All posts by Sam

A short lesson about kindness and generosity

Recently I read somewhere the following statement. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where, so I can’t add the source here. But I’d like to share the message nonetheless.

I heard my mom asking our neighbor for some salt. We had salt at home so I asked her why she was asking. She told me, “They don’t have much money and they sometimes ask us for things. So I asked for something small that wouldn’t burden them. I want them to feel as if we needed them too. That way, it will be much easier for them to ask us for anything they need.”

I admire that attitude, and it expresses so much kindness and care. I am trying too to be kind, fair, supportive, positive, and respectful. Most of us do. And there are days when this works out better than on other days. That’s okay. The important thing is that you keep trying.

In our fast-paced world, we tend to forget those values easily. We are all too busy to stop and look around us, see those in need, and help others. We are so busy with ourselves and minor issues that we sometimes don’t see the bigger picture.

This message above is a reminder to be kind. So, if you haven’t been kind to someone today, the day is still ongoing. Go out and be kind.

Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right?

Many people care more about being right than being happy. This is a statement from James Clear. And thinking about it, I am sure this has happened to all of us already, right? Some things must be clarified, or we don’t find peace with that topic. I am sure you have had such thoughts too in the past, right?

A small example is the famous dishwasher. For whatever reason, in most relationships, you have one partner with a particular way to fill the dishwasher. Every piece has its place in there. Let’s call this partner Jim. And there is the other partner, Jenny, which doesn’t care about such stuff. Most of the time, Jenny places used dishes on top of the dishwasher instead of in the dishwasher. And even if Jenny spends the effort to open the dishwasher door, the dish will end up in there in the wrong place.

This is very upsetting for Jim, resulting in myriads of explaining, scolding, and or simply grumpy uttering. Jim tries, again and again, to educate Jenny to do it the “right” way. But guess what, Jenny will never do it the way Jim wants to see it. But Jim doesn’t give up. Why is Jenny not getting it? What’s wrong with that person? I need to try harder. I want Jenny to understand that I am right!

This is just an example, and there are plenty of others. It is simply not so easy to let go of something we believe to be right. So we keep fighting as if there won’t be a tomorrow. But there are other strategies, aren’t there? One would be to reflect. Why is it so important to me to be right in this case? What is the best possible outcome? That Jenny says, “Yes, Jim, you are right. From now on I will do it your way.”? How likely is it that this will happen? So why keep trying to make her acknowledge that you are right? She won’t. Already her pride will prevent that.

Jim could also approach Jenny with: “Hey Jenny, we always have this stupid fight about the dishwasher. How about this: we alternate weekly. I am using my way, and you are using your way. And the other won’t interfere. The only rule: the dishes are clean after the week or we won’t switch back. Deal? Nice! Let’s go and have fun.” Wasn’t that hard, wasn’t it?

There is plenty of time

“The myth is that there isn’t enough time. There is plenty of time. There isn’t enough focus with the time you have. You win by directing your attention toward better things.”

James Clear

Recently I came across that quote from James Clear. This quote resonated somehow and here is why.

Contrary to popular belief, time is not a scarce commodity. We all have enough of it, every day; however, the issue lies in how we allocate our attention and focus with the time available.

This realization has enabled me to be more mindful about what I choose to focus on during my days. Rather than being pulled into activities that aren’t serving me, I try to direct my attention to better things. This helps me maximize the time I have and ensure that my efforts are going toward achieving what matters most in life.

By recognizing that there is enough time but not enough focus, I am able to make decisions with a greater level of intentionality and clarity. This has enabled me to cultivate meaningful habits that are bringing me closer to my goals and dreams.

How are you using your time? Are you happy with how you spend your time?

Doing a good job on an unimportant task

Recently I stumbled across the following quote: “The most invisible form of wasted time is doing a good job on an unimportant task.” And thinking about it, I do this quite often, spending time on unimportant tasks. But why? Well, for one there are certain tasks I simply like to do, it’s fun doing them. Once in such a task, it’s hard to realize that the task might not be that important and actually I should stop doing that. Those tasks are usually in the less important 80% of the Pareto principle. And second, there are tasks where I simply didn’t spend enough time to identify or determine the importance and I’ll find out too late, that these tasks haven’t been that important at all. I am often too busy to push the cart with the flat tire to fix the tire.

So, what can be done about that?

1. Set Priorities: Before starting any task, take a few minutes to think about its importance in the grand scheme of things. If it’s not an important task or not worth your time, move on to other tasks that are more important and beneficial to you.

2. Make a To-Do List: Allocate a time slot and priority for each task on your to-do list. This way, you can prioritize tasks important to you and quickly identify which tasks are not worth your attention.

3. Take Breaks: When working for long hours, it’s easy to get caught up in unimportant tasks. Taking breaks helps reset the mind and refocus on important tasks.

4. Delegate Work: If there are tasks that you can delegate to others, then do so. This way, you can focus more on the important tasks and not get bogged down by unimportant ones.

5. Automate: Use automation tools for repetitive tasks like data entry or other time-consuming tasks. This will free up more time for important tasks and eliminate the possibility of getting sucked into unimportant ones.

The quote highlighted an issue many experience – doing a good job on unimportant tasks. Setting priorities, making to-do lists, taking breaks, delegating work, and automating wherever possible can help ensure that you’re spending your time on important tasks and not wasting it on unimportant ones.

Ultimately, this quote serves as a reminder to be mindful of how we use our time and to focus our attention on the most important tasks first. It’s an investment in ourselves and our future. So, let’s make sure that we don’t waste our time, since time is our most important asset. There will be always ways to get money, wealth, attention, and even health up to a certain degree. But when time is gone, it’s gone. There is no way to get it back.

Diaper Drama

Did you ever change diapers? I mean of a toddler? You know, initially, that’s kind of cute. You trying to be as careful as possible, always afraid to break something or to do it wrong. The little one is on his back, looking at you with big eyes, and endures the procedure peacefully. Well, what else should it do, initially it can’t move much. So you get used to the task over time and the only worry is to not close the diaper too tight. The little one should still be able to push stuff from the upper body half to the lower body half to digest.

Soon you’ll discover another danger. Toddlers have the tendency to pee randomly and they do not care if there is a diaper or not. Hence you shouldn’t take too much time with the bare-bummed bundle of cuteness. The longer you keep those tiny genitals uncovered and pointed towards you, the higher the probability you’ll get hit one day. Sooner or later it will hit every parent, but you can optimize by keeping the time without diapers as short as possible. If you are too slow, a tiny bow of fluid is heading towards you and there is no way to escape. Congratulations, you just have been peed on. Don’t bother won’t be the last shower of this kind anyway.

Matters become more interesting when the little boss discovers how to turn from his back. Over time the mobility of those little creatures is increasing and they try to escape the diapering process since this process is boring and they have better things to do than waiting until you are done. So natural next move is to try to get out of this misery, in every possible direction. And this makes the diapering procedure more difficult, for both parties. Besides the actual diaper change, you have to make sure the toddler stays in position. Have you ever seen a break-dancer performing? This is how it looks like when a toddler tries to escape the diaper station. This creates challenges when removing the full diaper, but also when attaching the new diaper. Not to mention that the accidental peeing risk is increasing since the entire procedure takes longer. On top comes that the initial pee bow becomes as unpredictable as a rebellious lawn sprinkler. The probability that both of you have to take a shower after the procedure is increasing drastically. So you have to become creative in keeping the little monster fixed.

But that’s not the only danger. Are you aware that toddlers are pooing too? Yes, they do! And what is initially a sweet yellow puree, becomes fast a hazardous good. It all starts with breast milk, which is digested quite nicely by the little human. But slowly you start to shovel other foods into the little pooing machine and they develop quite fast a fondness for sweets and everything else which can be eaten without teeth. What nobody tells new parents, this will change the consistency of the poo. And not only that, it is changing the smell as well. And soon you’ll need a protective suit and a gas mask. This stuff is really lethal! You can not imagine how such a little cute toddler can produce such a toxic smell. Some might call this impressive, others just go and hide under the bed until the danger is over.

And what do you do with the full diaper then? You need to store it somewhere. You’ll learn fast that you need a cap for your rubbish can. If you don’t cover the used diaper, you’ll fall unconscious next time you enter the room. If you leave it open overnight, the will take hours to decontaminate the building.

And now combine the break-dancing and the full diaper. What do you think will happen? The little guy will manage to dip hands and feet into the brown mass, distributing it everywhere and you end up with brown hands and clothes, and the little one is screaming or laughing frantically in the process. From the outside, it sounds like you are slaughtering a pig in your apartment, but all you do is trying to change a diaper. be prepared that you both need a bath afterward, and a full set of new clothes.

But overall it’s kind of fun to raise such a little pooing machine. But every time a non-parent gives you some wisdom about how easy it must be to deal with a toddler, I imagine throwing one of those full diapers into that person’s face. Splash!

True Faces

What I am really astonished about is how people are reacting these days. It is almost like this COVID-19 virus is bringing out the underlying nature of the people, their true selves, their hidden nature. I’ve seen people offering help to others, asking older neighbors if they can bring groceries so that they don’t have to take the risk to get infected when going to buy food. I have seen so much understanding and readiness to help others and many times from people I didn’t expect that.

And there is the other side. I have seen people hoarding resources, buying toilet paper, pasta, flour and can food to survive the next 10 years in isolation. They didn’t even waste a thought that this doesn’t work out if everyone is doing the same. I have seen so much egotism and selfishness within the last days, it is unbelievable. And also here, I’ve seen this from many people I would not have expected that. That’s actually sad, it is evidence of incapacity.

And there are so many people not caring about the rules at all, gathering up, organizing secret parties, crowding in parks, visiting friends and family members, etc. That’s so irresponsible towards the risk group, affected most by the virus.
It is again a kind of selfishness and pure self-interest. But where is this coming from? Is this foolishness and irresponsibility of the youth? Is this simply narrow-minded? Is this the true nature, how we really are when times become tough? Or is this shaped by upbringing and society?

It’s probably a mix of all of those and society plays a bigger role here. Most people in Central Europe are raised to be independent, self-sufficient. This isolates of course and thoughts about the well-being of others fade into the background, sadly.
Parents play big role here too. The way they deal with life is most often the role model for the next generation. Children learn by observing and they become what they see and with whom they are surrounded with.

Thinking about consequences is not too common anymore, sadly. But all actions have consequences, actively considered or not. There will always be consequences, some will surface earlier, some later and some we don’t see at all, but they are there.

Hence dear people consider this. There are humans out there dying lonely in hospital beds because of this virus. People with weakened immune system which do not have the strength to fight this virus as you do. Relatives are not allowed to visit to keep the virus from spreading further. Those people die alone somewhere in a sterile room. Imagine you would be that person.

Now think twice before you go out there to meet up, to have fun because you are bored, or for whatever selfish reason you might have. Think that you might be the one spreading the virus further leading to lonely deaths, maybe even in your own family. THINK!


It is a strange time, totally different from what we are used to. This virus changed it all, within a few weeks. We have been pushed out of our comfy bubble of pseudo-safety. And all of it because of a tiny virus, a variation of the flu.

Hundreds of thousands are infected meanwhile, many thousands died and the forecast, especially in the US, paints an even darker picture. Being locked down at home is the luckier variant, no doubt. But this entire situation slowly develops into a nightmare. Almost nobody had such a pandemic on the radar. We felt safe and invincible. But now look at us. We are certainly not. And we haven’t been prepared for such an outbreak, not at all. We had been unprepared like the people in 1918 when the Spanish flu hit humankind.

But looking at it in a more realistic way, such pandemics have had happened quite a few times in history before. There has been the Antonine plage in the Roman empire killing about 5 million people. And of course one of the most popular, the Black Death in the 13th century, which wiped out over half of the population of Europe. And not to forget, the Spanish flu in1918, killing 500 million people worldwide. Those things happened before, just not in our lifetime or the lifetime of our parents. So just because we didn’t have such an outbreak in our recent past, we shouldn’t feel so damn sure that this can not happen to us.

Actually the risk nowadays is higher than ever before, because of our mobility. Millions of people are travelling every day, everywhere around the globe. Of course, perfect conditions to distribute a virus quite fast into every country on this planet. And this is what happened with COVID-19. In combination with some egoism, ignorance and greed, it spreads even faster.

So actually we can be happy that this happened, as cruel as it might sound. This is the wake-up call for the world. Imagine this virus would have been deadlier, e.g. 50% death rate. In this case, half of the world’s population would die within the next months and nobody could do anything about it. The death rate of COVID-19 is still quite low. Let’s learn something from that pandemic and hopefully, we’ll be prepared next time when a much deadlier virus might come.

Attention Amplifier

I have been at a McDonald’s restaurant recently. The noise level in such a fast-food restaurant is usually a little higher, but this time it was very loud, too loud actually. The source of the disturbance was identified quickly, the kids’ corner. McDonald’s restaurants usually have a corner or room for kids, a little play area. Many times with a little slide and other possibilities to park a kid. The longer the kids want to stay, the higher the chance to buy more food, maybe another drink or ice cream? Now here in this case it was a little slide, occupied by a bunch of kids, arguing heavily about different topics.

Observing those little humans made me realize a couple of things. First, this little ecosystem in that corner is a snapshot of our society. Different kids behave in different ways there, offensive, defensive, open-minded and interested, stubborn and unreasonable, sociable or shy, brave and cowardly, the entire spectrum. And on a higher abstraction level they behaved like any other group in our society. You could map those behavior pattern easily to any other setup, like a bunch of politicians debating over a certain topic, or a group of IT people reviewing source code. Another example would be a group of moms waiting in front of the kindergarten to pick up their offspring. The group dynamics are the same everywhere, fascinating. It is fun to observe how people are trying to find their place in the group. Some fight for this place, others convince with knowledge, again others don’t care and do their own thing. The dynamics in such groups is almost predictable and fun to observe. And it is independent from age, profession, education. So cool. Those toddlers are testing which approach works well for them, with copying seen behavior or with simple ‘trial and error’. What works well will be included into one’s repertoire and established as a pattern to be used throughout their entire life.

A second realization is that there are different ways to get attention from the other members of the group. And even in this little kids’ corner you could observe different approaches. Being able to get the attention of the other kids is mapped to the own importance in the group. And we all want to be important, in one way or another. So how did they achieve that? The simple case is plain communication. Tell what you have to tell and see who is listening. Now it’s not hard to see the dilemma here. If everybody is doing so, everybody will talk and nobody will listen. Hence you have to come up with a different plan. And most likely you will try out what worked for you in the past, in your family. And one of the more common approaches seem to be to increase your volume. If you are louder than the others, the chances you are heard are higher. So far the theory. The louder, the more important is the assumption. But where is that coming from?

Now imagine an average family, sitting together for dinner. Mom and dad are discussing the happenings of the day. Junior is bored by that and wants to share his opinion as well. Now he starts to interrupt the parents. They are arguing and don’t hear the little agitator. He realizes that and keeps interrupting, trying to be a little louder every time, in the hope to get heard. The parents do hear that of course, but want to finish their discussion first, before they start a different topic with the little boy. So they keep ignoring him. The show goes on for a while and the boy gets louder and louder. At some point in time the parents are so annoyed by this, that they turn to the little intruder to either listen to him or to yell at him. Whatever way, the boy got attention. Positive attention or negative attention doesn’t matter. The point is he got attention. And what do you think is the lesson he has learned now? Exactly, The longer you disturb, the louder and more annoying you become, the higher the chances are to get the attention you want. So he repeats that approach in similar setups and soon he is establishing a pattern. What works must be good. And all this taught by the parents. Fascinating dynamics. And of course the kid will use that technique whenever appropriate, e.g. in the playground corner at McDonald’s. The unfortunate side effect, the noise and annoyance level hits not only the target group, it hits everybody in the near as well. But you can’t blame the kid. That’s a clear parenting failure. So if you want to throw your burger or fries, target at the parents, not at the kid. And the sad thing is, the little human will use this approach most likely as a grown-up as well. Observe your next business meeting or sports club gathering more consciously. You’ll spot those people easily.

But there are other ways to get attention as well. Not every kid is loud. Other families establish other patterns. Some try to get attention with being smarter than others. Those kids come very often from families with lecturing parents. Nobody likes smart-asses, but if they are right, it’s hard to argue. Their approach is, if nobody likes you, you have to be right. Sheldon Cooper’s approach. They explain the world to you, if you want to know or not. Other kids learned that you can get attention through expressing emotions. Start to cry and mommy will come. Look sad and dad will be there for you. Isn’t that great? Such kids learn soon to trigger or fake such attention rewarding emotional behaviors. If it works at home, why shouldn’t it work in a play corner? And they keep using that technique while growing up.

Again others use a completely different approach, physical enforcement. If he doesn’t listen, punch him. A kick will do too. This will get you his attention, for sure. If he is from your kind, the attention will be expressed as punch as well. But hey, attention is attention. You all know the school bullies. Fishing for attention in violent ways works for them as adults too, of course.

But you might also earn attention in form of a confused facial expression or a sudden rain of tears. Job done. There are so many options. It’s a beautiful mix of different approaches, isn’t it? This is such a fascinating social experiment happening there. I almost forgot to finish my burger.

And this is just how to get the attention of group members. Now imagine the next level, how to influence the group, to convince them of my opinion. The variety of possible options is broad. There are so many ways to enforce a behavioral change unto the receiver of the message. Would be a long list here. But let me give you a few examples. If you have friends which chose to reproduce, you can observe many different styles how to raise a kid. Most of the time parents want their kids t behave in a certain way, or not to behave in a certain way. Initiating such a desired behavioral change is tricky. Some parents try to convince a 2-year old not to throw the empty yogurt cup on the street with a monologue about environment pollution. Might work, or might produce big eyes in a puzzled face. Others try to blackmail. “If you don’t finish your oatmeal gruel, there will not be any dessert for you!” Most kids think then, screw the dessert, if I finish that gruel I won’t live till dessert anyway. But there are more efficient blackmails too: “If you don’t clean your room, I won’t give you today’s wireless password!”

Another possibility is bribery. Very effective with children. “Look what a nice chocolate I have here. It’s yours when you help me with the vacuum cleaner.” And there are no limits: “If you pass that exam, I’ll take you to that leisure park you like. ” Or “If you finish school, I’ll buy you a car.”

As you can see, there are so many ways. And now think, the kids are observing this and what do they do? Of course they learn and adapt. Soon they’ll play the game to their advantages: “I vacuum cleaned my room, may I get some chocolate now?” Or in the blackmailing case: “Hey dad, please buy me that cool PS4 game and I won’t tell mommy that you flirted with the neighbor lady.”  And then the next level, they are using those techniques on other kids of course. “Give me that shovel or I tell my mom that you destroyed my sandcastle!”. Simple mechanics, life can be so easy.

And all boils down how the parents deal with their kids. They shape those behaviors and mechanisms. Of course they will be adapted with every interaction later on and other family members and friends play a role here too. But your parents set the  fundament, the base of your general behavior. They are shaping you in the first few years, establishing patterns your are still following today. And the funny thing is, if you that consciously or not. You are giving your kids the behavioral traveling fare. You are in charge, and you are to blame. Fascinating. Isn’t it?

Refrigerator Psychology

What fridge type are you? Your fridge is always full? Yes? Cool, so you are the ‘I wanna be prepared’ type. Let’s call him Mr. Hoard. But there are different flavors in this approach. So I’ll ask you, filled with what? Beer bottles? Then you’re more the thirsty Mr. Hoard type, which usually comes in one of the following two sub-types. ‘Party is my life’ or ‘I am so lonely’. Both sub-types have many things in common, lots of empty bottles for example, distributed in the entire apartment. To distinguish those two sub-types you have to have a closer look. If the bottle distribution is rather equal or creative, e.g. a swimming bottle in the toilet, another one in the micro wave or tied to the tail of the dog, then you might be in the apartment of a member of the ‘I wanna be prepared and party is my life’ species. In this case check behind the couch, you might find him sleeping there. But in any case, it was probably a good party. But if the bottle distribution is kind of clustered, usually close to the path from the fridge to the couch, with a primary bottle cluster around the couch, then you might find a member of the ‘I wanna be prepared and I am so lonely’ species. The bottle trail is a good hint, but to determine the specimen, you have to check for signs like beer belly, stoic eyes and oily hair with butter flakes. But careful, the example might burp suddenly and unexpected in your direction. In this case, good luck.

But the beer bottle collector is just one flavor of Mr. Hoard. Another flavor is the healthy hamster. Here the fridge is full of vegetables and fruits, but nothing to eat. Well, nothing serious to eat. Starving on a high level. If you are hungry, have a carrot. Need a snack? Have a carrot. Need a present for a friend? Have a carrot. You don’t like carrots? Broccoli will do too. In such a case I usually say: “Broccoli tastes the best if you replace it shortly before eating with a huge steak.” But hey, it is healthy. And there is the ‘a little bit of everything’ Mr. Hoard His fridge is filled up to the last free spot with various kinds of food. He is able to cater a party or to prepare a huge family dinner without a thought. Everything is there, always. The fridge is filled as there is no tomorrow for grocery shops. He feels the urge to replace every item he removes from the fridge. Those people are usually very popular as friends or flatmates.

And there is another fridge owner type, Mr. Perfect. His fridge has the right stuff in the right amount in the right package size, ordered by color, size and expiration date. Every item has it’s place. Misplacing anything in there is considered as blasphemy. The fridge is kind of an altar. And there is usually a second fridge, containing items to be able to refill the primary fridge as soon as something is missing. Serious business. Fridge visitors will drive Mr. Perfect crazy when they only look into the fridge. And a little word of warning, the fridge management of Mr. Perfect is usually extended to the entire apartment. So don’t touch anything! Never! But there is a high temptation for experimentation. You can try to change the by-size order of the eggs, or open two cheese packages of the same kind at the same time, and see what happens. But be prepared to run. As fast as you can.

The complete opposite of Mr. Perfect is Mrs. Idontcare. She is the goddess of entropy. Her fridge is a biotope or habitat, an experiment to prove that intelligent live exists beyond humankind. You won’t find items in her fridge which would be called “food” by other people. But you may find items which might have been food some time in the past. There is the open cheese package from last summer. It’s hard as a stone and you start wondering how is it possible that something grows on that rock? You feel like discovering water on Mars. But it is living. In general it’s very fluffy in that fridge and you can make a game trying to guess what’s underneath that fur. The only way for those items to ever leave the fridge is to grow feet to be able to walk out. And believe it or not, some are really trying this. The wonder of life. Next step in the evolution of those little fridge pets would be that they say “Hey mom, I’ll be out for a while” when they walk out the fridge with a smile. Science is awesome. That’s also the reason why you’ll find items in the fridge of Mrs Idontcare which do not really belong in there, like hair rubber bands, coins, makeup, train tickets, etc. Trying to find any rationale how those things might have got in there triggers heavy headache already.

And there is another fridge type. Mr Minimalist. His fridge is simply empty. It’s not even switched on or connected to a power socket. Well, why do you need to waste energy when the nothing is in there anyway. And why to put anything in the fridge at all? You have to buy the item, you have to carry it home, you have to make sure the expiration date is still in the future, you have to take it in and out of the fridge. It might need preparation and there is the package to be removed, recycled, etc. So much hassle for to enjoy a single yogurt at home? Forget it. Mr Minimalist is pragmatic, fetches his yogurt from a vending machine at work and eats it there. Problem solved. And restaurant owners need to live too, so why wasting fridge energy. There is absolutely no need. And if the fridge wouldn’t be that far from the bedroom, he would probably use it as closet for his socks.

So, what kind of fridge type are you?


So, what is it then, this life? What is it good for? What do I do with it? Good question. These days I spend a lot of time with work. Work defines my days. Getting up early to head to office, coming back late, tired and exhausted. Day for day, the same pattern. But don’t get me wrong, I like my job. I like what I’m doing. It simply fills my days and became an important factor in my life, actually the important factor. Weekdays there is not much else. Weekends are different, but not much. Catching up with necessary tasks like refilling the empty fridge or cleaning the apartment. Some sports maybe. And then I usually need to catchup with some sleep. Not very exciting actually.

Sure there are other weekends too, weekends in the mountains. Weekends where I feel alive. Sitting somewhere in the mountains, having breakfast and enjoying the view, the peace, the silence. I feel happy then and the daily routine with all it’s noise vanishes, like the morning fog on a sunny day in the mountains. I feel free in such moments and happy and grateful. This is what I consider as living. But such moments are rare. A couple of them a year maybe. But that’s worth it. Compared to those moments everything else appears dull and grey.

But that’s it then? Many grey days with a few shiny moments here and then? This is my life? Sounds terribly wrong somehow. Why do I live like that? Doesn’t make too much sense actually. I think it’s time for a change.