The Happy Uprising

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    18-Jan-2016
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Transcript of The Happy Uprising

  • Contents

    Chapter 1: Human or Drone? ........................................................................................................ 1

    Chapter 2: How your Life Came to Be ......................................................................................... 9

    Chapter 3: Gratifying Work ........................................................................................................ 13

    Chapter 4: A Composed Mind .................................................................................................... 40

    Chapter 5: An Invigorated Body ................................................................................................. 61

    Chapter 6: A Meaningful Existence ............................................................................................ 80

    Be Politically Incorrect ............................................................................................................... 95

    About me ..................................................................................................................................... 97

    Endnotes ...................................................................................................................................... 99

  • Chapter 1: Human or Drone?

    Sanity is not statistical. - George Orwell

    For four years at university I looked forward to the day I would join the real world and finally earn my way by climbing the corporate ladder. And then after I completed my postgraduate

    degree I considered myself fortunate to get an apprenticeship with a prestigious assurance firm

    called Ernst & Young. I had opportunities that many graduates coveted. Funny then, that after

    just a few weeks at work my outlook took a 180 degree turn.

    The first realisation was that you dont work for a company, you work for people -- mortals with shortcomings and moods. Theres always someone that you take orders from and your life centres around making this person happy. This isnt to single out Ernst & Young, it happens at whatever company you work for. The name of the company you work at is little more than a

    logo on your email signature.

    The second thing I noticed was the way employees get pushed to the limit and beyond to meet

    often ridiculous targets. Doing your best counts for nothing if you go home and the job is

    incomplete. There is no such thing as leaving what you cant finish for tomorrow if you feel tired; it always has to be done now. You are goaded into working long hours by overused

    catchphrases like be a team player and go the extra mile.

    They want their people to be creative and self-starting, [yet] theyre burdening them with a mind-numbing workload that precludes the freshness of mind required for creativity. We cant

  • think hard and think smart all the time. Thats exactly what causes burnout," remarks cognitive psychologist Shlomo Breznitz on the situation faced by employees in the workplace.

    1

    Studying at university I had no idea working would be like this. Was I just weak or spoiled? In

    meetings you find employees saying Okay, to demand after demand. Not once did I ever hear someone say, My plate is full, I cannot do this. Saying such words just once can eliminate all hope of promotion. No matter how overloaded they are, employees just shut up

    and put up. Its apparently what mature adults do.

    I changed career paths and went to work as a cost controller at Toyota. On paper it looked like

    a second chance: billion dollar company, a three-fold jump in pay, and a pretty senior position

    for someone just starting out. But again, the lack of creativity coupled with unreasonable

    demands made this little better than my first job.

    From my experience, the three lessons I consider most important are: #1: You cant spend eight hours a day doing something you arent interested in. #2: Taking orders from other people is not in anybodys destiny. Most just accept it as the only way. #3: While stress and handling the pressure are glamourised in our modern society, the levels we face are damaging. It is a myth that pressure brings out the best in you.

    The perils of round-the-clock communication, undefined working hours and ubiquitous social

    pressure to succeed were highlighted at the 2011 World Economic Forum. In the future, the greatest challenge to the global health system will be stress-related diseases, said Heinz Schuepbach, director of the school of applied psychology at the University of Northwestern

    Switzerland. We are never satisfied with what were doing. We have to do things faster, betterDeadlines have to be met and it doesnt even matter where you do your work

  • anymore. I used to go home at 5 p.m. and if my job wasnt done, then that was fine. Now you can work around the clock. 2

    I didnt receive any consolation from my parents and friends if I complained. Thats the way it is, everybody said. Working hard in the right context is actually good, but we work too hard at the wrong things for the wrong people.

    You can look at someone in morning traffic and often you will see an expressionless face with a

    tired, lifeless gaze. Everybody is so jaded, weve become a race of drones. Many say that they will start living again as soon as that deadline is met, examination passed or project

    completed. Happiness is always just over the hill. That day never seems to come though and

    more days in the year are spent on meeting that one last deadline or giving that one last push

    than on living life itself.

    Life today has become about working to your limit and beyond for five or more days a week

    then squeezing in personal errands and a couple hours of extra sleep on the weekends.

    More days in the year are spent meeting that one last deadline than on living life itself

    What makes us happy? As different as our tastes and preferences may be, there are a few elements embedded in all of

    our lives that makes each of us a typical modern human. When these fundamentals are right,

    you can confidently call your life complete. These aspects are:

    Gratifying Work A Composed Mind An Invigorated Body A Meaningful Existence

  • Gratifying Work

    With work consuming most of your energy and time, you should only do something if it causes

    your eyes to open wide and brain to light up. Yes, you have that luxury even in a recession

    because your options in this day and age are numerous. Careers have exploded beyond the

    usual list of choices.

    The bedrock underlying what rich people do is, doing what they love and finding a way to get paid for it, says Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think.3

    Previously insignificant or non-existent avenues like mobile application design, cloud

    computing and 3D printing today make money for a lot of people. Research company

    IBISWorld has listed biotechnology, environmental consulting, recycling facilities and video

    games among others as the industries that will offer the most growth and opportunity in the

    immediate future. Environmental consulting for instance is projected to grow by 120% by

    2019.4

    With the corporate sector becoming ever more stifling and demanding, I recommend that you

    start your own venture (initially part time) with the objective of becoming

    independent. Mainstays on the Forbes rich list like Larry Ellison and Eike Batista are founders

    of companies. Warren Buffett is an investor. The majority of their wealth was made from

    capital appreciation, dividends, exercised stock options and profit sharingnot from a salary. Most family fortunes are created by business, wrote Bill and Will Bonner in their book Family Fortunes, Not by professions.5 Professionals work for money, while investors and businesspeople have assets and employees that earn money for them.

  • Entrepreneurship and investing are the paths that will allow you to control your time and

    financial destiny. You need to free yourself of the notion that they are only for the brave, lucky

    and talented. See it as choosing independence, no more, no less.

    They are career choices like any other.

    A Composed Mind The sun rises and sets each day, but how many times have you sat to appreciate it? Youre usually too busy to notice. The typical human mind is a chaotic space where restlessness and

    anxiety rule. Thoughts are seldom processed properly -- most people are perpetually distracted

    by noise and media. This distorts your perception of the world. Our thoughts jump from place

    to place and this prevents us from fully appreciating anything.

    A composed mind is one that is still in the face of outer turmoil. It finds happiness and sees

    magic in the most basic workings of life. In the right state your mind is able to conjure up ideas

    and map a way toward a desired destination. In other words, a composed mind is the answer to

    every important question and challenge that will face you.

    An Invigorated Body

    Theres a large physical dimension to life, theres no getting away from it. This physical dimension is, in turn, linked to the emotional and spiritual aspects of your life. Emotions,

    physicality and spirituality are not mutually exclusive. Your body is more than a vessel of

    blood and organs; it is an intuitive, sensory and spiritual instrument that forms part of every

    experience you have.

  • From the food you eat to the sex you have, your body is the