Thought #9 - Do you know yourself and do you care?



Dentre as infinitas conclusões que tiro dos aprendizados dessa viagem, o critério de felicidade de cada um é o que mais martela meu pensamento.


Among the endless conclusions I take from the learning of this trip, the criteria of happiness for each one is what keeps bothering my mind.


What gives us joy, what motivates us to go after something and do the impossible to make it happen, turn us into unique individuals and there is no greater privilege than this. So far I think it`s clear that each one seeks to accomplish dreams and make what gives pleasure for the simple free will of liking, but to understand the reason behind theses preferences is quite a difficult question. Firstly because we don’t even ask ourselves and secondly because is way easier to accept what others say to be good so we can relax in the comfort zone.


Bur if we stop to think for a minute before every single act we make?


It seems too complicate, but to think why you want to see that on TV, why you’ll meet certain people or why you’ll have to do that work for ten hours a day can be quite easy. It’s not that every step requires a deep pre analysis with a report sent by email for all your consciousness neurons, but for loving yourself you must have the awareness to know the whys of your life. If we really think about it, it’s kind of fundamental to rethink the motivation for investing hours of your time, finite and exclusive, in something.


For being personal, this decision is only yours and who will live and harvest the fruits of each action, will be you. So why not even for this self reward we stop to know ourselves?

I believe that one of the reasons is because we enter in a social cycle. Being part of a society where the dream is to have financial success, independently of the social role you develop, we totally lost the notion of our responsibility to care for others.


Even because this concept engages us to create and attract more people to the new ideas of products and services, the so called opportunities, and who gathers more people is the best. Today, these best ones are the giant companies, where thousands of people are part of.

In this context, think that we have to think about every decision seems to be a miraculous work, once the consequences are intentionally hidden by the creator (of the idea) as his financial triumph depends on conquering money from you. All this is, in theory, good for the prosperity of the economy and for everyone. We are not talking about only inventing a new product, but also a TV show, a movie or a differentiated service.


Thinking about the following step, what effect this “purchase” can generate for the world and for this person who is selling? It’s complicate to measure, but it’s sufficient to remind the senseless global consumerism and the consequences it brings for the finite world resources.

I have a phobia of this consumerism just because I recognize that this way the world will end, but living the reality of very unequal countries, I have faced a dilemma of wanting to help but not wanting to consume… This is because it’s been very common to see hawkers negotiating everything and in Egypt we reached the peak, with very insistent people.



This kind of behaviour put me away from them as it bothers me, but then I keep on thinking in the motivation of that person there, that second, in that place. It’s like not wanting to judge even getting disturbed with so many people around you, while he is there acting just to survive respecting the game rules.


The point is that I won’t solve all the problems on my own, but I thought if I can contribute to solutions now, like helping in small acts every day, living my present and helping the today of others.


The time and space are not atoms, they don’t exist, they are only words of reference to organize our living alongside. The space in the universe that our body occupies just varies on size and place, but during this life it will be always yours. The time we use to live passes by just once. These minutes reading this text already passed and only exist in memory now. We know very well that this life might end any moment, but calm down, relax and have fun.


I have theories about what would minimize the consumerism in general, but what changes today? The today of people who, literally, have no access to the basic, not often can choose what to eat, where to rest (mind and body), entertain themselves and have time to love, be loved and live life.


All this off my chest comes from months being surrounded by hawkers who are not working on the streets to change their car once more, but to have where to live; who are saying many things in different languages in my ear to pay school fees, but not to buy clothes from the latest collection; who are stopping in front of me and holding my arm to have food on the table every day, but not to go out dinner in the trendy restaurant in town.



So would it be fair not to have patience with them and even judge them rascal? If they are using sales strategies just like companies, even not having the basic and still needing to spend the whole day flattering you to change a product with a few dollars?


Their “now” can be significantly better with any sale, while I rather not spending for the sake of saving for a future that doesn’t certainly exist.


There is still bargaining. The negotiation could be sort of natural, but it seems like I’ve learned to do it just to keep more money, even aware that the other side of the transaction had and have less opportunities than me. A proof that, despite of trying, there are automatic defensive mechanisms inserted into our mind. This is wrong and the social mathematical formula to unveil the fair money exchange will hardly exist, but today everything is unfair and I’m still an active part of it…


The worst part is that the most victorious and experienced ones, the millionaires, which should give the example, only accumulate more and more. Where all this money comes from? From us. Does it make sense?


I don’t have the solution, I’m only sharing how easy it is to be unfair.


About the commerce we have been living here, I’ve passed through two truly shocking situations in Egypt. The first was in a boat in Nile River. While we were appreciating the beautiful view I noticed a small boat ahead of our way about to collide with us. Suddenly, in a matter of seconds, I saw that the boys had a hope in their hands and tied themselves to the bigger boat that was in constant speed. I didn’t get afraid of pirates just because we were very nearby the riverside, but the curiosity took over me.



In the following moment, guess what the boys took out of their pockets? Typical clothes for sale! Believe it, they were aquatic radical hackers… I stayed watching that astonished for hours. They throw the clothes into the boat, negotiate price by yelling and to make the deal the passenger throw the money back to the little boat. It was clear that opportunity innovation to make a living is limitless.


The second occasion was even stronger as I felt deep in my heart. After travelling for three hours by the Sahara desert with comfort, security and food, we got to the Nubian village.

Gabi asked the price of a tiny purse (just researching there is almost an auction offer) and even without the real purchase intention the old man followed us until the car. From the initial three dollars he said, he got to an offer of two purses for one dollar e barely begged us to buy. We said no and left, as we really didn’t want it.


Just as the car started moving I noticed his sadness feature putting the purses back into the bag, clearly showing his deception for not being able to make a deal. We are talking about one dollar. What for us would be an insignificant value (gratitude), would be a greater value for him, who seemed to have a suffered life in a difficult country. Although I just rather not to buy.



It must be the reason dominating the heart, even being here trying to give myself the maximum. This is an evidence of how deep we must question ourselves about what we learned in this social model of today and if it is right!


Disregarding it may seem a tiny routine situation, I felt like a socially irresponsible selfish, practicing my “rights”. This is life teaching me.


The moral of this responsibility is in the consciousness of each one of us, but to understand it I believe we need to stop. For what? To assume that shameless attitude and care about. Give a little bit of ourselves to think about the life of each one around us and who needs more, what and why. This could be starting from the salary increase discussion with a servant, up to look a waiter in the eyes to thank a kindness.


I took all this text to share how I’ve made a mistake and what I learned. If you want, try to make this exercise on your own.


Felipe.