Saturday, December 10, 2011

Do what you love

There is a book by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt called “The two lifes of Adolf H.” In it, Hitler is portrayed as a young man who had always wanted to become an artist. When he finally applied to art school, he was rejected by…the Jewish director. The rest is history. Creation turned into destruction. Free thinking into an obsession.

What if Adolf H. had been accepted at art school back then? No world war, no holocaust? Maybe instead a new Picasso? Who knows…

A few days ago I saw a photo on Facebook saying, “The world needs more people who do what they love.” I couldn’t agree more. We have so many people stuck in some job they don’t enjoy, how can anything good come out of that? Despite all material wealth the world is hosting less and less happy souls. Depression is quickly becoming the number one disease of our civilization.

When I talk about this with others, often I get told, “yeah, but not everybody can do what they want.” No, not all the time, that’s true. But there’s a big difference between having a shit day at work, and not liking what you do. If you have a shit day, well, let it be a shit day. If you don’t like what you do, change it!

The beauty of humankind lies in its diversity – everybody is different, everybody likes different things, different partners, different jobs. If everybody chose the career they really wanted, there would be very few jobs no-one would want to do. And if we can send somebody to the moon, surely we could come up with a system and technology so that nobody has to do these unwanted jobs.

What happens when you don’t like your work? Over time, you become depressed. And, possibly even worse, you become dull and lose creativity. Creativity that is so desperately needed to solve all of our problems. To evolve into something better. To change.

By not encouraging everybody to do what they desire to do, sadness and destruction are being promoted. Sometimes more sadness, as seen in the many unhappy faces on the streets, and sometimes more destruction – with the extreme example of Adolf H.

So here’s a call for a DO WHAT YOU LOVE revolution. If you spend more time sad than happy while at work, then what’s the point? A waiter who doesn’t want to be a waiter will be a crap waiter. I have met plenty of people who love being waiters, let’s them do it. Same with car mechanics, lawyers, cleaners, doctors, builders, engineers, teachers, farmers, and so on. Not everybody wants to be a football player, musician or president. I have heard that there are even some who still want to be bank managers…

Whatever it is – chose something you love to do and get inspired! And then share this love and inspiration. Spread happiness! Because the world needs it. And life deserves it.

PS: For additional reading I recommend the chapter of ‘The unsuccessful merchant’ in THE LITTLE BUDDHA. Happy X-mas!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Food and Freedom

So the Mayans, or those who have interpreted their calender, were wrong. The 28th of October has passed by almost unnoticed. The good news – the world hasn’t ended, we are still here. The bad news – nothing has changed. We are in the same situation, almost drowning in our own shit.

What now? Well, I guess one option would be to put faith into the 21st of December 2012, the next date of big change. But I’m not sure how reliable that is. Another option would be to start digging away the shit surrounding us. But where to begin? There are too many problems to name. To do so, I would have to stop writing stories and blogs and instead produce a whole encyclopedia of stuff that needs to be fixed.
Nevertheless, to start somewhere, here’s a small selection of situations which have to be changed urgently if we ever want to see a better world.

Food logistics
In a recent conversation with an Ex-Senior logistics manager of the biggest Swiss cargo airline, I was told a nice example of the perversity of the present food trade: Tomatoes, grown in Israel, travel via Zürich to Holland. That’s kind of acceptable. But then, similar tomatoes grown in Holland travel the same route to Israel. All in the name of profit…
We, the customers, promote this absurdity by constantly wanting everything to become cheaper and cheaper. Yet should’t food be about quality? Does it make sense that we fuck up the planet only to get fresh strawberries all year round? And is it fair to exploit farmers in poor countries only so that we can save up for a new tele? After all, why should a supermarket manager in France earn more than a farmer who grows the food which is sold on the shelves? It’s actually disgraceful for the human race.

I was really disappointed when I read a couple of days ago that the planned referendum in Greece was cancelled. Finally a head-of-state had come to senses and remembered that the voice of the general public ought to be listened to. Always, not only when there are elections. The Greek situation, being hopelessly in debt and slaved to the Euro, is very serious. We’re not talking about which colour the new office of the president should have. It’s an important, far-reaching decision that affects pretty much everybody living in Greece. Maybe they don’t want to pay huge amounts of interests only to keep a currency that is doomed anyway. But thanks to the influence of Merkel, Sarkozy and the other ‘leaders’, the Greek people have been basically told to shut up again. Is that democracy? Is that what Plato had talked about?

Here’s a little challenge for you: try to explain to a 6-year old the concept of borders. Seriously. I have tried it and failed miserably. Why? Because there is no logical explanation. Borders are just another senseless thing we created.
Many would argue that if you didn’t have nations protected by ‘walls’, everybody from the poor countries would go to the rich ones. But I think this is a misconception. Almost all the people I have met over the years prefer to live in their home countries. Some might enjoy travelling, but only few want to move to a different country. No matter whether they are from Argentina, India, Senegal, Spain or Germany. Now, if some countries become rich because they steal from the poor, leaving them with hardly enough to survive, surely it’s no surprise if the poor start migrating to the rich lands. So to solve the problem of mass immigration we don’t need passport control, but fair trade!
The worst thing about borders is that we are told that we are still free. Yet trying to create freedom and erecting walls at the same time is like trying to create a baby and putting on a condom – it’s totally counterproductive!

What to do? Maybe we should bomb the big supermarkets, kill all politicians and throw away the passport. Alternatively, we could buy local food, stand up for injustice and invite someone from a different country into our home. Opening doors to new possibilities…

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bring it on!

Waiting sucks! Waiting for the bus, for the weekend, for the weather to change. Waiting for an email or message or the Andalusian postman, waiting to get paid, waiting for a woman, waiting for that big idea which will bring wealth and fame. Worst of all – waiting for things to get better.

Fortunately, we might not have to wait much longer. As I read the other day, all of the 2012 prophets have been wrong. Not so much as to what might happen or not, but WHEN. There was a slight miscalculation of 420 days, which, to be fair, can happen when analysing ancient Mayan scripts… I won’t bother you with details – there are a few sites which explain it all, so if you are interested, do a search yourself. Bottom line is this: the date of the Mayan calender ending is not the 21st of December 2012, but the 28th of October...come on, guess....correct – 2011! That’s in 10 days.

It’s probably all a whole load of bullshit – if anything, latest by 2012 we will witness the manifestation of a self-fulfilling prophecy where we just blow up the whole planet because we are too stupid to live together as one species.

However, from what I hear, I must say that I have quite a bit of respect for those old Mayan astronomers. Maybe they were indeed able to come up with a system to forecast certain evolutionary cycles. After all, they didn’t have to deal with text messages, tele and taxforms every day and therefore had plenty of time to spend on more interesting aspects of life.

The Mayans never talked about apocalyptic end-of-the-world scenarios. They simply observed patterns when looking at how the universe changes. The energy of the universe effecting anything that lies within it, the Mayans used these patterns to calculate likely events in the future. More often than not, their predictions were totally accurate.

So, what about the 28th then? What can we expect? Well, if the bloody date is right, if the Mayans were as precise as their reputation, the 28th of October 2011 will be the day when we complete our Evolutionary Transformation Process. Sounds cool, ay! But what the fuck does it mean?

Well, I guess it just means that something ends and something else starts. Whatever that is. A time or moment which stimulates change, just like the springtime stimulates growth.

So looking 10 days ahead, everything which has started to change already is likely to gain incredible speed and change even more. That might mean a big war, massive demonstrations or a political breakdown. A natural disaster wiping out half of the planet, a global mass panic caused by a solar storm blowing away all satellites and bringing communication to a standstill, or perhaps the final collapse of the world economy. It could also mean that we suddenly wake up on Friday the 28th and decide that it’s actually much better to live together in peace and harmony. We might realise that borders are totally self-destructive obstacles no one needs and so we simply get rid off them. Or we might become all englightened at the same time, with hell exploding right next to us. Who knows? Maybe some clever species from out of space will finally have mercy and come down to shake us back into sanity.

I don’t know what will happen. Or when. But when I look at my feelings, and when I listen to what others say and feel, I think it’s pretty likely that fairly soon something very important is going to happen. We can’t keep on accelerating forever.

So, rather than waiting and waiting for things to get better and trying to save the world, something which will probably never happen, I say: “Dear Universe and God of all Mayan astronomers, please bring it on!!”

We are ready for change!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I think most of my life I spend searching for something - the perfect job, the perfect partner, the perfect home. Where are they? Do they actually exist? Can they exist?

It used to be so easy – you took on the job of your Mum or Dad, married somebody from down the road and stayed in the village you were born in. Thanks to globalization and its endless possibilities things look different nowadays. The curse of choice!

Especially in the so-called ‘developed world’, where food and shelter are secured, it seems that new challenges have to be found to justify our presence on this planet. Our strive for perfection gets stronger and stronger, with self-fullfilment becoming our highest goal.

Searching, always searching. The big question is – what happens once we find what we’ve been looking for?

I know very few people who are content with what they have. There is so much desirable stuff out there and so we always feel that we lack something which in turn keeps us from being totally happy.

We want more money and at the same time less material things. More adventure and less risk. More drugs and less illness. More friends and less responsibilities. We hate stress but peaceful times tend to bore us. We are craving security but are constantly afraid of losing freedom. There’s always something we want but can’t have. To sum it up: We are a bunch of truly unsatisfied individuals.

To be honest, I don’t really know what to do about this. One thing which helps though is to shift the focus away from our personal desires. To look around and see if somebody else might need our help. Giving rather than wanting.

It could be a surprise visit to a friend, offering a helping hand, making a compliment or simply sharing an honest smile. Anything which doesn’t involve wanting something which in the end won’t satisfy anyway.

So, once a day, make somebody happy! Perhaps this way, we’ll find happiness ourselves.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Let's turn it around

Last Monday. Yet another rainy summer morning in Germany. To start the week with a good dose of positivity I decided to go online and read the news – what a great decision! Next financial crisis on the doorstep, with a nice double dip straight back into recession. Riots in London, Syria on the edge of civil war, famine in Africa. The resources of the world shrinking, pollution rising, the gap between rich and poor widening – all with lightening speed. I have to say, the week looked promising for someone like me who enjoys real life drama. But the highlight was yet to come...

After clicking quickly through the main headlines I slowed down to read a report about food. Or more precisely, the waste of food. What a lovely and encouraging article! It said that, globally, one third of all food is thrown away. That's right, somewhere between producer and consumer ONE THIRD of all food is being wasted. One problem is storage and distribution – we claim to be able to store nuclear waste safely and DHL delivers whatever we want to any corner of the world, but precious food is lost because we can't store and deliver it properly? Sounds strange.
Anyway, at the consumer end, apart from buying constantly more than we need, one of the main problems that was pointed out was that the sell-by date was making people throw stuff away unnecessarily. If it says on the packet that the yoghurt will expire today, surely I'd die if I ate it tomorrow. Fortunately there is hope on the horizon – new packaging is designed this very moment that will have integrated microchips indicating us through colour changes in the lid what is actually consumable, and what not. Microchips? In yoghurt packaging? What about getting rid off those stupid plastic cups and going back to using good old glass jars, those you can open and close to check the inside yourself? No. It's much better to come up with a really advanced and clever solution – microchips!

It was then that I decided that the world is already screwed beyond repair. I mean seriously, what's the point? Albert Einstein once said that “two things are infinite – the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe...” I think he was right. So rather than going on to try and make the world a better place, fuck it, let's get it over and done with as quickly as somehow possible. The good thing is that we don't even need to change much because all we have to do is to continue doing the stuff we do anyway. Just more of it.

Here are some simple and hopefully helpful suggestions:

  1. Buy the cheapest possible food (for example at Lidl and Aldi). This way you make sure that all small farmers will go bankrupt or commit suicide and all food production will be in the hands of a few multi-nationals who can then feed us artificially cultivated crap, ideally genetically modified. Looking at your personal health, especially be aware of buying organic food since this will only prolong the experience on planet Earth unnecessarily.

  2. If you buy fresh food, make sure that it comes from the furthest place away so that lots of extra petrol is needed for transport. Remember, the more oil we burn the sooner we leave this hell house.

  3. Get free plastic bags whenever you can and throw them away immediately.

  4. Get a new phone each year and get rid off your old one, and if you can afford it do the same with your television, computer, ipod, car, washing machine and hair dryer. We need to get these landfills as quickly as full as possible.

  5. Drink only bottled water, if possible from one-way plastic bottles. In Germany they have this silly system where you pay deposit and recycle all bottles, even cans. It's a real threat to global pollution.

  6. Buy your clothes only in places like H&M, Zara, Decathlon or even better in mega bargain Chinese shops. This way millions of Asian factory workers will die either through intoxication, poverty or suicide. What a great favour you'd do them! Additionally, you will contribute to some very few rich fuckers getting even richer, thus enabling them to spend billions on convincing us to buy even more stuff.

  7. As a general rule, consume as much as you can. The economy needs to grow, grow, grow before it can explode. Promote widespread Ikea-sation – that is, buying lots of stuff nobody needs, all dirt cheap and made from non-sustainable sources. If you don't shop until you drop you may be held responsible for delaying the death of human society.

  8. Watch more television – reading threatens stupidity.

  9. Leave all lights and electrical devices on, always! We gotta use up all these non-renewable energy sources.

  10. Make sure your electricity provider uses nuclear energy. The more nuclear power plants there are, the more chances we have of speeding up our self-destruction.

  11. Next time you need a haircut, why not fly to a stylish hairdresser in Milan – don't be shy, you deserve it and the planet will love that extra bit of unnecessary pollution.

  12. Trash your bicycle and be nasty to cyclists – pinch their wheels and run them over with your SUV. If you don't have a SUV, run them over with whatever vehicle you got.

  13. Print out every email and everything you read online, and pick up every free paper and flyer that you come across – these bloody trees need to go, otherwise we'll be here forever.

  14. If you have any savings, ask your bank how many weapon companies they invest in. In case it's not a high enough percentage, change your bank. More wars is what we want.

  15. Vote politicians who make stupid decisions. Imagine if some clever person gained power, that would be seriously endangering our mission.

  16. Finally, don't believe you alone can't make a difference. Every single brainless action helps! And be reminded that it's much easier to destroy than to create, so we have a clear advantage over all those eco freaks.

We don't want the world to change. We want it to end!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2012 - what if...?

It's the summer of 2011 – not long until 2012. Not long until the world ends? so often it's a matter of interpretation.

The Mayas, Aborigines, Tibetans and many other old cultures have predicted that a huge change will happen at the end of 2012. Those who look at the dark side of life fear the end of the world. Others, me included, see a necessary transformation coming – because our entire system (economy, environment, health, human relationships, etc.) is simply not functioning any more. One look at the news is enough to get an idea of how desperately we need big changes.

Personally, I am looking forward to the next months and years. I think we are living in exciting times! Most importantly, I believe as humankind we have a unique opportunity to evolve into something better. To mature as a global community.

However, recently a different thought has started to pop up occasionally – what if the doom & gloom people are right? What if the world DOES end next year? Again, being an optimist by nature I don't think so. But who knows...? It's a possibility no one can exclude.

Nuclear exodus, monster earthquakes and tsunamis, meteors from out of space, some super resistant virus turning into an epidemic, global warming getting out of control – never have there been more chances for our race to be extinguished. And wouldn't we deserve it? After all, our mere presence has already lead to the death of thousands of other species, let alone all the pollution and ruthless destruction we have caused. One has to ask – are we really healthy for the planet?

So assuming for a moment that our visit on Earth will be over by the end of next year, I wonder what I would do? With just over 16 months left, what would I still want to see? Where to go? What to do? Who to meet?
What would I change in my life? What person would I want to be?

Think about it – 16 months is not long... Is there anything you have never done but always wanted to do? Is there a place you really want to visit before you die? An old friend you want to laugh with another time? Do you long for more adventure, peace, culture or love in your life? Do you have any unfilled dreams?

If the world ends in 2012 you ain't got much time left to do it all. To live the life you want, to be the person you want to be.

And if the world doesn't end next year? Well, that's the beautiful part of the story - why don't you make them anyway, all the changes? Living the life you want, no matter if the world ends or not. Because if it doesn't end you will have even more time in the future to do great things you haven't even thought about before.

All of us, one by one, we just have to do it. Because if more people are doing what they really want to do, if more people become happier – then the whole world will become a much happier place too. An infectious feeling spreading to all corners of the globe. Imagine...

And now stop imagining! As we all know, happiness lies in our very own hands. So regardless of how much time we have left – rather than turning dreams into ideas and plans, let's live them and embrace life!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The News

“Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news.” (Douglas Adams)

A week after the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown I got back to Spain from a booktour in Germany. The night of my return I met with a good friend and we talked for ages about what we had been up to. After a while there was a little moment of silence and the images of the chaos in Fukushima came into my head.
“It’s crazy what’s happening in Japan, isn’t it?”
My friend gave me a clueless look and lifted his shoulders up and down.
“What’s happening in Japan?”
I stared at him in disbelief – surely he was joking.
“Are you serious? You haven’t heard about the earthquake?”
“What earthquake?”
It turned out he wasn’t joking.

I must admit that I was shocked at first. How on earth could he not know about the biggest news event since 9/11? Unless you are living in a cave in the Himalayas, I thought that the Japanese disaster was impossible to miss. But then, thinking about it further, I recalled a famous phrase: Ignorance is bliss! So while I was watching the unfolding catastrophe in the far East with great concern, my friend was as happy and relaxed as ever. He focused on cultivating his land and his only worry was that his new dog might destroy some of his strawberry plants. While the rest of the world was paralysed with fear, my friend was able to enjoy life as always.

Now, I am not suggesting that we all should become ignorant to what’s happening in the world around us. But I think the amount of news coverage we receive through modern communication systems got way out of hand. More often than not we are being bombarded with so much irrelevant information that there is little memory space left to absorb the stuff that is actually important to us. Today I read that Shakira burnt her hair in a concert – I mean, why the hell do I have to see this as a headline? On yahoo! I find it weird that somebody really thinks that the world should know about this. And I find it disrespectful to bother human beings with such crap!
However, there is something worse than this type of stupid and useless information: it’s the dominant focus on problems. Since most news are of the bad kind, we get a regular overdose of negativity.

Not that long ago you read the paper for fifteen minutes in the morning and that was it. Nowadays, with radio, television and internet it’s very difficult to escape the daily headlines even if you don’t get the newspaper. And as the world is moving faster and faster all the time, there is of course more and more new stuff happening which we are being continuously fed through the different mass media. Earthquakes, wars, economic and political crisis on all continents, spreading pollution, fatal disease and an increase in suicides – news editors are having busy times selecting what goes on the front page. Unfortunately, they hardly ever choose good news. Not because there isn’t any, but simply because the constant drama of fame and war sells much better than a moment of peace.

In summary: We receive far too much information which is a) negative and b) irrelevant to our daily lives. What to do about it? Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Reduce the amount of time you are exposed to the news. Switch off the tele and close the online news sites once you read them. Personally I want to stay informed about what’s happening in the world, but to do so it’s totally enough if I check the news once in the morning and perhaps another time in the evening. There is absolutely no need for hourly updates.
  • Choose different news. Every day there is lots of really good stuff happening out there – stories that make you feel inspired rather than depressed. There are great sites which provide uplifting news from all corners of our planet. One of my favourite ones is (for intelligent optimists), but there are of course many more. Have a look yourself – go and find some headlines which make you happy and then tell others about it!