Sunday, June 18

Nassim Taleb Talks Antifragile, Libertarianism, and Capitalism's Genius ...

I first read about Nassam Taleb from a comment reference on my blog over 10 years ago where he provided a link to an article called "blowing up" which had just appeared in the New Yorker.
Nassam Taleb was once an options trader, whose activities  involve writing call and put options which give the holder the right to purchase or sell securities at a future value at an agreed strike price. His background was one of applying probability theories but of an evening he remained at heart a philosopher. He was interested in a society that could avoid "blowing up" and has written many papers and books.    

Now involved wholly with academia he provides some insightful ideas. Listen as far as it is of interest.      

Friday, June 16

Laughter a recipe for life

From the outset the Malawi Support Meetings have always begun with a reflection. This can be any religious text, philosophical musing, prayer or perspective given by members volunteering from a previous meeting.

This perspective from the archives long ago at the time we found to be both inspirational but also (from my perspective) somewhat simplistic. Even so for the most part I think laughter and a positive attitude can be a good recipe for life.       

This reflection was entitled: you have 2 choices: and took the form of a story:   
James is the manager of a restaurant, who was invariably always in a good mood.
Asked how he was doing, he would reply,
"If I were any better, I would be twins!" Waiters at his restaurant quit their jobs when he changed jobs, to follow him from restaurant to restaurant.
Why? Because James was a motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, James told the employee how to look on the positive side. Seeing this style really made me curious, so I asked him.
"I don't get it! No one can be a positive all the time. How do you do it?"
James replied, "Each morning I say to myself, I have two choices. I can choose to be in a good mood or I can choose to be in a bad mood.

I always choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be victim or I can choose to learn from it. I always choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I always choose the positive side of life."
"But it's not always that easy, I protested."
"Yes it is," James said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk every situation is a choice."
You choose how you react to situations.
You choose how people will affect your mood.
You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood.
It's your choice how you live your life.

Several years later, I heard that James accidentally left the back door of his restaurant open and was robbed in the early morning by three armed men.
While James was trying to open the safe box, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him.
Luckily, James was found quickly and rushed to the hospital.
After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, James was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. I saw James about six months after the accident.
When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Want to see my scars?"
I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place.
"The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," James replied. "Then, after they shot me, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or could choose to die. I chose to live." "Weren't you scared I asked?"
James continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine.”
But when they wheeled me into the Emergency Room and I saw the expression on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared.
In their eyes, I read 'He's a dead man.'
I knew I needed to take action."
"What did you do?" I asked.
"Well, there was a nurse asking questions at me," said James. "She asked if I was allergic to anything."
'Yes,' I replied.
The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply.
I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!'
Over their laughter, I told them,
'I am choosing to live. Please operate on me as if I am alive, not dead'.
"James lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude."

I learned from him that every day you have the choice to either enjoy your life or to hate it. The only thing that is truly yours -- that no one can control or take from you- is your attitude, so if you can take care of that, everything else in life becomes much easier.