October 2017

No Longer Human and How We See Ourselves

no longer human

‘No Longer Human’ is the second best selling Japanese novel of all time, it is also Dazai’s masterpiece. These factors are enough to make this book worth reading. This said there is a lot more to this book than international accord.

It starts with the introduction describing three different pictures of a boy. The boy changes a lot with each picture, it’s hard to believe he is the same person. These pictures set the stage for the book that follows.

Basics of The Story

The book is only four chapters and is about a boy named Oba. In the beginning, we learn he is a smart child. We also learn that he was abused by a maid in his home.

As he gets older he learns he shouldn’t say anything and always accept what is given to him. Rather than appear smart, he decides it will be easier to be a comedian. He does this because he thinks it will cause him less trouble.

At one point, a classmate notices that Obe falls on purpose, and is only pretending to be incapable. Because of this, Obe decides he must befriend the boy so his secret can be kept.

We learn Obe likes to draw and it is his dream to do drawings. He never shows his work to anyone but his only friend.

Time passes and he grows older. He goes to university in Tokyo. There he meets and befriends an art student. This new friend introduces him to all sorts of things he hasn’t done or seen before. He picks up drinking and his school suffers.

From this point on he becomes an alcoholic. He later meets a woman who helps him get a job as a drawer for a magazine. He finds some success, but his drinking becomes a problem again, and his life starts to fall apart.

From then on many bad things happen to him. The pinnacle of which, he tries to kill himself unsuccessfully.

Perception vs Reality

At the end of the book, we learn that the story is a collection of journals that was given to the author. He received them from a barkeeper who had received them from an anonymous source.

The barkeeper talks about Oba and thinks he is the source of the journals. She also says that he wasn’t at all like he described. In fact, he was the opposite, a very kind and friendly man.

This ending is what makes the book amazing. It changes your whole perspective of what actually happens in the story.

The book seems to be about the horrible life of a bad person. In this sense it is depressing, Oba is without a doubt a depressed. But this way of looking at it is dishonest because it doesn’t account for what other people see or know.

How About Us

This story shows the difference between what we think of ourselves and what the rest of the world sees. It also shows how our minds can get locked into thoughts and repeat them.

This isn’t to say that people don’t have real problems. But it is something to be aware of. The potential here is that we over think things and don’t see ourselves for who we are.

It could be that the world thinks we are a great person and our friends and family are happy with who we are. With this perspective, the negativity is only in our heads.

It is not always the case that our problems are this simple. But it is possible that this could explain part of them.

Rather than being like Obe, try to see yourself as the person that everyone else sees and respects you as.

Jordon Peterson and Self-Authoring

Self Authoring

I was having a particularly difficult week. Work was getting me down and my life felt like it was going nowhere.

I’d recently listen to one of Jordon Peterson’s talks. He had mentioned his Self-Authoring Suite, so I decided to order it. After getting my login information, it took me about a week to actually sit down and get started.

After starting the past-authoring section, events from my past started filling my consciousness. Getting started seemed to open the floodgates to some of the deeper recesses of my mind.

I started to imagine some of the painful events in my past, as they were taking up more of my attention than I realized. This was an interesting observation. It was also strange that the positive events weren’t something I thought about often.

Writing my memories and recounting the events was helpful, as I reconsidered them in a new light. Later making observations and criticizing the events had a neutralizing effect. This is where the real value comes from.

It Isn’t Easy, In Fact, It Feels Bad

It took me a week to get through everything, as there was a lot to write about. I noticed during this time I felt horrible. At first, I didn’t understand why, but then came across a video where Jordon spoke about this side effect. It made sense to me, and I felt better after learning about it.

The exercise was taxing during the time it took to do the work. But since finishing, I’ve felt much better about the memories that used to pop into my mind. In fact, the more traumatic ones are gone, and I’ve not thought about them since.

There were also insights I had after the fact. In particular, I learned about attachment theory and how it has affected me. It appears to explain how I’ve dealt with relationships in the past.

Next, I did the present authoring, faults, and virtues. The faults module was helpful, though I found that many of my faults weren’t on the list.

While doing the virtues, I thought about who I am, what I’m good at and what I want to do. This was insightful on its own, even though it has been clear to me for a while. I’m optimistic that this program will inspire me to take more action.

After completing these, I took some time to rest and think about how to approach the future authoring. In particular, I saw two options for myself. The first is to be a writer and create a business around that. The second is technical work related to my day job.

Visions Of The Future

Then I had a dream where I met Jordan Peterson and asked him about my dilemma. He told me I should do the one that matters most.

The next day I wrote him an email asking the same question. A few minutes later I got an auto-reply saying he was busy and likely wouldn’t reply. Fifteen minutes later, at 12:34 (I’m superstitious about numbers) he replied. “If you’re going to pursue writing as a career make sure you have a good business plan because it is near impossible to monetize.”

With this advice, I went forward with the future planning.

The program is time-consuming and exhausting. But after finishing, my efforts have improved, and I am more focused than ever before. Also, I have a goal again and can see what I need to do without the baggage of the past holding me back.

I’d recommend this program for anyone who wants more self-awareness. Or needs help clearing some negative or destructive thoughts. It will also help you get a grip on what you need to do to realize some of your goals.

The Economy Sucks. But This is an Opportunity

this is an opportunity

We find ourselves in confusing economic times, it is hard to see what will happen or where we are headed.

Some would say our situation is a result of our capitalist system.

Others will say this is the best we can expect. This conclusion is difficult for many because the economy isn’t working for them.

Since the 70’s wages have stagnated. More recently inflation and interest rates have been low. Meanwhile, we aren’t seeing the growth we’ve come to expect from the past.

We can see this stagnation in the last decade. But our governments don’t seem to have any solutions left.

Some believe capitalism is the greatest economic machine ever discovered. This is true in many ways, never has the standard of living been so high. Never before have people lived so well.

Some will claim that the real problem is that we lost our faith in real capitalism. The machine is breaking down and we aren’t fixing it. Instead, we are moving away and asking for the wrong things.

There Are Winners

There are obvious winners in the globalization of markets. Those at the top, with access to resources, have the power to dominate global markets. And, so they have gained greater reach than ever before.

This is also good for poor countries, as they have gained innovations at a lower cost. It also means people have the ability to move to places where their skills can be utilized.

The socialists, Richard D. Wolff says capitalism is alive and well in China and India. But the game is over in the west, our economies have reached their limits and there is no room for growth.

There are calls for a leftist revolution. A push for more socialism, or a universal basic income. This could be a solution, as it would solve some of the problems that need to be fixed.

But this means the west has run out of gas and is cruising on fumes. While less developed countries are hungry, they will take the lead. In the future, they will be the source of innovation.

There Is Opportunity

In this lies an opportunity, for those with skills and a willingness to explore. Now the world is a place of opportunity for those up to the challenge and willing to take the risk.

This also means the innovators of today, have access to global markets. As well there are new job opportunities for those willing to get needed skills and move to new places.

While everyone braces for impact and backs away from the challenge. There are gaps opening for smart risk takers.

Instead of seeing this as a problem with the economy, it should be seen as a problem with our leadership. For those willing to take the chance to become a leader, there will always be opportunities.

Rather than blaming your country or the people around you. See this time as an opportunity to take big chances and huge risks. With a bigger globally connected world the opportunities are greater than ever before. With big opportunities comes the possibility of huge rewards.

The future belongs to those who see today’s problems as a readjustment of values. People who blame the government are going to be left behind, the government has shown it doesn’t know what to do. So we as individuals need to be the change we wish to see in the world.

Sometimes You Need to Break the Rules. Here’s Why.

break the rules

Years ago, I built a website that sold code samples. All the samples were free if you knew where to find them. The licenses of the code made it legal to sell them. But if you asked the developers they might have been pissed.

The product failed in part because I was afraid of it succeeding. I felt like I was breaking the rules by running it. At the same time, there was competition, and they didn’t care about my rules. In the end, they were successful, and my site went away.

The problem with taking the moral high ground is that you give other people an advantage. Reason being, they don’t care about your rules so they don’t have to follow them. This might seem like a strange way of looking at this problem, but it is the way things tend to work.

How Did You Get Here

From an early age, you are taught that you should do the right thing and be good people. For the most part, this works out well and helps us avoid unnecessary conflict and jail.

But there are times when it works against you. The worst times are when you miss out or lose because you aren’t willing to break rules that someone else is.

Put another way, when you won’t break the rules you give anyone who will an advantage over you. So anyone who doesn’t worry about your rules always has an easy way to get ahead of you.

Also, sometimes we try to do the right thing because we ‘think’ it is the right thing. In reality, most of the time it doesn’t make much of a difference. At times rules don’t exist for a reason, they are a formality rather than protection.

What You Should Do

But how do we deal with these situations? The hard part is knowing when it is ok to break a rule. For people who don’t care, this isn’t an issue, but you don’t want to be like them. It is better to be selective about the rules you break.

The goal is to see the opportunities where it is alright to ignore the rules. In my example, if I wasn’t worried about what other developers thought, I may have made more money.

The best guide would be, don’t hurt too many people along the way. You shouldn’t strive to always break the rules, you’ll end up in jail. But know there are times when it is the best approach.

The better way to look at this is to see rules as fuzzy. In general, the rules are less clear than you’ve been told. At the same time, if you still think you must always do the right thing, you need to be ok with losing because of it.

Don’t let people cheat you out of opportunities. Sometimes you must fight fire with fire. But remember, be careful not to wrong people for no reason.

Trouble Finishing A Book, Try These 4 Things

trouble finishing a book

A few months ago I sat down to write a book, but I kept struggling to get started. I was having trouble finishing a book. I realized I was missing something and needed a better process.

After some experiments and thinking about what worked in the past, I came up with these four ideas. Because of them, I was able to write 30 chapters in less than two months. 

1) Keep It Simple

I see a novel as a series of short stories within a big story. This process works for me because of this understanding. If you focus on the whole book, it might seem impossible to finish. Huge ideas are daunting and challenging to get on paper. Even worse, if the challenge seems too great, you might get discouraged and give up.

The best way to avoid this is to break your big story into smaller more manageable pieces. When you are thinking about what you want to write, write down each piece of the story in a list. If a single story ends up being too big, break it down into smaller pieces. Add each of these new stories as a separate item on the list.

The simpler each story is, the better. This will make it easier to write each one, and that will make you more likely to complete your book. If you are having trouble finishing a book, it is essential to focus on keeping things simple.

2) Paper Checklists

Checklists are super simple and an often overlooked tool for planning a book. They are an indispensable tool to help get your story finished.

The best way to make a checklist is with paper and pencil. The idea of using an app seems promising, but some real paper is always superior. With paper, it will always be in front of you. Also, you won’t get distracted by your phone when you look at your list.

The first step is to think of every major event or story in your book and write it down. I try to write one sentence, and if there are more details, I add them below later.

You can reorganize the stories if that will help with the flow. It is also helpful to separate your stories into different sections if necessary. This way you can keep track of the different parts of your story, rather than getting caught up in the whole book.

Another benefit of a checklist is that every time you finish a story, you get to check it off. This gives you a feeling of satisfaction and encourages you to do more. The good feelings and motivation compensate for the time it takes to make a list. When you are having trouble finishing a book, it is helpful to work with a checklist of chapters.

3) Make Writing A Routine

Rather than focusing on a single story and putting time aside when you can, it is much better to make a routine. A routine means dedicating regular time to focus on working on your book.

The ideal plan would be to set aside time every day, or during the work week. During that time, work on one of your stories. What I did was set a daily goal of getting one story done. So I would sit and write till it was finished.

The importance of a routine is that once you get your book or novel completed, you can start working on something else. A routine also helps, because you get satisfaction from the process of writing. If your only goal is to finish, you won’t have a reason to write again. When you are having trouble finishing a book, you need to make sure writing is part of your routine.

4) Clearest Stories First

At first, focus on the stories that are already in your head. If you already know them, they will come out faster. It is useful to get them out because you won’t have to think about them anymore. It will also give you a chance to see what you have and what you need to fill in the gaps.

Knowing what you have, you might want to reorganize your book. You may want to add new stories or change the order of the existing ones. This is why a pencil is best, cause you can erase and rewrite.

Getting the most important stories done is a great way to get yourself in the mindset for success. When you see progress with these stories, you will get the motivation to do more. When you are having trouble finishing a book, focus on writing the most evident most essential parts of the story first. This will help you figure out what to put in the spaces in between.

The Takeaway or How To Get Over Trouble Finishing A Book

If you want to finish your book and be more productive, you need a system in place. The ideas above should give you a good starting point. But you may need to tweak or add to the process, so it works better for you.

It is great to finish your book, and if you have a good process, you can always write more. With each effort, you can improve your process and write better books.