November in the Rear Mirror

November, what a beautiful month this was. The first time in half a year that I didn’t post a blog two weeks in a row. I was on holiday and finally visited the North-East of Brazil. This region has been recommended to me non-stop over the previous one and a half years. There, temperatures allow for non-stop flip-flopping, shorts, and no shirt. Coconuts cheaper than water, fruits I had never heard of before, and cashew nuts as fresh as water after being dehydrated for days. This does mean however, that I only published two blogs this month. Underneath you will find the usual monthly recap of both of them.

Where Business, Buddhism, and Belly Come Together

In this blog post I aimed to find common features of three on the surface very distinct topics. I like to view at things from a perspective of cohesion and similarity. Because I believe that deep down all things are the same.

This also goes for Buddhism, business and your belly. All of them thrive on philosophies that the whole cannot function if its’ parts are not in optimal condition. In Buddhism it’s about aligning your thoughts and emotions with what you do, in business it’s about letting every single employee thrive so that the whole company thrives as a consequence. And when it comes to your belly it is about aligning what you do with your mouth to let your body profit as a consequence.

Why Do We Eat?

I did a spontaneous fast for 24 hours. I can’t remember when was the last time I didn’t eat anything for that long. This made me wonder about the role of food in our lives, and if it’s that necessary at all?

I realized that eating for most of us is more a habit, a form of behavior if you will, than it is necessity. There are even people that claim to eat so little they should be starving to death, while at the same time there are people that eat so much they are eating themselves to death. So really, why do we eat?

October in the Rear Mirror

The Ultimate Guide to Your Personal Diet

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If there is anything confusing it’s all the information on diet and nutrition out there. Vegan, paleo, low carb, high carb, keto, and is wine ok, and what about gluten and lactose? Even though, there is a lot of conflicting information out there, this is mainly due to the fact that everybody is looking for (or claiming to have) the one best diet. However, this doesn’t exist, there is no one best diet for everybody. There is a best diet for you though, this just takes some guidance and a couple of things that are universally true. After doing personal research for 10 years already, I have come to the conclusion that there is a lot of bad information out there. Nevertheless, there are also some things that are universally true. In this blog post I try to provide you with the necessary background information and basic info to help you create your own personal diet.

How Dialogue Can Save the World

 

dialogue-sunsetAstonished by the effect of the Brazilian elections on my everyday life, I got into thinking how this could be done differently. Fake news, political polarization, and social media wars all seem to be far from a solution to the current situation in Brazil. What could this be then? Well, friggin talk maybe? Nicely said, dialogue, is the art of conversation while leaving all assumptions on the table. This means there is space to explore new perspectives to problems and come up with new solutions. It almost seems to be too basic to be effective. However, read the blog and figure out why it actually is the most effective.

How to Use SMART Goal Setting to Change Your Perception of Time

rawpixel-755616-unsplashWhere in the blog about time I discussed how your perception of time might be self limiting. In this blog post I go into a very basic but powerful solution: goal setting. By setting goals you accept objective time frames and you create a context that allows you to compare and put your current situation into perspective. Goal setting has been shown to improve performance and the ability to overcome mental trauma.

How Your Perception of Time is Limiting You and How To Change It

clockTime, was the first topic I wrote about on this blog. In the first blog I wrote about how my perspective on it changed. In this months’ blog post on time I get into how we perceive time subjectively and how it’s objectively progressing. I believe that a lot of our discomfort comes from the fact that we aren’t aware of the fact that whatever we experience things go as fast as they can. Read more on the blog itself to raise awareness to this interesting phenomenon that’s part of all our lives.

Why in Healthcare and Politics Treating The Root Cause is Not The Solution (Yet)

tree-trunkI take a closer look at the systems upon which healthcare and politics function. When taking a more profound look at both them it quickly becomes clear how there is no reason for it’s players to resolve issues right its’ source. From my perspective there is too much to be gained from short term decisions in terms of money and power. However more importantly, it is that we humans are incredibly bad at dealing with pain and discomfort. This inability is being capitalized upon in a variety of ways. Read this extensive blog on the topic to learn more about my view.

Why You Should Sleep Well Every Night

sleep-on-railroadMatthew Walker’s book “Why We Sleep” is pretty straight forward as it is intriguing. If it does anything well is show how interesting human sleep is. At the same the case is simple: you should sleep well every night. In my blog I describe the most important things I learned from the book. Also, you will never have to feel guilty anymore for sleeping during the afternoon. No you are not lazy, you are smart!

September in the Rear Mirror

Welcome to October! To me September now means the start of spring instead of autumn. I ticked of a year on the South American continent, and I experienced a mild winter of about 6-8 weeks. My Brazilian friends and family were clinging their teeth for 6 months. I did an online video course on sales and I read 5 books the previous weeks; Designing for Growth, The Lean Startup, Business Model Generation, The Four Hour Workweek and Why We Sleep. In between cutting through all this new newness like a samurai, I wrote four blogs. Underneath you can read a quick recap of each. Click on the title to read the entire blog.

Are You Feeling the Vibe?

wirelessspeaker

In Are You Feeling the Vibe I explore the implications of the fact that everything on earth at it’s smallest form is vibration.

This holds true for the computer or phone you are reading this blog on, your thoughts, your breath, the sound reaching your ears, and the chair you sit upon.

Now remember that time you were feeling amazing, all of a sudden more good things were happening.


man-in-water-reads-a-book

 In Is There Another Way To Live Life I reflect on reading Tim Ferris book The Four Hour Work week. The book is full of perspective, tips and tricks on creating a lifestyle where there is space for you to form it according to your desires.

He introduces the term mobility to make you aware of the importance, if you are still working a job you don´t like, to have the freedom to decide from where you work.

He also introduces mini-retirements, why not take time in between jobs instead of waiting until you are 65 to take them all. Right when your body starts deteriorating and you are to weak to lift a stone.

If you are the most satisfied person in the world at this moment, and wouldn’t wish anything else than your current situation, you could leave this book be. Otherwise, read the Four Hour Work-week.


How To Deal With Your Automatic Self When Trying To Change

steeringwheel

We humans have a lot of unconscious processes going on when we are taking decisions. One of them is the ambiguity effect. We prefer to take decision of which we know the outcome. All the while we shy away from novelty.

However, to get ahead in life it is key to enter novel situations. Still every moment you are in a situation like this there is always an unconscious pull towards the familiar.

How can you use this information to decide best in a moment when you there is an unknown outcome? Click on the title above to read the whole blog.


How Does Politics Really Work?

politics-grafitiWith the Brazilian presidential elections less than a week away at the moment of writing this, I took the opportunity to take politics under closer scrutiny.

I take a closer look at the attractiveness of long-term solutions (to politicians) for apparent problems like violence in Brazil, illegal immigration in the U.S. and refugees in the Netherlands.

Given the four year rotation of a cabinet, the way the elections work, and third-party interests, there can only be one conclusion. It doesn’t make sense to wait for decisions from higher up, you have to be the one that decides what happens in your life.

 

 

Is There Another Way To Live Life?

Retirement is Worst-Case-Scenario Insurance.

Tim Ferris

I read Tim Ferris’ book The Four Hour Workweek, which turned out to be a conflicting experience. Only until the very last pages I realized why this book provoked this sentiment in me. In there he provides his perspective on the regular 9-5 work structure, and the knowledge and tools to get away from that.

Mobility

The single most important tool in this process, he argues, is mobility. The ability to generate income from anywhere you want. If you are an employee this ideally means “working from home”. When you have your own business, the trick is to create a product or service that can be offered online. Finally, another fully explored option in the book is to fully automatize your company, if it’s not suitable for the internet.

Anyway, all well so far, the thing is though that mister Ferris earned 5 figures a month on the time of writing that book. Easy talking for him right?

I don’t think so. The fact that he earns a lot of money does not mean, that money is the only tool to get what you “want”. If you want to be a millionaire it’s probably not because of all the paper you can now stuff your mattress with, but the possibilities that come as a consequence.

The 80-20 Principle

It is nice therefore, that money is not the only way to get those things. When you work from 9-5, there is a high chance that what you are doing could be done in a lot less time. The 80-20 Principle, striking similarities to Matthews Law that I mentioned in another blog, was introduced by economist Vilfredo Pareto. It dictates that 80% of the output gets generated by 20% of the input.

80% of consequences result from 20% of the causes, 80% of the results from 20% of effort and time, 80% of a company’s revenue will be generated by 20% of the products and customers, and 20% of the people have 80% of the financial capacity. This list is endless and encompasses even your clothes. 80% of the time you wear 20% of what’s in your wardrobe. The division is often more extreme than it is less, 85-15 or 90-10 is not uncommon. So when we talk about your clothes for example, why would you hold on to that 80 percent? And why should you engage in that 80% of work that only generates 20% more output?

Even though, it seems counter intuitive, give it a try. Show your boss, professor, or most importantly yourself, what quality you can provide in 20% of the time. Nobody will probably notice, because the fine tuning you do for 80% of the time usually does not create anything of value.

When you redesign your life this way, you are already getting closer to living like a millionaire right? And you haven’t earned a penny more than before!

Retirement

Then, for a couple of years already I have been wondering about the value of retirement.

old-couple-on-porch
Why wait until your retirement?

Why the hell should I wait until I am 65 to have all the time in the world to do everything I have been wanting to do for 40 years?

Only if you believe that money is an end-goal and security isn’t a sensation but an externally acquirable object, retirement is for you.

I conceive money as a tool, and security as a sensation that doesn’t depend on money. Then how does retirement still make sense? Only if you don’t like your job. When you consider this information, and The Four Hour Workweek gives you plenty ideas and insights on how to do this, there are plenty possibilities to start doing the things you want now.

Those three months turned into 15, and I started to ask myself, “Why not take the usual 20-30 year retirement and redistribute it throughout life instead of saving all for the end?

Tim Ferris

To me, it doesn’t make sense to wait to go rock climbing when you are seventy, start learning a new language when you can only use it for 10 more years, or start hanging out with your family when you can’t lift your children up anymore. Why not start now?

What The Four Hour Workweek Did With Me

I find that the book does a great job putting these decisions in your face. However, it might just be that you are happy where you are, right?

If yes, that’s amazing. I wasn’t sure while reading. I was continuously imagining living in Thailand. I would take a sabbatical, find an opportunity to create some small revenue online, and take up mini-pensions every two years. I felt increasingly conflicted and unhappy with my current situation.

A day later I was walking back home after stopping by the supermarket. I was carrying two backpacks on my back and stomach, full of groceries, wearing my sunglasses even though sun was down. Overthinking the book, I realized: I already live this life. I don’t know if there was anybody watching me but it must have been funny to see a tall gringo, with two backpacks, and sunglasses, laughing like a maniac.

Where Tim Ferris calls it The Four Hour Workweek, I call it living an authentic life, true to your desires. In both cases the lifestyle design is the process to realize evermore of the way of life you want to live. I know that it helps immensely to expand your knowledge, see how others write the rules to their life, and understand your own reasons for working and motivations in life. After reading this book, I realized that that is what this blog is about. I am happy to have figured that out after 9 months!

 

 

August in the Rear Mirror

I decided that, from now on, I will provide an overview at the end of each month of that months’ blog posts. This particular series I named “in the Rear Mirror”. For me this is an opportunity to have another look at what I put out, and for you to catch up if you missed one. August this year was the first time I celebrated my birthday in winter, also it was up to my birthday overseen by mercury retrograde, this is the time that is characterized by miscommunication. So let’s see, if I got the message across this month.


How To Tweak Your Environment To Live Longer and Healthier

nonebluezone

In the first blog post of August, I take you through the fascinating results derived from studying the Blue Zones. I already introduced them extensively in an earlier blog post. These geographical areas are where the people get the oldest and are among the happiest in the world.

Most interestingly nobody tries to get old there. They just get old, because their environment provokes healthy behavior. I show how I integrate this knowledge into my daily life, and I provide tips and tricks to change your own environment. Among them are; hanging a bar, to hang on, in an obvious place in your house, getting off the bus one stop to early to walk more, and to use the bathroom farthest away from you at work. If you want more tricks, click here.


3 Ways To Know You Are Getting Sick, and 3 Ways To Counter Them

waterfallman

In this post I gave three examples of how you can figure out you are getting sick without consulting a healthcare professional. First, your resting heart rate, a deviation of more or less than 3 from the norm should inform you that something is going on under the hood. Then, being aware of your gut is another powerful tool to check your health. Weird gut feelings, feeling full without eating, or hungry after eating a lot might indicate that your immune system is busy fighting something. Last, I think it is important to be aware of what you did the previous days, weeks, and months perhaps. This might tell you a lot about your state of being today.

To prevent you from getting sick I argue that rest is the strongest medicine, also I give a recipe for my Kill-the-Cold-Cocktail, and how you should respond to the why and not the what of you getting sick.


Why It Is Good To Feel Bad

blowingsmoke

Inspired by reading Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 Rules for Life – An Antidote to Chaos I explore why I believe it is good to to feel bad.

The general perception is that feeling bad is something bad, where feeling good is something good.

This duality of things only exists as our perception of these feelings. All by themselves they are not good or bad. To feel bad is good because it allows you to learn form these experiences. Negative emotions pull you into the present and force you to deal with them.

When you run away their calling will only get stronger. It is necessary to feel bad to feel good, and labeling emotions as good or bad does not help this case. All of them are emotions, and all of them are equally valuable.

twentyseven

In this blog post that I published closely after celebrating my 27th birthday, I reflect on what I learned in all this time roaming the planet.

During this time I experienced a variety of cultures, and I lived and worked with wide ranging personalities that all left an impression on me.

The first lesson is that I laugh when I don’t understand. I elaborate on how psychological defense mechanisms are deeply wired into our system and occur, often not on purpose, in any given situation is stressful. Understanding this mechanism taught me about me, and helps me understand others.

Next up, Ilearn easily, but only under the right conditions. Without motivation there is no need for me to start. After doubling a couple of years in high-school, quitting a bachelor and partying a lot, I learned along the way what my learning style is. If you didn’t figure this out yet, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn.

Finally, I belief that bad people don’t exist. We are the accumulation of our past experiences, however, we are not these experiences themselves.


How Culture Alters Your Brain

Paintedman

In the final blog post of this month I dove into the implications culture has for the wiring of our brains.

It is paradoxical because culture is the creation of our collective brainpower. Or as Mahatma Gandhi said: “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.”

The 3 Most Important Things I Learned in 27 Years

Here I am, 27 years and three days old and I am taking a moment to reflect. What the hell am I doing with my life? This year was the first time that I celebrated my birthday in the winter, and in the month of the crazy dog. A couple of interesting novelties that I didn’t see coming if you would have asked me one year ago.

So what did I learn in 27 years roaming around on this planet? I experienced a variety of cultures, people, and situations that shaped me into who I am today. In the meantime I think I have come to know a wide ranging amount of perspectives. Underneath I sum up three things I learned from those.

1. I laugh when I don’t understand

I remember when I was 12 years old, standing in the center of our village next to a green telephone booth with a glass door. Already out of function, partially due to me and my teammates’ efforts. The brick stone streets deserted and the cobblestones on the side quite slippery. A slight mist and temperatures far below zero. Me and my 3 teammates were waiting for another to come with a family member to drive us to a nearby village. We would play an indoor soccer tournament there, if our legs would still be functioning when we would get there anyway.

When our blood pressure was so low we could barely move our legs, a dark colored sedan came creeping up the street. Slowly because there could be a thin layer of ice on that is usually hard to see. When it freezes, it melts and then it freezes again over a short period of time, black ice might occur. Or ijzel as we call that in the Netherlands. Every bike, truck and car drivers’ nightmare. Government officials work all night to throw salt on the streets to make the ice melt. Not in our village though.

When the last of my teammates threw the door shut, off we went. More or less motivated for what was coming because I wasn’t really sure we would win any game. We creeped down another brick street, passing the protestant church up the hill on the right, the butcher on the left with it’s curtains down behind the windows, and later the bungalow village house on the right. Nobody in the streets. Leaving the village we changed from brick to asphalt, still driving like a snail. The sister of one of my teammates who was driving seemed quite tense. Past the soccer field on the left, and around the corner. Swoosh no ice. Softly braking we came to a crossing surrounded by trees. Right turn, accelerating slowly, big oak trees on both

beukenlaan
Space for one and half car (photo taken in Autumn)

sides of the road, and space for one and half car. Always nice when you encounter a car driving the other direction here. Between the trees we could see frozen grass fields and an occasional house in the distance. One more turn, and over the white wooden bridge we would come to the next crossing to turn on to the big road that was the main entry to our village.

Were it not that the turn before the bridge, our driver turned the steering wheel to the right. Without success. Straight we went. BOOM! Lucky there was a wooden fence or we would have ended up in the canal. We opened the doors, stepped on to the street. Our driver started crying, my teammates looked shocked out of there eyes, and I, I couldn’t stop laughing for 20 minutes.

Now before you think I am some sadistic freak, a shock response can come in many forms. After this event I ended up in another car accident not that long ago. I totally saw this one coming, but again, I was quite lyrical after the accident. I couldn’t believe what had happened.

Now this not only applies to accidents like this. I am bound to laugh when I feel uncomfortable, or when something is out of my field of comprehension (for that moment). These defense mechanisms are normal because the body and mind love structure, routine and preferably not too much novelty.  Now when I laugh, somebody else might get quiet, frustrated, bossy, feel insulted, or be judgmental. The clue here is that your defense mechanism might kick in without conscious attention, just like mine, that of a strangers, or that of your friends’. When you understand this, you can be both more accepting towards your own behavior as well as others’.

2. I learn easily, but only under the right conditions

A couple of years later, I was addicted to computer games and I tried to shoot people in the head all day. In between I indulged on grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and I gained quite a bit of weight as a consequence. Also, I rather didn’t go to school. My parents were figuring out how to motivate me. They would pull of my blanket when I was trying to sleep in on school days. It didn’t work I’m telling you, I just went downstairs to get my blanket and slept some more. When I finally got up, I didn’t waste time to hop in front of my computer screen and start shooting heady’s again.

I did hate school then, unbelievable, and my German teacher I hated the most. I tried to provoke her every class, trying to put as much of my frustration as possible on to her. All that time, she was just trying her best with a class full of very hard-to-please teenagers. Anyway, when I was at school at least. I remember one time my team-leader scheduled a meeting with me and my mother. He showed a statistic of my absence. May, 30 days absent. I didn’t go to school for a month. I was surprised because from my perspective I hadn’t been absent for that long.

May, 30 days absent. I didn’t go to school for a month. I was surprised because from my perspective I hadn’t been absent for that long.

He and many others would often say, you just have to try a little harder, we know you have the qualities to get your grades. I couldn’t care less.

Flash forward to Physical Therapy school. I am that guy sitting in the front, raising his hand all the time trying to give the right answer. One time I got a 7 (out of 10). Jesus, was I disappointed, I should have had a 9!

Over time I have come to understand that I am an easy learner, but only under the right conditions. When I am motivated I am a sponge and suck up every piece of  information. I was lucky to choose the right bachelor program, after choosing the wrong one the year before. I had quit that one after 6 weeks.

Our school system is very limited, when it comes to providing the individual with what they need to know. Both in the subjects that are taught and the way it is done. Definitely when it comes to traditional high school education in the Netherlands. It’s a disaster, you only learn how to function within a materialistic society even though most of our experience is determined by the metaphysical. The system only works for the person that can bring up empathy for his teachers, is disciplined, and has himself figured out. However, which boy has all these things by the age of 15?

Now if something like that is your last memory of school and has left you with the idea you can’t learn, or schoolbooks are not for you, stop and think again. The latter might be true, but everybody can learn. The divisions made in schools do not resemble natural division, and only more or less, work within the society that was created by our forefathers. This does not mean however, that when you cannot read a book you do not understand what is written in there.

This does not mean however, that when you cannot read a book you do not understand what is written in there

There are a million ways to learn, but only one is being propagated during traditional education. Luckily nowadays, more and more people are becoming aware of this, plus all the information in the world is available online. The only thing for you to do, is to figure out what the right learning conditions are for you.

3. Bad people don’t exist

In the aforementioned chaos of my teenage years somewhere along the line an interest for the Middle-East was born. At the time wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were taking place and Israel and Palestine remained a reoccurring theme on the news as well.

A natural indignation to not believing what I was being told by mediums like the 8 o’clock news, partially ingrained by my parents, I was doubting the validity of what was being shown. The Middle-East; a breeding-ground for terrorists where nobody could be trusted.

This image was spread with such force it basically dehumanized the entire region and allowed for nonhuman interventions.

thewall2
The wall between Israel and Palestine, this photo was taken from the Palestinian side. Are the people within this wall bad? And are the people that put up this wall bad?

At that time I read a couple of interesting books by former Dutch news reporter Joris Luyendijk. In A Good Man Sometimes Beats His Wife he wrote about the western perspective on Egyptian culture, and in They’re Just Like People (People Like Us in the US) he wrote about his experiences as a news reporter in the Middle East.

The thing I remember most profoundly about the second book is how he as a reporter barely ever saw the site of what he was reporting about. He always had to call to press agencies like Reuters and then create a story based on all the information he could gather from other people. In the end he would have 2 minutes to talk on the 8 o’clock news. So I was wondering, how well does that piece of information represent what really happened?

As the universe would have it I had the opportunity together with a friend to do an internship in Palestine a couple of years later. I couldn’t have been more excited to finally get to see things with my own eyes.

And what do you think happened? Nothing! People kind and forthcoming beyond believe and I never felt unsafe in all of the 11 weeks that I lived and worked there.

And what do you think happened? Nothing! People kind and forthcoming beyond believe

kindtaxidriver
This “supposed” bad person, who was also a taxi driver, went out of his way to give us a 2 hour tour of Bethlehem’s’ surrounding areas.

and I never felt unsafe in all of the 11 weeks that I lived and worked there. The scariest thing I experienced was the interim supervisor of the physical therapy department having an occasional anger attack. For reasons I did not understand, he would make a lot of arm movements, walk really quick, all the while shouting in Arabic to everybody he passed by.

Over the course of my life I have hung out with labeled terrorists, drug addicts, rich kids, poor people, well educated people, and people shaped by life. Not one of them I considered as a bad person, even when that person would (have) engaged in stealing, vandalism or dealing drugs.

As things go every single one of us is shaped by the accumulation of our life experiences. There are always moments where we can influence our decisions, but not everybody was dealt the same cards. Politicians, the traditional media, and corporations do their best to divide the world in to good and bad, smart and dumb, and quick and slow, only to capitalize on this division after.

The truth is though, that when you hit your child, when you bully other people, when you steal, when others call you a terrorist, or when you are addicted to drugs, you are not a bad person. Life is too complicated to divide into two sides.

Even though we are the accumulation of our experiences, we are not the experiences themselves.

Even though we are the accumulation of our experiences, we are not the experiences themselves. You define who you are, and how you manifest yourself in the world, good and bad is not part of that equation.

Ready for Level 2?

Welcome to another level of Quest for Authenticity (qfa). Over the previous weeks, I have invested a lot of time in rethinking qfa in order to use these perspectives to redo the website and give it a new sense of direction. Underneath, I will explain how this came in to being.

I am back at home. A different home this time. I left home 3 years ago in The Netherlands, a year ago in Switzerland and subsequently I left home again in the Netherlands. After leaving home so many times, it is good to be back. This time, I am in Brazil though.

Traffic in Curitiba
Curitiba, Brazil

After traveling for 8 months, learning two languages, meeting a lot of people, getting familiar with different customs, food, and having hitchhiked over 4000 kilometers in 5 different countries, it is now time to continue my quest for authenticity. Since this quest does not define a where or a how, I will continue it here at home. A little less hitchhiking and weird adventures I suppose, but nothing less exciting from my perspective. As things go, the beautiful thing of all I experienced, is that I have a better idea of what I do not want. Coming closer to what I do want to invest my time in.

This quest all started with the idea of getting more of myself out of me. In this I’ve looked to redefine environmental and societal norms and values, so I could figure out what holds true to me. Rediscovering my love for everything that moves body, mind, and behavior, and getting back to working with people, was worth a lot. At least for half a year there was nothing but criticism on my mind, towards my former job, but most of all towards the system I had to function in. The latter influenced the previous so much, that I had stopped valuing my formal profession entirely.

At the same time, traveling triggered so many other things in me that that there were actually moments where I imagined myself hitchhiking all around the world. To use little or no money, sell all my possessions, reduce my belongings to the contents of a backpack, and to go totally off the grid. However, I have mentioned before that I have a tendency to be obsessive with everything new I start. Therefore, going off traveling and encountering so many new things gave me a lot of opportunities to become obsessive.

Nevertheless, it is not just the traveling, but also the period before that allowed me to form into what I am. The amount of change and shifts I went through in these 8 months could have never had the effect they had, if it was not for all that went on before. I was fully engaged in a working environment I liked, and criticized at the same time. I enjoyed the support of family and friends whom always offered authentic and useful feedback, allowing me to flourish into a me, I am more content with than ever.

This process is an ongoing cycle, that sometimes throws me back to places I have already been. This used to be an annoyance of the first degree. Now, I recognize the value of redefining experiences. Even though, there is a red line that will continue whatever happens. I maintain to have a strong wish to live according to my terms. At the same time, I realize my fortune of coming from a place with education, materialistic welfare of the highest standard, and a home that the majority of the population in our world does not enjoy.

This gratitude and awareness only intensifies my motivation to keep going along the aforementioned line. It would be a waste to throw away all of these advantages and go sit in a cubicle. I intend to keep redefining myself, I intend to keep looking for discomfort, and I intend to not make this just about me.

With all these experiences and a renewed purpose fresh in mind, I decided to give this blog more direction. Where it first was more of an outlet, I now believe it to be a valuable tool to convey the message of the inevitable connection between self love, a healthy lifestyle, and the capacity to change any aspect of life. At the same I will try to offer insights about the things that drive the relation between our behavior and our environment. This combination, I believe, might encourage you to go live your own authentic lifestyle.

From now on, health and longevity related articles you will find in My Blue Zone. Articles on awareness, the twists in reality, and fairy tales constructed within our society that silently drive our behavior are posted in Wake Up! To read the personal reflections that I offer, look under Authenticity. If you want to receive my latest blog instantly in your mailbox, don’t hesitate to hit the YES! button down below. Also, if you have any questions or feedback, do not hesitate to get in touch.

Thank you and see you around,

Joël

Why You Should Have the Guts To Follow Heart Before Brain

Recently, I have been reading a book called Mbraining; Doing Cool Stuff With Your Multiple Brains. It explains how we have actually three brains not one, and how every brain has it’s own expressions and qualities. To optimally function as a human being the integration of all three brains is key. Lack of coherence between them can lead to a variety of problems. The idea that we have three brains is not just an invention, but by definition the gut and the heart have identical qualities as the head brain or cerebrum. Besides that, this knowledge can be found throughout many esoteric traditions all over the world. By reading the book and using it’s awareness exercises I recognized how mechanisms between the three brains work for me.

Brain Centered Society

When I analyze the way we designed our society though, a lack of coherence between the three brains becomes evident. Looking at what we learn in school, how we should make responsible decisions and what knowledge we ascribe the highest value too, it turns out all these qualities are related to the head brain. First, in school we learn math, physics and geography. Then, when we take an important decision we tend to look at the pro’s and con’s, how much money we have to invest now and how much we might get in return. Finally, after receiving a masters degree I will get a high salary, because value is expressed with money.

The heart brain accounts for compassion and courage is to be found an expression of the gut brain. However, did I ever meet somebody who got rich solely by being super courageous, or somebody who was the most loving person in the world? There might be exceptions, but this is not the rule. On the other hand, an a-social person having troubles with expressing his feelings, living in fear, but a genius head-brainer, might end up earning a lot of money without doubt.

Furthermore, as long as we only value one out of many of our human capacities things are bound to feel wrong eventually. If they actually go wrong is a matter of perspective. Nevertheless, the fact that there are so many people feeling unsatisfied, even though they have jobs that provide them all the physical safety and material comfort, says a lot. Knowing that our head-brain-based-society is self-limiting, does not mean we should start making decisions solely based on compassion or fearlessness.

Brain Integration

Even though, we value our head brain the most, both in society and the fact that reasonable decisions are supposed to be good ones, the heart should be listened to with the highest regard. This does not mean however, that I turn off my head brain, rather I chose to ascribe value to the entire experience. Including heart felt sensations and gut feelings in to my decisions with a proper mindset allow me to act with more confidence. Ultimately, opening up the way for me to feel happier and more satisfied.

It is still possible that decisions have an outcome that is unsatisfying to me. Nevertheless, the fact that I took my decisions in a state of coherence with everything I feel and think, it is easier to deal with these consequences. As things go, loss, gain and concepts like having fortune or bad luck are inventions of us humans. My heart and gut do not function based on this concepts. When it comes to the head brain though, I am perfectly capable of materializing these concepts, ultimately influencing my feelings in a singular way.

Feelings

The heart and gut however, do not function according to belief, social construct and material importance. They express themselves and communicate with feelings. Therefore, when the head-brain-perspective deems a decision as wrong, there are still two parts of the equation that perceive differently. The result is, that a decision materialistically gone wrong can still be looked back upon with satisfaction when it was made with coherence of all three brains.

The shift of perspective this book provoked in me is still very significant. I have not finished it yet, but it already made it easier for me to make sense of certain experiences. On top of that, now I am aware of these interconnections, I can use breathing exercises, imagination, sound, smell and other modalities to enhance the communication and coherence between the three brains (more about this in the book). However, without doubt the biggest value it had for me personally is to put a structure to a decision making process that I was already engaging in. Now that this process is clearer, it is easier to reproduce. Ultimately, it showed me that all the moments I had the guts to follow heart before brain, the results led to great satisfaction. One of them being, that I call Brazil home now.

Why and How You Should Start Hitchhiking

I set a variety of intentions before taking off to travel, very few came true. Hitchhiking is one of them though. Upon leaving Europe, I had hitchhiked no more than 1000 kilometers. However, having hitchhiked most of my travels in South America, I can now add roughly 5000 kilometers to my curriculum. This does not necessarily make me an expert, nevertheless I hope that by sharing my experience I can make the step, to get you engaged in this awesome way of traveling, a little smaller. This blog will be the first in a series on hitchhiking. In the first two parts I will explain what hitchhiking is, provide background information and show how to get started.

The Basics

Catching a ride, hacer dedo, autostop, liften, pegar carona and hitchhiking all mean the same thing (in different languages); trying to catch a ride while standing by the road holding up your thumb. The idea is that you get a ride from someone without paying for it. The entire concept is entirely based on “giving”, pure philanthropy.

The motivation to hitchhike often originates from the necessity to travel, but not having the money or the means of transport for it. The first is pretty straight up, but the second is not something you encounter in Europe often. In Argentina however, there are a lot of places where there is no public transport. The solution therefore: hitchhiking. For others, like me, the adventure and the unexpected experiences awaiting any hitchhiker are what might move one in this direction. Nevertheless, the fact that it is a transaction without money always plays a big role in the equation.

An Opportunity To Meet People

To give a ride on the other hand is also something that requires motivation, not everybody will stop for a stranger standing by the road. Even in countries where hitchhiking is very common there will be plenty of people driving by. Even though, most of the people that pick you up either believe in the art of giving, or see, like me, the added value of meeting a stranger. It is not just that you get a ride, it is an opportunity to meet somebody new, learn new things and most of all have some company. The last, is often a motivation for truckers to stop for a hitchhiker. Spending days on the road in a truck all by themselves, having somebody new next to them allows for a nice change of pace. On top of this, for you as a hitchhiker, this is great as well because trucks often travel long distances.

Furthermore, the beautiful thing is that there are no set rules. Yes it helps to be polite, and there are certain things that will definitely make it easier, (more on that in the second part of this introduction) but otherwise it is all up to you how you define your hitchhike. I used it as a means of transport but it could also be a day out. Definitely in Europe this is easily done. Meet up with a friend on Saturday morning, get to your starting spot by 07:00 and see how far you get until whatever time. Here after, you can spend the night somewhere or go back with public transport. In the meantime you will have experienced a million things you were not aware of before. Above all, having the best stories to tell when you get back.

An Opportunity To Learn

I believe the ultimate thing to gain from the experience, is the fact that it is all up to oneself. There are plenty of people that hitchhike together or with more people, but dealing with the whole process by myself has taught me a lot. First of all, I had to figure out where to go, where to start and how to get there in the first place. This forced me to talk to people, to ask them where there is more traffic, where there is less traffic and if there are any rules or situations I should be aware of. This not only helped me with my hitchhiking but automatically taught me a lot about the places I was.

Second, the fact that I am all by myself makes me totally responsible for anything that happens. I can curse all the people driving by me for not picking me up (trust me, I have done this), but ultimately I am responsible for how I live this experience. Over time I have become more confident and relaxed standing by the road. Allowing me to make quicker and better decisions and to stay in a better mood all throughout. Nevertheless, the unique thing that hitchhiking did to my emotions is that I sometimes literally went on a roller coaster from feeling depressed to super awesome after catching a ride and back down again. Over time however, experience helped me to make this roller coaster ride a little calmer.

Finally, to have the opportunity to meet random people I would otherwise never meet was of great value to me. It allowed me to learn and practice two new languages (Spanish and Portuguese) and I got insights into how life really was in the places I was traveling through. I have had great conversations ranging from the troubles in somebodies personal life, to discussing local politics and the way certain agriculture works. I have had quiet rides and I have made friends on the go.

The Flip Side

Just as much as hitchhiking can be amazing and liberating, it can be frustrating and severely depressing too. However, there are plenty of ways to increase the chance of an enjoyable experience throughout. A lot of the difficulties are easily diminished by teaming up with somebody. Next, hitchhiking in a familiar environment, like your own country or the region you live in is another way to reduce it’s strain. Last, hitchhiking in countries with better roads, more trustworthy weather forecast and newer cars all increase the chance of making it an enjoyable adventure, rather than a 12-hour grind leaving you dehydrated and hungry looking for a place to spend the night.

Nevertheless, I learned so many things that apply to every time hitchhiked, regardless of where I was. I summed up as many as I could remember.

To consider before hitchhiking:

  • Bring sufficient water.
  • How much time do you have? There is nothing more stressful than hitchhiking with a lack of time.
  • Try to get as much information as possible from locals, before you start your hitchhike. Ask them for information on where, how and what to be aware of. Information from locals is more valuable than anything! If a local tells you something entirely different than what you figured out after hours of research online. Trust the local. The moments I didn’t do this, it always meant at least more discomfort up until hitchhiking in the wrong direction.
  • Do not hitchhike at night. Your chances are heavily reduced because the people can’t see you well, and you can’t see them either. Also, depending on where you are, the security situation might change.
  • What day? Weekdays are usually better because of work traffic.
  • What time? Early is usually better and in rush hour. Also depends on the distance you are traveling.
  • How far? Shorter distances are always easier and are definitely preferred if you have the time.
  • The weather. I try to be prepared, depending on where I am and want to go. I always carry rain clothes, sun glasses, sun screen, and a cap.
  • Try to be aware of anything special happening during the days I hitchhike. Things that influence the amount of traffic; like holidays, strikes, demonstrations or parties.
  • Write the name of the place I am going on a carton. I prefer to do this if I am no more than 150-200 kilometers away. If there is more distance to my destination, I prefer to go without. A direction like north or south can also help in some cases.

To consider during hitchhiking:

  • I look for spots where traffic is slow and can stop easily, think of highway entrees, crossings, traffic lights and gas stations.
  • If you are unsure about anything ask locals, they know where traffic is slow or where there might be a gas station.
  • Try to position yourself so that oncoming traffic can see you well, colorful clothes or an attention-grabbing hand movement can help a lot.
  • If you do not feel well, because you feel unsafe, need to go to the bathroom, are hungry or whatever, take care of that first. Your (unconscious) presentation by the road is everything. You are all by yourself/together and you never know how long your trip will last.
  • If it is sunny look for a place in the shadow. Even the shadow of a lantern or traffic light might work if your position yourself well. This sounds funny, but it saved me a couple of times when I was out on midday, with just the sun in the sky and temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius.

Finally, the following is something very simple but has increased my experience often in times when it was not that great; I try to say hello to anybody walking by, show thankful hand gestures when people communicate from their car things like “we do not have space”, “we are going in another direction” or are giving you the thumbs up telling you you are awesome but they are too lame to pick you up. Whatever reason, I try to smile and thank them.

I challenge you to redefine hitchhiking according to your terms to make your next couple, or thousand kilometers of travelling even more exciting.

If you make it to the side of the road, give me a heads up. I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions please let me know.

This post was originally posted in two parts on questforauthenticity.org.

 

My Current Travel Philosophy

I have been travelling through South America with my particular travel philosophy for four months now. I experienced enough to write a couple of books already. During this time I had the opportunity to meet many people, listen to unique stories and experience a lot of things I could not even imagine before.

Some of these experiences still blow my mind when I think of them. Experiences like ending up in a car accident to joining family parties and a pit stop in juvenile prison. During these four months though, I always tried to travel my way, sticking to my ideas of what traveling is about.

Before I took of, I set myself the goal to try to stay with people in their homes as much as possible and to use hitchhiking as my main form of transport. At that time I had no idea how this would work out, because I had little to no experience with both of them.

Sleep and Transport

To stay with people at home I use Airbnb or Couchsurfing to get in touch with locals. Also, I have had the fortune that on several occasions people offered me to stay with their family just because I was travelling in that direction. On one occasion even, just because I was in the car with them, after they picked me up hitchhiking. Regardless if this fit my plans or not, the answer was always yes.

Why I Stay Away From Tourist Attractions

However, when I meet other travelers I sometimes get the idea I am doing something wrong. I am not running from one tourist attraction to the next one, and I do not live from photo to photo. On the contrary, my way of traveling usually takes me to places that are not pretty from a photographic perspective. At these places though, is where the people live, unbiased by tourism, and unbiased by the idea of how much money I might spent.

In these places the beauty of the experience is harder to capture in a photo. In these less scenic places I have to speak different languages, I have to continuously adjust to different life values, different daily routines, and I am confronted with a wide variety of perspectives. Where after, the reward is so much more than a pretty photo. Even though, there are times when I feel so tired of having to adjust, again, until I do.

Really, looking for discomfort rather than comfort, increases the travel experience a thousandfold. Hitchhiking is one of these “discomforts”. At times, I am standing in the burning sun, collecting layers of dust on my skin, blown up by passing cars. Where after, somebody will stop and give you another chance to learn a million things. Sometimes, taking a bus might be quicker or more convenient, it reduces the chance of getting in to unexpected situations. Getting out of these situations though, is how I become more confident in dealing with everything that comes after.

YES-philosophy

Together with the above I also try to stick to a “YES-philosophy”. Along the road plenty people have invited me in to their homes, to family parties, to the cinema, to barbecues, to dance, to sing, to play an instrument, to a friends’ house or to their work environment (where the last, on one occasion turned out to be this juvenile prison). Regardless if my plans are different, if it might complicate things or if I feel uncomfortable accepting, I will always try to say yes.

This discomfort and feeling of insecurity, is there because it is sometimes hard to see what is coming. Also, at times I am afraid to show my “weaknesses”. Nonetheless, I believe all these feelings to be natural and valuable. I try to deal with them my way. Not seeing them as a code red situation, but rather as an opportunity to learn. Handling from this perspective has made my life a lot more exciting.

However, I have certain things that are very important to me. Mainly the way I take care of my health. I aim to eat a whole foods plant based regardless if I am at a Brazilian barbecue (there will be just meat) or if somebody offers me “Dulce de Leche” while I am getting a ride from them, the answer is always no. I do not eat animal products and I stay as close to zero with the amount of processed foods I eat. This means that sometimes I say no in the midst of enjoying limitless hospitality. Even though, looking from the outside this might seem rude, people have always respected my decision.

Two-way Street

I am willing to try everything but I stick to my core values, because that is who I am. If they will not hold up anymore I trust to keep an open mind, and to replace them with different values. In general, sticking to them will show people who you are, and the beautiful thing about this is: as much as the people I meet enrich my life, I do a little something in their lives as well.