Friday, August 31, 2012

Smiling at Strangers

Recently, I did sort of an experiment. At first, it wasn’t at all determined to be one. I was just having a nice day at university and for some reason, I don’t even remember it, I was feeling very happy. So, while walking to town to do some errands, I smiled at everyone I met without even thinking about it. I just felt happy and I wanted to share this happiness. But after a short time I realized that most people don’t even look at you while crossing your way. The majority of people were looking at the pavement or in some other direction. Some looked at me, but they seemed to think I was crazy, smiling at strangers.

I started to think about it and I am surprised at how seldom people make eye contact and how rarely they give you a smile.
Of course, there were some exceptions. A lot of men did actually make eye contact and when they did they smiled back. I met someone who seemed to be in a very good mood, too. We were smiling at one another and I could honestly feel his happiness and friendliness and this made me even happier. 

I smiled then more often at strangers, but only on days I felt happy, because I wanted to give a genuine smile to others. On top of that, when I am happy, I can’t help but smile, so it was just a natural thing to do. What I have also recognized is that women were hardly ever looking at me and if they did, they looked away the next second. I think there was just one woman who was smiling back. I couldn’t make out any reasons for that yet. Maybe most men are more of an extrovert sort than women. But I hate to generalize that. Anyway, it wasn’t a representative study or something like that, but it is what I have experienced and I smiled at a lot of people, regardless of which age or gender.
I wonder if this is different in other countries or whether it would have been different if I wasn’t a woman.  Maybe other women tend to smile at men more often. Furthermore, it also depends on the cultural background. At university, we had a workshop on intercultural communication and the teacher, a woman from England who has already been in several countries to do those workshops, told us that when she came to Germany for the first time, she thought that Germans were very unfriendly because they hardly ever smiled at strangers. So this seems to be different in Great Britain and also in the US, I think. In contrast, there was also a Russian girl and she told us she thought Germans were the friendliest people she has ever met, smiling all the time. She explained that it is very uncommon in Russia to smile at others when you don’t know them, but that doesn’t mean at all that they are unfriendly. It is just something you usually only share with close friends.

I thought this to be quite interesting because I have never realized these facts before.

So maybe I too was walking self-absorbed and didn’t recognize other people’s smiles. I think most people here are absorbed in thought and therefore they don’t really recognize what happens around them. Moreover, there can be many reasons. Maybe they were having a bad day and thus it is just natural that they don’t smile at complete strangers.

However, some people even seem to get excited about receiving a little smile without any apparent reason. I enjoy these moments very much, seeing that you can make someone happy, just by smiling.

Happiness is something that always grows when it is shared. And a smile is the easiest way to share it.
In any case, a warm and genuine smile is such a valuable thing.

Thank you for reading my posts and for leaving such wonderful comments and opinions on this blog, I am sending you all a smile, although you can’t see it, but it is indeed an honest one. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Does everyone deserve a second chance?

This is a topic I feel particularly insecure about.
I have always believed the answer should be yes.

I thought I wasn’t someone to be resentful or unforgiving. I thought I may not forget, but at least I can forgive. But now I am wondering if that is even possible.
Let me explain very briefly my personal relation to this topic before turning back to the question in general. A very important part of my life has been to become independent. This is what growing up means for me, amongst other things. Living my own life, making my own decisions. With regard to financial issues, I am not yet as autonomous as I wish to be, since this is not possible while going to university. But I do my best, constantly going to work during vacations and trying to earn a living.

Anyway, the reason why this is so important for me is that I was and am still having considerable problems with my family. I won’t go into further detail about that and I don’t want to complain, I just felt I should mention this, so that you might understand this particular issue here. In my opinion, family is one of the most important values in life and I am grateful for at least having one. But for some reason I never managed to get along with them, although fighting for their appreciation my entire childhood. But being totally honest, it is both their and my fault that it doesn’t get better today.

My whole life I regretted wholeheartedly not being able to change my familial relationship. But now that it might be my turn to do so, I don’t know how to.
This results in some questions.
How does one forgive?

After having experienced physical, sexual or mental violence, is it really possible to forgive the associated person? Should you even forgive?

On the one hand, I think there are cases where a second chance should not be given, even if only to protect yourself.
On the other hand, maybe past should be nothing more than it is, something that is gone. Maybe you should try to look forward to the future and try to forgive. Ultimately, this might serve your peace of mind.
A friend of mine once told me that for him it doesn’t matter what happened in the past and that he won’t judge others for what they did in former times. The only thing that matters is the present.

To err is human. Therefore, I believe that every one of us, including me, of course, has made some mistakes in his life. Don’t you think you deserved a second chance? After all, there must be an opportunity to learn from mistakes. There must be a chance to do it better in the future.
But is giving second chances without limitation possible and is it even desirable? A lot of people think that it depends on the gravity of a deed whether someone deserves a second chance or not. But doesn’t this somehow object to the concept of giving second chances?

Does everybody deserve a second chance, regardless of what he or she did? What about child abusers? I have heard of so many cases where such a person committed the same crime after getting out of prison. Couldn’t this have been prevented? Is the whole idea of giving second chances overrated? Is it even conformable to our society? But what would a society be without such concepts?
And what about third or fourth chances? In reality and for our everyday life, I think it isn’t really about chances, but about continuous opportunities we get and decisions we make.

Moreover, we often take it for granted to get second chances, we don’t even think about it until we are in the situation of having to give one. Isn’t this a bit selfish?

I would love to hear some opinions on this.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quote of the week #2

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

Marcus Aurelius

I like this quote, since a lot of people don’t seem to recognize that there are different opinions on things they consider as a fact. I think it is always a good way to stay open-minded and to try to understand the other perspectives.

My aim is to post one quote every Sunday that somehow refers to the previous week. I also hope it inspires some people to think about the referred topic. 
Based on a controversy I had a few days ago, today’s topic is about opinions, or rather differences in opinions.
I was having a few arguments with a family member this week, who couldn’t accept me being of another opinion concerning an important topic; the details are not of importance here. Anyway, when I was talking to a friend about it, his advice was to just agree with this person in every point. He said, when I know I am right, all I should say is “OK”. When someone is telling you that the colour of the sky is green, don’t tell him it is blue. Just agree, because you know you are right and disagreeing would just cause troubles.  
I see his point, but nevertheless I had to contradict.
This is just my opinion, of course.

Anyway, who determines what is right and what is wrong? When it comes to laws the answer is obvious, but what about other issues? After all, the problem is that both persons having an argument are convinced of their opinion being the truth. Even if it is obvious that you are right, is it really? It doesn't seem to be for at least one person.

In any case, I think it doesn’t make it any better to agree with someone when you think he is wrong, because this lets him feel confirmed in his thinking. In the following, I am using “the sky is green” as a metaphor for topics that are of greater relevance.
A family or even a whole nation is not able to perform in a good way if their members are not allowed to express their point of view. Just imagine the government told you that the sky was green and nobody disagreed. Imagine you’d get into prison if you told them your opinion. I know that this is happening all over the world and I know that it did happen especially in Germany. But look at this country’s horrible past (I don’t have enough words to explain how terribly shocked I am every time I just imagine it) and you can see what this leads to. People must be allowed to give an opinion without getting punished for it. This is even a human right, which you can find in Germany’s Basic Law now.
Everybody has the right to advance his opinion, as long as it isn’t illegal or a violation of human rights.

Maybe I should have differed in a more accurate way between politics and families, but is there really such a great difference?
Families do have their own rules, too. And I think since I am of full age, I should be allowed to say what I think without getting in trouble and without courting their resentment. Provided that I don’t hurt anyone with my opinion, which is certainly not my purpose.
Let’s say I am convinced that that the sky is blue and you are convinced of it being green. Why can’t we discuss it and if we still don’t agree in the end, we just accept the fact of being of another opinion? Wouldn’t this be a good way? And who knows, if you give me persuasive arguments, you might even persuade me to believe that the sky is green.

I am aware that all my above mentioned words are just another opinion. I am convinced by my opinion. However it may seem inconsistent to say that everybody should express his own opinion and that nothing is the truth, because isn’t this just an opinion, too? So what if someone doesn’t agree?

I think you should always consider your counterpart’s point of view. If he has a different one, you should accept this. And you should try to continuously rethink your own point of view. Because after all, is it really possible that you are always right? Maybe the sky is neither green nor blue but purple? Or does it have a different colour for every human being? At the same time, if we are convinced by our opinion, we should definitely defend it using good arguments. After all, what kind of world would this be without opinions and people standing up for them?

But should we really agree on everything someone says in order to avoid a conflict? Can this really be a good solution?
In my opinion, it isn’t.

If you disagree about any of these thoughts, please feel free to tell me. I am always happy to broaden my mind.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

If you could live your life over again...

We have an advertising spot here that says: Wenn du dein Leben noch einmal leben könntest, würdest du alles noch mal genauso machen?
Translated that means: If you could live your life over again, would you do it all the same again? The answer in that spot isn’t too serious. Something about “I would buy my glasses right from the beginning at [insert name of optician here].”

But I think this question is very interesting and not at all easy to answer.

Would I do it all the same again? Well, at first, it depends on the interpretation of that question. If I just turned the clock back, I guess I would do it all the same again. Because I would still be myself and most of the time I acted the way I thought to be the best. Of course I made a lot of mistakes, but still, the time I made them I didn’t recognise them as mistakes.
But let’s say I stay the person I am right now, with my current knowledge and experiences and I could change anything. Would I do it then? Still the question isn’t easier at all. It raises more questions.

How far did my past experiences influence the person I am right now? Would I act differently now, make different decisions, would I have different opinions on the same topics if I had had a different childhood? Would I even be someone else? And the more important question: Do I want to be someone else?

After all, we are supposed to learn from our mistakes. But do we really do that? Don’t we make the same mistakes all over again sometimes? After all, we are not perfect.
How much of our personality is already determined when we are born? And how much can it change? How much of it is affected by our experiences?

In my opinion, we have something like an individual basic personality. And this personality is formed later by our experiences. I think our experiences play an important role in our lives. Nevertheless it all depends on your given personality, too. I don’t think that we would all be the same if we had the same experiences. I think these experiences rather stimulate some of our features that are already existent. At the end of the day, our actions are still our own decisions and we can’t blame a difficult childhood for doing the wrong thing or use it as an excuse for wrong decisions.

So, to come back to my initial question, would I change anything? I am still not quite sure. There are one or two experiences I would like to change. I wish I had acted differently there. But after all, I also think they are an important part of my life. And I am content with the person I am now. Of course I am far away from being perfect, but at least I can say I try to do my best and I am constantly trying to be a good soul. Still am not absolutely sure. Wouldn’t it be better to change bad decisions though?

If you could live your life over again, would you do it all the same again?

Would you?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My one and only love?

I am absolutely passionate for travelling. My English isn't even good enough to describe in an appropriate way how much I love it and how desperately I yearn for it. Due to financial and personal problems I haven't been abroad for about two years now and I won't be this year. Anyway, I hope I will soon get the possibility to travel again.
The following pictures are from places I have already been.
I think there are not much words needed. Just look at these landscapes...
My heart longs to be in places like these...

A beautiful view in Norway

Norway again

The sea in Norway.
It was so cold and pretty windy, but it was such fun bathing in the waves and so exhilarant.

 Seagulls in Turkey

A sunset in Istanbul. I must admit, it looked much more beautiful in reality.

A harbor in Denmark.

Lovely beaches in France.

I am dreaming away...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Quote of the week #1

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.

Shakespeare – Macbeth

This is what Macbeth says when he hears about the death of his wife.

Life is meaningless. We all struggle so hard, but at the end, we all die. And a few decades later nobody will remember you. Unless you’re a famous rock star or something like that. So why do we even work so hard, why do we take such pains in life? I hope that every one of you has his own individual answer to that.
Sometimes, while having a bad day or week, I share Macbeth’s opinion. I wish I could leave something behind, so that people will remember me. It scares me to know that one day I will be gone and forgotten. What is the meaning of my life then?  But then again, I would have to ask myself, why is anybody living? Is life just about the process of living? I mean, animals don’t seem to think about these questions, they just try to survive. So maybe I shouldn’t think too much about this, because nobody will ever be able to give me the utterly truth.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My point of view

I absolutely believe that we should all concentrate on the good things in life, that we should enjoy every little moment and be happy about all the little things that happen around us. I believe we should be grateful for what we have.  We should smile more often to other people (at least here in Germany people don’t do that too often) and we should try to share our happiness. Life is wonderful and valuable and it is too short to be unhappy and to have a negative point of view.  I am absolutely convinced by that.
Nonetheless, of course I know that life is often hard and unfair. Actually, you could say that I had what people call a difficult childhood. Maybe that is where the problems start. Because as I just said, I think that we should all concentrate on the good things in life and be happy about them. This is what I think. But what I feel is so different sometimes. You could say, there is a great difference between my thoughts and my feelings, between the things that I tell other people and the things that I actually feel. Often I concentrate too much on the negative things, I forget the positive ones and I am not grateful for all the good things that happen to me. And I am so often jealous of other people. I don’t really live the life I would like to live. But at the same time I am not able to change this, since I can’t change the present without endangering my future.
But of course I don't tell anyone. I keep smiling and try to convince myself of my own opinion.
Anyway, I won’t change my mind about concentrating on the small good things in life, because, after all, what else can you do to survive the difficult ones?


At the very beginning, I would like to introduce myself. I am a young woman, I was born in Germany and I still live there. I love travelling, reading, doing sports and all the other common stuff, like going out with friends. And of course, I love English. Unfortunately I have never been to Great Britain or America before, but as soon as I have the possibility to go there, I will! So because of my fondness for English and my hope to improve it that way, I decided to do my blog in English. Please feel free to correct me, I am quite sure I make a lot of mistakes.
So what is this blog about? I always think a lot about everything and in particular about what life is all about, especially my own, of course. And I realized that I can’t just keep these thoughts in my head without talking about them. I also love writing and since I already filled a lot of diaries with my thoughts I decided to share them from now on. I also hope to get a few other opinions about my topics. So this blog isn’t really about one special topic, but about life, opinions, ideas and everything that seems important to me.

I hope you enjoy reading.