You are your work

You might have some hobbies.

You might believe that you’re just doing your work to make money.

You might think that you’d rather spend all time with you family, than going to work.

But this is a half-truth. The dark side covers the most important part.

You accepted this half-truth from a kindergarten. Society insists that you must have hobby, work for money and want to be with your family. You must do you work to make it done, all the rest of you belongs to the people around you. This called man’s goodness and righteousness. If you love your work more, you’re not really a man.

In reality:

You are nothing without your work.

It doesn’t matter what you say to yourself about the work you’re doing. You might hate it and wish to kill your boss. You might dream of quitting and become an entrepreneur. Might want to mine cryptocurrency and locate in the SEA. Your wishes don’t really have an impact on who you are.

The only thing that defines you is the work you do. Period.

You’d rather learn to do something you have a will to do.

You’d rather learn to work as if it is an extension of yourself.

You can’t separate your life from your work. It’s man’s fate, just accept it.

Live your life

Man, this is a message for you.

I know how you are afraid to do what you want with your life.

I know how much responsibility and social burdens you have.

I know how often you pretend to be strong.

Do you know that no one is living your life?

Do you know that no one will hurry to rescue you in case of failure?

Do you know that almost no one knows what to do with their life?

So how can they insist you to follow their advice?

Don’t waste your chance to live your life yourself.

Your life is just yours and you’ll never find a better chance to live.

Fight for your dreams. Don’t have dreams? Just create some!

Never say “I’ll never do it”.

You’ll do it.

You’ll reach your goals.

But fight for them, with all your strength.

Be your hero.

Trust me.

My impossible list

If you don’t know where to go any path will lead you there. I don’t know where to go, so I’ll try to head somewhere. As these things on a list are hard, I’d call them impossible.

I thought what my true life goals are and couldn’t find any. Plus I don’t have any pre-set goals in life. I think that’s absolutely normal, so I’m making a list just to keep on doing something. Might happen that I’ll find my life goals while doing these fake ones.

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.

Note: This page is very personal, but I keep it here public as a reminder to me.

Life

  • Change 1 Person’s Life For The Better
  • Unschooling my children
  • Living in EU
  • Find out my nationality

Health goals:

  • Do a morning workout 100 days in a row
  • Run a 10k
  • Run a 20k
  • Grow muscles until I’m cool

Travel goals:

  • Visit Every Continent
  • Visit Peru, Bolivia, Mexico
  • Live a month on the seashore
  • Visit the Himalayas
  • Visit Iceland and Greenland
  • Visit my DNA motherland
  • Cross the Sahara desert
  • Follow the longest straight land-only line on Earth

Minimalism goals:

  • Go without internet for a month
  • Own less than 300 things
  • Create a “Getaway” Backpack

Creative goals:

  • Record a full solo song
  • Publish a sci-fi/fantasy book
  • Get featured on Medium
  • Get featured on Quora
  • Master photo-editing

Skill goals:

  • Fluent in German language
  • Learn to dance

Business goals:

  • Have 50k followers online
  • Launch a YouTube show and release 10 videos
  • Launch a product that creates over $10,000 in revenue within one month
  • Give a TEDx Talk
  • Make a full-time living online
  • Write an e-book
  • Publish a real physical book
  • Start an international company

Read 1000 books

Getting more from life being less

There’s no sense in a life, except the one we create ourselves.

There’s no divine creature who appoints life goals to us and checks them at the end. Just accept it as fact. Otherwise, you’ll spend your life looking for that prescribed goal in vain.

Not having a life goal is okay. Majority lives with that just fine. Most interesting people I know have no life goals in their 40-50s and don’t regret it. They just live.

We might create goals for ourselves, which is as well fine. Creating a life goal means we might be influenced to choose one over the other. That it absolutely normal in our interconnected society. Which is right nobody knows. So just accept at start that you might have a wrong choice.

Life goals don’t solve the problem, when you want more.

More money. More power. More influence. More people.

Goals just try to motivate us, but motivation means something else — goal, work, people — decide what we should do and when.

For example, we’re all brainwashed about startups and fast rich guys.

Social media levels up the envy and grudge.

People want to be more. They’d love to change places with Zukenberg or Musk just to be famous and rich.

People read about those guys and set goals to be like them.

People directly say that they want to be others. They are not happy with who they are.

Many started living the goals injected in them.

But when they meet the reality, they fail. This brings a lot of pain.

What if the goal of life for people is to learn to be less?

We think we are the center of the universe.

We all think that the events in our life are an elephant important, but other people live just a mediocre life in the dust of our light. We forget that this perception only exists in our minds and that everyone has exactly the same mindset.

In truth, we’re just one of billions.

Everything about us is insignificant.

Everything about everybody is insignificant.

Understanding self-insignificance liberates us from that self-centered voice that compares us to people that don’t matter, convinces us that we’re entitled to a comfortable and easy life, had us chasing arbitrary measures of success.

And what we have?

We spend our time, one of the most valuable resources  acquiring things we don’t want or need. Until once, we wake up and realize that we’ve lived somebody else’s life.

On being less

Being less means you don’t owe anybody to be better to fit the social media guidelines.

Being less allows you to enjoy your days doing nothing, rather pushing yourself hard to do something to achieve your vague goals.

Being less switches your eyes from perishable things which you really don’t need on those chanted by poets and philosophers: love, compassion, self-acceptance, mildness, and mindfulness.

Why are you working on yourself?

What are you optimizing your life for?

What makes you work on your body, mind and character? Why do you spend time to become a better human? In simple words, what motivates you?

Naturally, I am inclined to self-analysis and serious soul-searching. I always prone to ask myself “why” to even for petite questions. The Codex Vitae was born just after continuous digging of my beliefs and many why’s. Many questions answered there, though I am still in the process of writing down all the notes to share why I think something is true. That’s actually one of the reasons for this blog.

We have questions stated in the title: Why are you working on yourself? What are you optimizing your life for? I understand that it’s a sort of life-meaning question, which, as well-known, are hard to answer. I found that without knowing the answer, I can’t go on with all the staff I do — several times I lost ability to get up from the bed, not to mention ability to work. That is surely not psychopathology. Having such problems, I wanted to find the answer to the question.

Religions didn’t give the answer as well as money, people, family, possessions, travel, drugs and mood modulators. For long, I couldn’t find the answer to this silly question starting with why.

What are you optimizing your life for? What is the reason you fanatically work on yourself? Why do you suffer sleep deprivation to have a couple of hours for reading in the morning? Why do you endure the loss of pleasant bad habits, which color your grey routine days? Why are you working on yourself? Why?

Three worst reasons

I despise external things which are opted to answer these questions: control, motivation and approval.

Control means doing what you’re told. Control means following the way you’d been raised by parents. Control means knowing the right answer to why questions. Answer here would be centered around other people and richness. Because it is helping me achieve more. Because I can help people. Because I can earn more. Because I have a family and responsibilities. Control is a burden. People hide their true why’s under the control hood and fool themselves that’s truly their reason to live and work.

Motivation means selling your best self to a boss, partner or a group of people. Motivation takes responsibility from you and handles to someone else. Motivation states you can’t think and work if someone else doesn’t work to motivate you. Answers here would cede responsibility to others like in “Because I want my children get better life. Because I need to make the work right (because my boss expects this). Because I get high salary and have to work more. Because helping people is right (and I want to get to the heaven).” They seem totally fine except one problem — you are not in control. Your boss, partner, children, or god decide how to motivate you to get what they want. It’s not your deliberate decision and will to work on yourself. You are just working hard to meet their needs and expectations.

Approval means you are sold to the crowd. Approval states you agreed the crowd is here to judge your work. Approval means you value what the crowd thinks more than what you think about you. Answers here might be hard. Reasons to seek approval are hard. They might come from the childhood, when you didn’t get enough parents’ attention. Seeking approval means you want applause and glory. You might answer: “I do this because I like attention, I like when my work is valued and I want people to respect me as a leader.” Which means just one thing: you are sold to the crowd and don’t do anything for yourself.

Interest is the answer

So what’s left? Why are you optimizing your life for?

I think good answers should drive inwards, into our selves, into our minds and beliefs. External answers are fine, but they evaporate over time, leaving the deepest sadness I’ve ever seen. I am sure that all answers driven by control, motivation, and approval are fragile, because they are my answers. I’ve found them failed in my life.

Why are you working on yourself?
What are you optimizing your life for?

I’ve found the answer for myself — I do this, because I am interested.

I feel sort of dumb for saying that, because you’ve probably expected something more great, like revelation of John. But the truth is just that simple. I am interested.

Interesting is an emotion that evolved to help humans optimize in an environment where external indicators were hard to measure. I can work for a project year by year and get no feedback, I can work for free at NGO, I can wake up at 5am and learn German, I can practice meditation and read on trans-humanism, I can read works of philosophers and become a great team leader. And what for? Just because I am interested in all these.

Here is no particular reason, except interest, in doing anything. With the same quality I might say that I want to life to my 100s, because I am interested in what it is like to 100-year-old guy. This interest drives me to workout, eat healthy food and have proper health-care. Thus, as you can see, I improve myself only with me in mind, my interest and my desire to turn 100 and be active, not a zombie.

How do you know what to focus on then? You optimize for interesting.

New work proposition? New salary rise? Travel opportunities? Okay, is it interesting? Are you interested enough to outbid other advantages? If not, don’t do that. You have other motives, which don’t pass the interest filter.

So the emotion “interesting” is actually the most effective compass for deciding what to optimize for in an uncertain world. It has no direct benefit. But the direct influence on your life.

Boredom, life and doing less

I am thinking about boredom and emptiness for already two years. After a long period of high level activity and engagement in several projects, I felt burned out, but couldn’t give up. I was overwhelmed with responsibilities. I was burdened by duties and all the musts. In 2015, I started researching the idea of doing less for myself. The idea of doing less is not the one popularized nowadays. It teaches that we should focus on what’s important and do it, ignoring what’s trivial. I was researching the different thought — doing less than doing nothing.

Now I believe that there surely must be periods in life, when we should stop doing everything. Stop working, stop thinking about projects, stop dreaming, stop everything that might seem “good things to do”. This period is similar to hibernation of animals, winter anabiosis. Let me explain.

Why we are afraid of doing nothing? Why the idea of doing completely nothing is the one we avoid like mad? It simple, because doing nothing seems boring. Because we are risen up in a world where doing nothing is wrong, because only lazy people avoid working. We’ve all heard stories about the lazy dragonfly (or any other bug and animal) skulked all summer and then begged a clever ant for food. I understood that I was working all the time because I was afraid of being lazy. The motto of not losing the moment is teaching just one thing: work all the time, minimize the idleness, avoid boredom. I was afraid of being bored doing nothing. I thought, well, how is that I can spend a month doing nothing. I should do at least something.

Researching on doing less, I discovered that boredom has a long cultural history and has unbeatable impact on the greatest among us. Bertrand Russell, Andrei Tarkovsky, Søren Kierkegaard, Susan Sontag, Arthur Schopenhauer, Adam Phillips and many more concluded that boredom has an essential function, it’s not the thing to avoid.

Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, wrote that boredom is woven into the fabric of our cultural mythology:

Adam was bored because he was alone; therefore Eve was created. Since that moment, boredom entered the world and grew in quantity in exact proportion to the growth of population. Adam was bored alone; then Adam and Eve were bored together; then Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel were bored en famille. After that, the population of the world increased and the nations were bored en masse.

As we all are bored, we tend to doing more to eliminate boredom. We start doing whatever possible, we hide from the time of idleness, we seek for entertainment just to get rid of this evil feeling. Bertrand Russell writes in his book “The conquest of happiness”:

As we rise in the social scale the pursuit of excitement becomes more and more intense. Those who can afford it are perpetually moving from place to place, carrying with them as they go gaiety, dancing and drinking, but for some reason always expecting to enjoy these more in a new place. Those who have to earn a living get their share of boredom, of necessity, in working hours, but those who have enough money to be freed from the need of work have as their ideal a life completely freed from boredom. It is a noble ideal, and far be it from me to decry it, but I am afraid that like other ideals it is more difficult to achievement than the idealists suppose. After all, the mornings are boring in proportion as the previous evenings were amusing. There will be middle age, possibly even old age. At twenty men think that life will be over at thirty… Perhaps it is as unwise to spend one’s vital capital as one’s financial capital. Perhaps some element of boredom is a necessary ingredient in life. A wish to escape from boredom is natural; indeed, all races of mankind have displayed it as opportunity occurred… Wars, pogroms, and persecutions have all been part of the flight from boredom; even quarrels with neighbors have been found better than nothing. Boredom is therefore a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.

And then he concludes:

The capacity to endure a more or less monotonous life is one which should be acquired in childhood. Modern parents are greatly to blame in this respect; they provide their children with far too many passive amusements… and they do not realize the importance to a child of having one day like another, except, of course, for somewhat rare occasions.

Thus, it is easy to understand, that today’s world of distraction are hapless in assuaging the soul’s cry — which is — a lack of meaning. This is the sentence I was looking for a long time and spent many hours thinking on the works of philosophers. The lack of meaning is the source of boredom, which is the source of the desire to do more, to seek for amusement or just do anything. Seneca argued against all the time busyness:

There is an indefatigable activity that shuts a person out of the world of spirit and places him in a class with the animals, which instinctively must always be in motion. There are people who have an extraordinary talent for transforming everything into a business operation, whose whole life is a business operation, who fall in love and are married, hear a joke, and admire a work of art with the same businesslike zeal with which they work at the office. The Latin proverb otium est pulvinar diaboli [idleness is the devil’s pillow] is quite correct, but the devil does not find time to lay his head on this pillow if one is not bored. But since people believe that it is man’s destiny to work, the antithesis idleness/work is correct. I assume that it is man’s destiny to amuse himself, and therefore my antithesis is no less correct.

I found out that I fall for the idea that if I want to keep my job and pay the bills, I must contend with a perverse “work or perish”, which rewards high-volume productivity and just getting things done over painstaking and reliable work done. I understood that since I treat the whole life as business, I tend to conceive the life as a series of tasks to be accomplished rather than moments to be filled with living. As a result I was burned out and lost.

Doing less is not focusing on important. Doing less is learning to get bored, having monotonous life and doing things when they seem right and produce right results. Anything different is not one to count with.

Everyone should learn to be quiet near a little stream and listen. The only true cure for existential emptiness is to embrace it.

More to read and references:

  1. The conquest of happiness — Bertrand Russell
  2. Boredom : a lively history — Peter Toohey
  3. How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself — Robert Paul Smith
  4. Either/Or: A Fragment of Life — Søren Kierkegaard
  5. Illuminations: Essays and Reflections — Walter Benjamin
  6. On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life — Adam Phillips
  7. How to Be Alone (The School of Life) Paperback — Sara Maitland

What is good purpose of life and how to find it

Good purpose:

  1. Is long-term, not short-term
  2. The one you choose for yourself, not ordered by others
  3. Something out of yourself. Out of development, growth, life and your profession. It could be something for the outer world, beyond the self

How to find the purpose:

  1. Be clear of your abilities and capabilities. Make evaluation of what you can do
  2. Make honest assessment of what the world needs
  3. Think about something you really enjoy doing