About Proactivity

Tennis ball
Image by gregoirevdb

Today I realized something very important. It doesn’t make me feel good as it fights against my old paradigms, which is always hard, and it also shows a weak spot I had missed.

This week I’ve begun to understand what being proactive really means. Of course I know it theoretically [as I read too many self-development books], but today I internalized it better than ever before.

What troubles me thought is, that when I reflect back to history, I find many things in our society and lives that don’t support growing to proactivity, from early childhood to school and to work life – but I don’t want to talk about that part now as this was supposed to be a happy post. No need for society get its share, this time.

What is proactivity after all? Is it just a nice word, a trendy little nifty thing that you can throw here and there and sound intellectual?

First of all, for me proactivity means to be control of your life and stop whining. There’s not that many things [at least in the western society] that you can say is actually stopping you of doing anything, if you just decide to start.

Being proactive is hard. It means that there’s no one telling you what to do, but yourself. It means that you have to determine your goals, your steps how to get there, and that you are really doing the right things to get there. It means discipline – which I’ve noticed is the hardest part of it all!

This may sound too obvious, but I dare you to try it. Someone recently wrote in Finnish media that hurry has become our national trend. We are always in a hurry to some place, task or even state, and we don’t have time to do the real things, because, well, because we are in a hurry of course!

Being proactive means also that you need to determine the thing to do, this moment, and what to do not. Saying no is also proactivity.

This eventually leads to one statement, to the most dreadful one: The most horrible thing in proactivity is, that it means freedom. Freedom, in many ways, is an abysmal thing for a human being – many try to hide from it any means necessary. If you don’t share my view, just stop for a second and listen to people or your own thoughts.

How many is out there, really, not blaming something or someone else than themselves of their current state of life? How many is there to say, “I just didn’t try the right way“. As Bruce Lee so accurately placed it: “Be water my friend“.

In the end it is one’s own choice, if you are going to live this life kicking and screaming, or always just bouncing back. Because there’s always going to be new things after which you just have to bounce or you’ve lost the game.

Book: How to be free by Tom Hodgkinson

How To Be FreeMr Hodgkinson telling you how to be more free and enjoy life. The tune is more down to earth (and joy!) than a guide to zen-like harmony with your inner and outer aspects of your so highly spiritual life.

What’s it about

It’s about Tom slapping you in the face [a friendly slap, that is] and thus making you think for a while about the world and how you live in it. It’s about how to live more freely in a society where everything seems to be based on consumption. Many examples and situation and many more thoughts around them.

About that the system we’re living in isn’t solid proof. People create the system with their own actions.

First impressions

For first, there’s a good sense of humor in the book and that’s good because being more joyful and happy is also the message here.

I also had some mixed feelings on this; at the same time I agree on many things and feel those solutions he gives are basically OK, but also sometimes I feel the world has been, intentionally or not, watched through some naive goggles.

Still I feel this is a book everyone should read. It’s easy to get lost in a world where the pace is often ‘run’. Maybe the biggest achievement this book has is that it points out the value of things really worth for and unveils the curtain of false satisfaction some behavour [like over consuming and joyless protestant way of an attitude towards life] can give you.

The chapter by chapter format is nice. I read it through couple of chapters per night.

Possible inspirations

  • Stress less about things you don’t have.
  • Makes you ponder the things what are really valuable in life. There’s nothing too spiritual in Tom’s thoughts, more like “Do you want to live kicking and screaming from birth to death, or would you rather laugh and show you bottom to those who wrinkle their forehead all the time?”. Why to punish yourself all the time from nothing.
  • State of things is always a result of the things in the past.

Possible turn downs

  • Like I said, there are some things and ideas that may sound a bit odd. I don’t know if they are only meant as provocative or does the writer really mean them. I think Hodgkinson sounds smarter than the latter option.
  • Sometimes I feel that Tom tries to justify drinking and smoking with his philosophy. Also there’s no mentioning about exercising in this book, except just one: gyms are  bad for people. Which I feel is a bit lame expression about the subject.
  • Not everyone can grow their own vegetables and collect wood from the forest [there’s just too much people and too much living in the city]. But, I enjoy an occasional gardening and can underwrite the idea that it reliefs anxiety and can give you a peaceful mind. But still, I wouldn’t have time to watch over a kitchen garden.

Some things from the book

  • One creates his own chains.
  • Nice look into history giving us some thoughts why we are in this mess.

For who?

To people who sense there’s something wrong with the system and want to hear more thoughts about the subject. Basically to all, but sadly I know there are people out there who consider this kind of thinking as some kind of liberal hippie thing.

Other reading from the author:

How To Be Idle
The Freedom Manifesto: How to Free Yourself from Anxiety, Fear, Mortgages, Money, Guilt, Debt, Government, Boredom, Supermarkets, Bills, Melancholy, Pain, Depression, Work, and Waste
The Idle Parent


Wikipedia article about Tom Hodgkinson
The Idler website

Book: 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life by Roger-Pol Droit


This was one of those books I happened to find accidentally. once again it was shouting to me from one shelf in a library [Kuori omena päässäsi in Finnish]. Yes, I still sometimes visit a library, not reading everything in PDF [trying to avoid reading anything longer than 2-4 pages in PDF]. But anyway, I really liked this book and think it’s amazing!

What’s it about

Like the title says; the book contains a list of 101 experiments one can just read through or even try. They are of course more than just a list of do’s, there’s often more thinking through the exercises. Some of them last longer,  from a life time and some of them are shorter, lasting just seconds, and they vary from trying to peel an apple in your mind to imagining the world lasting only twenty minutes.

The book isn’t really about doing funny or odd experiments. You could replace them with other similar experiments as I will later try to show you, but the basis would stay the same. In my opinion the book is about understanding that the so-called normality and the state of one’s existence is created in our own minds, and breaking away from or changing it is really an easy thing to do. It only requires one to be an active participant in that progress.

First impressions

Funny, weird, awesome, a mind opener. I noticed that there was a couple of practices I’ve already done without thinking them as doing anything, like ‘Leave the cinema in daytime’ or ‘Try not to think’.

Reading this book could also help one except better other people. This isn’t ever a bad result now is it?

Possible inspirations

  • Opening one’s mind to ponder what is really ‘weird’ or what is ‘normal’.
  • Expanding one’s creativity and borders of thinking – yes, it’s called philosophy and that’s what is usually should do, I know. These maybe the biggest effects hopefully one can get out from this strange journey.

Possible turn downs

  • Nothing much, but if I had to mention something: The ‘French feel’ and the mixture of philosophical pondering may be a bit too much to some not so open minded people. So if you can take things without judging them so easily, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Some things from the book

  • Experiment: ‘Call yourself’. Basically try to step out from yourself and call yourself shouting, like you would be someone other, that you really aren’t but you should think like it anyway. Scream, shout and try to call yourself 20 minutes until you feel your really are duplicating, bending the boundaries what is you in you and what is that thing, object you are calling. How can you get back to be just one again [can you?]? Say in a normal voice ‘Yes, Coming!’.
  • Experiment: ‘Rant for ten minutes’. This is an exceptionally good practice for those like me who often feel this ball we call earth is stupid and inadequate place. Read more about the excercise from the book itself, I don’t want to spoil every one of them here.

For who?

To anyone trying to broaden their perspectives and trying to burst the bubble of a regular, boring, normal weekday. This is a must book for creative people and people overall interested in common and practical philosophy.

To those who are asking the question ‘Is this all there is?’. The answer in here could be; yes, but so what? Make the best out of it and try to enjoy! There’s a good experiment for this in the book called ‘Practice make-believe everywhere’.

Other reading from the author:

How are Things?



An Interview with Roger-Pol Droit

Extra – Experiment 102 by me

This is a small exercise that came to my mind while reading this book, and I really have to write it down. Hopefully Roger-Pol won’t be offended about this. Of course it’s not as good as the ones in the book so probably not. I thank him for the inspiration.

Experiment 102: ‘Read something you are least interested’

Duration: 30–90 minutes [depending on your patience and if you became interested about it]
Props: A library
Effect: Nearing

Go to a library, find a topic you know you are not at all interested in. Find the least interesting subject you can find. Take one random book about it, any will do. Find a good spot and begin to read it as if you really were interested about it. Be happy for the moment you now have, enjoy and gorge the written lines with your eyes.

There can be basically a couple things that can happen:

  1. You are thinking the whole time ‘Aaaf, this is so boring’ or,
  2. You may get [a bit] interested.

This is a funny thing. You are in a place filled with the mankind’s written down knowledge, interests and passions. Someone is really, actually interested about all of these subjects. Of course not the same person about them all, but for every topic there’s followers.

And what makes your passion so interesting anyway? Think about it in the light of the emotions you are currently feeling about the book you just read. Someone in the world is feeling the same way about your hobbies or interests. Not interesting at all!

So here we are in the verge of interesting questions; is your ‘interest’ really interesting at all? Think about it a while. Why are you feeling football or economics are interesting? Are they, or are you just running along, believing that they are interesting, but one thing you would really like to do instead is to knit? Really, try to ponder this. Strange things can appear.

You’re not here trying to loose your interests, more likely to think over them. Pick up a new one for a while and try it out.

Can you after this still say that his interests aren’t that interesting and why does she love to do those things? Of course you can and no, you cannot. And who made you to comment, and why are you even commenting?