My Cringe-worthy Blogging Past

Just a random photo of some boats I once took when I was living in Peru.

Today it has been exactly one month since I decided to get back into blogging. Naturally, I have been rereading many of the 136 posts I have published over the course of the last 5 or more years that the blog has existed. Boy oh boy, did I find a lot of cringe-worthy content!

I suppose it’s only natural for most people to cringe a bit when they look at things they produced years ago, but it really stirs all sorts of horrific feelings in me. I won’t delete anything – not a single comma – even if I really, really, really want to. In the end, doing so would be counter to what I want to achieve from here on, which is to display an increased level of openness and authenticity as a writer and human being.

So if I can’t sweep those posts under the carpet and pretend they never existed in the first place I figured I might as well address why it is I feel so embarrassed about the majority of the content on this blog. So without further ado, here’s is the 4 types of posts on The Measured Life I cringe the most about.

1. The overly personal “personal  development” posts

Throughout the years I have written A LOT of ” personal development” type content because, well, I was doing a lot of personal development those days. I was utterly hopeless with women, I was near hopeless when it came to my work life, in general I was pretty much as hopeless as one can be.

Obviously that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point. Things were not going well for me. I believed that my “discoveries” gave me a lot of insights, and certainly they where huge insights to me, but how I thought anyone would take advice on personal development from someone with a very long way to go in terms of his own personal development is beyond my current understanding.

I guess I still like to write personal stories (sigh), so maybe I haven’t learned much at all, but at least I know how to be at least somewhat self-ironic about it these days. Not all people would agree about that last bit, though…

2. The “unsubstaniated science” posts

Well, to start off with giving myself a small pat on the back here, I guess I was miles ahead of Donald Trump when it comes to source criticism, but that doesn’t say much does it? It’s not that anything I have written was ever wrong as such, I did (like I still do) look up scientific articles on sites like google scholar, but somehow those posts always ended up very incoherent and messy anyway. (Probably because of my incoherent and messy mind).

I think that when I realized this I just stopped writing this kind of content altogether. Which made the blog go south in general. And that’s a huge shame. When I look up cultural anthropology (my original field of education), or even behavioral science online theses fields doesn’t seem to get nearly enough attention they deserve. I’m no journalist, but I think that every bit of attention people give important topics like this counts. The world needs ethnography, god damn it!

For example, a topic I have wanted to take up on the blog for years is Facebook and other social media’s (often negative) influence on people’s self esteem. There is a lot of great research done on this trend, but much of it doesn’t get a lot of attention from the media. I  don’t know why that is, actually. Maybe people don’t care to read about it. Maybe it’s bad for business for the social media companies who rule the net.

Either way you should never make statements about something you don’t know enough about. Well, it’s sort of comforting, sort of sad that people much higher in society than me seems to also need to take that class again. Trump, let’s take it together!

3. The “spiritual enlightenment” posts

Boy, have I thought and written a lot about Taoism. It’s not that I’m NOT into Taoism. I still remember when I first read The Tao Te Ching and fell in love with this simple yet very wise ancient Chinese philosophy. But I’m certainly a novice at best when it comes to really understanding it. You have to spend hundreds if not thousands of hours of rigorous study if you want to look at yourself as someone who could teach others about a philosophical tradition such as Taoism. I guess my point is the same of that above: don’t preach about something you clearly haven’t researched well enough.

The Tao Te Ching is less than a hundred pages long, but its verses aren’t very straight forward for someone like myself to understand. It is something you have to give a lot of deep thought if you want to get the subtleties of the text, and I certainly didn’t at the time.

4. The “ins and outs of personality typology” posts

Many of my posts on MBTI were actually quite popular and those are typically the ones still drawing traffic to the blog to this day. Like all of the above they were well meant, and based off of sound theories (if you believe in personality typing anyway) but simply not well composed or anywhere near researched enough.The MBTI has many layers, the cognitive functions are especially hard to understand for a novice.

I have a plan to right this wrong, though, and write the series of posts I originally set out to write. I think understanding the whole frameworks behind the MBTI and the Enneagram can help you greatly in life, and since the main purpose of this blog is to be (even a very minor) positive force in this world I’ll be looking very much forward to getting started with that.

The conclusion

So whats the takeaway of this post? Isn’t it just another cringe-worthy / head stuck up your arse type post?

Well, for one, if anyone ever decides to comment on the quality of my “back-catalogue” I’ll send them here.

Will I stop writing personal stories, though? Or insights into the latest in behavioral science? Or bits on personality typology? Or (if god forbids) even the occasional “spiritual” post?

Those are all topics I still love, so they will naturally be an integral part of the fabric of The Measured Life. Also in the future. But you hereby have my promise that I will think about this post every single time I have a “great” idea for a post about any of the above.

…and then I’ll probably write it anyway.

Life Come Full Circle?

The Author and friends enjoying some watermelon on Taquile Island

Beginnings

That’s me, there on the left. Back in 2009 I was interning with a danish NGO in the Peruvian Andean mountains.  This photo was taken on Taquile Island in lake Titicaca with the kids of our host family as well as with Tara Miller of Paonia Pottery.

At the time this blog was in its heyday, but I never really got to tell the wonderful story of the Taquileans, or that of Tara and her husband Sam who I met on the island. While my frail memory does not serve justice to the many wonderful things that happened during my year in Peru, I luckily still have many of the notes and photos I took.

Back then I was a practicing ethnographer, that is I was studying to become one and my time in Peru was part of my planning to do my master thesis, which eventually became a defense of tourism’s impact on the island community of Taquile. There are many sides to this story, and of course, like most stories, this is not a black and white one. Its something I will get back to over and again on this blog.

I finally graduated from Aarhus University in the summer of 2011, knowing much about how to study the world, but very little on how to be an active participant in it. I  was frightened about having to enter the job market, to say the least. My plan was always to get a PhD and probably end up as a professor somewhere, but I now know that I wanted to pursue this road only because it would be the easiest one to take for me, seeing that it would allow me to stay in my bubble.

Around the time of my graduation, however a lot of things happened in my life, that would eventually lead me down another road. All though, as I will get to later, a road that I think is about to come full circle, at least in part.

So lets turn the time back to the summer of 2011. I had just graduated, but the financial crisis of 2008 was still making it hard for recent graduates, especially those in the humanities, to find proper employment. Because of that and because of other things, among them my then girlfriend breaking up with me (doesn’t love always get the fault for these things though?) I decided to move back to my home town of Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.

Back in Copenhagen, I had been lucky to find an apartment I could sublet for two years, but I needed someone to share the expenses with. This was still in the fairly early days of Facebook (well, I think I first got on in 2007), but I did eventually put a post up about needing a roommate there. And doing just  that turned out to be one of the best things I had ever done, and it has since been a testament to me how much positive power social media can have on your life!

Among others, I got a reply from Kristina, a girl who I incidentally (hmmm…I think not!) had interned with in Peru.

On the plow

So in December of 2011 we moved in together in this tiny 50 square meter (well, tiny for a guy and a girl who aren’t in a  relationship) apartment in the Østerbro neighbourhood of Copenhagen. In many ways Kristina has since then been my guardian angel and I hope that I’ll some day be able to repay her for everything that she has done for me.

I can thank Kristina forthe fact that I work in project management today (she got me the interview). I can also thank her for understanding women better (I used to have no clue whatsoever!) although alll you fine women out  there are still quite an enigma to me! That’s what makes it interesting in suppose.

I couldn’t begin to count the hours she must have been listening to me yapping on about my failed attempts at love without asking of much in return. And I don’t know how much I ever really gave her in return, to be honest.

A huge part of my problems in life has indeed started with how self-centered of a person I have been. I guess even my ethnographic endeavours have been, for a large part, due to this self-centeredness. Even as I write this, it gets to me that what do you really care. There is no context for you to put this information in.

This is somehow where we really get back to square one of this story. I had a pretty difficult start in the job market, and so was very thankful to even have a job, and this month I can celebrate three years anniversary at a great job with great colleagues, one of them being aforementioned Kristina.

But over those years out of university I also slowly settled into an inertia of sorts. Like I think many of us do. A full time job takes a lot of your mental energy and the more responsibility you have at your job the harder it can become to pursue hobbies like writing this blog in your free time, when all you have energy to do after an 8 hour workday is to be a couch potato and watch reruns of Star Trek: The Original Series.

That’s what I told myself anyway!

In fact, I no longer believe in this whole thing about work-life balance. Your work doesn’t end when you clock out and your life does’t magically begin at that same time.

I now aim for my work to inspire what I do in my free time and what I do in my free time to inspire what I do for work. Ultimately, I think you have a great thing going when you both look forward to getting back to work when you are off, and look forward to getting home to your family or whatever it is at the end of the work day. The feeling has to go both ways. What I think most people do is solely looking forward to getting off of work while not thinking about how they can make their work meaningful.

I will not deceive anyone into believing that the job I have is my dream job. Its not. I am lucky to have a boss, though who understands this. He even said at one point that he totally understood if I was to pursue something else.

At the time I didn’t get the true significance of that, but now I see that I am one hell of a lucky guy to have a boss who sees things in  such a way. When a colleague of mine parted ways with our department it was very amicable, and I am happy to know that when the day comes when I too will do so, it will be in the same manner.

Coming full circle

My boss’ attitude is the kind I think you should be looking for in an employer. Its also the attitude I think you should be implementing in your job as the CEO of your own life. That is, you should pursue more of what thrills you in life, and spend less time on things that don’t.

I truly understood this when I recently began taking up photography as a serious hobby. I love the process of selecting the right equipment, composing a good photo, and post-processing for a stunning, authentic final result.

I love the fact that the images I have taken so far has brought genuine smiles on many peoples faces. It has facilitated conversations, both online and offline, that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Generally, it is making me a happier, more confident person day by day.

What I don’t like, for example, is the way people behave on apps like Instagram, in general how social media today encourage you to ‘market’ yourself as I describe in length in my previous post. I think this way of socializing does not bring many good things with it, and its something I will talk more about on this blog in the future. Do tings because you simply HAVE to, not because it is something  society tells you to do.

Living authentically, and to be truly happy, in today’s world is becoming increasingly difficult even though it should be the opposite, and its therefore something that needs to be debated more from an ethnographic viewpoint than I see it being done. The above was the original intention with this blog and it is where I see it going forward from here on.

It is a funny thing how you on one hand think that you have come a long way over the years, yet when you sit down and think about it, you seem to be right back where you started.

Yours truly,

Jacob

 

Dirty tricks will not make you Instagram famous

I liked this photo so much that it got me into taking photography more seriously as a hobby

Let’s start by setting things straight here. Yes, I want to grow my following on Instagram as a way of furthering my career as a storyteller. And since you are reading this article chances are you have a similar purpose with being on Instagram.

Maybe it’s just to validate your ego, and that’s totally fine too. We all need validation. Let me know in the comments, by the way, if I am completely wrong here. As far as I am concerned, though, you and I both need to quit the bullshit if we want to get some real value out of being on Instagram.

I just recently joined Instagram and quickly saw a pattern in most people’s behavior there. People would follow me only to unfollow me shortly after. I also received a lot of comments on the photos I posted. Some people would like five or more of my photos, but for some reason none of those people wanted to follow me, even if they apparently liked my work so much. I was perplexed to say the least.

So I went to google to check out what this thing about follow/unfollow and mass liking photos was all about and got a whole lot smarter on the inner workings of Instagram. Don’t hate the player, hate the game, right?

Consider this for a second though. The net result of how people are using Instagram is millions of people spending valuable time they could spend doing or creating something worthwhile on this never-ending game of following and unfollowing each other. How silly is that?

My question for the interwebs is this: how many people do you think stop to consider whether the followers they get really matter in any significant way?

I want followers. But I want followers who gives a real damn about my art, and I couldn’t care less about everyone else. I also don’t want people to like my photos for just any reason whatsoever. I want people to only like my pictures if they genuinely think that what I am producing is worthwhile spending time looking at. My sole hope with displaying my art publicly is that it can brighten someone’s day or that it moves someone in one way or another. I view art as a way of making what is otherwise for many a grim world just a little brighter.

You’d think that Instagram, or I guess Facebook really, would care about all of this? It can’t possibly be good for business if your whole business model is based off of people who really don’t care about other users and only about themselves?

I don’t think they care at all. What Facebook and Instagram cares about is how much time people spend on their platform. Because the more time you spend on Instagram the more advertisement they can sell. As users we are the product.

Of course this is not the whole truth. I know there are many genuine people on Instagram, but I can’t help but feel that they are hard to find sometimes.

I didn’t want to write this article to bash all the following/unfollowing going on. I just wanted to address why I think it is a bad strategy and for the most part a waste of time to do so. Don’t get me wrong. I think follow/unfollow will get you thousands of followers! It works! But wherein lies the real value of THOSE followers?

I think there are really only two ways to be successful while at the same time being happy and proud of what you have accomplished. And that is a) working hard on a core set of skills, and b) networking. “Network, network, network!” as Steve Balmer (formerly of Microsoft) used to say.

Working on building a core skillset

My goal is to be a good writer and photographer, maybe even earn some money from either or both eventually. I strongly believe that the best way to get there is to get out there the trenches and get mud on your hands. I.e. get busy with taking photos and learning about Photoshop and Lightroom.

Don’t get me wrong, I am upping the time I spend on social media management, but I believe that I should be spending at least 5 times the time I spend on Instagram etc. on working on my core skills. The bonus is the more I work on my skills the more great content i’ll have to share on Instagram and elsewhere.

I think that if what you produce is of a consistently high value, and by that I mean much higher than most, followers will come without having to hesitate to these follow unfollow methods.

Network, network, network

I don’t think you’ll be successful from skill alone though. You have to get out there and sell yourself. I learned that the hard way through maybe 50 + tinder dates. In the beginning I was horrible at the whole first date thing; now I don’t have a problem with it at all and have had much more success because of my experience with promoting myself, so to speak.

But wait a minute, didn’t I just tell you not to promote yourself? No, I told you not to follow and unfollow people mindlessly. Yeah, they are also real people just like you and me.  Not just numbers to make your ratio right.

I think that if you want people to care about you, you have to show them that you care about them first. So while I will continue to build relationships on Instagram, I am dead certain I will have more success with actually going out in the real world and connecting with people face to face.

Next week I am going to go shoot a badminton tournament for free. This allows me to a) work on my skills, and b) connect with people. Maybe I’ll be lucky to take some great photos of a player, who will then recommend me to his or her friends and family. Maybe I won’t. It’s a chance to take, but I am sure that it’s a lot better strategy than to follow someone and the unfollow them again once they begin following me.

When you go out there and take an actual photo of someone you connect with them for life. When you follow someone and then unfollow them again you are showing them that you don’t care about them, only about how many followers you have.

Conclusion

So to conclude, I think that time spent on tactics to get more followers is wasted time you could have spent building your business by creating actual content that’ll give people a genuine reason not only to follow you, but to like and enjoy the stuff you post.

What do you think? Am I completely out in the woods here? Is there a grain of truth to what I am saying? Please let me know what you think in the comments section.

Caol Ila on a Lazy Sunday

Just opened a new bottle of scotch and am sitting here enjoying the lovely aftertaste of smoked oak. A Caol Ila Moch to be precise that I bought earlier today at my local supermarket. What a treat!

Next time I am to introduce someone to peated whisky I’ll offer them a Moch. It has a sweet, well-rounded, slightly lemony and fairly lightly peated character. The aftertaste lingers on in your mouth for about 10-15 minutes. Of course, waiting that long before taking another sip is unlikely going to happen here at my household.

On the inter-webs it said that Caol Ila has historically mostly been used in the Johnny Walker blended whiskies which makes me somewhat skeptical about the brand, but it seems that Caol Ila is now growing in its own right as a single malt.

By the way, how do people manage to pronounce Scottish whisky properly? I always get whiskies like Lagavulin completely wrong and I am sure its no difference with Caol Ila which is supposed to be pronounced “cull Ee-la”. Ehm, Carol what?

“Please say that again” I’ll ask the barman and they’ll raise a brow at me as I try to get it right for the 15th time. I’ve got this test that when I am able to pronounce Lagavulin right I know it’s about time I go home.

Of course its not easier when it comes to wine. I’ll call Côtes du Rhône “court ruin” and I won’t even attempt at pronouncing the Mourvedre  grape let alone the Nebbiolo or the Gewürztraminer.

In other news, I went with my roommate Karen for a huge bowl  of mussels, fries and white wine Friday evening. Yesterday I went for a couple of Indian Pale Ales with another good friend of mine followed by a big juicy burger. Today my roommate and I am cooking up some pork with veggies and having a chill evening at home.

Anyway, there really isn’t a point of me telling you these trivial things other than to add an assurance to all of you that I am in fact still alive and well. Considering that my last two posts were a now two year old tribute to a man who had just died at the time (how depressing) and a incoherent babble about not being able to write anything worth reading anymore (even MORE depressing) you’d imagine as far that I might not be coming back here ever again.

(I wouldn’t have bet on me being back either).

Reflections on my Writer’s Block

Every day I wake up with the feeling that I want to write something. And every day I don’t even try to sit down at the computer and open a word document to do so. It’s a weird thing, isn’t it, wanting to do something, but not wanting it enough to actually do it?

Don’t get me wrong, I write a bunch at work, but that’s not the same at all. I guess you could call the writing I do at work “creative writing”, but it doesn’t satisfy me on the same level as it did when I used to write stuff for the blog on a more full-time scale.

I have been at my job for about two years now and overall I have worked in project management for four years. So I know I must have built up some skills and confidence in what I do over those years even if I don’t think much about that on a daily basis.

I think that’s what I lack with the blog: confidence in my skills as a creative writer. I was never good at grammar; not in my native language (which is danish) and especially not in english. I feel even more naked when I write in english than when I do so in danish. I never really overcame this fear even tough I have been doing this for more than half of my life.

Somewhere deep down I hold a belief that I have talent, if not in putting together coherent sentencesses, then in  conveying a personal and meaningful message to the reader. I think that was what kept me going for the two years that The Measured Life was an active site.

What also kept me going was the wonderful and mostly positive reactions I got from people who had stumpled upon my writings one way or another. I was scared shitless every time I received a comment, mind you! But I also though of it as a very powerful way to connect with like-minded people. I am forever in awe of the people who decided to spend their time with me here on The Measured Life! I can’t thank them enough for being there with me along the way.

I suppose I am now looking to recreate some of that magic that came in to my life back then by getting back into the writing game…

For now I am not gonna spend a lot of time editing or in deep reflection over the output I produce (or at least that is what I tell myself). I am just going to be doing spur of the moment writing and I am going to be frantically clicking publish whenever I don’t feel like working more on a post.

I other news, I hope you guys (if there is still anyone out there) had a lovely Christmas with all of your families and a fantastic new years with whomever you happened to celebrate that with! I had a very eventful holiday break myself (too eventful even) but that is for another post.

RIP, Seth Roberts

I am very saddened to learn of Seth Roberts untimely death on April 26th 2014. Unlike many of the people listed below, I did not know Seth personally, that is, I never met him in real life.

Online, however, Seth actually took the time to contact me a couple of months ago when I had cited him in a post recommending honey before bedtime on this blog. He was very interested in knowing more about my experiments, and I found it a great honor that someone as accomplished as him would take the time to contact random strangers with few proven credentials for advice.

Back then, and to this day, this says a lot to me about what kind of person Seth must have been to the people who really knew him.  It is not every day that you meet someone who treats everyone, from every walk of life, equally. I don’t, if I must be completely honest, and I don’t think I have ever met anyone who truly does yet.

But Seth absolutely seemed to me like someone interested in getting to know everyone on equal terms. At least the few email correspondences I had with him leads me to think so.  He was also someone with unconventional ideas about how to hack life. I have experimented with many of his ideas myself, and will continue to live my life in the same vein that I imagine Seth did.

I don’t have a category on my site that matches news like these, so I am putting the post under spirituality. I do this because Seth was, although unknowingly,  a spiritual teacher  of sorts of mine – understood in the sense that to me being spiritual means being able to look outside the box of conventionality. Seth obviously did, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to do so too.

If you do not know who Seth was, take a look at his blog. Although he won’t be able to contribute to our collective knowledge further, his blog as well as his book are still very valuable resources for those interested in self-experimentation and in lifehacking.  I will leave you with links to posts by people who actually knew Seth well. (Borrowed from Tucker Max).

Tucker Max

John Durant

Richard Nikoley

Ryan Holiday

Ben Casnocha

Nassim Taleb

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Goodbye WordPress, Hello Freedom

home-sweet-home

Before making the decision to move The Measured Life from WordPress.com to Bluehost I worried a lot if getting traffic would be a thing of the past for me now.

I was thinking, that since most of my traffic came internally from WordPress, it would be a ghost-town around here after a move. Boy was I wrong about that (luckily).

It has been less than 24 hours since I indexed the new sitemap and since Google has begun crawling the site, but I am already getting some traffic from Google searches to some of my older posts. This leaves me with a very positive outlook on the future of The Measured Life.

The searches are already telling me a little bit about where I should maybe focus my efforts topic-wise. Without saying too much: People seem to like the somewhat more science-oriented posts I have done a great deal.

Which is great, because I have really wanted to boost my credibility for a long while exactly by writing about things that are maybe a bit less philosophical than usual and a bit more grounded in scientific theory and practice.

It has been maybe three or four months since I have written in English on a consistent basis, though, and that shows in the quality of what I write. At least that is how I am feeling about it right now.

Exactly because I am out of shape in terms of writing in the English language, this is just going to be yet another short post. This time around I don’t want to push myself too hard so I am taking it easy for now. Slow and steady wins the race, right.

Anyway, thanks to those of my old readers who might have stayed throughout the move. I am working on improving my SEO skills as well as a short eBook to be published on the site for free soon. So things should be back on track here in my little neck of the internet woods soon.

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Moving and relaunching! Stay tuned for announcements…

For quite a while now I have felt the need to do a change up around here in order to regain the desire to share my thoughts with you!

Long story short, I am moving the blog away from WordPress.com to be hosted over at Bluehost instead.

My hope being that gaining full control over the blog will inspire me to work more on putting quality content out there.

I am just going to do this, without having done a lot of research into the specifics of moving a blog. It shouldn’t be rocket science.

Now, I might loose all of my subscribers. I might loose my search engine rankings. I am not sure what will happen. If nothing else I know that I will keep my URL and all of my content.

The answers are out there, of course. I just have to do a quick Google search, yet I haven’t been inspired to do even THAT yet.

So I am just going to focus on getting the move done soon and take it from there.

So guys, anyone interested in following and connecting with me here in the future should stay tuned and check out the site from time to time over the next couple of weeks. Whenever I implement a new change I will make a short announcement.

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