The Robbery in Sarajevo

In this article I intend to reflect upon a small robbery that I was subject to last year while travelling through eastern Europe together with a friend.

The situation: Me and my friend, two students from Sweden, were hanging out in an old watchtower or alike made of stone on one of the hillsides surrounding the city. The view was beautiful and we were drinking some Bosnian beer (Sarajevsko) and discussing philosophy. Besides us there were only four other people around the tower, some young natives. As we were sitting down on one of the broad window-frames, drinking beer and listening to music from my new smartphone, we found ourselves surrounded by these four natives, with no chance of escaping without a fight. After a few minutes of discussion and trying to talk sense into the muggers they finally left after we had handed them 25€. The adrenaline was still pumping but we quickly realised that the situation could’ve escalated into something much worse than losing just 25€.

When now thinking back on this event I see it from two polar points of view.

1. My first thought was, not surprisingly, a deep disappointment with the muggers. I felt like my faith in humanity had suddenly taken a huge blow. The whole event symbolised a big part of what’s wrong with the world today: lack of solidarity and morality in a minority of people. This results in that in order to avoid taking unnecessary risks you must either a) never carry any valuables when going to places such as this or b) stay at home. This is just sad, everyone is forced into taking precaution and think about safety because of the minority of people that lack enough solidarity not to be trusted.

2. This point of view is a bit more uplifting than the first. If we analyse the event from a utilitarian perspective, it’s actually not bad at all. Me and my friend, being two Swedish students, can surely affording losing 25€ and hardly notice any difference. Meanwhile these teenagers probably had much better use of them, considering the average salary in Bosnia is approximately 19€ per day according to wikipedia. Not to forget that this was quite the experience for me and my friend, a story to remember Sarajevo by. In short: the consequences of this robbery was probably more positive than negative. However we can’t know for sure, as this successful robbery may encourage the muggers to commit more serious crimes in the future, potentially leading to more misery.

Plato’s Moral Philosophy: Metaethics and Why to be moral according to Plato

This article is a follow-up to previous article: Plato’s Moral Philosophy: Virtue Ethics and Mental Health

In The Republic Plato discusses, using the voice of Socrates as usual, the metaethics behind his theory of mental health as the main ingredient of a good life. The question Plato attempts to answer is the surprisingly difficult and eternal question: “Why should I be good towards others?”

Before beginning on his own answer to the question Plato first gives three other plausible answers, which he will later refute with his own answer. The answers are put forth through the mouths of some of the sophists back in the day. The sophists do seem to agree that morality is conventional rather than natural. Thrasymachus, one of the sophists, then strongly belief that there is no point in being moral as it is merely a tool made by those with power to stay in power (nearly the opposite of what Nietzsche concluded). We should rather act out our natural instincts, disregard justice and pursue only our own interests.

In response to Thrasymachus another sophist, Glaucon, comes up with the idea that if our goal is to manifest our own interests then the easier and smarter way to do so is to be moral. This is because if you do good to others they will do good to you, but if you don’t care about the well-being of others and act out your egoism then others will not aid you when you need it. Some people might call this ‘karma’, however there is nothing spiritual to it. The clever egoist acts moral.

Plato, however, cannot accept this answer as it would mean that it is acceptable to be immoral as long as you can get away with it. For example you could commit a crime such as murder or stealing as long as you don’t get caught. It does indeed seem that although Glaucon is correct in that it would be wise to be kind to others no matter your intentions, it is not quite enough.

Plato’s claim is that morality is grounded in human nature, in contrast to the sophists belief that it is a conventional invention. Plato also disagrees with Glaucon to some extent by saying that happiness is not merely a consequence of morality/justice. But for Plato the just life is by its very nature the happiest life. He explains this by defining justice as mental health (read previous article), and just like physical health, it is desirable in itself.

The harmony between the three parts of the soul (reason, spirit and desire) constitutes mental health just like harmony between the different organs of the body constitutes physical health. Every unjust or immoral act then is due to the manifestation of desire. Another result of this conclusion that Plato makes is that morality becomes objective.

The objection you might have to Plato is if it’s not possible to find actions that “ought” to be labelled as immoral but are not a consequence of manifestation of desire or otherwise mental illness.

Plato’s Moral Philosophy: Virtue Ethics and Mental Health

Plato’s moral philosophy is a virtue ethics, as was typical in the ancient era. This basically means that you are morally judged by your vices and virtues, rather than for example your actions (deontological ethics) or the consequences of your actions (teleological ethics).

Plato named four cardinal virtues: Justice, Wisdom, Courage and Moderation. Justice being the most important virtue.

However, Plato’s definition of justice is much broader than what we may think of when we talk about justice in modern days. Plato’s definition of justice as a virtue can be explained like something in the line of “knowing how one ought to live”.

In order to further explain justice, Plato goes ahead to divide the human soul into three parts: Reason, Spirit and Desire. Once again here is a rather weak translation, this time in the word ‘spirit’, sometimes it is translated into ‘energy’ or ‘emotion’ instead. More about spirit later. These three parts of the soul comes in different proportions for different people.

When it comes to desire Plato usually names food, drink and sex as examples. The importance to tame the desires and push them under the surface can not be stressed enough, in order to live a good life. To do this you have to use reason and spirit. Using reason you can know which desires to completely ignore and which desires to allow in moderation. Reason then uses the emotions (spirit) as the instrument to control desire. Among these instruments that are part of the spirit are for example sadness, anger, shame, conscience and even strength of will.

So what does this have to do with justice, or morality for that matter? Well, Plato claims that justice, being the main ingredient in the moral life (which also happens to be the good life), equals mental health. Justice = Mental Health.

And in order to have mental health you must achieve harmony in he soul, between the three parts of the soul. Injustice, or mental ‘sickness’, is then often due to desire taking up too much space in the soul in proportion to reason and spirit. And so basically that is how to understand Plato’s ‘justice’, as suppressing the irrational or bad desires.

Biphasic Sleeping Trial Follow-up – Two Weeks Later

I have now tried a biphasic sleeping schedule for two weeks, and it has not been as easy as I thought it would be. But let’s start with what’s been positive. (Link to the first post two weeks ago).

  • In the evenings / late afternoons, after the naps, I have felt very energized and refreshed for several hours. At a time where I normally wouldn’t feel very energetic at all.
  • I have indeed achieved more time awake. This was one of the main reasons I started this trial. When it comes to time management,
  • Going to bed late, waking up early. Even though I have gone to bed hours after midnight, I have been able to wake up relatively early in the morning. When sleeping monophasicly I was usually up until about the same time at night that I am now, if I didn’t have anything scheduled in the morning. This often resulted in waking up around noon. I really hated to wake up this late though, because I felt like I had wasted a large part of the day already, but staying up late still made it worth it to me. Now I can do both, go to bed late and wake up early. I don’t really enjoy waking up early, but I like being awake early, if that makes any sense.

Here’s what I have experienced as negative throughout the trial so far:

  • Soon after starting the trial I realized that sleeping only four hours at night was way too optimistic, at least to start with. First I increased it to five hours, but now I sleep a full six hours at night, usually from 2 or 3 AM until 8 or 9 AM. When including the 90 minute nap, I sleep a total of 7,5 hours every day, which of course isn’t that impressive.
  • I still feel a bit tired when I wake up after the longer of the two sleeping periods, especially when it’s less than six hours. After the nap I feel refreshed and ready to work almost instantly after I wake up. But after the night-sleep it takes at least an hour to fully wake up mentally and physically. I hope this will change as time goes by and I am getting used to less than eight hours per night.
  • I’m still not used to this new sleeping schedule and I have had to skip the nap two times because of bad planning already. Both times I have had other plans in the evening when I usually nap, so I should have rescheduled the napping to an earlier time, but have failed to do so for different reasons. The consequence of this is that I felt tired when going out in the evening on both occasions. To make up for it I have slept eight hours the next night.

Law of Attraction

I just saw the movie “The Secret” recently, it’s a very inspirational and interesting documentary (although I think many skeptical critics would call it a sci-fi) about the metaphysical theory known as The Law of Attraction. It’s a 90 minute movie consisting of many interviews with authors, philosophers, physicists, psychologists etc. so it might not be the perfect Friday night entertainment with the partner. I won’t talk too much about the movie itself though, but rather on the subject of The Law of Attraction.

The Law of Attraction is a metaphysical (philosophical) theory (belief) about the great power of the mind. The theory says that “like attracts like”, meaning that positive or negative thoughts leads to positive or negative things happening in your life. And ultimately also that whatever it is your thinking about, the universe will attempt to implement in your life. So if you’re always thinking about how annoying a specific person is, he will keep showing up in your life. But if you stop thinking about him and instead start to think about the people that you love, he will gradually fade out from your life and the people you love will show up more often. Same thing applies if you are thinking about wealth, love or happiness. Thoughts become things.

The theory behind this statement is that everything in this universe is made out of energy: things, sounds, scents, thoughts, everything. And when we think we send out a certain energy that will attract similar energies, causing your thoughts to manifest.

Without a doubt I find parts of the Law of Attraction hard to believe. However, just because I don’t think it’s 100% accurate and true doesn’t mean that I don’t think it is beneficial to think more positively and to think about the things we desire. “The Secret” is an inspiring movie about an interesting subject. Not only did I learn more about the Law of Attraction, but it also gave some good advice how to keep negative thoughts away and replace them with positive. And whether or not the Law of Attraction is accurate, thinking positively is something we can all benefit from.

How To Overcome Laziness, Step By Step

Laziness is perhaps the largest obstacle on the road to success. Most people would probably blame their own misfortune on laziness, and in 90% of all cases I’m prepared to agree. Laziness, or the lack of laziness, is what makes separates the successful from the unsuccessful.

In fact, successful, self-disciplined and productive people love people who are lazy, because they are often making their money off of lazy people, by providing them with shortcuts. Lazy, dumb and/or desperate people are often the target customer for many entrepreneurs, because they are an easy source of money. I won’t dig too deep into this in this article, but I think Wall Street is a good illustration of this.

Everyone is lazy. But the few people gifted with a minimum amount of laziness are bound to succeed in life. Those who rather do something productive than something that doesn’t require any effort, simply because they find it more enjoyable, are destined to go far in career and life. If that is not commonsense to you, just take a look around you (or should I say above you?). Every person that has achieved something in life, from Bill Gates to Cristiano Ronaldo to your own boss, they didn’t get to that position while being lazy, did they?

As you are already very much aware of: Life is unfair. We are born with a certain amount of talent, intelligence and appearance. Likewise, we are also born with a certain amount of laziness. But does that mean that someone with a high amount of laziness is bound to be unsuccessful in life and career? Of course not! Someone with low musical talent can still practice to become a good guitarist, someone with low intelligence can study to become a high educated doctor, or someone with a not so attractive appearance can work out, dress well, wear a good haircut and put on makeup to become a model (and let’s not forget Photoshop). Just like all of these people can work against their own bad genes to become successful in a profession where they had the odds against them, someone with a high amount of laziness can still realize their goals and dreams in life by fighting and overcoming laziness.

1. Discovery and Acceptance
In order to overcome laziness, you must first of all discover and accept it. It’s important that you realize that you are feeling lazy as fast as possible. If you are lazy without thinking about it, you can’t consciously begin to change the situation, and you are wasting time. You must accept that laziness is an emotion that everyone is feeling every now and then, including you. Just like being happy, angry or sad, being lazy is an emotion. And when you start to look at it like a state of emotion everything will become much clearer to you.
To discover laziness as fast as possible, you should make it a habit to always question yourself what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Most people will notice that for a large part of the day, they do things without knowing why it’s useful to them. If it’s not fun and it’s not beneficial, why should you do it?

2. Justification
It’s also very important that you don’t justify the emotion, it’s never okay to feel lazy. Don’t tell yourself that you have the right to be lazy and work at half speed. Being far ahead in the schedule and have plenty of time until deadline is not a good reason to be lazy.

3. Analysis
It’s the things we do and the things that are done to us, that wake up our emotions. To awake feelings of happiness, maybe you want to watch a standup comedian that makes you laugh. But what makes us emotional is individual, maybe the same standup comedy guy that made you happy will make someone else feel bored or angry. We can make general predictions how different things will make other people feel, but we can’t know for sure because the feelings are individual. So you need to analyze yourself, what is it that makes you feel lazy, which thoughts? Which actions?
For instance, I will feel lazy if I start thinking about a very big task I need to do, or when I do things that are lazy. If I lie down on the couch and watch some television, it won’t make me feel like doing something productive, instead it will leave me with the emotion to just continue be plain lazy.
Analyze what it is that makes you feel lazy.

4. Elimination of the source
Once you know what it is that makes you feel lazy, simply avoid it. This can be done long-term and short-term. For example if watching TV makes you lazy, the long-term option would be to sell the TV, while the short-term option is to shut it off.

5. Motivation
Take a good hard look at your goals and desires, what is it that you are trying to accomplish? How will it affect you now and in the future? Let your desires fill you up with motivation. Make a list of things you want to accomplish, and what benefits it would give you. The more concrete benefits, the better. For example, if you want to lose weight, you could say that the benefit would be “to look better”, but a more concrete benefit would be “to attract a partner”. Or even better, to attract that special person in your life.
Without a good motivation, it’s extremely easy to start procrastinating. You also need to remind yourself of your goals and especially their benefits every so often or the motivation will fade.

6. Decision
After you have filled up yourself with motivation and you are fully aware of why you want to do this in the first place. You should then immediately take the decision to either give up to laziness or to stand up against it. Either you go in 100% or 0%, either you go all-in or you fold. Because to work on something and do something else on the side is the worst thing you can do. Working on a task while watching TV or chatting on Facebook doesn’t work, even if you might get things done at 20% speed, the work done will not be as good as if you were 100% committed to the task.

7. Falling back (Folding)
It’s okay to fall back and be lazy every now and then, after all you can’t work at 100% 24/7. When falling back, do so completely, try and not to think about your tasks too much, or you will just procrastinate the task and prolong the break. Best thing would be to take a nap or go to sleep. Even if you don’t feel like you need to sleep, a 90 minute nap will make you feel much more refreshed and energized afterwards.
There are only three good reasons to choose the folding option.
One, because you have a tired mind and/or body. (Solution: take a nap or go sleep)
Two, because you have just ate a heavy meal. (Solution: do something else for about an hour, or chose a task that you think you can still manage)
Three, because something outweighs the benefits of your task. (For example an important football game or a party you want to go to)

8. Standing up (All-In)
Unless you fall under one of the three scenarios above, you should always chose to stand up against the emotion of laziness. In other words, this should be the option you choose for the majority of time. To stand up against laziness means that you have accepted that you are feeling lazy, but using your desires as a motivation to keep on going until either you have fulfilled your desires, or it’s time to fall back and go to bed.

One more time in short:
Realize that you are being lazy as soon as possible. Don’t waste any time by being in the state where you are being unproductive, but you haven’t yet realized that you’re lazy. You can easily do this by making a habit to always think about what you’re doing and why you do it.
Accept that you are under the control on laziness, but don’t justify it. It’s not okay to be lazy, ever.
Find the source to your laziness, what is it that makes you feel lazy right now. If you can find the source, try and eliminate it.
Fill yourself with motivation by thinking about all the benefits completing a task would have on you. The more concrete benefits the better.
Once you are fully aware of why you should do the task and how it will affect you, take the decision to either fall back or stand up against laziness. Then fully commit yourself to your choice of action.

The Juice Fasting Trial – A Summary – One Week Later

So I just finished a 14 day period of juice fasting about a week ago. It was a good experience – a life-changing experience.

I truly believe these two weeks of fasting has been the beginning of a new life. I started this personal development blog at the same time as I started the juice fast to share my experiences and records from juice fasting publically. Obviously I also intend to keep writing articles for this blog and I feel motivated to do so. I didn’t feel very motivated to work during the juice fast itself, but I still wrote about one article a day and worked on a few other websites without any problems. So it’s definitely possible to work while also fasting, although it can be a bit tough in the beginning. In the beginning I also felt like I didn’t want to participate in any social event where eating was involved. But after just a week I was on a birthday party socializing and drinking juice that I had brought, while everyone else was eating. And it worked alright; it didn’t feel awkward or very tempting to eat.

I feel like my level of happiness has increased. I appreciate life a lot more. Before the juice fast I could sometimes feel a bit grumpy, tired and dozy for no good reason. I can still be sometimes, but my average mood has improved a great deal. I think I am also a bit more emotionally sensitive. I become happier for smaller things, but I can also feel sad for small things. Overall I think this is a good thing though, because most of the time life is treating me well.

The happiness/gratitude towards life adds to the motivation. And the increase in motivation of course results in higher productivity. Like I mentioned before I will keep posting on this blog and I also have a lot of other ideas. Some of them are old and some of them are new; I have come up with dozens of new ideas since I started the juice fast. I want to try out some of these ideas one by one and if they’re successful I will probably share them here on the blog under the money/career category.

I have become more aware of and educated on health issues, how healthy food positively affects my mind and body, not just long-term but also immediately after eating. Consequently, the awareness and the self-discipline I’ve gained makes it very easy for me to avoid unhealthy food. And healthy foods have become more appealing. Try two weeks without solid foods and you will see you will greatly appreciate something as simple as a salad or a sandwich.

Making and drinking fruit and vegetable juices will continue to be part of my habits – It’s cheap, tasty and very healthy. I will probably also do some single day juice or water fasts every now and then, followed by a colon cleansing the morning after. Having done it for 14 consecutive days, I think one day wouldn’t even be challenging to do. I hope that will keep the positive effects up longer. The best way to do that though, is of course to improve my every-day-diet.

Like mentioned in some of my daily log posts, I am young and I was relatively healthy already before I started the juice fast. So the changes have not been huge, compared to how I felt before, but they are definitely worthwhile.

I’m very happy I went through it. If I had waited until I was maybe 40 or 50 years old instead I would have missed out on all of these small but still pleasant effects for so many years. And surely I would have had to do it for longer than just two weeks. That said, I don’t rule out doing another, possibly longer, juice fast some day in the future.

Last and most importantly: The juice fast has made me wish for more from life. Basically, I want to accomplish more in less time. I feel a hunger to keep growing just like I have done because of the juice fast. I want to try new things and I hope that juice fasting was just the beginning of a better and more productive life. I have already begun a biphasic sleeping trial, and might go on and make it triphasic or other more extreme sleeping schedule. I am also on the verge of changing to a raw food diet. Thanks to the increase in self-discipline I also feel like something like raw food wouldn’t be as hard to implement anymore, if I can go two weeks without food, why can’t I go two weeks or more on only raw food? It’s basically the same thing but the restrictions are a lot looser. I also have a few other ideas on how to further improve my life, but I don’t want to reveal them just yet.

Fruit and Vegetable Juice Recipes

Having just gone through a 14-day-period of surviving on only fresh made juice and water, I have become quite the expert on making fruit and vegetable juices. Truth to be told though, it’s very easy to make a good and healthy juice. I think I only failed to make a drinkable juice once, and with some tweaks (adding some lemon and pears) I got that one down too.

If you have some fruit or vegetable about to turn bad in your fridge, just add it to the recipe and it will probably still taste good, maybe even better. (Unless it’s a pound of ginger…)
What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t be afraid to make changes to the recipes. If you’re a big fan of pears, add some extra. Don’t like fennel too much? Fine, trade it for something else, or just go without it. It’s more important that you like the taste of what you’re eating than that you get 100% of every possible nutrient.

Here are some recipes to get you started:

4 Apples
1 Lemon or 1-2 Limes
1 Fennel

¼-⅓ Cabbage
3-5 Carrots
2-3 Apples
2 Fennels

4-7 Carrots
3 Celeries
1 Red Beat
3 Apples

2-3 fistfuls of Spinach
About 10 Asparagus
1-2 Red Beats
2-3 Apples
1 Lemon
A piece of Ginger

½ Honeydew Melon
1 Orange
2 Pears

2 Apples
1 Cucumber
1 Pear
2 fistfuls of Spinach

½ Watermelon
1 Lime
2 Carrots

5-6 Celeries
2-3 Carrots
1-2 Lemons
3 Apples

4 Apples
½ Cucumber
1 fistful of Mint
½ Pineapple

4 Carrots
3 Apples
A piece of ginger

2 Apples
1 Cucumber
1 Pear
2 fistful of Spinach

When you make the juices you have to use a centrifugal juice extractor. If you don’t own one, you can buy one here. Buying one is probably the best health investment I have ever made. You just wash the produce, put it in the machine and in a few seconds the juice is ready.

Advice #1
If you add something that you won’t get a lot of juice from (like ginger, garlic, mint, spinach, lime etc.), don’t let it be the last thing you add. Because there will still be a little bit of juice left inside the machine when you’re done, it’s better to let it be something that you can easily get a lot of juice from, like apples, carrots, watermelon etc.

Advice #2
Try mixing things that you like and that are healthy together. If you don’t like the taste or you think it’s boring, try adding things like ginger, lemon/lime, garlic, red beat etc. Adding a few carrots can also rescue a bad juice.

Advice #3
If you accidentally added too much ginger, garlic, lime or something else that is very flavorful. Don’t be afraid to blend it out with water. While I was fasting I often blended the juices with water even though there was nothing wrong with them. You can’t get too much water (okay that’s not really true, but adding some to your juice won’t you).

Advice #4
Don’t be afraid to experiment with fruits and vegetables you haven’t tried before and maybe didn’t even think you could make juice from. For example passion fruit, mango, kiwi, potato, blood orange, bell pepper etc. Some of them might be a bit expensive though, depending on where you live.

Advice #5
You can’t make juice from bananas, avocados and coconuts. (Coconut water is very tasty and healthy though.)

Please share your own favorite juice recipes in the comments, thank you!