Does Money Buy Happiness?

Does money buy happiness or just a big mansion? This funny video by blogger Victor Pride reminded me to always think differently from what Bill Cooper called “the sheeple!” And so after watching this video, think about it for a while, and ask your friends to get their reaction. You will notice the clear bias against money in our society. There’s a built-in guilt that society places on people who want money. Remember “Greed is Good!” and how that became a negative stereotype from the first Wall Street movie with Michael Douglas?

Radio host Tom Leykis truly believes money does buy happiness. Not working and being a slave to the man. Professor Leykis sounds pretty happy when you listen to his old shows on YouTube or his new show, streaming daily via the Tom Leykis show mobile app.

What do you think? Is Tom Leykis right?

When you listen to one of his older shows, you may start to question this common falacy. Religion is not really to blame for this belief, instead I believe it’s our society’s belief in altruism. Ayn Rand was one of the biggest opponents of altruism in the history of the world. And she is still vilified about her books, interviews and opinions on helping others to your own detriment.

Do you remember the safety advice on your last flight? In case of emergency take the oxygen mask and put it on your own face first before you try to help children or anyone else like disabled people.

 

What if money was no object?

Alan Watts philosopherIn 2013 I came across this video from British philosopher Alan Watts. He is best known for his writings and speaking on Zen Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity. In what starts as such a simple question, ends up as an extremely thought-provoking reflection coming back to the ‘why’ of what we do. Conceptually, Alan Watts is right on the money – we live in a world doing things we may not like doing, in order to make a living, in order to keep going on doing the things we don’t like doing.

At first I struggled to take this from concept to practice as money, whether we like it or not or agree with it, is the catalyst that drives almost all of how we live. It wasn’t until Alan Watts revealed a valuable insight about becoming ‘masters’ in what we do, so much so that we can charge a handsome fee for doing so. This follows in the same vein as Joseph Campbell’s “Follow your bliss…” quote.

What I do believe, however, is that this video’s message represents one window in which to look through. We don’t live in a world where we must choose one thing to do to enjoy or earn a living anymore. It is becoming more apparent, even common, for the last two generations entering the workforce (Gen Y & Z) to do multiple things to fulfill that implicit need for a sense of purpose.

A call centre worker by day is a share market enthusiast by night and volunteer on the weekends. A small business owner works from home at nights, is a parent by day, and manages to study at university by distance learning. Perhaps if you do feel you are lacking ‘enjoyment’ or ‘fulfillment’ where you currently find yourself, the answer may not lie in changing what you do, but expanding to what you do.

Some ideas here were first expressed by Patrick Caldwell, HR Business Partner at BHP Billiton. I’ve refined the idea using my own experience conducting seminars at elite private schools across South Africa.

 

What is the role of Technology in Romantic Relationships?

One of the tragedies of the romantic relationships in the 21st century is the lack of quality and the lack of depth. Technology has played a pivotal role in bringing people closer together and also keeping people from connecting at deeper levels. We’ve seen the rise of Internet dating as means for people to find suitable partners to become friends, go on dates and to eventually get married. This has been further enhanced by adult dating websites, which allow people to skip courtship and go straight to sex.

We’ve also seen the erosion of boundaries between couples. Cellphones have placed people at the beck and call of their mates. And so you find many people who would otherwise have developed a very strong individualised personality within the relationship breaking down when they cannot get hold of their partner. A pastor from a church once cautioned me about the devastating impact cellphones and MXit was having on young married couples. What he found was that as teenagers, they develop their online friendships, sometimes having hundreds of “friends” on social networks. And when they get married, they want to maintain those friendships. Now here arises a real conflict because the husband or wife may have their own “friends” they are used to communicating with. This eventually leads to a severe breakdown in communication, a lack of trust, and is the opposite of what these people should ideally have at the beginning of a marriage.

Now it’s a fact that we do not live in a perfect world. And in the same way that technology is abused, its also having a very positive impact. Technology like Skype, the most popular VOIP application on the Internet, has allowed people to connect and even do video calls anywhere in the world. Social networking has had the same positive impact in that it has allowed people to maintain friendships and even develop romantic relationships over long distances. And I firmly believe we’ve now reached the stage where people are more realistic about the people they meet on the Internet.

The greatest challenge for 21st century relationships is moving from addiction-based technology1 relationships to real connections, real intimacy. And I’ll explore this more in my upcoming book, The Psychology of Technology.

 

Social Media is not Social Interaction

Social Media MadnessMy role as a technology evangelist is to bring the good news about technology to you. Well there is good news and there is bad news. And as with most people I’m sure you prefer the bad news first. A question I want you to ask yourself before I share that news with you is this: is technology really neutral or is it biased based on the inherent function that is is designed for?

Anyway here’s the bad news: there is a myth promulgated that in today’s society that social media is social interaction. How can you compare a conversation at a braai to a conversation on Twitter? How can you compare a conversation over the dinner table with a conversation on a Facebook discussion group? How can you compare an intimate conversation late at night with your lover to the same conversation using MXit?

It is my opinion that we’ve reached a stage in our evolution as the human species, in the 21st century, that we’ve become chronically dependant on technology. Children born after 1985 or 1990 cannot imagine a world without cellphones, 24 hour television or the Internet. What do I mean when I say chronic dependency? I simply mean that we do not even realise to what extent we rely on these technologies until they are taken away from us.

Think back to the last time your cellphone battery died. How did you feel? Think back to the last time your Internet connection was down for a few hours. How  did you feel? Think about the last time the electricity in your neighbourhood was down. How did you feel? Some of you may have felt anger, some may have felt disgust, or resentment. However, I would vouchsafe that the real feeling beneath the exterior aggression was one of helplessness.

Now when I posted this comment on my Twitter/Facebook status the first person stated that it is not wrong or right. Well I go on the record now by saying it wrong to believe that social media interaction is the same as social interaction without social media. They are not the same and they are certainly not equivalent. I came to this conclusion after speaking to at tens of thousands of people across South Africa for the last few years on the psychology of technology.

When you correlate the use of our 5 senses in communication with that of “communicating through the screen” you realise to what extent we’ve come to accept this substandard way of communicating as genuine. When you are texting or using MXit, you cannot see the other person, hear the other person, touch the other person, smell the other person, let alone taste the other person. So you are not using any of your 5 senses in the interaction. When you do not use your 5 senses you are making decisions based on an exceptionally limited amount of information.

Yes its my opinion after observing thousands of South Africans interact using MXit, Facebook, Internet Dating and other technologies and convincing themselves its the equivalent of social interaction or let me rather say, face to face interaction.

The facts remain that we are like zealots when justifying our chronic dependency on technology. Agree or disagree?

 

Avoiding long distance relationships

You will always find people who have had success in a particular way of dating because there is such a vast number of variables at play. Long distance relationships for the most part give people a false hope or a lack of control in the outcome, and in my opinion kills your self-esteem.

When I think back to a girl I was dating during my time at university in Port Elizabeth, I recall how the tension escalated when I moved to Johannesburg. A year later she moved to Stellenbosch to pursue an Honours degree in Chemistry. I would never again get involved in a long distance because it was doomed from the beginning. The signs were there but I chose to ignore them.

Some fascinating research from the Journal of Family Relations is that couples who marry from a long-term relationship may still be in the idealized state. This impairs their ability to be realistic in their evaluation of the other. Your biggest challenge today is not even that the person you are dating is another city. Imagine where they are in their minds when they are chatting away on Facebook or MXit?

 

Are robots the sex partners of the future?

This article is a few months old but I wanted to highlight it because it illustrates the state of affairs when it comes to how technology is replacing human experience. Read the full story: hardwired for love here.

Technology can never replace human experience because it is a simulation of the real world. However, if you consider how real dreams feel when you’re dreaming, maybe you will wake up from the dream and be thankful it was only a dream. The experience of connecting with another human being is only enhanced by technology when you are physically in different locations.

This reminds me you may want to look at the virtual sex scene from the movie Demolition Man with Sandra Bullock and Sylvester Stallone.

 

Mel Gibson Breaks Hollywood's 10 Commandments

Mel Gibson has always been an iconic actor ever since he emerged from Australia’s deserts with the Mad Max trilogy of movies. He became a bonafide action star with the Lethal Weapon series and Braveheart.

I’m a big movie fan and always keep track of how movies are created, marketed and how they perform. With the craze that was the Passion of the Christ in 2004 there was a brilliant piece written on the approach that Mel Gibson took called, Mel Gibson Breaks Hollywood’s 10 Commandments.

And today I came across another brilliant example of how the movie industry is leveraging, sometimes by accident, the power of the Internet and word-of-mouth: Why Will ‘Snakes on a Plane’ Be a Hit? It’s the Internet, Stupid.

 

How to use Social Proof to improve your Dating

Dr Robert Cialdini wrote a book called Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion. One of the weapons of influence and core principles in this book is “Social Proof”. Wikipedia defines it as “is a psychological phenomenon which occurs in ambiguous social situations when people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behaviour. Making the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation, they will deem the behaviour of others as appropriate.”

So here’s a recent example of this. Last night was I was out with two female friends and another guy in Johannesburg. And we went to a regular spot for me, Katzie’s in Rosebank. I know most of the waiters, bartenders, and other regular patrons. So very naturally I start to introduce people to each other. Now what this does for me is puts me in the centre. If you want to call it centre of attention that’s also good.

But when you are a Connector, as Malcolm Gladwell talks about in the Tipping Point, you can create instant social proof. And as they chat among themselves I’m free to approach new groups of women I do not know. So what you ask? Well social proof pushes your social value way up. And in bars, clubs, social groups it allows you to stand-out. And when you talk to a woman/man outside of your social group who has seen your social proof it makes them much less resistant and much more interested in what you have to say. The biggest benefit I’ve seen is it brings the new people into your life without hard work. So through expanding your acquaintances you increase your social proof, and increase the chances of meeting your next girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, etc.

 

A Hot Mom after Mother’s Day

I’ve dated two women who had children. The first one in particular was a “hot mom” and as a tribute to her I’m posting a cool video clip I found on Goolge Video about a new movement called the Hot Mom’s Club. Jessica Denay is also the author of a new book, The Hot Mom’s Handbook which outlines their strategies. Hot meaning confident, and hot meaning empowered. I have to add while looking damn good.

 

Meeting More Single People in a Natural Way

I’ve been more and more frustrated not meeting as many new women as I would like. Recently went to a Portugese Festival here in Johannesburg called Lusito Land and there must have been at least 5000 people there.

And suffice it to say I made about two good approaches and one that sucked because she didn’t even bother responding and just kept walking. My mistake was not being directly in her line. Also I had seen her earlier and hesitated!

So now I’m going to make an more active social life and go and do some physical things that I can believe will bring me into more contact. From this week I will go Salsa dancing every Thursday night at the Dance Junxion in Rosebank. Every 2nd Sunday I already go to stand-up comedy and need to start making a lot more approaches with the nice young women here. Every other Sunday (also twice a month) I will go tenpin bowling at a very busy mall.

The club thing is just not my scene any more. I found its almost a waste of time going out with married friends or people in relationships. They go to place and do things like watch movies at the cinema which allows for no oppertunity to actually meet anyone new!