Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year Resolutions and Past Mistakes

As the New Year is approaching, most people have their New Year resolutions. I never really have any because I know I wouldn’t keep them if I just made them up for the New Year.

At this time of the year, people start thinking about their mistakes and what they want to change for the coming year. It is said that to err is human, which it certainly is, and that it is necessary and good because that way we learn from our mistakes and know how to do it right the next time.
While I do think this makes sense, I can’t help but wonder whether we really learn from our mistakes. Don’t we make the same mistakes over and over again sometimes?
I have to confess, there is one thing I always do and I know I do it wrong. I am really bad at organizing, I am just not that structured. Every year in school I made the same mistakes again. Instead of being prepared for the exams and studying in time, in order not to have too much stress later on, I always began studying very shortly before the exams, to be more precisely, the day before they took place. Or, as my father would call it, I just lived for the moment. In school this worked for me but at university there is so much more to do and it is not as easy as school. Last semester at university was the first time I did actually learn from my past mistakes and tried to avoid that stress. I managed to be prepared for the exams and it worked really well. I have never had bad grades but this time they were actually great. Unfortunately, the current semester seems to be different again. I know what my mistake is and yet it has always been hard to change it.
And think of all the New Year resolutions people have. I bet there are thousands of people who now have the exact same resolutions they had last year and the year before and yet they don't manage to abide by them and make the same mistakes every year.
Furthermore, just look at history. Sometimes it seems like we repeat all our previous mistakes, considering all the wars or any situation where people just strive for power regardless of the results and of how insane it might be.
Unfortunately, it seems like it always takes the worst outcome to make us finally change things.
Isn’t there a saying that defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?
So what does it take for us to learn from our mistakes? Do we actually really learn from them at all?
Maybe we don’t learn from history but only from our own mistakes.

As for me, I am now starting to write a paper for university, I don’t want to save it for the very last day, after all. My excuse for writing this post instead of working on my paper right now is that it has to be written in English, so this was really just a quick warm-up, of course.
 Whether or not you learned from your past mistakes, I hope your wishes for the next year come true. I wish all of you a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A trip down memory lane

I am sorry for having skipped last week’s post, I usually try to write an article every week, but this week was different. The reason is that I have to live with my family for about two weeks. Initially I thought I could just come over for Christmas and then leave again but, due to reasons that are too complex to explain here, I have to stay longer. Those of you who have been reading my posts regularly probably know a bit about the situation between my family and me, although I didn’t tell all the details. So, because of the prospect of having to stay there, I couldn’t really concentrate on writing.

Did you ever go on a trip into your past? Was it voluntarily or were you thrown into it? What were your feelings connected to it?
Or are you able to live completely in the present and never look back? I’d like to say that I do, I usually try, and I did make peace with the fact that I will never have a good relationship with my family, my mother and my brother in particular. I just decided to live my own life. I think it is good and even necessary to let the past go. But there are moments that throw me back. Lately some people keep telling me they think I am strong, but especially in these moments I am not at all. Whenever I visit my family everything changes, mainly because nothing has really changed. I hope this doesn’t sound too confusing.
Did you ever look back and realized how good it is that past is over? This is what happens to me every time I visit my family. To be honest, I hate it. Nothing feels worse than stepping over the threshold of the entry door, every time I just want to turn around and run away. I hate sleeping in my old room, in my old bed, there are too many memories. I feel anything but free when being here. This is what describes it best, this feeling of being somehow trapped. It feels like there is something pressing my chest, not letting me breathe. I wish I could say that I can forget and forgive, but every time I’m here I realize that I can’t entirely. I couldn’t sleep for two weeks before going here and when I just thought of it I felt literally sick. I won’t stay any longer than necessary.
However, I am trying to see the positive side, which is that I don’t have to live here constantly anymore. Besides, I am really looking forward to a little Christmas party I am having later in the evening with a few old friends of mine. This is the other side of my journey into the past, I really missed those friends. We went to the same school but afterwards we all chose a different university, plus I moved away for my studies, so we don’t see each other very often now. Nevertheless, when we meet, it is like nothing ever changed and we’re best friends again. So, visiting my home town really is like a trip into the past, it seems like nothing ever changes here. I like to think that by moving away I escaped this state of not being able to move forward.
Anyway, next week’s post is going to be more like my usual ones again.

I hope you all get to spend Christmas with your loved ones. Merry Christmas, or, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, just have a great time.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

How much ambition is really necessary?

Sometimes people tell me I have to be more ambitious. But do I really always have to be best at everything?

It seems like society sees it as a sin if you don’t seize every opportunity you have, even if it concerns something that is not really important. Is it a sin to waste your talent, for example?
Are you not allowed to be happy unless you achieve more and more?
How ambitious does one really have to be? And how much ambition is too much? Can there ever be too much of it, in your opinion? I would definitely have to answer in the affirmative.

I can be pretty determined if I really want something and I do have dreams and aims in life. But this doesn’t relate to every activity in my life, I don’t feel the need to be more ambitious about certain things.
For instance, I have been doing judo for quite some time now, although I don’t do much lately, actually hardly any at all. Anyway, over the years, I participated in several competitions and I was somewhat successful, for my standards. However, I have always only done it as a hobby and refused every offer to go to a special school that would focus more on sports. Also, I didn’t want to practice every day or go to another more promising and successful club than the one in my town.
As a consequence, some people told me I’d wasted my talent. But have I really? I had a dream, I aimed to take part in the national championship just for once. When I qualified for it a few years ago, it was quite a big success for me. However, I have accomplished my goal, so afterwards I honestly lacked any ambition to achieve more than that.  And why do people think I should want that? Maybe I could have achieved more, but I never wanted to live for it and I knew that I would never be good enough to be really successful. I have always been told that I need to be more aggressive and more ambitious, but that’s just not how I am and I am not going to change with regard to this. So why waste my time, given that I want something else in life?
Moreover, my priorities have changed, they became simpler and more difficult at the same time. Although I still love doing judo just for fun, I don’t care about how successful I am concerning sports, I’d rather like to finish my studies, find a job, travel, have my own little family one day, just be happy. And if I know that living for a sport won't make me happy, I won't do it.
Is it really necessary to be ambitious in every area of life? Does it make you more successful, happier?
Is ambition the key to success? But what if you don’t want that success? What if you’re content with what you have already achieved?
Do you consider it as a waste not to seize every opportunity you have? Does it make a difference for you whether it is about a hobby or a job, for example?

I am not saying that having ambitions is bad. When I really want something, I fight for it, I don’t give up and I do everything I can to get where I want to be. But there are things I just don’t need to accomplish.
Besides, in my opinion, too much ambition can become harmful when it turns into an obsession.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I am British and Germans are Nazis...?

Of course I am not, but I would love to be British. I attended this seminar about cultural differences at the weekend which was held by a British woman who came to Germany in her thirties. She talked a lot about British and German values and the differences she noticed between British and German people. Of course you can’t say “the British” or “the Germans”, of course this is much more differentiated. But I do believe that there are certain tendencies and that some values might be more important in some cultures than they are in others.
I noticed that in a lot of areas I am more British than German.

Moreover, I am currently planning my semester abroad which will take place in less than a year and I desperately want to go to Great Britain. Unfortunately, my university has only three partner universities in the UK and there are about 500 people applying each semester and only two are chosen for each university (at least if you want to go as a Erasmus student, in that case you don’t have to pay the tuition). The reason why there are only two students to be chosen is because this is based on an agreement between the German and British universities and apparently no one wants to go to Germany. This does not only concern Great Britain but also France, for example. I can understand this somehow, if I could choose, I wouldn’t choose Germany either. Actually I would love to move to England someday in the future.

Anyway, I am really curious, how much do people (non-Germans) learn about German history? And how much do you know about Germany as it is today? What do you think about Germans (please be honest)?
This woman also talked a lot about stereotypes and told us about some of her experiences and asked us about ours. A lot of the other students told stories about how people asked them about Hitler when they were abroad and how a lot of people think of Germans as Nazis. In fact, one student had been asked (not by a Briton though) what Hitler does today. I am always quite shocked to hear that a lot of people don’t really know a lot about this and that they really associate Germany with nothing else but Hitler. Admittedly, I am not very patriotic, however Germany today is not Germany 70 years ago.
Also, as a German, it is quite unthinkable to not know about German past and you can’t imagine that other people don’t learn about it. Of course, history is inerasable, therefore we learn really a lot about it at school, mainly to prevent that such a thing can happen again. It is almost awkward to admit to be German.
Again, people shouldn’t forget about this time in history, in contrary, they should learn about it (and Germans do but I don’t know how this is in other countries) but I also think that it is important to know that it is past.

So, when you hear Germany, do you really immediately think of WWII and/or Hitler? Do you learn a lot about it at school? Do you associate Germany with anything else that doesn’t have to do with the above mentioned issues?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Believing Your Own Lies

We all know that there are people who lie. But there are also people who lie to themselves and who seem to believe themselves.

Are people actually able to convince themselves of their own lies?
Do some people really talk themselves into believing their imaginary stories? Do they even realise anymore that they are lying?
This is a phenomenon that I could often observe with regard to certain people. A person that called me a few days ago told me about what a colleague of hers has done and that she thinks it is terrible. What is remarkable is that this person had done the same thing in an even worse extent over a long period of time. I didn’t know what to say. After all, she should have known I remember what she had done, so normally she wouldn’t mention similar behaviours of others in order to not draw attention to it. The only explanation is that she decided to pretend it never happened and not just in front of others but for herself.
It seems to me that some people actually succeed in talking themselves into believing that their own false behaviour never happened. It is astonishing what humans are capable of. I was aware of the fact that this person tells a lot of lies and tries to convince others of them but so far I have never realised she does actually believe them herself. This does explain some things, it makes me understand things I have never understood before.
What I am not sure about though is whether this is a sign of some serious mental disorder or whether we all do that to a certain extent.
I think sometimes people try to repress bad memories, which is perfectly understandable in some cases. However, is it still normal to behave like any false behaviour on your side  has never existed and to actually believe it?
What is even more extreme is that there are people who build up a whole world of lies. In school, one of my friends told me about a classmate that had made up his own successful band, lots of friends and a girlfriend and that he openly talked about them all the time and that apparently he told everyone how popular, rich and good-looking they all were, in addition to a lot of other rather unbelievable stories. I believe that you shouldn’t judge someone without even knowing him, so I told my friend that it might indeed be only due to unfavourable circumstances that no one had ever seen these friends, band, or girlfriend. However, I got to meet that person and at some point it became impossible to deny that something was obviously wrong with his stories (this is an understatement). No one was sure whether he believed in his own lies. In my opinion, at some point he had started to believe that his stories were true.
e has built up his own imaginary world. 

Sometimes we talk ourselves into believing certain things because we want them to be true.
Some children even have imaginary friends and you wouldn’t consider that as lying.
But where is the cross point between lying and having your own view of the world? If you believe your own lies, are you telling the truth? There is this quote that I mentioned in a post in the beginning of my blogging days: Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

Don’t we all have our own views and opinions about who we are and how the world looks like? And if we don’t actively think about it, we think that this is how the world actually looks like. But what if it does in fact look completely different for everyone else? And I am sure it does.
So do we actually all live in our own imaginary world?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Why do we believe in certain values?

Last week, one of our professors told us about the result of a survey that showed that 47% of Americans agreed with the following statement: It is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values.

I do not know about the reliability of this survey, but I think it is a quite interesting question: Is it necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values?
In my opinion, an individual does definitely not have to believe in God to have good values.
However, I happened to read another statement that describes a scenario in which no one believes in God and such a thing as religion does not exist. What this person says is that without God (or people believing in God), there would also be no morals and no good values because people would not believe in a higher judgement after death. But is this really true? (Note that this is not a discussion about whether a God exists; this is rather about what would happen if people didn’t believe in his existence, if there didn’t exist any religion at all.) I believe that even if nowadays there were no one to believe in God, good values would still remain. But what if religions would never have existed? Do our values and morals really exist because of the existence of certain religions? But who does really believe in the existence of hell nowadays? If people do believe in God and therefore believe in good values, do they really do that because they fear punishment? Isn’t it rather because they believe in a good or loving god?
Assuming that morals are not the origin of religion, why do we believe in them? Why do we think certain things are immoral? Who decides what is immoral? Don’t there have to be some given rules that someone specifies? What are “good values” anyway?
Is it all a concept of treating others the way you would like to be treated yourself?
The truth is, usually being selfish and ruthless is the best way to be successful in certain things in life. My brother has always been indicative of this fact. He always lied, never cared about anyone but himself, wouldn’t even think about helping another person and there he is with plenty of friends, money and time, and girls running after him. Yet I honestly don’t know how he can even sleep at night, knowing about all the things he has done.
My brother definitely doesn’t believe in some values that are generally thought to be good. But what if he has his own values? There has to be someone who decides what is good.
So, if not acting according to certain values like honesty and kindness makes us successful and if we don’t fear hell after life, what makes us still believe in them?
I think there are many influences that affect our values, maybe some of those are defined by religion, some certainly by our culture (in my opinion, this has a huge influence on a lot of people and there are clearly different values in different cultures) and some by our close environment, like family. That is where we get to know about certain values, but what makes us really believe in these?
I truly believe in some values, I have mentioned some in several other posts, amongst them kindness and honesty. But I can’t explain the reasons. I believe they are good and right and in my heart I know they are, but it is difficult to explain why.
What are some values you believe in? And why are they important for you?

I would love to hear some opinions to any or all of the questions.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Who would you be?

Everyone has a role model. Who is yours? Who was your role model when you were a child?
If you could be anyone, who would you be?

Every now and then I read questions like these. Every time I think about it, but I don’t have an answer. I think the first role model for little children are their parents. But then comes the time when you realize they are not inerrable. So most children then choose some celebrity as their role model. They have posters hanging in their bedrooms and want to be like them.
I never really had that. In fact, I have never really understood the wish to be like some celebrity.
The point is, people admire them for a certain role they play in a movie or for something they achieve in sports, for example. It is comprehensible that they would like to emulate them in these actions. But, and this is what I have always considered, they don’t know who these people really are. How can you know about their personality? How can you know what they had or have to suffer in their lives? You don’t know who they really are. You only know a little excerpt of their lives. So why do you want to be exactly like them? Furthermore, they are not perfect.  They can’t be because no one is. So I don’t see a point in wishing to be someone else.
Whenever someone asks me who I would like to be if I could choose anyone, I don’t have an answer, at least I can’t think of any specific persons. There are certainly a lot of things I can learn from other people and a lot of things I would like to adopt from others. And surely my life is everything but perfect. But I am who I am. So all I can do is try to improve who I already am instead of wanting to be someone else.
However, I do consider it as reasonable to try to follow certain actions, behaviours or features. It makes sense to admire these. 
When you admire someone for being a good person, it certainly is a good idea to try to be that too, in your own way. If you admire someone for being a good writer, you can try to be become an equally good writer. But you have to try to find your own style.

Nevertheless, I was wondering whether it is even possible not to have any role models. Does everyone have one without even noticing? Do we have many?
ren’t there always people we imitate? How else would we learn anything? Or do we invent every action new for ourselves?  

Anyway, I do think people in our environment can have a huge impact on us.
I was sometimes surprised by the influence one's friends can have on one's behaviour. My brother used to have a very changing circle of friends. Every time he had new friends, his taste in music changed (it was easy to say, you could hear it everywhere in the house) and every time he adopted their vocabulary or behaviour. For instance, when he had friends who smoked and drank a lot, he did that too.
This makes we wonder, are we all just a copy of our environment?
Obviously, one’s environment and especially friends can have a huge impact on one’s behaviour. So are we just lucky to have a “good” circle of friends? But then again, don’t we choose our friends?
Did you adapt yourself to become more like your friends, perhaps without even noticing?
Maybe the question should rather be Who are you? instead of Who would you be?

Coming back to the initial question, I always tried to find my own way.
I am not sure whether that is even possible or whether it is just an illusion and actually we are all just a mixture of all the people we meet. After all, I don’t invent any new behaviour, do I? But maybe we can decide which ingredients from which people we choose and consequently become the best result we can.
Certainly there are always people who influence us, our personality, our behaviour. I think it is good or even necessary to have people who inspire us. But in the end, you are an individual and you should make the best out of who you are instead of copying someone else.

Are there any people that inspire you?

Do you have a role model? Do you even want to be someone else?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Whose fault is it?

Lately, I have been thinking about victims and offenders in certain situations. Don't we all rather like to see ourselves as victims? It is so much easier to blame someone else for things that go wrong in our lives. 

I mentioned this in several posts, I have never had a good relationship to my parents or to my brother, due to things happening that I have no words for.

There is this idea that in some cases it is not only the offender’s but also the victim’s fault because the victim lets it happen and doesn’t defend himself.
Let me explain. When I was a little child, I was rather shy. Actually that is an understatement.  I was very shy, I almost never talked to strangers, and in particular I avoided talking to adults. I think I was afraid of doing something wrong. I was also a compliant child, I did everything my parents asked me to do, although apparently often doing it wrong in their eyes.
My brother, in contrast, was quite revolting and whenever he didn’t get what he wanted, he created terror. Besides, he had a talent in lying and ingratiating himself with others, especially with our mother. As a result, it didn't matter much how I felt about certain decisions, which was kind of my own fault.
For instance, there were these humiliating situations my brother liked to spit on me, literally, just because he thought it was fun, or because he knew I didn't like it, or without any reason at all. My parents decided I had to endure this because they didn’t want to have troubles with him and I, on the other hand, didn’t cause so much trouble, so it was easier that way.
This was only a little prelude to things he later committed.
However, I remember exactly this one moment when again my mother decided it wouldn’t matter what I wanted because my brother wanted something else and all of a sudden my father said: Why does she always have to back down? This was the moment I decided he was right and I began to express my own opinions and to disagree with my mother. As a consequence, our relationship became even worse with every year that passed.
Anyway, I never really defended myself much when I was young, so I made it easy for my parents and my brother to take advantage of that. On the other hand, I was just a little child and all I tried to do was to make my parents love me or be proud of me.
But shouldn’t my parents have known better?
One thing that I also considered is, what if my brother was made the way he is now? Is it even his fault? Are maybe my parents responsible for the way he behaves? Was he taught to behave ruthless?
I consider that possible. Nonetheless, even though he might not have had the right education, he should know some basic things, he should know things like sexual abuse are wrong. Or can he have lost the ability to feel someone else's pain?

If someone was raised thinking that he can just take anything he wants without any consequences, is it his fault when he continues thinking that way once he is an adult?
It almost seems as if he is a victim.

So whose fault is it really? Who is to blame?
Is it the one who does something wrong? The ones that didn’t teach that person what is wrong? Or is it the one who didn’t defend himself or herself enough?

In my opinion, you can’t just make someone else responsible for your own decisions. Even if it might partly be my parents’ fault, even if they partially made my brother the way he is, you cannot blame them for everything he does. I mean, wouldn’t that result in going backwards more and more? What if my parents were treated badly as children? Was it then their parents’ fault?
At some point, you are responsible for your own actions and you cannot blame someone else for committing a crime. At some point, you just have to decide to leave the vicious circle, you have to know about your responsibility for your own actions. A difficult childhood is so often used as an excuse for behaving badly. In my opinion, it might sometimes explain some behaviors, but it doesn’t excuse them.  
Finally, at some point and in some cases, it might also be important to stop whining about your victimhood and start seeing yourself as an independent being.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What about kindness?

I have been quite busy lately and my days were very stressful. However, I would never let someone else pay for it. But there seem to be a lot of people that vent their spleen on others.

I was wondering, what about social responsibility, politeness, kindness? Are these values not of importance anymore? Or have they ever been?

There is one of my neighbours (he has an apartment in the same house) who for some reason doesn’t seem to like either me or every woman or every human being. Whenever I meet him, I smile and say hello but the best I did get to hear so far was a grumpy mumbling. Most times he doesn’t reply at all and just gives me a disapproving glance. At the beginning I thought that maybe he was just having a bad day but he keeps behaving like that every time I meet him. One time, he was entering the building right in front of me and instead of holding the door open, or at least pushing it open, he slammed it right in my face.
And this is just one example of strangers behaving unfriendly without any apparent reason.
No one says you have to be a saint. But you really don’t have to be one to follow very few rules of politeness. I mean, even if you had a bad day or don’t feel like engaging in long talks to your neighbours (which I usually don’t even intend), could you not at least reply to a greeting?

I have been reading an excerpt from a book about former differences between liberty and freedom. According to this text, in very short terms, liberty used to be an idea of independence and separation, it was rather a privilege that can be taken away (it is maybe that which we understand as liberty today). In contrast, freedom meant the right to belong to and join a certain group of free people and to care about them, to respect their rights, and it was something that must be given.
These sentences made me think: “In modern America too many people have forgotten this side of our inheritance. They think of liberty as license without responsibility, and freedom as entitlement without obligation. To think this way in the modern world is to remember only half of these ancient traditions.”

I think you always have to be careful about how to interpret any texts about social responsibility as they can easily be misapplied in order to support insane ideologies.

However, what do you think about this? Not only regarding America, but the world in a whole, do you agree?

Not referring to this text, but to the topic in general, this is my point of view : I believe that being polite is very important.
More than that, I believe that we should do something good for others. I believe in kindness, generosity and in sharing joy and happiness.
I really believe that one can do something good for others, even if it is only by means of a smile. (See also this post: Smiling at Strangers) And I believe that, even if it is only a small good deed, it can make a huge difference.
There are people who say that one single person can’t make a difference anyway, that this is all just idealism and that it would be better to just care for yourself.
Of course, my action doesn’t make a huge difference for humankind. But you have to start somewhere, after all. Furthermore, it might make difference for a few people, and even if it does only for one person, it is totally  worth it.

Yes, perhaps, in this regard, I am a dreamer or an idealist. But having dreams doesn’t mean that I don’t know reality, or what seems to be reality. It doesn’t mean that I don’t know about all the horrible things happening on earth. I might be young, but I have made some experiences that I would not wish for anyone to experience and I know that there are happening things that are even a lot worse. So, believe me, I do know reality and I do know that I can’t change it all. But I do also know that there are a lot of opportunities to spread a little joy and to brighten someone's day.
I believe in a lot of things, love, friendship, kindness. I believe in caring families, although I know the "ideal" family hardly exists. I believe in changing lives for the good.

I have hopes and dreams, but that doesn’t mean I live in a world of dreams.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What does happiness mean to you?

A few months ago, someone asked me: What does happiness mean to you?
I still don’t have a definite answer to that.
My first thought is always that it might be all the small things in life that make us happy. These things we happen to see at a usual day, like a genuine smile, or some beautiful flowers, or laughing with friends.

But isn’t this rather joy than happiness? In my opinion, it is. So, what is happiness?

Is it all these things together? Are we happy if we have a lot of joyful moments in our lives? Is happiness the ability to enjoy these moments?

Happiness seems to be a rather permanent state. When someone asks you “Are you happy?” it is usually meant “Are you satisfied with your life?” rather than “Do you feel joyful at the moment?” At least, that’s how it would be understood in German.
But can happiness really be permanent? Is that even possible? If we were in a state of permanent and infinite happiness, would we even know we were happy? To know what being happy means, we must also know the opposite.
Furthermore, humans seem to have infinite needs. Given this, can they ever be perfectly happy?
While writing this, I remember the differences between English and German. In German, there is more or the less the same translation for luck and happiness, that is “Glück”. Being happy would be translated with “glücklich sein”. But “Glück haben” means to be lucky, whereas happiness in “What does happiness mean to you?” is also translated with Glück.

If this is so closely related, does that mean happiness is something we have no influence on? Can’t we affect it at all? Does it only depend on how lucky we are?
Or is it rather a way of how we see things? Does it depend on one's ability to focus on the good things in life? Is it a combination of both?
Is there someone in this world who is perfectly happy?

However, to answer this, first there should be an idea of what happiness is. If it really is something like a permanent condition, happiness cannot be the same as joy, because joy is not permanent, provided that there are not just ups but also downs in life.

But then what is it that makes us happy? Is that different for everyone, is it totally subjective and relative? Or are there certain things in life that decide on everyone’s happiness? Is it love, friendship, family? Or success? What about money? What I always considered quite interesting is the fact that the pursuit of happiness is mentioned in the US Declaration of Independence. According to an American lecturer of a seminar I had last semester, this refers mainly to property. Clearly, for that you need to have money.
In my opinion, money can certainly make a lot of things easier and by that I mean that it helps if you have enough to be able to pay for your bills and all the necessary things in life without having to worry about it permanently. However, I would never equate money with happiness.
I really don't think you need to be rich in order to be happy. Anyway, if you had to be rich to be happy, the majority of people would never be happy and this is something I refuse to believe.

So, maybe what makes us happy is just everything that makes us smile. Maybe it is indeed all the simple things in life, or rather things that we too often consider as self-evident and given and that are actually not at all simple. Things like having true friends or a supportive family, or being healthy. Maybe it means to enjoy life and its good moments.
What does it mean to you? What makes you happy?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Are you proud of your country?

While walking across the town I go to university, I can often see people with German flags or caps with the German flag on it, especially during summer time. Seeing these signs, you can be sure they are tourists. Germans don’t wear such things, except during the time of the World Cup. Actually, while the German football team plays, you can see flags everywhere, especially on cars, but these flags disappear as soon as the event is over.

I also observe the American elections. By doing this, and by studying and reading in general, I noticed that patriotism seems to play an important role in America and also in Great Britain. In fact, I think it is specifically important for Americans and, in contrary to Germany, it is considered as something absolutely positive and indespensable.
This is very different in Germany. Due to our past, we became extremely careful with things like national pride. Although these times are gone and most people who were living that time are dead, this has not changed. Most people don’t feel proud when they think of Germany and patriotic statements are always handled very critically. At the same time, there are people who say that this is all exaggerated and that Germany should start to feel something like national pride again, as long as it doesn’t convert into nationalism.
I am not really sure about what to think of all these discussions. On the one hand, our generation is not responsible for what happened during the National Socialism. On the other hand, it is definitely a good thing to be sensitive regarding these topics. It seems that Germany knows only extremes.

Should Germans develop patriotism again?

My personal point of view is the following. I don’t really feel proud of my country. It’s not that I don’t like it though. Nowadays, there are definitely a lot of positive things here. I mentioned that there are a lot of tourists in my university town and I must admit that it is a quite beautiful town, especially during summer. But I don’t really understand that concept of national pride.
In my opinion, to be proud of something, you have to achieve something or you must have had some influence on the thing you are proud of.  What exactly are people proud of when it comes to Germany?
Moreover, there have already been so many problems in this world because people somehow think their country is superior to others.  I do not understand why people keep thinking this. After all, they didn't even choose to be born in that country.
Maybe it is not bad to support the country you are living in by being proud of it, as long as this doesn't include debasing other countries.

So, although I like that town, I am not proud of it because there hasn’t been any contribution on my side. However, somehow it doesn't seem to be inappropriate when other people are proud of their country, it seems to be natural for other nations.
What do you think of patriotism?
Are you proud of your country? If so, why?
I would love to hear some other opinions and I am willing to change my mind, so please feel free to share your view.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Are you extraordinary?

A few days ago, I talked to a friend about university which somehow turned into a not very serious discussion about whether he was exceptionally smart (he said he wasn’t). Eventually, we ended up arguing about the meaning of being extraordinary.

So, in his opinion, to be extraordinary you have to belong to the absolute top of something, regardless of what we are talking about, for example, you have to be a Einstein or Newton or Shakespeare to be really great and extraordinary in what you do. His definition was rather very exclusive. In contrast, I said I believe that there are a lot of ways to be extraordinary and that we can all be extraordinary in something.
This whole discussion made me think a little further. I mean, is there really something like being extraordinary? Are we not all at some point extraordinary? No one of us is the same and especially for friends or loved ones we are unique. In fact, we are all unique. But, on the other hand, what about persons like Einstein? Would you say they were ordinary, nothing special? You certainly can’t say that either.
Anyway, what is ordinary? There certainly is an average height or age of all persons you can measure, but it is more difficult when it comes to the personality or abilities of people. Besides, what does an average age say? Relating to this, are you extraordinary when you are younger or older than the average number? I am certainly not a statistics expert but you don’t have to be one to know that the mean average of something doesn’t necessarily indicate much without further information. And even if there is, this is not about statistics. How would you measure a person’s uniqueness?

Moreover, do we really have to be extraordinary? Do we always have to belong to the absolute top? Do we have to be better than everyone else? There is always someone that is “better”, so if you really want to be the best at everything, you will never be happy.
That friend also said that to be content or proud of himself, he would need to be the best and, for instance, not just the best in his university but in the whole world. He also admitted that this is very unlikely to happen but that it is a good way to improve his accomplishments constantly. Maybe it is, but I think you can be happy with what you have achieved and improve at the same time.
Instead of being the best compared to everyone else, would it not be better to focus on your own aims? I think we automatically always compare ourselves to others, I do that too. And maybe this is the only way to evaluate ourselves and improve what we do. But instead of looking at the other ones, sometimes it would just be better to focus on our personal aims. When my friends and I graduated from school, we had all very different grades, but we were all happy because we had all managed to reach our own personal goal (or at least most of us). And isn’t this enough?

On the other hand, of course, without comparing, there wouldn’t even be such things as grades, thus it is necessary to value anything.
In my opinion, it is in human’s nature to always strive for more, but in the end we’ll just have to accept that we can’t always be the best.

So, even if we can’t be the best, can we be extraordinary? Are we all extraordinary persons because everyone has something at which he or she is especial compared to others? Or is this something that refers to very few persons only? After all, the term extraordinary indicates this.
Is there such a thing or are we all unique? Or is being unique something totally different? Maybe everyone is unique but not everyone can be extraordinary.
Do you think you are extraordinary? Do you want to be?
What does being extraordinary mean to you?

My friend and I still didn’t agree in the end and although there is probably no right answer and it all depends on different definitions and points of views, I would love to hear some other opinions, ideas, experiences or whatever you have to say.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Liebster Blog

First, a little side note here: I'm back at university at Friday because the new semester begins and although I had a holiday job during semester break (so I wasn't just sitting around either), I'll have less time from then on. Good news is, I hope to have a lot of inspiration for new posts. But I'm going to have less time to write them, being at university all day. However, I'll try to post at least once a week.

Secondly, I felt honestly surprised but honoured and happy to be nominated for the Liebster Blog Award. Thank you so much for nominating me, Epsita! This is a link to her blog:

Liebster Blog is actually German and means something like dearest or favorite blog.

According to the rules, I am supposed to answer the following 11 questions:
1.       What genre do you usually write in?
This is difficult, I write about everything that comes into my mind and that seems to be important for me. I would say it is mainly personal but about general topics.
2.       What is your favorite book and why?
I like to read different kind of books , so that's hard to choose. But one that I really like is Macbeth from Shakespeare. It’s fascinating and every time I read it I discover something new. Plus, I just love Shakespeare’s use of language.
3.       Which color best describes you?
Difficult again, I have no idea what color describes me best. I like blue though.
4.       What makes you feel blessed?
It makes me feel blessed when I visit the children I used to coach and they are happy to see me. And laughing with friends.
5.       Cake or Chips?
I am not sure what kind of chips this is referring to (chips as in fish and chips or crisps) so I choose cake.
6.       Your favorite quote?
I don’t have one favorite quote but I’ll choose this one from Macbeth:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
             That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
             And then is heard no more: it is a tale
             Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
             Signifying nothing.
7.       If given a chance what would you like to change in you and why?
I am sometimes very insecure and not really self-confident in big groups with people I don’t know, I would like to change that.
8.       Love writing or reading?
Both, I couldn’t choose between one of them.
9.       What tops your shopping list?
Food and things for university. I am trying to save money so I avoid buying any unnecessary things.
10.   What keeps you busy?
My studies at university.
11.   The best thing you have learned as a Blogger?
There are a lot of wonderful people with great and interesting opinions out there and there is really a lot I can learn yet.

The next thing I have to do is list 11 things about me. Here they are:

1.       I dream of visiting as many parts of the world as possible.
2.       Actually I have been thinking about moving to the UK some day.
3.       I used to draw a lot but it takes me a lot of time until I am content with my work, so I became too impatient to draw anymore.
4.       I find it difficult to tell something about me that is not totally boring.
5.       When I was a kid, I didn’t want to ask other people about things I didn’t know, so I just invented a lot of crazy but creative theories in my mind (which later turned out to be nonsense) to explain things to myself.
6.       Although I love travelling and getting to know other countries, I am really bad at geography.
7.       I don’t like playing soccer (which is the most popular sport in Germany), but I do judo.
8.       In my family, I am the only one with green eyes (or green blue, I'm not sure), all the other family members I know have brown ones.
9.       When I was a little kid, my father used to read from a book to me before I went to sleep and most of the time it was the same book. I still know parts of it by heart.
10.   Friends are the most important thing for me.
11.   Although I am a quite good swimmer, I am totally afraid of jumping into water. I am scared of heights but only if there is water below me, which makes of course no sense, as there are greater chances of surviving than without water.

Now comes the best part, which is nominating the other blogs. Unfortunately, some of my favorite blogs have more than 200 followers and I have to choose blogs with less, but nonetheless these are some really great blogs. They are awesome and definitely worth a visit! So, my award goes to (and there is no particular order):

Rum-Punch Drunk 

A Brainless Nod  

Inspired by Gabriel 

Children of the Three Suns  

The American Rose
If you want to accept it, these are the rules:
Answer 11 question given to you by the person awarding you.
State 11 things about yourself
Nominate up to 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers
Inform them of the nomination.

And my questions to you:
1. If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?
2. Is there something or someone that inspires you?
3. What are you afraid of?
4. What do you like most about yourself?
5. Do you prefer living in the city or in the country?
6. Who is your favorite author?
7. In school, did you ever copy homework from someone?
8. What was the last thing that made you smile?
9. What is one of your biggest dreams?
10. Why did you start blogging?
11. What would you do first if you won the lottery?