May 282014

Tomorrow is ascension day (it has something to do with some dead religious guy, don’t really know (ok, I actually do, I just don’t care)). A national holiday. And I’ll be spending it at work.

Even if you're just a little cog, you can still be fabulous!

Even if you’re just a little cog, you can still be fabulous!

First, I’m very happy that I can plan my own work, even if it is a national holiday (one of the sucky ones though, so I’m not missing out). Sure, not working is great, but I just have to finish something!

Which is silly!

I work at a bank for crying out loud. What could possibly go wrong (in the bigger scheme of things) if I did not build some formulas in Excel, did not copy-paste the resulting pictures to Powerpoint and did not E-mail them round.

I’m confident that nobody would die. I’m quite sure that nobody would even eat a bite less. Though some people might lose some sleep over it… Me, for one…

There is this thing called “sense of responsibility”. And I’ve got it aplenty (too much perhaps?) I said I would, so I’m going to do it (dammit!).

Nobody would die or get hurt if I don’t. But people may be disappointed if I don’t do as I said. And we’re hardwired to dislike disappointing about as much as getting physically hurt.

Which (in the bigger scheme of things) is very handy. It means that we do stuff even though (on a micro level) they are silly (like building Excel formulas).

Though our society isn’t (exactly) built upon people pushing numbers back and forth in spreadsheets, it is one of those tiny cogs that keeps the big machine running smoothly. Sure, we could do without a lot of those tiny cogs and nothing bad would seem to happen (for a while). But at some level, they do add up (pun intended).

The other day I was at a pub and they told me that it was made by monks and that they were not allowed to make a profit. Thus, all profit went to charity: Improving the world by drinking beer… Life is good!
The numbers I push around lead to understanding the outcomes from a model, which help to convince the world that the bank I work at is a safe place, which means that people will keep their savings there, which allows the bank to lend money, which can be used to start new businesses, so that more people have a job, allowing them to earn money, to put food upon the table.

Yes, it’s indirect. Yes, the world could do without me in particular. But me and you and the rest of the world do help (in our own tiny way) to keep things ticking along. So that (somewhere down the road) people get to eat.

Even better: Those people are you and me!

Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. I write this blog to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

May 252014

When I was young there was this really cool new thing, The Internet (yes, I’m old enough to remember a time before there was internet…). And let me tell you, it was awesome! You could visit these pages that people made about anything. Even better, you could make your own pages in which you could tell the world: Heed me, for I exist! (This was obviously done linking to your friends and putting bad poetry online).

No comment...

No comment…

It was a small step, but it was the beginning of a big journey. Anybody can share any information they want, we can communicate with everybody. And all of this without the intervention of traditional companies like the postal services or encyclopedia sellers. Decentralized. Bottom-up.

Where the internet was the beginning (and in many cases the enabler), we now see a whole range of such bottom-up possibilities coming into being.

You have a good idea? Bypass the traditional finance system and get your investment money through crowd-funding. Perhaps you can even do this with money that is not under the auspices of any central bank (bitcoin and the likes). And if you need some stuff to make your idea work, simply 3d-print it yourself!

The internet: Toppler of regimes (Middle East) and provider of porn. Life is stranger than fiction…
Information, communication, money (twice!), production. When we want it, the way we want it. All of winch is bringing power to whomever is interested in taking it. Not power in the traditional sense, over other people, but much more power over our own lives. Power in the sense of freedom from established institutions.

Personally, I foresee a beautiful future!

Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. I write this blog to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Mar 192014

The bad stuff that happens to us (and others) is what is most interesting.

Boo for politics!

Boo for politics!

On the one hand this is nice: Something dreadful that happened to us turns into a wonderful adventure with the passing of time.

On the other hand this has a proclivity of confronting us with mostly negatives: War in the Krim, oil spills in Africa, corrupt politicians in our own back yard.

Getting confronted with the negatives, in the news and through our own personal stories, creates an availability bias; we are biased to believe that those things which are generally “available” are in fact common. Because every murder is big news, every war is shown on prime time, we come to believe that murder and war are all around us.

Statistically however this is far from true: The number of murders has been very steadily declining (at least here in the Netherlands) and the number of wars and other armed conflicts is at an all time low.

Today there are elections for the Dutch municipalities. I’m not voting: I don’t know what is going on and given that we live in a slow-moving democracy I don’t really need to. If big changes happen I believe that I can change right along (perhaps even benefit). I do feel that this precludes me from griping about the stupid things that politicians do, but as a) I don’t like to gripe anyway and b) I don’t actually know what they do (wrong) anyway, I can’t.
And yet we feel more and more unsafe…

The solution? Stop feeding the availability bias.

I haven’t watched the news for over 10 years now (due to not owning a television). When I read the news (either online or because I found a newspaper) I concentrate on the economic news (because that is handy for my work and actually does get reported when things are going better) and the comics. Death, war, pollution, politics: There is very little I can do about these anyway so why would I need to know about them? And if there is anything truly important or big, it will get to me through the collective consciousness (i.e. people talking about it).

They say you are what you eat. The same is true for mental food. So why not throw out all the negative and bad stuff and just consume that which is good for you (i.e. makes you happy)?

Boo for politics. Yay for comics!

Mar 172014

The number of cool, nice, interesting, funny, happiness inducing things that you can do on a given day is quite limited. There is only a set amount of hours and most of those are spent on keeping things running (like sleep, cooking and cleaning the toilet).

I feel so happy for the little Chinese doll! :-)

I feel so happy for the little Chinese doll! :-)

And this is something that bugs me. Because, well, more happiness is better.

There is however a loophole!

Sure, it’s not possible to feel happy for more things than you can fit in a given day. But it is possible to feel happy about more things than you can do in a given day!

It’s simple really. Ridiculously simple. And still, we have a tendency to do the exact opposite.

The secret? Feel happy for someone else.

Celebrate someone else’ successes. Enjoy your sister’s joy. Smile at your friend’s laughter, laugh when your colleague smiles. Genuinely appreciate the good fortune that comes on your acquaintance’s path.

The term for being happy for another’s happiness is “compersion”. Of course it’s been around for thousands of years, but only in the last century did the English language gain the word to describe the particular feeling. The words jealousy and envy have been around for way longer. What does that say about us as a species…?
Because there are so many people doing so many cool, interesting, fun, beautiful, wonderful, happy things. Imagine tapping into all of that, sharing it, making it grow; happiness is not a limited resource and doesn’t diminish by being spread.

As mentioned, this is the exact opposite of what so many people do. We frown upon another’s luck, have misgivings about another’s fortune. We feel jealousy and envy. We want all the good things for ourselves, even if that means that others can’t have any. Such a shame…

So please share your happiness and let me reflect it back on you.

Feb 082014

In a recent post I wrote that I no longer have to worry about money. And I also posed the question what to do then


Here the choice seems obvious: Straight ahead!

I basically see three ways ahead:

1) Work the minimal amount required to keep myself comfortable, spend the time thus gained on doing fun, cool and interesting stuff, like traveling, playing the saxophone, spending time with friends. The hedonistic option (somewhat).

2) Keep on steadily working for a “normal” working year (and day and week and month). The result will be additional income which I can invest / save, to generate even more income, eventually resulting in being able to do with less and less work. This would allow me to spend more time in the future on other things. I’ll call this the investing option.

3) Work the amount required to keep myself comfortable, spend the rest of my time on something important. Whatever that might be. I’ll call this the improving-the-world option.

And writing these three options down it becomes very clear what my choice will be: A bit of everything.

I would very much like to have more time to do cool and fun and exciting stuff. But I also know that traveling at some point gets boring. That my friends only have a limited time for me to monopolize. Still, a bit more of both would be really nice.

I’m writing this on the bus from Bariloche (Argentina) to Osorno (Chile). Outside of my window there was the most impressive rainbow I’ve ever seen, brighter than the full moon! I tried taking a picture, but by the time there was another gap in the mountain / trees it had gone. Somehow this actually adds to it: The most beautiful things in live are not to be captured but simple to be enjoyed.
Working a bit more than required doesn’t seem so bad. I like what I do, it gives me a sense of accomplishment. And (slowly) working to becoming even more independent would seem like a very good idea for the future.

Finally, working on something important, on doing something for the rest of the world really appeals to me. The final question is then what this would be…

One question (mostly) solved, another one opened up.

At least this way I won’t run out of subjects for my blog…