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  • Why It Matters To Set Your Own Social Limits

    March, 2020, it was the start of the Corona Pandemic here in the Netherlands. A week prior to the lockdown measures were in place I was already home with a burn-out. Years of built up stress and always giving in to social pressure from people got me in this position. It was one of the worst ways I ever felt mentally and something I don’t care to repeat any time soon.

    Saying “No” and why it matters

    People often say that burn-outs are a lifechanging event and this is also very true for me. I’ve learned to say “No” more often, but people don’t always willingly accept my honesty, nor do they seem to fully understand my position. Both are not a problem I can really deal with, because I am not responsible for the opinions of others. But I am always willing to answer their questions about why I choose not to. If after that people still don’t understand, it is probably a lack of empathy, or inability to comprehend why some people can’t always indulge you.

    Why it matters to set your own social limits

    By nature, I’m a people pleaser and this group of people is prone to put the needs of others in front of their own. This is what I used to do for years, until my burn-out. Then things changed and I finally understood how much stress comes from not putting your own needs first. The axiom “To be there for others, you first need to be there for yourself.” comes to mind.

    When I used to go to parties, I’d often have a lot of trouble focussing on conversations and choosing which to take part in. There was just too much going on around me for me to focus on. This meant that social gatherings would leave me exhausted, because there were so many impressions. In a way I was thankful for the Corona pandemic, because this meant that pretty much all social gatherings were effectively cancelled and I really started enjoying the calm and lack of social pressure. So much, in fact that I finally understood that at heart, I’m really an introvert and needed to start reevaluating how I used to go about my business. In other words, I needed to say “No” more often, because of how exhausting social gatherings with larger groups of people are. It matters to do this, because otherwise you’ll risk another burn-out, because you overexert yourself. It matters, because the only one who can truly look after your needs is you, because only you know what your needs truly are.

    Dealing with the disappointment of others

    Saying “No” will inevitably lead to disappointment in people who invite you to a social gathering. This is why it’s so hard to say “No” in the first place, you don’t want to disappoint anyone. Always remember that whenever you don’t want to disappoint someone else, you are disappointing yourself. And then choose which is worse, accordingly.

    But how then, do I deal with this disappointment? Well, for one, I always try to appeal to the person’s understanding of my situation. I understand that they want me to be there, because I’m important enough for them to invite me, but I’ve learned that I need to choose my “battles” so to speak. The thing is that you can’t really change the way someone feels if you say “No” and it’s something for them to deal with, after you’ve explained everything and answered all their questions. So keeping an open dialogue is key in dealing with this.

    Marcus Aurelius 1

    Of course, the disappointment often reflects on yourself as well, because you still have to deal with it, because it might make you feel bad. Still, as I explained above, after everything has been said and done, you can’t really do much else. You are not responsible for the thoughts and opinions of others and as such, it won’t be productive to dwell on this long. What you can do is change your opinion about their disappointment, that really is the only thing you are responsible for at this point. This is the Stoic mindset I try to maintain during these situations. It’s never easy, but certainly gives me peace of mind in the end.

    Conclusion

    Extroverts might not be as influenced by social gatherings as introverts in terms of how much energy it costs them to go somewhere. In fact, I think they might even gain energy from being outgoing. For me, as an introvert however the opposite is true. When I go to a party, I need at least a day to recover and regain my energy. This means I have to set my limits, for my own sake and choosing for yourself, especially when others don’t is a must if you want to live a happy and fulfilling life on your own terms, and that’s what I’ve been doing these past few years. It is quite liberating, even though not everyone can appreciate it, but that is something for them to deal with. I don’t love them any less, I just live differently from what I used to.

    Stay safe and healthy!

    Jeffrey

  • What It’s Like Living With A Witch

    Hello everyone, Jeffrey here! Today I’d like to share some of my experience of living with an actual, green witch with you! As most of you know, Bren is a traditional green witch and we have been living together for over three years now.  We hear a lot of questions of people who are curious what my experience is and well, here we are. But before I tell you what it’s actually like, I think a little bit of an introduction is in order.

    How I met my witchy girlfriend

    Some of you might know that I’m the writer of a scifi trilogy called The Shaedon Resurgence and my books were published by Celtica Publishing. At the time I was contributing to their newsletter and I did quite a few interviews with bloggers. Bren’s name had come up a few times and I decided to send her a chat message on Facebook, but I didn’t really know if she was actually a blogger, or not. One thing led to another and before we knew it, we were chatting a lot, after a strange initial one month silence between us. I’ll save the entire origin story of our relationship for a novel, but this is the basic story. We met through Facebook and ended up falling in love when we finally met each other in August of 2018.

    Moving in and moving on

    At the end of 2018 I asked Bren if she wanted to move in with me and she eventually said:”Yes.” It was quite early, after we had only been together for three months, but it just felt good, we were both adults and if things wouldn’t work out, we’d both have a relatively easy way out, without much consequence. It turned out that things worked out very well and we’re even engaged to be married now! But I digress, when Bren first moved in, I didn’t really know she was a witch (and she had been since she was 13 years old!). It was not like she was keeping this big secret and would come out of the (broom)closet one day, as more people do, but she was a bit afraid, because I am a huge science nut. I was a bit more adamant about how I am a firm believer in the scientific method back then, but I also admitted that I believed that there’s more to life than what science tells us. We’re basically little more than evolved apes and our monkey brains really can’t grasp everything we see. I’ve always said that I believe there might be more than we can see through our senses and I have an open mind towards everything. At the same time, I’m also a skeptic and I love to question everything. I suppose in hindsight this might have been a bit intimidating to Bren, but as we spent more time together she finally opened up more and more. She slowly started introducing little things in the house and some day, we had a little altar in our living room. I didn’t even realise it was a small altar and just thought Bren was addicted to burning candles.

    Candle

    I think where I differ with most other guys is what I said earlier, I have an open mind and I’m naturally curious about all kinds of things, so I never forbade Bren to do anything she wanted. I was simply curious what she would introduce next. Looking back I think it’s exactly because she was so gradually introducing me to her lifestyle that I wasn’t overwhelmed, or even shocked that she told me she was a witch. Maybe it was one of those classic moments where a child tells their parents that they’re gay and everyone is like: “Yeah, we already knew that.” I’m not really sure when it was exactly that Bren actually used the term Witch to describe herself, but to me she was still just the same person. In fact, I only loved her more for being so open about it, and ultimately it also got me interested.

    What got me interested in witchcraft

    Bren told me a lot of people are interested in what got me into witchcraft, or in what capacity I’m a witch, or am not. Well, it’s complicated… I don’t necessarily call myself a witch, in fact I like to call myself a Modern Day Stoic. What’s nice about Stoicism (please note the capital S) is that those old dudes in Greece/Rome back in the day were all about living in accordance with nature. Sure, they may have meant Human nature when referring to nature, but Bren, as a Traditional Green Witch is also living in accordance, or harmony with nature. I brought this up recently and I think this is one of the main reasons why we go together so well. Our approach may differ, but ultimately our goals are aligned.

    Altar

    So, I don’t call myself a Witch, who knows, I might some day, but I don’t really want to label myself as a person too much (although I realise I do, by calling myself a Stoic). Bren introduced me to a whole lot of things, starting with all of the Pagan festivals. What I really love about all of these is the mindfulness part of them. Doing things in the moment and putting effort into the rituals can really help guide you through the year and what’s more is that these happen to align with my own practice of making annual goals and how I approach every year. We have celebrated every festival and Bren invited me to participate in them as well, first I was mostly just an observer, but the more we celebrate them, the more I try to be prepared and mindful about them. I intend to start writing about all of them as well, explaining how I experience them from what I hope is a unique perspective to others, who are more ingrained in pagan/witchcraft practices than me.

    And what shies me away from it… 

    The parts I’m not that interested in are rooted in beliefs that are closer to religion (mainly Wicca practices) and superstition, and I’m glad Bren is not a religious person either. I don’t really believe in things such as bad luck, good fortune and curses. This is where my Stoic foundation takes over for me and one of my main principles that it is not the things that happen are good or bad, but our interpretation of them make them good or bad. I see a lot of what comes on my path as an opportunity to learn and grow and while a lot of people might consider some of the things that happened to me were bad, I tend to see the side where I came out on top in the end. A prime example is my burn-out, which was initially hard, but ultimately gave me the opportunity to grow and become more vocal about my own feelings.

    Every day a moment to learn

    What I love about my relationship with Bren is that every day gives us the opportunity to learn and grow. We are each other’s biggest supporters and each of our unique experiences and philosophies of life give us a different perspective on things. I’m very proud of how much Bren has grown over these three and a half years of our relationship and seeing her grow.

    When our relationship started Bren was already a book dragon, but she was mostly into fiction reading. This took a turn over the past year and now we both read a lot more non-fiction than fiction. What I love about this is that whenever Bren learns something new from the books she reads, she shares it with me and vice versa. I think one of our biggest mottos is that you never should stop learning, because this is how you keep evolving and reinventing yourself to become the best possible version of yourself that you can be.

    And they lived happily ever after…

    Not many guys can say that they’re (going to be) married to a witch and that every day they come back from work the witch is already waiting for them on her chair. I suppose I’m truly living in a fairy tale and I’m loving every moment of it!

    They lived happily ever after

    Of course, we can imagine that you guys have plenty of questions, so please feel free to ask them and we’ll bundle them up into a sort of Q&A! And answer your questions in an upcoming blog! 🙂

    Much magical love,

    Jeffrey

  • Monday Musings, Week 18, 2022

    It’s May! That means we’re already one third of the way through this year and I can’t remember the last time I was so positive about life, where I currently am and what’s next for Bren and me. Her shop is starting to get noticed and it’s so awesome to see it slowly becoming the success it deserves to be. My role as her biggest supporter and handling the more technical side of things is right where I want to be right now. And on a personal level, I’ve refound both my motivation and drive to do what I desire most, to write awesome stories and blogs about stuff that I love. So, yeah, it’s a good time for us right now!

    Monday Musings #18

    On Writing

    Last week I mentioned that I was in a bit of a rut with the direction of my writing. Last weekend I spoke with Bren about this and she asked me where my heart was really at, because I simply have too much ideas to write about and I was just wondering whether or not writing a new scifi saga was worth my time, when I feel that there’s so much cool non-fiction stuff I want to write about. But seeing as we’ve only just started our new blog and we really need to flesh that out, I’ll focus on writing non-fiction for The Green Dream Blog and focus on writing these brand new Kevar novels. The thing is that although I know what kind of story I want to tell, I feel that I haven’t really fleshed out most of the ideas and this is something I’ll be solely focussing on in the coming month. I started by writing short biographies for the main characters and I want to draw a map to help myself figure out the movements of the characters and eventually to enhance the reading experience. Since this is a story that focusses on a pre-spacefaring race, with technology slightly ahead of our own, it’ll probably feel a bit more like a fantasy story, but that’s okay, because I’ve always aimed at combining aspects of both genres in the Ley Lines universe.

    On Reading

    After I finished the wonderful ‘How To Think Like A Roman Emperor’ I really wanted to dive back into Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and had a look in our book case in the bedroom, where I keep all of my ancient philosophy books, but alas, I couldn’t find my copy. I was so happy when Bren handed me a copy a few days later! I really feel that I just need to re-read it and perhaps even carry this copy of the book with me at all times, just so I can pick it up wherever I am and just read a few passages from it.

    The Obstacle Is the Way

    I’ve also started reading a book that’s been on my TBR pile for a while now called “Fox & I” or “Vos & ik”, since I’m reading the Dutch translation. Another book that came recommended after my previous Stoic listen was The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. So far, it seems to offer bite-sized bits of help if you’re struggling to get off your lazy arse and actually do something. I have to admit that anything after How To Think Like A Roman Emperor bleaks in comparison and I think I’m suffering from withdrawal symptoms and looking to find a new “fix” for my Stoic studies. It doesn’t really help that Ryan Holiday seems to have narrated the book while suffering from a cold, or maybe he has a very nasal voice, but I’m not entirely convinced just yet.

    On Gaming

    I’m nearly done with the second Adventure Map of Hyrule Warriors and when I am, I’ll park the game for a bit again, having had my fix of mindless slaughter. The game is still a lot of fun and can be challenging, but it also get repetitive after a while.

    Hyrule Warriors 1

    This week I’m thinking of going on with my playthrough of Axiom Verge. Although the game has had a lot of high praise, I am not down with some of the gameplay elements, mainly the grappling hook mechanics, which have caused me more frustration than I care to admit. Still, I want to finish the game and I hope it won’t be the longest journey from where I am now, but to be fair, the mechanics of a single item has really taken away a lot of gameplay joy for me.

    Upcoming blogs

    I’ll be writing more Modern Day Stoic content and I’m thinking of doing a new in-depth videogame soundtrack deepdive. And, since I’m working on my new novels, I’m going to be shedding some light on the process as well in an upcoming blog!

    Happy Monday!

    Jeffrey

  • Review: How To Think Like A Roman Emperor — Donald Robertson

    Genre: Non-Fiction / Philosophy / Psychology
    Publisher: MacMillan Audio / Audible
    ISBN: 9781250621436
    Edition: Audiobook
    Length: 8h 30m
    Release Date: 02-04-2019

    Summary:

    The life-changing principles of Stoicism taught through the story of its most famous proponent.

    Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, psychotherapist Donald Robertson weaves stories of Marcus’ life from the Roman histories together with explanations of Stoicism – its philosophy and its psychology – to enlighten today’s listeners. He discusses Stoic techniques for coping with everyday problems, from irrational fears and bad habits to anger, pain, and illness.

    How to Think Like a Roman Emperor takes listeners on a transformative journey along with Marcus, following his progress from a young noble at the court of Hadrian – taken under the wing of some of the finest philosophers of his day – through to his reign as emperor of Rome at the height of its power. Robertson shows how Marcus used philosophical doctrines and therapeutic practices to build emotional resilience and endure tremendous adversity, and guides listeners through applying the same methods to their own lives.

    Combining remarkable stories from Marcus’s life with insights from modern psychology and the enduring wisdom of his philosophy, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor puts a human face on Stoicism and offers a timeless and essential guide to handling the ethical and psychological challenges we face today.

    How To THink Like a Roman Emperor

    When I was a young boy I’d often look to the stars and how much I’d love to be among them, exploring our galaxy and marvelling at the grandness of it all. These days when I do, I still get that feeling of awe, but I also realise just how insignificant we all are in the grand scheme of things. We are only here for a short period of time, not even a speck, but during that time we have to find our way in life and we are inevitably led to question ourselves. One of the most important questions being: What is the meaning of life? When I was younger, I never really bothered much with religion, or philosophy, but as I grew older there was one direction I’d look to for guidance and that is the Stoic school of philosophy. I started this journey reading one of the most beloved books from perhaps the most widely known Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius and his Meditations. One of the most amazing things about the books of the Stoics is that they’re still relevant to this day, because those dudes really knew their stuff, as it turns out. When I ran into this book on Audible I decided to buy it and see if there was anything new under the sun and as it turned out, there was.

    One of the most amazing things about this book is that it’s part history lesson, part philosophy and part practical. With the latter I mean that Donald Robertson manages to convert the Stoic ideas into practical help in the modern day and age. One of the most notable things is that many of the Stoic ideas are used in modern psychotherapy, known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or C.B.T.) and that many of their ideas on how to live life and especially how to deal with our emotions and hardships, can really make you one tough cookie. This is my main reason for calling myself a Modern Day Stoic. Adopting all these ideas and applying them to my own life has allowed me to deal with a lot of problems without letting my emotions guide me, but taking on a much more reserved stance and allowing me to tackle my problems by remaining calm and reserved. This book manages to explain plainly how to do this yourself. I also learned quite a few new things myself from this book and that was something I hadn’t expected when I started listening to it.

    Every chapter starts off with a lesson in history, in which we learn a lot about the life of Marcus Aurelius. He most certainly didn’t have the easiest life and had to fight on several fronts throughout his life. Not only actual battlefronts, but also mental ones. The Meditations don’t convey much about the actual history behind its story and are much more about how Marcus dealt with his hardships and contains a motherlode of useful advice, which he wrote mostly to himself, hence the title, but they are widely applicable to all of our lives, even to this day!

    You don’t need to have read the Meditations in order to enjoy this book, in fact, it might even be best to read this book first, so you already have some prior knowledge about Marcus Aurelius before you dive into his actual work. I am currently re-reading Meditations right after I finished this book and thus far I’ve found an even greater appreciation of it, after having read this book.

    Whether you’re new to Stoic philosophy, or already know a thing or two, I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s absolutely vital reading if you’re looking for a good self-help book. If there’s one thing I’d have to comment on regarding this book, it’s that sometimes the author’s reading voice differed all of a sudden, as if he had taken a break and was starting a new session. But that’s really nitpicking on my part. If you want to start a journey down the path of Stoic wisdom, this is where you should start.

    Cover: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Writing style: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Content: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Originality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Reading Voice: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

    Happy Reading!

    Jeffrey

  • Monday Musings, Week 17, 2022

    Hello everyone! Welcome to another Monday Musings! Last week I skipped this recurring blog, because I didn’t have that much to report and it turned out to be a bit of a slow week when it came to my creative endeavours. To be fair, I haven’t written a lot lately (except for blogs), because I found myself a bit conflicted in what I should spend my time on when it comes to writing and that’s something I’m going to share this week in an upcoming blog.

    Monday Musings #17

    On Writing

    As stated above, I’m in a bit of a bind at the moment. While I love novel writing I feel that maybe I should focus my time and energy on writing a non-fiction book instead. I have several ideas that I’d love to work on, one being a Modern Stoic book, something light to introduce people to attain a Stoic mindset in modern day life. At the same time, my interest in videogame music (VGM) has also surged lately and I would love to write a book about the evolution of VGM, covering the facets of the early days of videogames, to the most modern releases. And while I’m at it, I’d also love to write a book together with Bren about green living, that also includes pagan and green witchcraft practices, but from a certain perspective that includes a more scientific and mindful approach to these subjects. The problem is that I just don’t know what to focus on, but since I’m listening to How To Think Like A Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson and this book is so inspiring that I started thinking about what I should spend my time on and that’s how all of this started, haha.

    On Reading

    Yes! I’m done with All the Bright Places, which I read the Dutch version of and it was a very impressive book that will probably linger on for a little while in my mind. Bren recommended it to me and although the first bit was a bit of a rough start, it got better and better.

    How To THink Like a Roman Emperor

    I’m also going through the audiobook version of How To Think Like A Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson and it’s an absolute must-read for anyone interested in Stoic history and practical information on how to apply the Stoic philosophy in modern day life. Of course I already do this, but this book has definitely taught me a few new methods I plan on implementing in my life. A full review will soon be posted on this blog!

    On Gaming

    My current playthrough of This War Of Mine is going extremely well and I think I might have nearly survived for the first time. After that I’m going to try some more of the Stories DLC. Overall I think this game is very well done and it’s definitely a unique experience that reminds me a lot of the board game Zombicide for some reason. The game has you play as several citizens caught in a modern civil war and you have to survive until the cease fire to win the game. It’s a really unique experience and it shows you the hardships of war seen from the viewpoint of a small group of civilians, which is an unprecedented persective in videogames, as far as I know.

    I’ve also rediscovered my love for Hyrule Warriors and I’m working on finishing the Great Sea map of Adventure Mode. After that I’ll probably park the game a bit again, having had my fix of hacking and slashing. At some point I’m still hoping to finish the entire game, but I’m in no hurry.

    Upcoming blogs

    This week, I hope to get back to you about how I go about deciding what to write. Bren will play a part in helping me decide, but I think this process could be interesting to share. Also, you can expect a review for How To Think Like A Roman Emperor and who knows, maybe I’ll find more inspiration for a little something extra!

    I hope you’ll all have a great week!

    Happy Monday!

    Jeffrey

  • How I Deal With Fear Of Missing Out, Part 2

    Last week I told you about how I deal with Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO for short. In that blog entry I focussed on the part of FOMO that has everything to do with the sheer amount of options we have to spend our free time with all kinds of different media. What I didn’t focus on in that article, however, is how FOMO is not just about really missing out on things, but also feeling the need to please others by following their recommendations. Today I’ll try to shed some light on how I deal with this and hopefully the same will work for you too.

    How I deal with FOMO #2

    You can’t change what others think of you

    Stoicism with a capital S has a large foundation in the belief that we cannot change what lies outside our circle of influence. In the past I wrote a blog about the so called trichotomy of control. This is a modern version of the original dichotomy of control, but as the trichotomy points out, sometimes there are things that are maybe not entirely within our control, but definitely enough to make a difference on the outcome. This last part is quite important in dealing with other people, because in our interactions with others we do have control on how we act, but not so much how they do.

    Since what others think of you is ultimately outside of our control, a true Stoic would say that we should not be bothered with it. However, for most people what others think of us is to some degree important. For me personally, I hold my loved ones their opinion of who I am to them very dear and it would bother me if they’d think badly of me. On the other hand I care little of what strangers think of me. That doesn’t mean I’ll behave badly around strangers, but it just means I won’t lay awake at night fearing they might not like me.

    FOMO and feeling peer pressure

    “Jeffrey, this show on <Insert streaming service here>, you absolutely have to see it!”, said nearly everyone I know at some point or another. During the earlier days of Netflix I’d immediately put said shows on my watchlist. Nowadays, I never do and politely tell people to stick their shows someplace the sun don’t shine. The problem is when everyone is talking about something on social media, you’ll start feeling peer pressure. What if this really is the best show ever to be produced and you’ll totally miss out on something good if you don’t watch it? Well, what if it’s absolute garbage to you, once you start watching? Or what if people say stuff like: “It doesn’t start off very good, but once you hit the third season, that’s where things start to get really great!” and there’s like ten seasons of this slow-paced drudgery? Are you really willing to make such a large investment in time only to pleasure a friend? Would they do the same for you?

    Depending on what you answered on the questions above, however you package it for yourself, you’ll be watching something to please someone else. If you happen to like whatever it is they recommended, well, more power to you and congratulations on enriching your life. However, more often than not, I found whatever people said was good, was an absolute snorefest and not at all worth my time. The question then becomes, what do you do next? Because the peer pressure is still there and you don’t want to disappoint people you like.

    How honesty saves the day

    One of the things I value most in life is honesty. 100% pure honesty. If someone asks me how I’m doing and I’m not feeling well, would I rather tell them “I’m fine”, which is the preferred social answer on any given day for most people, or should I be honest and tell them I’m not feeling the best I’ve ever felt? While I’m not one to complain, I think it’s important to be honest and this is something I’m learning in my relationship with Bren. Before, when I was single, I’d have no one to really share my mental issues with. So I’m learning to be candid with her and this is a great benefit to my mental health. One thing I learned from this is that you need to be honest with not just people close to you, but basically everyone, because if you’re not honest with them about your feelings, you’re not honest to yourself. And I think that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years.

    Pouring over the dozens of self-help books, one thing that has always stood out to me was that when these books were more business orientated the writer would often say things like “be genuine”. I know no other way to be myself than to be genuine, because I see no reason to package myself differently for other people. I am what I am, and honest to myself in who I am and what I stand for. But the only way you can really deal with peer pressure, or feeling the need to please others is to be genuine and honest. If you don’t like something they do, tell it. Don’t put up some sort of play, because before you know it they’ll keep giving you books, or other gifts you don’t like, because you pretended to like them. This is not just unfair to them, but also to yourself. Does that mean they’ll like you less for it? Well, honesty can often be seen as bluntness and the Dutch people are known for being straightforward and honest. This can be a hard pill to swallow for some people, but in the end, you will always know where you stand with one another. It really is this simple. The only thing that is hard is actually practicing this. And people will definitely not like you better if you’re always honest with them, but in the end honesty is a virtue to hold in high regard and living according to nature, it is your duty to be honest about how you feel when someone is pressuring you into doing something you know you won’t enjoy.

    If you’re a major people pleaser, you probably know how exhausting this is. I know this too, because I did this for years. In the end, however, you really need to think about yourself and your own needs as well. You can’t just live your life for the sake of others. You have to take care of yourself too. So start being honest with others and yourself. It’s only that way that you can finally let go of that fear of not pleasing others, because they know where they’ll stand with you. If people really know you and what you stand for, there’s a much bigger chance they’ll leave their recommendations for what they are, without any need for you to pursue them, if you do not wish to do so. They’re called recommendations, not obligations for a reason.

    Conclusion

    I hope I managed to tackle this part of FOMO well for you, dear reader. This is how I deal with FOMO in its entirety. Sure, it’s not always easy to shrug the feeling, or to fear that you might hurt someone for being honest. But the truth is not always pleasant, nor will your tastes align 100% with any given person. It’s only through this realisation that you can be honest with yourself and start living in accordance with your own nature. Only then can you be a truly genuine person.

    I hope you have a good one!

    Jeffrey

  • Monday Musings, Week 15, 2022

    Hello everyone! It’s a brand new week, full of new possibilities! I was so glad that after a week of mostly rain we’re finally seeing that spring sunshine return. Hopefully it will remain like this, so we can enjoy some walks in our beautiful forests and heath land this week.

    Monday Musings 15

    On Writing

    Last week a lot of my energy went into writing a blog about FOMO, which took a while to put down on paper. As one of my most devout followers pointed out, however, I didn’t touch all of the subject. I left out a part where FOMO is also about pleasing others, only briefly touching on that part of the subject in the article. With this in mind, I think I’ll have to revisit the subject in an upcoming article. The fear or constant need to please others can be crippling as well and applying a stoic stance on this can help you deal with this.

    The weekend was filled with several appointments, which left me a little drained of energy, so I didn’t bother doing any novel writing and decided to spend my energy a bit differently.

    On Reading

    I’m nearly done reading my last review book ‘Water’ for The Book Dragon’s Nook. It’ll be my last review for our book blog, which will cease to exist later this month. It’s a weird realisation, but at the same time our focus on green living and sustainability on our brand new blog is a much needed breath of fresh air. We were often cited as one of the fastest growing Dutch book blogs and we’re hoping to continue down that road with our new blog and shop.

    Rewilding Book

    In the meantime I’m also nearly finished with another audiobook: Rewilding, which is an intriguing book about biodiversity and making important changes to nature by reintroducing megafauna into areas where they have disappeared. The book uses several examples of this, including a Dutch one, the Oostvaarderplassen, which is cutely abbreviated as OVP (probably because it’s hard to pronounce for non-Dutch speakers). So far the book has been very informative, but not entirely what I expected. A review is bound to follow on The Green Dream Blog!

    On Gaming

    Bren and I spent some time playing Kirby and the Forgotten Land together and it was a lovely experience to play together with her. I am already looking forward to our next session! 🙂

    IMG_20220411_191617

    I’ve also been spending quite some time playing This War of Mine and Axiom Verge. I think I figured out a lot of the gameplay elements for TWoM and am really hoping to make it to the cease fire day soon. Once I do, I think I’ll play some of the Stories mode before writing an in-depth review of this intense game.

    Axiom Verge is also a game that finally managed to grab my attention, when the first few hours of gameplay felt a little bland. Now that the protagonist finally has some upgrades that go well beyond the standard upgrades for Metroidvania games, it really sets itself apart from the staple of these games and does some new things that I really like. Add to this an intriguing story and you’ve got a recipe for greatness.

    Upcoming blogs

    As stated earlier I think I’ll revisit part of what I missed in my FOMO article and write a new one about the toxicity of the need to please others (as always, moderation is key). I’ll also be writing a review for Rewilding and giving you a little sneak peek at my novel writing, perhaps 😉

    I hope you’ll all have a great week!

    Happy Monday!

    Jeffrey

  • How I Deal With Fear Of Missing Out

    Fear of missing out, or FOMO as some people refer to it, can be a real pain in the arse. How often have you not heard friends, family or colleagues tell you about this latest show on Netflix, movie, book, or videogame that you absolutely have to check? I’ve had my fair share of these experiences and in fact, there’s still no sign of stopping. Of course, it’s always nice if you can share your experiences with other people and that is what most of these “recommendations” come from, but it can also lead to an overwhelming sense that you have to check these things for yourself, because otherwise you’re missing out on something great. The human psyche is built on us being group animals, and as such fear of missing out can become a real problem for yourself. But how do I deal with it?

    How I deal with FOMO

    Realising that time can only be spent once

    If you read my blog often, then you know I’m an avid gamer and in my early days of gaming I quickly learned that it’s impossible to possibly play every single game that is being released, so I’ve come to rely on several review websites to determine whether a game is worth my time or not. Of course, over time you develop your own personal taste and you get a sense of which games you will like just by checking some gameplay footage, or a trailer. I apply this same logic to whether or not I should watch a series or movie, or read a book. The bottom line is that you can only spend your time once and you want to spend it wisely on something that is worth your time. Some would probably argue that videogames, movies, series and possibly even books are a waste of time in general, but one should never underestimate the need for proper relaxation and for me videogames are a primary source of relaxation (even if the games can sometimes be frustratingly difficult).

    The problem I think a lot of people experience is that there’s just so much stuff out there screaming for our attention and whenever we hear someone close to us recommend them we feel kind of obligated to check them out. Often I ended up adding all of their recommendations to my wishlists, watchlists, etc. Does that sound familiar to you? Then you’re probably suffering from FOMO as well. Especially when combined with a feeling that you really need to clear up time to check said things out. But to be honest, most of those things on my Netflix watchlist that I put on there are still there, unwatched. In fact, I’ve been considering if I still need Netflix, because I rarely watch anyway. Most of my “screentime” goes to playing videogames, because to me that’s almost like reading a book.

    Spending your time wisely

    So, we established that you can only spend your time once and that in this sea of content from all these types of media, it’s impossible to ever do it all in a lifetime. Then what’s important is that you don’t spend your valuable time on something that isn’t worthwhile. And for sure, you won’t always know this when you dive into something. I’ve played so many bad games, read a whole bunch of horribly written books and have probably seen too many bad movies to make up for two lifetimes. Still, it should be all about doing what you enjoy doing in your free time and I think this is one of the important bits of wisdom I want to share. FOMO is about letting others dictate what you should be doing in your free time. Subconsciously you’ll think that if you don’t you’ll deprive yourself of something really good. Ultimately, however, consuming media should all be about what you enjoy. If that happens to coincide with the recommendations, by all means, indulge in them. But otherwise, just be honest with yourself and consider if you really are missing out on something when you’re already missing out on more than 99% of all the things that you could be doing in your lifetime.

    Why it’s important to choose for yourself more often than not

    Choosing yourself is not per definition a selfish act. In fact, I learned the hard way that you need to do this, in order to be able to be there for others. I need time alone, I need to spend time doing the things that I like doing for relaxation (which often happen to be things that can be done alone). One thing I love about my relationship with Bren is that we can be “alone together”, we can be in the living room together and both be doing our own thing. Of course this is not entirely the same as really having some time alone, I do have that early in the morning, when I get up to meditate and work out.

    Yoda Meditating

    Master Yoda had his fair share of me-time on Dagoba 😉

    I brought this up, because FOMO can cause you an insane amount of stress where none is necessary. What’s important is that what you do in your free time is of value to yourself. If you really consider if you’re missing out on something, try to figure out if indulging in it will truly enrich your life, or if it’s just another one of those short dopamine bursts. Consuming media is quite a hedonistic activity, and as most spiritual people will point out it’s not quite satisfying in the end and suffers from diminishing returns, meaning consuming more media will undoubtedly lead to you feeling empty and unsatisfied. Now that doesn’t mean you should never do any of this again in your life, but rather make a conscious decision if it truly is worth your time. If you feel it is, do so, but always try to be aware of your true feelings.

    Dealing with it

    To be totally honest, FOMO has been something that can sometimes creep up on me. I often get this sensation when browsing videogame websites, or watch the latest Nintendo Direct videos and see all of these cool games come out that I know I won’t be able to play, due to restrictions on how much time I have. This is something that comes with my current age, because I have a job and other responsibilities before I can sit down to enjoy all these awesome games, books and movies. And even then it’s often a matter of choosing what to do during that free time. Often I would just browse Netflix for a long time and finally ended up watching some show that would only last 30 minutes or shorter, because I had run out of time to put on a movie. An overwhelming amount of choice is always a bad thing, this is something that’s illustrated very well in the book The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz, which I highly recommend giving a read. Given that the vast amount of choice and peer pressure for fear of missing out are both quite negative things, I find it best to just play what I feel like playing. And if people recommend you anything that you know is not your taste, please for the sake of your own sanity, just be honest and politely tell them. I found it’s always best to be honest and direct about this, in a friendly manner, of course. Surely, not everyone will like your honesty, but not being honest is bad for you (and your environment) in the long run.

    Conclusion

    So, that’s it. That is pretty much how I deal with FOMO. In the end it’s all about being honest to yourself, enjoying the things you like and not letting others dictate what you should do with your free time. I know I make it sound easy, but as I pointed out, I too suffer from this feeling every now and then. However, donning a stoic mindset I do realise it’s no use to worry about everything I am missing out, because there’s so much happening in the world it’s impossible for anyone to do everything in their lifetime. Life is all about choices and fear is always a bad adviser. Listen to your heart instead and follow your own passions.

    I hope you have a good one!

    Jeffrey

  • Monday Musings, Week 14, 2022

    Hello everyone! How have you all been? I’m just fine after a weekend that didn’t exactly go as planned, but I’m glad I could be there for people who needed me. Sometimes life just happens, including the not so fun stuff and all you can do then is just be the best friend, or partner, for your loved ones. Duty calls, so they say 😉

    On Turning 41

    Last Wednesday I turned 41 and I’m still as hopeless as you’d expect. Starting my 42nd rotation around the Sun, I think I’ve got a bit of a grasp on this thing called life, but at the same time I never stop learning. To be fair, despite my chronic back and shoulder pain, I don’t feel any older than I did ten years ago physically. However, I can tell that mentally I’ve become much more resistant to stress and feel that my burn-out from two years ago was one of the best things that could’ve happened to me in regards to showing me what’s truly important in life and how so much of the things I found important back then seem trivial now. In true Human fashion I learned a lot of stuff when it was too late, but thanks to those experiences I can now help others prevent what happened to me and I hope my blog can help people in that regard. One day I’ll write a book about it 😛

    The gifts I got from Bren and Robin on my birthday were awesome too. Robin gave my Kirby and the Forgotten Land, a game we had played the demo of in coop mode. Bren’s challenge this year to not buy anything new made it quite difficult for her to get me something, but she really surprised me with a self-made card holder from leather scraps she recently obtained and she got me an absolutely stunning Ammonite fossil. At some point soon, I’m going to have to get myself a display case for these, as my collection is growing 😉

    On Writing

    Last night I still managed to get some writing done. Chapter 3 of my upcoming novel manuscript is nearly done. I can feel that I’m still looking for the “hook” of the story so that I can finally reel myself (and the reader) in, but after a smashing start in the first two chapters and skipping some time in chapter 3, I think it’s good that there’s only a bit of tension before all hell breaks loose. Sometimes you just need a chapter that leaves a bit of breathing room for the reader, and that’s okay.

    On Reading

    I’m currently going through three books. Or well, actually, one of them is “on hold”, until I finish my very last review book for The Book Dragon’s Nook, which will close down near the end of the month. The book is called “Water” by Lara Reims and it’s a sequel to her other book “Lucht”, which leads me to believe that it might become a four book series featuring all of the elements.

    Quirkology

    The other book I’m reading is Quirkology by Richard Wiseman and it’s a fun science book about the science of everyday lives. It features the results of many researches and why humans are so odd and quirky, but at the same time also quite predictable in their nature. I’ve already learned a ton of things from this book and am learning new things as I go. Definitely worth the time!

    On Gaming

    I was absolutely spoiled with Kirby and the Forgotten Land, which I’ve been playing cooperatively. It’s such a fun and cute game and Kirby works wonderful in 3D too. I love how the game seems to be using Super Mario 3D World’s engine. The controls are very fluid and responsive and Kirby is just straight up fun, no matter what your age is!

    Kirby-and-the-Forgotten-Land

    There were also some really good deals on Indie games last week in the eShop and I decided to use a € 15 eShop card to get my hands on as much games as possible. I ended up buying four games!

    This War of Mine, a game about the atrocities of war, where you don’t play as a soldier, but rather a group of civilians who are trying to get by in a city that’s been shelled to shreds.

    Axiom Verge, an ode to the 8-bit era of Metroidvania games. One of my favourite subgenres when it comes to platform action games. So far, it’s been a lot of fun, but the game doesn’t hold hands and I often find myself guessing where to head off to next. It’s both a good and bad thing, but so far, I’m really glad I bought this game.

    Blasphemous, another Metroidvania game and one that had been on my radar as well. It’s a very gritty game with lots of atmosphere and story. I’m really curious where it goes, but it does seem to explore fanaticism in religion. Definitely not a subject for everyone, but I think the delivery works quite well and I’m curious to sit down and play this game in its entirety.

    Yes, Your Grace, seeing as I got so many new games, I haven’t taken the time to boot this one up yet. The premise is that you’re the king of a medieval looking country and you have to listen to your people as they plead for your assistance. The game is all about choices, as far as I can tell. I’ll share my thoughts in a review at some point or another, for sure!

    Upcoming blogs

    Overall, a lot of stuff that’s been keeping me busy! I’m hoping next weekend we’ll have some more rest and can finally get around to some of the hobby stuff Bren and I’ve been wanting to do. I’m also very keen on finishing the third chapter of my new story and starting a new one, and doing some plot work, because I feel that’s what I really need to pin down first. More on that in an upcoming blog about plotting and writing. I’m also in the mood for a mindset blog, focussing on some stoic principles of letting go, and maybe a review on Quirkology, but I’ll see if I feel up to it, or not.

    I hope you’ll all have a great week!

    Happy Monday!

    Jeffrey

  • Review: Stolen Focus — Johann Hari

    Genre: Non-Fiction / Psychology
    Publisher: Crown Publishing Group / Audible
    ISBN: 9780593138519
    Edition: Audiobook
    Page count: 368
    Release Date: 25-01-2022

    Summary:

    Why have we lost our ability to focus? What are the causes? And, most importantly, how do we get it back?

    For Stolen Focus, internationally best-selling author Johann Hari went on a three-year journey to uncover the reasons why our teenagers now focus on one task for only 65 seconds, and why office workers on average manage only three minutes. He interviewed the leading experts in the world on attention and learned that everything we think about this subject is wrong.

    We think our inability to focus is a personal failing – a flaw in each one of us. It is not. This has been done to all of us by powerful external forces. Our focus has been stolen. Johann discovered there are 12 deep cases of this crisis, all of which have robbed some of our attention. He shows us how in a thrilling journey that ranges from Silicon Valley dissidents, to a favela in Rio where attention vanished, to an office in New Zealand that found a remarkable way to restore our attention.

    Crucially, he learned how – as individuals and as a society – we can get our focus back, if we are determined to fight for it.

    Stolen Focus - Cover

    Sometimes you start reading a book, or in my case, listening to one, and you’re just completely blown away by it. That’s what happened when I was listening to this book by Johann Hari. Stolen Focus is a very important book, because it focuses (pun intended) on a very large, and mostly unspoken of, disaster that is happening around us. We have collectively lost our ability to focus and as with most issues, the causes are multitude and complex. Johann Hari has attempted to shed some light on all of these causes and possible solutions.

    The book is chopped up in 14 chapters, most of them handling a cause of our loss of focus. In total Hari identifies twelve different causes and talks about several solutions in the remaining chapters. To be fair, I thought that most of our focus related problems are directly linked to our usage of technology and mainly social media. Those were the ones I could name from the top of my head, but as the book went on I knew that there was so much more and what’s more, we are usually forced into blaming ourselves for not being able to focus. But the true problem is that a lot of the technology we use is designed to distract us in the first place. On top of that, there are even more causes, outside of our personal sphere of influence that affect our ability to focus. Things like air pollution and the food that we’re being sold. How we are raised is also a very important factor in all of this.

    This book has really changed my view on our global problems and I agree with Johann Hari that if we can’t even focus for longer periods of time, how are we supposed to be able to overcome things like the current climate crisis? We need to find a way to reset our way of living in order to tackle all of these problems. As a person there is only so much you can do to regain your focus and most of them involve mindfulness practices and deliberately slowing down. Things like meditation and yoga are a good start. But also our social media consumption should be reconsidered. How much time do you typically spend on social media? I pretty much quit Facebook, only checking it maybe once a week on my laptop, but I have removed it from my smartphone. I am, however, still using Instagram and Reddit on it. I do find myself often scrolling mindlessly and kind of hating it, because it was one of my main reasons for cutting back on Facebook. The problem is that the technology behind it is designed to make you keep scrolling and Johann Hari says that we often blame ourselves for doing it, but if the design had been different, we’d be scrolling way less than we are now. The fact is that most social media don’t really offer us any substance and over usage of these platforms can even lead to depression.

    So, was this book perfect? Well, content-wise I think this book hits all the right notes. But it has to be said that some of Johann Hari’s personal stories felt too anecdotal in nature in reference to the rest of the material and while I agreed with most of what I heard, I too kept a skeptical attitude towards it all. Since I listened to the audiobook I wasn’t able to see if the book contains a well documented appendix with references to source material that was used as research for this book. I think Johann Hari did a lot of research to write this book, but I’m not 100% convinced that all the research or facts in this book have been properly checked. Johann thankfully admits this later in the book, in the part about ADHD that researchers disagree a lot about this subject and that this makes it impossible to say anything about it with certainty. Adding this disclaimer helped a lot for me and I think Johann Hari did a splendid job at still trying to make a point, because even if the researchers don’t agree on the topic, they all did agree that it was a big problem.

    Overall I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s definitely in my top 10 of non-fiction reads that I’ve had in the last five years and I think that more people should be aware of just how bad the situation really is when it comes to our focus. It’s not just a simple matter, it is an actual crisis and just like the climate change dilemma, they both need to be solved if we want to survive as a species. The urgency may not be as apparent as with climate change, but that’s probably because psychology is such a new field and a lot of research we do on the human brain is really hard to perform, because there are so many factors that come into play. This is definitely a must read!

    Cover: 🌟🌟🌟
    Writing style: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Content: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Originality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Reading Voice: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

    Happy Reading!

    Jeffrey