their ideas are accepted by wide audience?

Well the ideas they’ve presented have been ahead of their time and on the other hand societies have not been ready to accept these ideas yet. Essentially their ideas have been in the rejection zone during their lifetimes, but later on as their work continued to whisper their story and their ideas, people became to accept those as well.

 

If you are more interested about the human mind I really suggest to read Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow if you are more interested about this topic.

Let’s Make Learning the Core of Our Culture

CultureSimple definition of culture contains the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time [1]. So culture contains the collective story, why we do what we do. I think the collective story is at first in between the group, invisible yet potent and powerful. You can see the powerful side in anything that man has produced from pyramids of Giza to Hollywood movies. Culture is invisible force that shapes the visible world.

In a bigger scale, culture has been huge advantage. By changing story, so through cultural evolution, groups of people have been able to quickly cope and change the course of their collective efforts, without relying on the slower biological evolution.

Time and surrounding world are important building blocks for the culture. Sudden changes in environment will inevitably call upon a need for change in the way of doing things.

About biological evolution Darwin famously said that “It Is Not the Strongest of the Species that Survives But the Most Adaptable”. In cultural context we can say that it’s not the strongest of cultures that survive, but the most adaptable, those who learn the quickest.

Learning needs to be based on truth, seeing the reality as it is, instead of some biases. Here is where scientific method comes really useful. Then continuing further to apply the learning attitude and the scientific method to seek solutions to our common problems? Science has already done a lot of work to uncover the similarities of life and the universe. What we need to do now is to adapt some of what we’ve learned into action and forge that into a culture of action to find solutions.

P.S. More about the connections and similarities of life in an awesome video by RSA ANIMATE: The Power of Networks.

[1] Merriam-Webster, available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/culture. Retrieved 2016.