Is nostalgia bad?

When I lived in Taiwan, I had the opportunity to stay in an apartment in one of the older parts of Taipei. Living in that apartment felt like traveling back in time. Everything there was from the ’80s. I mean everything! I think it even probably smelled as if it did 40 years ago. But I can’t verify that.

The married couple who used to live there have passed away, but the two huge portraits of them in the living room gave me the looks every time I came and left – as if keeping an eye on me.

At times it felt a bit creepy – the feeling you get when you get a sense that you might not be entirely alone. The huge indoor altar didn’t help it either.

The evenings were very quiet. Only the clock made its tik-tok’s. The mornings were super noisy as the market was right there. Quite often, I imagined what life would have been like there 40 years ago—almost every evening.

Even now, I often think of the place and the people that I met: the crowded morning wet markets and night markets. The many late evenings I spent in a Starbucks in Taichung etc. The businessman and his wife I met, some of the girls, old people who came to talk to me in the park as soon as I sat down, etc.

There’s a special word for all this. It’s called nostalgia.

They say nostalgia is when we long for the past. When we yearn for the “good old days”. We usually associate it with a warm feeling. However, I’m not sure if it’s a good thing. At least if there are nostalgic moments very often.

Trying to get back in the past is perhaps even worse than trying to get to the future. Neither of them exists. Past is a present moment that has ceased to exist, and the future is simply an illusion.

Maybe the longing for the past times is a sign that we’re not content with our present situation. But, here’s the thing. Our well-being shouldn’t be dependent on time. There are no “happy times” per se, but how we interpret the current situation for ourselves. The way we see the world is for us to decide.

Of course, I’m not saying that having good memories is not good, but rather that if there’s too much focus going towards the past, then it might be a sign to deal with something in the present instead. Thinking about all the “what could’ve been’s” is not going to do anything good to anyone. One has to move on.

Focus on the present.

Take care and stay inside. I wish you all the best!

No more heartache?

K.

Obsession

If there’s one key component to becoming really good at anything, it’s – yes, you guessed it – obsession.

We’re all obsessed with something. Even being obsessed with doing nothing, is being obsessed with something. So, it can be good or bad. Yet, in our society, there’s this notion that being obsessed in general is a bad thing.

Some people think that it’s a disease and that you shouldn’t do anything too much. They tell you not to break yourself or that there are other things in life besides … . Don’t listen to any of that!

Walter Isaacson, in his 2013 article for the Harvard Gazette, describes how Bill Gates wrote a version of BASIC in the early days. Namely, he would work with such intensity for hours so that he would fall asleep on his keyboard in the middle of writing code, only to wake up after a few hours and continue writing. And of course not just for a few days, but for a couple of months.

To quote Cal Newport from Deep Work: “… the ability to concentrate is a skill that gets valuable things done. Deep work is important, in other words, not because distraction is evil, but because it enabled Bill Gates to start a billion-dollar industry in less than a semester.”

I chose Gates because his name came first to my mind (I re-read Deep Work at the end of 2019), but there are plenty of other examples that have similar patterns. Choose any person successful in their craft, and there’s something close to obsession.

The truth is simple. If you’re not obsessed with your work or learning, you’ll never be truly great at it. If Bill Gates, or Elon Musk, or Mike Tyson, or Steve Jobs (just to name a few) hadn’t been obsessed, we wouldn’t have the output of these truly obsessed people.

Being obsessed means that time loses its meaning – it ceases to exist. Everything else is unimportant. You only think about one thing, all the time. You think about it throughout the day, and before falling asleep, then you see it in your dreams and continue where you left off when you wake up—all symptoms of obsession.

It’s just not possible to have half-assed focus and get something meaningful done. At least not for me. It’s either all in with full dedication or 0 dedication. This also explains my lack of photography related articles.

So, go find your obsession! Figuratively speaking, it might be something right under your nose.

K.

Don’t be a dump yard

If someone would dump their garbage to your yard, would you be cool with it? Probably not. In fact, it’s hard to find a person who’d be okay with it.

Yet, many people allow others to dump their trash into their minds when it comes to social media, ads, TV, radio, etc.

Why are we so protective of our material possessions, but not so much when it comes to probably the most precious thing there is – our mind.

This is why I don’t watch TV at all. I can’t choose what is shown to me. Whatever is on at that particular time, I have to watch it, and 99% of the time, the stuff that is shown on TV is absolute garbage and a waste of time.

News – either on the web, TV, or on paper are mostly negative, so for me, it’s automatically garbage. I don’t need any negativity in my life. I want to surround myself with positivity. It’s contagious. And so is negativity – that’s why you should stay away from it. That includes negative people.

Social media is pretty much the same. You think you choose the things on your feed, yet somehow so much trash comes as a” bonus.” Someone’s baby pictures, memes, music videos, or other dumb stuff.

All this influences our thinking. It does it so subtly we don’t even notice it. E.g., most people would say they’re not affected by ads shown to them – yet why do companies still show ads then?

Don’t be naive and think these things don’t affect you, because you’re special. We’re all affected. So this is why it’s best to stay away from that stuff in the first place.

The point is simple: don’t allow any random stuff to be thrown at you. Be the chooser of what you listen, watch, and read.

KRISTJAN