How to Overcome Fear of Losing : Minimalism

Loss aversion is an important concept in human behavior.

According to behavioraleconomics.com ;

Loss aversion…is encapsulated in the expression “losses loom larger than gains”… It is thought that the pain of losing is psychologically about twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining. 

It gets me thinking, “if we didn’t have anything to lose in the first place, we wouldn’t feel pain of losing”.

A lot of people, including myself, are suffering from the constant fear of losing. I suppose that it is mainly the fear of losing someone special (e.g. family, friends etc), but still, losing something – even if it is not so precious – is somewhat painful.

If possessing things gives you fear of losing, it means the more you possess, the more you fear. So why not just NOT having them? If you don’t have it, you don’t lose it.

I understand that it is definitely not a solution for the fear of losing someone special (which is the case for most people), however, it can help you to live in another way, which is sort of like a minimalist way.

Minimalism is a growing trend worldwide for several reasons ; financial aspects, environmental concerns, mental/psychological perspectives… etc. (Here is one of the many websites that explains benefits of being minimalism.) In addition to this, from behavioral economics point of view of loss aversion, living in a minimalist way might reduce your fear of losing and focus on other things. Less stuff means less worries.

That is what popped up in my mind when I came across an article on loss aversion.


While writing this post, the whole notion of minimalism reminded me of an amazing book called “Gift From the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

“I love my sea-shell of a house. I wish I could live in it always. I wish I could transport it home. But I cannot. It will not hold a husband, five children and the necessities and trappings of daily life. I can only carry back my little channelled whelk. It will sit on my desk in Connecticut, to remind me of the ideal of a simplified life, to encourage me in the game I played on the beach. To ask how little, not how much, can I get along with. To say – is it necessary?- when I am tempted to add one more accumulation to my life, when I am pulled toward one more centrifugal activity.”

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“I was wrong” Is Not Wrong

Hey I’m back! (The trip was great, I rediscovered the beauty of the culture of my country.)

Today I want to talk about knowledge.

It has long been one of the most discussed topics in philosophy. When we say “I know X”, what do we mean by that? How do we know that we know? What constitutes the feeling of knowing? … There is much to be questioned about knowledge.


So what do I mean, when I say “I know that I have two eyes”?

Well, I believe that the proposition (“I have two eyes”) is true, and it is justified (Other people can see that I have two eyes). This is what makes my knowledge of “I have two eyes”. It’s a traditional analysis of knowledge, which claims that knowledge is composed of justified, true belief.

Put aside all those philosophical debates on this topic, what bothers me when I try to take a closer look on knowledge is the assumption that knowledge has to be true.

It is pretty obvious that when we say “I know X”, we believe it to be true, unless we intend to lie. Even in the case of lying, we know the truth, so that we can tell a lie.

It is for this reason, I suppose, that it is generally regarded to be “wrong” to believe in something that turns out to be false. Don’t you feel a little bit of shame and pain when you say “I was wrong”? The fact that you said “I know X” means that you were strongly believed it to be true, and when your knowledge turned out to be false, you suddenly become a liar with no intention to lie.

But who knows whether your current knowledge is actually true or false? In the past, it was believed that the sun rotates around the earth, which is false, but it was true at that time. After all, truth may be just a human agreement of how to understand the world.

So, rather than to consider knowledge as “something that has to be true”, it might be a good idea to see it as a blackboard, where you can add new ideas, as well as erase wrong ones. Learning that your previous idea was wrong will also added to your knowledge. The fact that knowledge is erasable allows you to be skeptical of your own beliefs and always open to new ideas. Removing the assumption of “knowledge has to be true” enables people to be never satisfied with their knowledge and constantly improve their knowledge, as well as making it less shameful to say “I was wrong”.

I am not in any way encouraging people to spread false information and believe in whatever they hear. Recognizing that our knowledge can sometimes be false, no matter how many evidences there are to support its validity, helps people to think critically and therefore, be independent and not brainwashed by others.

Isn’t this ability – think on your own – is what is vital in today’s information society where too many “truths” contradict each other?

 

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”

By Soren Kierkegaard


This quote might sound a bit depressing, but it might also signify something positive.

“Life can only be understood backwards” means that there is no knowing what you should do, and there is no such thing as destiny. You are the author of your life, you can write whatever you want.

“it must be lived forwards” means that you have to keep living, and you shouldn’t waste your time regretting the past. It has already taken place and you can never change it. What you can change is your future, by turning your regret into a valuable experience which had taught you a lesson of life.

Together, I believe what the quote suggests is ;

you should always look toward the future, because you are responsible for your own life, you have the power to change your destiny, and you are the only one who can give meaning to your life.

Bordeaux, France 2016
Bordeaux, France 2016

 

I’ll be away from my blog for several days, as I’m going on a trip with my family. I’m really excited! See you soon!

Your Life is Meaningless

You want to fulfill your life, don’t you? You want to enjoy your life to the full extent, while pushing your limits of what you can do and advance your career. That’s why you go out with your friends and travel abroad, as well as improving yourself by studying and practicing.

But what if I said, your life is essentially meaningless?

People tend to think the opposite ; your life has a meaning and is worth living for, and therefore you want to fulfill it. There are steps in your life which are widely thought that everybody has to take (e.g. finishing high school/university, getting a job, having a family), and since they guide you throughout your life, they make your life seem like there is an ending.

However, these steps are wholly conventional and arbitrary. The social system makes it seem impossible to live in the entirely different way (e.g. not going to school and getting a job at the age of 5), and it is legally speaking impossible, but the law itself is also conventional. There is actually nothing that stops you from living in a complete outlawed way.

It is also this social convention that makes you stressed and unhappy with your life.

  • You feel worthless because you didn’t get a good score on a test?
  • You feel like a loser because your friends are having stable work while you only get part-time job?
  • You feel jealous of your colleague who got promoted?

As there are criterions of measuring how “worthy” you are in our society, you feel forced to work hard to meet these criterions. The feeling of dissatisfaction and unhappiness comes from the constant pressure to prove your value of being. Your life’s meaning becomes showing how much you “worth” in society.

But these criterions are, as I said, conventional. Our society may give your life a meaning in that it demands you to be someone that our society wants, but it is definitely not the reason why you were born. You just happened to be born in this society in this time.

In my blog, I usually write about how you can contribute to the society, and I always believe that people should do so. However, if you are stressed out and feeling terrible with your life because you are not what the society expects you to be, here’s a little advice to remind yourself ; your life is meaningless.

Meaningless does not mean worthless. It’s quite the opposite. You are worthy in being who you are, don’t let the society decide your value by trying to meet the social criterions.

Furthermore, meaningless means it is YOUR role to give a meaning. Since there is no preordained meaning in your life, you can draw whatever you want on a canvas of your life. It’s better to draw a good one, right?

Once you realize that there is no meaning or purpose in your life, you may be able to feel relieved. There is no more “I have to do this”, but only “I enjoy my life”.

You do you, I do I, and that's it
“You do you, I do I, and that’s it”

Idea-driven vs. Reality-driven

Have you ever had an argument in which you are 100% sure that you’re right, but so does your counterpart and it never reaches agreement?

No exit?
“No exit?” France, 2015

Recently I started to feel like fundamental issues in some arguments do not lie in the arguments themselves, but in people who are engaging in the arguments.

To be more precise, a conflict between two types of people ; idea-driven and reality-driven.

Idea-driven people are those who see things in macro-perspective. They put importance on signification of things, consider a matter on a large scale, and they do not hesitate to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their own beliefs.

Reality-driven people are those who see things in micro-perspective. They focus on actual facts, analyze each matter, and they are likely to behave on the basis of what benefits them in real terms.

Take a controversial issue, gun control, for example.

Idea-driven people might say “More guns, more crimes. Guns are not necessary for self-defense in a safe society with no guns, and armed teachers are like showing children that killing is ok under certain circumstances.”

Reality-driven people might argue “Although killing is wrong and a society with no guns is an ideal place, but the fact that many people already carry guns today remains the same. I need a gun to protect my family.”

These two arguments are very simplified and lack some other factors, but you get the point, right?

Take another example which is closer to our daily problems, shopping. Idea-driven people are more likely to buy things that match their style despite the prices. Contrary to it, reality-driven people stay reasonable, and cost-performance matters a lot.

It’s not a questions of gun control or what to buy anymore, it’s a question of the way people think. The way people think is influenced by many social factors, such as culture, family, childhood, friends, job, and so on. The diversity of opinions is vital in our society and that is why democracy is considered as (so far) the best political system. However, if people are fundamentally different in how they see the world, all those complicated issues in our society as well as in our daily life seem never to be resolved.

The important thing, I guess, is the education that teaches this diversity of opinions through different perspectives. Understanding that there are plenty of ways of thinking, respecting them, as well as expressing how YOU think (I wrote about how your opinions matter a lot and the significance of you transmitting them in this post ) are elementary, but also necessary steps to take in order to find better solutions in our society, along with our personal life.

 

Convenience is not Happiness

I feel like people are deriving happiness from convenience.

Driving a car instead of walking. Asking on the Internet instead of reading a book for an answer. Eating factory-made-food instead of cooking yourself…

I do not deny that this desire of making our life more convenient allowed us to ceaselessly improve ourselves. It is true that people in today’s highly globalized, competitive world are always busy, and that they prefer to spend as little time as possible on each thing.

This is why I sometimes intentionally take a long time in doing each thing, to appreciate the whole process of doing, not just the result. I mentioned it in my past post [ A Life Lesson from Kant – The Beauty of Unproductiveness ] as well that although efficiency and productivity are vital nowadays, it’s sometimes a good idea to do the opposite ; be easygoing and unproductive.

Recent trends of slow life and slow food show how people starting to recognize the pleasure of taking time, appreciate the process and enjoy the inconvenience. (Here is another post where I wrote about where that trend might have come from)

Convenience is not the only criteria of happiness. Thanks to development in many fields, we now live much longer than our ancestors did. Why not spend a little more time on each thing, cherish the experience of living itself?

Another Scenario of the Apocalypse

When we think about the Apocalypse, common scenarios are pandemic disease, climate change, nuclear war. Some even suggest the possibility of AI getting rid of mankind.

However, these scenarios are all external. But what if the Apocalypse happened within humankind?

That is what I’d like to suggest as another scenario of the apocalypse ; collapse of morality.

Stuck in morality
“Stuck in Morality”

Have you ever noticed how fragile our morality is?

Killing a person is certainly morally wrong, everyone knows it. But still, murders continue to happen and many people enjoy “virtual killing” in video games. Lying is also morally wrong, but everyone does it (sometimes the benefit of others). Stealing is morally wrong, but haven’t you ever taken a piece of paper from your workplace?

There are many things we do, even though we know they are morally wrong. Our morality actually cannot rule all the actions we take no matter how “good” we’d like to be, because our actions are determined not only by our morality but also our emotions, social situations, experiences, and such.

The scariest part is, when people become fully aware of the fragility of our moral and that it does not possess any kind of actual enforcement power over us. Unlike some desires which are crucial in order to survive (e.g. hunger), morality does not physically threaten us even if we disobey it.

The collapse of morality is, in fact, people behaving the way they want, maximizing their own happiness without caring for others. Doing something that goes against our morality might not feel very good, but it does not harm us in terms of survival. People become self-centered.

All of us have some egoistic sides, but we are most of the time concerning about how others would see us, which makes us follow our morality. What if everyone starts to act completely selfishly? No more morality.

This is another scenario of the apocalypse that randomly came up on my mind today. It does sound unrealistic, and I hope it continues to do so…