Category Archives: Philosophy

Celebrations: A special occasion your way

How do you celebrate your special occasions? In a way how you do it – is it your own choice or just a habit passed through the generations or pushed by the people around you? In this post I would like to share my attitude towards celebrations: birthdays, weddings and any other events – how do I like it and how do I do it.

To begin with, Continue reading Celebrations: A special occasion your way

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At the opposite sides of the spectrum: Peaceful co-existence of upmarket and lower-market in a single household

After one of the business meetings of my husband we had a vivid discussion about consumer purchasing trends. What we both see is that the mid-segment is fading away: either people go for very qualitative and very expensive stuff or prefer OK and cheap things. Sometimes simultaneously going for both – what I often observe in our own household.

In general, a lot of different consulting reports nowadays are mentioning the same trends in the consumer goods sector, the most prominent one is that: a lot of people are searching for ways to save money (McKinsey claims that “a lot” in the context of the US for example is about 70%). Household incomes generally have decreased. However, at the same time “the wealthy” became wealthier. This widening of the income gap gives birth to two opposite trends: an upmarket segment with its premium offerings is on the rise, but at the same time a lower-market segment and discount stores also see an increased interest from consumers. What is left out? Continue reading At the opposite sides of the spectrum: Peaceful co-existence of upmarket and lower-market in a single household

A comfort zone: Should I stay or should I go?

You hear it a lot: get out of your comfort zone! In order to succeed, you should step out of your comfort zone! You see motivational pictures with circles drawn where your comfort zone is depicted as a small miserable circle and just there – at a just slight distance – is a big bright circle of magic that is supposed to happen the next moment you step out of your comfort zone. Yeah right…

I don’t argue that you need to stretch yourself from time to time and that you do need to face your fears (especially given that most of them are actually nothing but an illusion), and that you do need to step out there and dare to follow your dreams and so on. But what a lot of people forget is that you cannot step OUT of your comfort zone if you haven’t first stepped IN there. That is somewhat linked to one of my previous posts about norms (link) – there is way too much pressure from the outside telling you how you should live. However, people do have different pace in life and different circumstances, different experiences they went through. A lot of people at this very moment are struggling to find their comfort zone!

I was there, I know what I am talking about. When you move to a foreign country, when you change your career, when you just gave birth to your child, and in many-many more situations you feel so vulnerable, you are so damn out of your comfort zone already! And somehow the “big bright circle of magic” is also nowhere to be seen at that moment.

So if you already have a lot falling on you, before you boldly follow Baumgartner and jump from the stratosphere, take a deep breath first and search for your “small miserable circle of comfort zone”. Get in there, get yourself a comfortable pillow and heal a bit.

Give yourself a permission to push the pause button from time to time and take a moment to reflect on who you truly are and what you truly want. And then, and only then, when you are back to being a strong lioness (or a lion) with a shiny, iridescent hair instead of a ragged, tattered kitten, then you can, and then you actually should, step out of your comfort zone and head towards your dreams. But not before. Whatever everyone says.

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Square peg in a round hole: Why it is perfectly normal not to fit the norm

Norms… Sometimes I am under the impression that a lot of norms that exist regarding different aspects of life are just there to make us feel bad.”I don’t feel happy every day, what’s wrong with me?”, “My kid is 5 month and he doesn’t roll yet, what’s wrong with him?“, or “Oh, but my kid is almost two and he doesn’t talk yet, what’s wrong with him?“… Did somebody actually ever wonder if there is anything wrong with the norms?

I almost failed my physical education class in school because I could not run the 4000-meter torture that I was supposed to. I got 4 out of 10 (the last passing score) merely for my persistence. I ran the first 1000 or so meters and the rest I walked. I am no runner! Does it make me a failure? My daughter started rolling only at the age of 5 months. Only the lazy one did not ask me if I was not worried. I was not. She was physically in a perfect condition. She did not want to roll. Does that make her a failure? My son started walking at the age of 9 months. But that’s not normal! And what should I have done? Tied him to the chair?!

It gets worse. You should go to school, you should get a degree, you should get a job (and preferably in the same domain where your degree is), you should buy a house, you should get married, you should have a ring, a dress, a party for 200 people, you should go on the honeymoon to the fancy location at the sea, you should have kids before 30, you should lose weight  in the first 10 days after giving birth, you should have a career, you should have a dog/cat/hamster/horse/alligator… You should… Have a riffle to use every time you hear it? That would be a great idea.

I did not invent this quote but I like it:

All I should is enumerated in the Tax Code; all I should not – in the Criminal Code; all the rest is in my discretion!

I don’t believe in “shoulds”. I don’t believe in norms. And most importantly what I don’t believe in – is in being worried and feeling yourself down just because you or your kids don’t fit some stupid norm written by somebody. What I do believe in, however, is in respecting the choice of others that they made for themselves and their family. In the end you are the only one who knows what’s right for you.

You breastfeed until your kid is 2,5 y.o.? Good for you both! And you stopped at 6 months and your kid already eats steak at 1? Perfect! You chose to work and your kid goes to day-care? That’s fine. And you decided it’s best that you stay at home? Also great. You do Montessori and a whole bunch of other early development activities? Good choice. And you don’t believe in the value of an early development? You’re also right. You co-sleep with your little one? Super! But yours learned to sleep in his own bed since the beginning? Wow!

Bottom-line is: Universal “normal” applicable to everybody does not exist. Normal is defined by lots of factors, amongst which your unique life circumstances, but also your vision of the world, your attitude, your values and your perception. It is what you personally feel comfortable with and what is acceptable for your family, but not what somebody else tries to force on you.

And by the way all the great minds of the past and present were not “normal”: they did not fit, they challenged the norms, they rebelled against them and went their own way. They followed their own normal. They were square pegs in a round hole and that’s what in the end contributed to their greatness.

 

A game of life: Why teaching your kids to play golf is a good idea

It was my long-term dream to learn to play golf and finally last summer my husband and myself took golf lessons and obtained our green cards to get us onto a golf course. Our kids also participate in the game but so far mostly by bringing back the practice balls when I am pitching in the garden (using kids labor, I know!). However we do intend to teach them the actual game of golf in the near future. Why do I think it is a good idea? The short answer would be a quote on the matter by Bobby Jones:

Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the ball where it lies“.

Golf is by no means a lazy and boring sport of the old fat rich men. Yes, it is still not cheap yet neither is tennis or hockey or skiing. And with respect to gear: there is a huge second-hand market for clubs and bags if you want to minimize costs. I got my first basic set of clubs together with a bag  and a whole bunch of balls for 50 eur.

Playing golf good requires you to be in a decent physical condition, as every golf stroke uses numerous muscles on core, hamstring, shoulder and wrist. It is highly addictive and once you are in you’re in for good. I actually do love everything about golf: from the actual game to an equipment and an outfit of a golfer.

A bit off-top: if you are struggling to find good-fitting pants (which a lot do!), try looking in the golf shop. Golf pants are simply the best pants you can get! They usually have a perfect fit, with a bit of lycra in them, and you don’t really need to go for the insane golfer’s checkers, as the choice of classic colors is also abundant.

However, I am deviating from the answer to why would that particular sport be a good idea to introduce kids to. Mostly not because of the so to-say “physical qualities” of the game, but because of its philosophy, because of the underlying principles of golf.

Golf teaches you a number of life lessons that are also useful to teach to kids:

  • Golf teaches you honesty and integrity. When you are playing you are also the one keeping track of your strokes. It is not really done to cheat in golf.
  • Golf teaches you strategy. It is not just about hitting the ball, it is about hitting the ball while already thinking about your next stroke. If there is, for example, a water hazard in front it might be a good idea to go a bit side-wise first in order to be able to succeed at your next stroke.
  • Golf teaches you humility. Even when you are a PRO, even when you have a great technique and perfect clubs, the game can still go wrong. You learn that sometimes a human effort is really futile and sometimes you are just damn lucky.
  • Golf teaches you endurance. The average game of 18 holes takes about 4-4,5 hours and implies walking for 8-10 kilometers (unless of course you take a golf-cart, you lazy bastard!) And by the way, walking outside, breathing fresh air, enjoying the beautiful greens of a golf course – isn’t that what’s called “healthy lifestyle”?
  • Golf teaches you that your main opponent is yourself. You can of course participate in different competitions, but you can also go solo. And competition or not, it is anyway about your score against objective par (number of strokes allowed to get a golf ball in a hole) that matters the most.
  • Golf teaches you not mere equality but fairness. You can equally play golf with those who are stronger and with those who are weaker players which is not possible in other sports. Thanks to the adjustment that the handicap system provides, your allowed stroke count on each hole is calculated based on your handicap. That means that you as an amateur can play together with a professional golfer and maybe even beat him in the particular match-play (because he is allowed e.g. 3 strokes, but your handicap gives you additional 3 strokes on that hole). So you will not feel yourself a loser!
  • But above all golf teaches you to enjoy. I will add another quote here (but in the context of kids, better park it until their adulthood!): “Golf and sex are about the only things you can enjoy without being good at them“. So true! (giggle)

In other words, this sport is a unique combination of being a way to stay toned and energized and at the same time being a teacher of important life lessons. Hence, thumbs up, golf, you’re on my kids to-do list!

P.S. This year is also special for golf because for the first time since 1904 golf is included in the list of sports for the Summer 2016 Olympic Games – hurrah!