20200117

I am grateful for https://ourworldindata.org/
In the past I was pessimistic because I read and learned much about the problems of capitalism.
I am an optimist nowadays mostly because of what I've learned in the past five years or so from people like Hans Rosling and Steven Pinker. Also from movements such as Effective Altruism, and sites like the one linked above. It's a goldmine of insight! As I've learned steadily more, there has been little space for cynicism. https://ourworldindata.org/optimism-pessimism#knowledge-about-what-we-have-achieved-leaves-no-place-for-cynicism

20200102

I am grateful for the ocean. I was feeling tired and dull when I arrived there today. It was hard to find the motivation to leave the comfort of 4-walls and venture forth to the place where I can legitimately shout "I can see the sea!" (the only other time, is at the opticians...). But once you hit that water, oh my. What a feeling. So much energy afterward.

Thanks also to the Iceman Wim Hof for helping to set me (and so many others) on this path. One year ago I would not have done it - why on earth would any madman want to go into freezing water in the winter? Just try it.

20200101

I am grateful that science is finally permitted again to research the affects of psychedelic substances.

For too long, the post-60s misinformation campaign of politicians and the media has kept people ignorant. The tide has begun to turn. It won't be long until the stigma and ignorance have been swept away like so much other superstition, by solid peer-reviewed science. And remember that big Pharma does not hold the patents to these drugs. So their corrupting influence on the published body of knowledge (e.g. see the publication bias in anti-depressant research) will be drastically reduced.

The studies which are flowing out of the approved labs leave us in no doubt: these chemicals will treat important mental conditions for countless people.

I am grateful for the scientists who are conducting the research. Many of them had to overcome serious stigma to start working in this area. I also appreciate the work of people presenting this research to the public, myself included. Popular podcasters such as Sam Harris and Joe Rogan deserve some credit for helping the research results translate into public understanding. Any newspapers that starting to move toward more honest reporting on the topic deserve our respect too, especially if they're able to do this against the wishes of their advertising income. How about some mainstream TV News and Series next?

Finally - to the 'sitters'. The people that accompany the psychonauts and keep them safe, making the experience all it can be. Kudos to you guys, keep on sitting!

20201231

I am grateful for my physical health.
Through 2020, there was no point when I feared I may have the 'vid. I didn't consider getting tested. The closest symptom I had was tight lungs after exerting myself in the cold air.
Although I'm still a little podgier than before, the winter, I've drunken and eaten less than I usually would in a typical Christmas season. Especially alcohol. I got drunk twice in December. This has probably helped with remaining moderately active. Walks and runs in the fresh air. I hope the extra layer around the belly will be short-lived as the days become longer and life returns.
I am grateful too for the health of my family and friends. The 'vid has not made a victim of anyone I'm very close to. Nor have they died or physically suffered significantly from other causes. Perhaps one family member has experienced some ill health but not spoken so much about it yet. I will ask them more about it next time we speak. In a year when health has been at the forefront of media and minds, this good fortune is something to be especially grateful for.
I should not take for granted that this luck will continue. We're able to focus on other things because the healthful grounding is there. Who knows when chaos will rear it's head, smashing through the previously solid ground and trying to pull us down. I am grateful that time has not yet come.

20201230

Today, I made the largest financial donation I have ever made. The recipient organisation/fund are within the Effective Altruism ecosystem. Through this action, I hope to have prevented approximately one unnecessary death https://www.givewell.org/giving101/Your-dollar-goes-further-overseas
I genuinely believe this, although it is impossible to know for sure.

I am grateful for many circumstances related to this possibility:

  1. I live in a wealthy country and have employment
  2. Thousands of scientists, philosophers, economists and many others have brought together a body of knowledge on how to be effective with altruistic behavior, and made that knowledge accessible
  3. I have sought education on how to make a proper impact through financial donation, and enjoyed the process over a number of years
  4. Brilliant people are working in charitable organisations and other professions (e.g. Health) within developing countries, doing the actual work on the ground. They are limited in number and resource, and one of the major limitations is financial. So from thousands of miles away, I can make a few clicks on Internet banking. Then a chain of events is put into action, whereby the net result is significant and meaningful.
  5. Checks and balances are in place to enable my trust. I believe in the assessments and audits of the people that I read the reports of, and listen to on podcasts. I believe in the methodology of the charity researchers.

To live in a world where all of this is possible, is truly astonishing.

I know many people are cynical around donating, likely doubting some of the items on the list above. You may think of me as naive because of things you've learned related to corrupt charities, systematic problems, foolish practices or overpaid executives. I hope you will consider questioning your doubts, and trying to find the best charities out there that you possibly can. There are plenty of resources available if you care to seek :)

20201229

I am grateful for the changes in my life during 2020.

This was my first year avoiding other people, not going to parties, barely visiting my family, working from home, not going abroad. I miss all those things and long for them. Yet am still grateful for much of what has filled the void.

This year I internalized and embodied the idea that we should first primarily focus on improve ourselves, before striving to improve the world. I read significantly less about global issues, sustainability, economics, big challenges for humanity. Instead I focused taking many small steps, to bring meaning and order into my daily life. I wrote about my experiences, who I am, where I want to go. This writing was only for me.

I believe that through this process, I will later be of greater service to all that is beyond the immediate self. This has already begun for those close to me. Relationships with loved ones are flourishing, despite (or partially due to?) the distance from the rest of society.

My mind is now calm. Calmer than I ever remember it being in the past. Or at least since I was a teenager, so often in a flow state.
Today I meditated. I had some distractions from thoughts, sounds, physical sensations. I could notice these with minimal judgement, and return to my breathing. Last time I had a daily meditation practice, it lasted ~50 days. By the end of those, I had not reached the place I have started from, this time. I am happy to observe this, encouraged to persist.

I am laughing more than before at comedy.

My work has improved.

I am feeling more love.

I know much suffering has come with this pandemic. Nonetheless, I am truly grateful for 2020. I hope I'm not the only one that feels this way.

20201228

Calm time at work, with fewer meetings and the change to think about the bigger picture

Those educational videos with animation perfectly accompanying narration. I've just discovered they are called Whiteboard Animations by the people who made the first ones I ever saw: https://www.wearecognitive.com/whiteboard-animation they have some research there, claiming it's generally better than an equivalent talking head with the same content - I'm happy to believe that! And yes the research is of course presented as a whiteboard animation, how meta.

Here's one about Outrospection: https://www.wearecognitive.com/rsa-work/the-power-of-outrospection
At 9m there is a suggestion that we create "empathy museums" to help expand our empathic horizons across space and time. One to think about!

And here's one about dishonesty: https://www.wearecognitive.com/rsa-work/truth-dishonesty
It's brought to my mind some recent tiny dishonesties of my own. I place a high value on truth, so want to get these at zero.

Outdoor walk and talks - had some great ones this year, including today. On the phone is good, but in-person is better. Great fortune to be friends with talented conversationalists.

xkcd, although I just went to have a look for the first time in a while and didn't laugh like I used to. Have I changed, or have they?

Digitally accessible meditation guidance. Think what people in the past would need to do to access these techniques (if it were even possible...). Special shoutout to Waking Up.

The European Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulations and associated developments within the EU: greenwashing is about to get a lot harder for many companies. This could genuinely help nudge our economic system in the direction it needs to go. I like that it's centered on transparency (disclosure).

The TV Series Friends (it's kinda my first time :D)

More recent versions of Bluetooth wireless connection technology. It used to be terrible, but now only fails connection ~1 in 30 in my experience. Thousands of engineers have created something pretty damn effective there over a couple of decades of gradual improvement - cheers for that!

20201226

Around Christmas, I have been especially grateful for
friendly and brilliant housemates that are open to connection
an excellent friend, bringing spice to our conversations
oven-roasted vegetables, so good.
the Harry Potter series of books and films
my family, that generally match my preferences in terms of frequency of contact
fun and happy christmas music
christmas jazz, particularly Mr Bean's interpretation of it (probably on Youtube - brilliant!)
having a warm home, protected from storms

20201227

Today I am grateful for
open source software, and the patient passionate people that build it
encryption, to counteract the worst excesses of modern centralized techno-power
books, I could read for ever
elegant lamps the light up a room
my niece, who brings so much joy to everyone who encounters her