Thursday, April 13, 2006

Life is beautiful

At times like these, it would be insane not to feel happy, elated, glowing.

I just completed a series of workshops called The Healer's Art and have for the first time in my life felt that it is possible to practice medicine in the way I want it to. Ever since I entered University I felt that this system is killing me - slowly but surely. The impersonal attitude, the feeling that you're only a number, the constant high demands that contradict all logic and drain you of life, the lack of purpose and lack of compliments, just demands, constant demands to be perfect, without fault and to know everything... I was so tired I lived only for a day and it was clear I'll crack soon.

But having completed these workshops, I again feel elated and full of life; I haven't felt like this at University for a long time (in fact did I ever? I distinctly remember finding out last year that I wasn't smiling anymore, that I wasn't happy about my life.). A feeling of lasting happiness, a feeling of fulfillment, being happy about who you are and what you do and how you do it. One probably has to feel it for himself to know what I'm talking about. It's like life gave you flowers and kissed you. Like God or whoever there is finally noticed you and decided to help you, because you can't struggle on your own anymore.

So today we had the final presentation of the workshops and it was a total success. The audience was happy, we tackled a big problem in medicine and they suddenly felt less alone. I think I did my part very well. People complimented my speech and my organization. (I had lots of work in the last week, because I had to coordinate 14 people; I wrote several lengthy e-mails a day, often checking my inbox ten times a day, which explains my absence on the blog.) In the end, one of my professors approached me and said that the presentation was very well done and thanked me for it (imagine me - I almost burst from happiness, I never received such a compliment from one of my teachers) and then she went on to say that if ever I needed someone to talk to, she was there and that I had her e-mail and knew where to look for her - it meant more than I can say. That one of my teachers is willing, actually offers to support me through the learning process is something I deeply appreciate. I touched her shoulder and thanked her for her offer and I didn't feel that I was being impolite or unprofessional or weird. I was humane to her, I expressed how I genuinely felt and she appreciated the feedback.

I kept smiling all the way across the city centre and while I was waiting for the bus and on the ride home. My bus drove away seconds before I reached the door, but that was really not a problem; I knew the next bus will be arriving shortly and that the day was too good to be wasted and spoilt because I couldn't catch the first bus.

While I was walking through the city, I noticed that barely anyone smiles - smiles in a way which says: "I'm happy, I'm grateful life is so good, I love every minute of it." I counted only two smiles in 15 minutes and I must have passed more than a hundred people. Only two percent have time to be happy and content with their lives, while others are busy being deeply in thought, depressed, angry, lonesome and scared. I felt it was a waste. Because life truly is beautiful once you start worrying about things that really matter and only doing things that matter to you.


posted by Nadezhda | 20:48


Blogger Nadezhda said...

P.S. I disabled comment moderation, but please, behave yourselves or I will have to employ such means again when the debate gets too heated.

Blogger ill-advised said...

and only doing things that matter to you.

But most people can't afford to do that --- this is only possible if you have the good luck that what matters to you also matters enough to somebody else that they are willing to pay you for doing it.

P.S. I disabled comment moderation, but please, behave yourselves or I will have to employ such means again when the debate gets too heated.

Dang, what's this world coming to... one doesn't even get to enjoy a good flame war anymore... :)

Blogger Bo said...

You are one lucky lady, one of few, if it's true that you are finding so much reward from something that is also socially relevant. I can understand that you are smiling.

Also, yet again, the English of the post reads deluxe to me.

And one more thing, if I were you I would somehow expand the last sentence, because when one thinks of it, it could be smarty-assily remarked that "by doing only the things that matter to someone" is a sure way to the problems - you observed on the street.
I would change it into something like this: What makes one happy, and smiling, is a pursuit of sensible endeavours. It's hard at first, but at some time it could be found more easy and satisfactory.
But merely following the first direction that heart is telling at one moment, feels obviously wrong to me.

Congratulations on the hard work done.

Blogger Nadezhda said...

Ill-advised: I understand that in life it's difficult to only, selectively do things you like. Even in a job you enjoy there will be tasks you like less or dislike. I understand that. But one, in order to be really fulfilled, has to try (I also realize that sometimes it might not be possible, but how can you know if you never tried?) to minimize the amount of unpleasant tasks (perhaps delegating them to someone else or trying to complete them in the shortest time possible) and maximize the amount of pleasant tasks. If the only part of the job one enjoys is drinking coffee in the morning,then the person clearly needs to find another job. But if there are parts of your job you enjoy more, one could at least try to arrange so that one will do what he likes to and leave the less pleasant tasks to others (who might have a preference for the particular "unpleasant" task).

Well, you do get to enjoy a good flame war (how could I deny you the pleasure), but not on my blog. :)

Bo: More or less everything can be considered as socially relevant. While teachers, doctors and politicians are sort of directly responsible for people's well being, there are also hair dressers, shop assistants, bus drivers and others who can make your life more enjoyable. What a difference it makes when a clerk in the bank smiles at you and wishes you a good day (and he means that).

I think that while trying to be very rational, we're losing the contact with our feeling selves (our "hearts" was used as a metaphor). I distinctly remember feeling empty, borderline depressed, easily fatigued... But there was no reasonable argument for it. I was studying to become what would definitely make me happy and yet I was unhappy. These things are something you feel, not something you can (only) explain rationally. You might be able to rationally explain them later, when you've allowed yourself to really be in contact with your emotions. Then you can roughly determine, why you felt that way.

At least that's my opinion. In my life I got on better when I listened to my feelings than when I listened to my reason.

Blogger Bo said...

Good day!

But that's not all I would like to give you. Here it is, mainly as a present to your optimism: Johann Pachelbel and his Canon in D Major, following the notes of his heart, obviously feeling content, and smiling, and just - wanting to share his peace.

P.S. What I questioned is that "more or less everything" that many want to do at one moment is not socially relevant in some constructive manner. You are talking about working teachers, doctors, politicians, etc. who already form a good society. They are more or less smiling. Many others somehow don't fit it (even those with jobs). Did you know that:
- somewhat 60% of people in the developed countries don't like their jobs because they are doing something that they think they are not called to do. It's hard to smile over a feeling that you are missing something,
- the majority of men think of sex all the time; and now, if a chance is given to them, the majority of that majority would use it, won't they?

The debate around a society can definitely go on wider than anything else, and we would probably say nothing greatly new that we haven't already heard before, so what I would like to recommend is this: one "good day" and two "smileses" a day for the next weak, with slow increasing of the quantities until no "good day" and no "smile" gets suppressed. It's undoubtedly to me that everybody would like to good day and smile at others.

Blogger Nadezhda said...

What men thinking about sex have to do with the stats about people who are dissatisfied with their jobs is completly beyond my comprenehsion. What was the point you wanted to illustrate here is somewhere around there (=beyond my comprehension) as well.

I don't understand your last paragraph (about society, good days and smiling) well. Should you elaborate on it further, then I might be able to write you a decent reply. What was your point it the paragraph? I fear you might be using a few metaphors too many for me to be able to understand your writing well.

I am well familiar with Pachelbel, so thank you for the link, but I already have it on my mp3 player.

Blogger Bo said...

I will try to explain again, but then as for this subject go strictly to my prescription of greetingses and smileses.

The two "-'s" are very loosely connected associations. What I want to say again is that I don't agree with your last sentence in the original text, because (again using my "-'s"):
- a lot of people have their hearts at different places from the required ones. They may be doing what really matter, but these are not the things that really matter to them,
- and quite similary: men would like to have continious sexual intercourses, but they are not granted that wish.

People should do things that really matter and then the world as we know it somehow functions.
But to let them do things that really matter to them, is probably a one way ticket to chaos.

There are exceptions. I gave you the credit.

Blogger Nadezhda said...

I was saying that "the point of life" should in my opinion be to follow our heart and if you are (and your stats say many people are) dissatisfied with your job then you should just switch jobs. You should try to enable yourself to be and do something you like doing. It might not be possible for all people to get a different job or they might have to wait a long time to get it, but isn't it worth it? I cannot understand people who are in a position where they suffer (job/spouse/financial situation/body image/etc makes them unhappy) and they continue to suffer, not wanting to change their position. Being a martyr is pointless in many of life's walks.

If the thing that really matters to the society as a whole, but does not matter to you, then the social importance is beside the point. For exapmle, if your heart is not in a doctor's profession, then all you will achieve is burnout, depression and early death. Every job is stressful in its own way. Finding sense and liking/loving your job helps you support through the difficult times; it is essential that you enjoy your job, otherwise, your life is pointless insitence in situations that make you unhappy.

Men do not crave 24 hours of sex. Speaking from experience, men who get some, don't need to have sex 10 or more times per day. And neither would they just have intercourse with any woman they meet on the street. I don't know much about men who don't get any, because I've never dated such men. But again, in a relationship both the man and a woman should express their wishes and if they don't match, then they should find a more suitable match.

Well, reading Harry potter is not a thing of global imporance (it does not really matter), but it makes me happier and thus more effective at functioning in other walks of life (job, relationship...). so I find it very important that one also does things that do not matter on the global scale, but have big personal meanings. I don't agree with chaos.

We agree to disagreem, I guess.

Blogger Bo said...

I do understand your point more through the last comment. I don't disagree with that.
These disagreements like to come from "incompatibility" or incommensurability of ideas: some wants to be clear on this, others says that ... The best way is just to pay attention and talk, if you have time, that is.

But! can you disagree with this: Take a drug abuser for example. The percentage of some kind of serious drug abuse is high. Should he do what matters to him and take the drug, would his life be more beautiful then?

I must give you credit for the AND in your sentence: "Because life truly is beautiful once you start worrying about things that really matter and only doing things that matter to you."
In this light your idea is right, and my complaining not honest. Point to you. Not that I count.

Good day, and good bye.

Blogger Nadezhda said...

Drug users are a complicated issue. It would take a lot of perseverance to undergo a rehabilitation programme, but I think that afterwards their lives would be better and they would be able to enjoy them more, because they would form meaningful relationships (lasting friendships, marriage, etc.) which they cannot when their only occupation is how to get high. The problem again is in doing the step towards a better life. It is exactly the same problem as why 60% of people keep doing the job that doesn't fulfill them instead of finding a better job.

It doesn't matter who's right or wrong. I just wanted to be understood since my post evidently failed to explain this last point as fully as was needed.

Anonymous OwcA said...

It would take a lot of perseverance to undergo a rehabilitation programme, but I think that afterwards their lives would be better and they would be able to enjoy them more, because they would form meaningful relationships (lasting friendships, marriage, etc.) which they cannot when their only occupation is how to get high.

But what if the drug in question would procure the same (or perhaps even more potent) sensations?

Blogger Nadezhda said...

But you're still a slave, you're heavily dependent on a substance (you subordinate everything in your life so you could get more of the drug), whereas what I descibred above were the feelings of a free person.

Even though many drugs can (re-)create a feeling of happiness, people live a fuller life when they're not so heavily dependent on something. Addiction prevents you from living your life to the fullest and from creating fullfuling relationships with others.

Anonymous OwcA said...

Free for some values of free.

One could claim living life to the fullest is addicting as well. It can even skew one's perception leading to utter ruin. Take for example girls from Eastern Europe seeking fame and fortune in the US. Instead of a luxurious Beverly Hills villa many end up in a back-ally beaten to death by their pimp for stealing his crack.

Don't get me wrong, I do not advocate drug (ab)use, however I am sufficiently cynical to acknowledge some ideals are nothing more than causa sui.

Blogger ill-advised said...

I realize that by now I should know better than to offer any comments on freedom on this blog, but here goes anyway... :]

But you're still a slave, you're heavily dependent on a substance

Ah, but aren't we all slaves then? We all depend on food, water, air, and a modicum of comfort (e.g. a roof above one's head). Most of our waking moments are spent in pursuit of these things. A damned miserable sort of freedom, this.

It was always a source of amazement to me how anyone can call people free unless they either lack a stomach or have enough money in the bank that they don't need to work for a living.

Blogger Nadezhda said...

Ill-advised: we'll it's not absolute freedom we're speaking of because freedom, like truth can only be relative; at least it is such in my book.

I was offering my view on addiction; addiction to water and air enables living, so it is an addicton that supports life and as such I cannot count it as a decision made willingly by someone. You, however can choose not to eat, to eat less, to breathe differently etc. So in this respect you're still in command, if commanding your body is what you consider to be a mark of a free person. Also, free depends on perspective. I wouldn't want to put my legs up and stay unemployed even if I had millions upon millions. Being active and working is what makes me feel this life has a meaning.

Dears, both of you, I'm not trying to preach or say that my view of the matter is the absolute truth. I don't believe in absolute truths. I was explaining my view and what I said about addiction was again merely what I think about it. It is not the definitive treatment of addiction and I wasn't even trying to make it such. I tried to point out that many addictions can be over come and if they are, they could lead to a more fulfilling life (fulfilling in what I consider to be such).

Happiness is not the only emotion I appreciate or want for myself. I do not plan on avoiding misery, despair, depression and hopelessness, because I find them to be a way which enables you to experience life deeply, more profoundly. Perhaps I used happiness too often; I should have said feeling whole, content, satisfied about who you are, feeling you're enough as you are and that even you matter. Saying happiness was easier though I compromised the full meaning by it.

Again, my mission in life is not to be happy and a smiley-face all the time. This is not the happiness I speak of. I speak of a quiet sort of happiness that makes you glow and returns meaning to your life.

We approached the matter wrong-footedly. Everybody has their own idea about what gives them meaning, what makes life meaningful to them, I only presented a bit of what returned meaning to my future professional life and has enabled me to experience med-school in a completely different, more positive light.

Whether you mean to tell me that I'm wrong, I accept it. My ideas cannot be other people's ideas. If they are, fine; if they're not, then we'll just walk on separate paths. This shouldn't be a problem.

Blogger Bo said...

"Having or not having a stomach" of ill-adivsed reminds me of food, of course (not that I am hungry at the moment), which in turn reminds me of an interesting chap, Dario Cortese, who is perhaps our most educated nutricist (food expert), solely because he has occupied himself extensively with food ever since. He's 42 now. There is an interview with him in the latest Ona where one learns:
- that Dario walks 2-3h a day in the nature out of habit (exercising he says is the most important part of one's "diet")
- interesting tidbits into the food "psychology": its psychoactivity, dieting ...
- and a lovely motto at the end that "food becomes our friend when we absolutely don't care about it anymore, but love and enjoy eating it at the same time." I guess this can sound like a paradox, but I sense a truth in it: so as when one "makes peace with himself and the world". I also sense this is what Nadezhda has in mind on happiness.

With this I would like to give my opinion on freedom:
Is Dario a free man since he somehow must walk those 2h a day ... ? I say that he is free: he can sustain his lifestyle (with also a wife and two kids) that makes sense.

This also reminds me of the poor and uneducated people of the developed world who makes the substantial part of the over-weight and the obese. I would say that most of them wouldn't like to be that fat, but they don't have a choice, therefore they are not free.

Anonymous OwcA said...

Hm, in retrospective my comments came out a bit too harsh. I was merely exploring a train of thoughts.
All things considered, if we were to clash swords in this topic, it would be whether truth is absolute or not.

Blogger Bo said...

This Kiss of Klimt is really something.

Blogger Nadezhda said...

It went well with the title. And I like Klimt a lot.

Blogger Bo said...

It did. I like him too.
I like Dalí more (altough totally different), and Rubens even more. I have problems stopping-watching his paintings. Once an employee at the museum almost picked a fight with me.

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