First of all: maybe I tricked you a bit with the title there to get your attention. Please accept my apology for that! But the following is really important to me. Since you are apparently still reading this, let me take the opportunity to clarify: I believe there are probably bazillions of things that are not OK at this very moment…

It is not necessary to be book smart or well traveled to figure out what the worst things might be. The only thing required is a little time to reflect. However, many people (including myself) continue living their lives as if everything was just perfectly fine. Let’s not panic here either. Of course, I am not suggesting you should start making complaints on a high level about each and every thing either – of that we clearly have enough as it is. I think that Louis CK is pointing out exactly what is wrong with our generation in the above clip of the Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show (btw: Louis is awesome and you should definitely check out his series if you haven’t done so yet)…

I am rather talking about the people who continue to believe that the world is as it is: making money and working disciplined is the most important thing on earth, that shopping is actually making them happy, that the government’s goal consists entirely of the protection of our freedom and that all banks are interested in the wealth of us, the citizens.

Most people also believe, that we humans are all by nature fighting alone and independently against each other for our own benefits and wealth – and should learn to do so in the earliest ages possible. Life is short, make the best of it for yourself!

Wrong! But although obvious that one or the other thing is clearly an illusion, still most of us are unimaginative enough to just go on with these believes and our everyday grind. Just flowing with the stream, the path of least resistance, taking all those ideas of life as solid facts, which have been carved into stone since our birth. By this state of mind, we are blending into the crowd, are loosing our uniqueness in our characters and miss out on many special experiences in life. Why is that?!

Oh, I am sorry, too deep for this time of day? Sure, I don’t want to lecture anyone on how to live their life, but i have a pretty strong feeling that what we are currently doing is not the best way for most of us…

Let me point out some of my own simple philosophies and principles. I am going to be honest, I am not living by all these rules all the time, but… I will get there eventually! The Chinese say: A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. So here are my steps…

  • Stop wanting to have (so many) materialistic things. Everything you want (and also everything you have) binds you to some form of obligation. You either have to work to get it, work to maintain it or just keep an eye on it to not loose it. Reduce that obligation to a minimum and be aware and accept the fact that everything is transient – and you will eventually become free (or at least more free). Realize that most of the conflicts are a consequence of wanting something or loosing something. And I am not suggesting to throw out all your tech gadgets immediately. Stop thinking black and white! Just lower your estimation of their value to you. Instead, try to focus on building up your relationships with people and doing something with those close to you. By the way, that is what I call creativity. And probably you will remember much better the time you had on holidays with your friends than the fifth iPhone you got. Wait, what? Right now you wish nothing more than to have a new iPhone? By the 8th iPhone you will not even remember how the fifth one looked like. Or do you still remember the second one? No? I rest my case!
  • Stop making business with money. Of course it is a good thing to work, especially if you like what you do (otherwise stop doing it immediately, seriously!) as a contribution to society. You receive some money, which you can later trade into work that is being done by others for society (in this case: for you). That’s what money was originally intended to be for. And actually it is pretty good idea. It was not for either investing or getting a loan with interest however. Those things give people money without any contribution being done for society in exchange. Instead this money is even invested in things out of your control and most likely with profit in mind and not for the benefit of mankind or our planet. Maybe the bankers decide to invest into – I don’t know – nuclear power or other things you personally might have rejected to invest into. But they have to do it, because constant economic growth (a huge part of our religion) within a system with limited resources can only be sustained by exploitation until the collapse (I blogged about this talk on our problem with arithmetic last year).
  • Go see the world. Do not rely on what you read about China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cuba or anywhere to form an opinion about something. You listen to different people, you get different opinions. So go there and check it out for yourself. You will find a lot of things the people believe in or live by, that are long forgotten or have been totally unknown in our western society. You might even get inspired because there are a lot of people living a good life as well, without our points of view. Do not judge anything without experiencing it, ever! Yeah, probably they are not all driving a Porsche and have an orderly 9-to-5 office job, but you will be surprised how many of them are pretty happy, have a great time with close friends and a supportive family anyway (or maybe even because of that?). Very likely this is what is most important to any human: being happy? What if they have some ideas and ways of life that lead to that happiness but will be forgotten soon? And this has actually already started! Most likely due to the wave of globalization rolling over their countries and making them believe in the same things we are. Western “culture” is spreading almost like during the crusades, but this time it is the religion of money taking over the inspiration of those parts of the world… therefore:
  • Do not feed globalization. Globalization makes people all over the world slowly starting to think and act in the same way, no matter what climate or culture they come from. In fact, cultures will get lost by this fact because if you do not believe in the economy as much as for example the Chinese do, you are going to get extinct. This is a bad thing, as diversity is what keeps the evolution going. Our evolution! And evolution is clearly a good thing! Listen to what nature taught us over the millions of years! Go buy local! Visit small specialized businesses in your neighborhood! Support the self-employed and freelancers! With every dollar, euro, yen or ruble you spend, you vote for what kind of business (and therefore mindset/ideology) you would want to survive and what kind of business/behavior you would like to see dying out. Every. Single. Day. Isn’t this a really underestimated power you have got there? Use it!
  • Last but not least: Stop worrying! Most things that make you fear the future are nothing compared to what ‘could be’. Probably when the future comes, and it actually brings you the scenario that you feared the most (unlikely), you are suddenly handling it pretty well. And you don’t even know why that is. Most likely it is because time has passed for so long until it happened, you are not the same person by then. Things change. People change. So, the best way is to live and enjoy the moment. Nobody is in control of their future entirely. That’s what is common to all of us. Get used to that and relax!

In the end everything can be OK. At least I believe we can make it – we just have to do something: realize something you want to change, imagine how it could be changed and then not to wait until some people change it for us. Believe in your imagination and try the things that you can think of. Never stop failing (= learning) until you succeed!

Did I forgot something? Oh yeah, the financial crisis… I just have to mention that – who was responsible for the crisis? The banks say ‘not us, but the economy’ (at least according to the latest lawsuits they are filing against each other now). But it was kind of new to me that banks are not part of the economy anymore. Aren’t they always claiming that they are what keeps the economy going? Aren’t they fighting for the free and liberal market? Remember the “too big to fail” arguments?

I understand their behavior under the laws of economics – but I don’t like the “take the winnings, socialize the losses” attitude. Do you want to be a part of such a system? No? Well, you are. Everyone is. And everyone likes the system as long as they are at the end with more leverage. And now comes the kicker: you are not at that end! Here is why: Even if you are doing pretty decent and have a well-paying AND honest job (which is rare) – all the money you earn is changing its value depending on what bankers are up to. In the end it does not matter if you worked 10.000 or 5.000 hours for what you own now. It just needs a couple of guys kicking loose an avalanche like the mortgage crisis on the stock market and *bam* your savings are worth only 5.000 hours. Be aware that nothing in reality changed. 10.000 hours of work in the past are worth 10.000 hours of work,  or at least you would think. But the actual value is determined right now and changing by the mood of the traders at the stock market. It is as if there is a selective elite of people who have the possibility to claim that you just worked half the hours even though everyone knows it is not true. Imagine someone would say that without any proof but everyone would believe that person! Ridiculous, right? Chin Meyer is explaining in very simple terms (but unfortunately only in German) how the system works. In my opinion it’s crazy that we (at the lower end of the food chain) are even trying to keep alive and protected such a system so ambitiously.

So, where do you start improving our future? Sure, money itself is probably not even a bad idea (at least it wasn’t in its beginning). But we are definitely using it wrong… Share your ideas!

P.S.: Another awesome appearance of Louis CK on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show.