Searching for the Meaning of Life in Dubai

Last week I traveled to Dubai with a group of people in Wilhelmsen, where I work as a Digital Trainee, for our third module in Design Thinking with Pracademy. We are a group of 24 people which Wilhelmsen considers to be Leadership Potentials. We are fortunate to be a part of this year’s company program, and we have all learned so much about ourselves. In this post, I will try to communicate what we learned during last week’s module. Be aware that this is a four months program, and it’s hard to get the feeling of it by just reading about it. But I hope I can share some of the knowledge that I acquired and get you more interested in improving your own life.

Find your passion and go all in!

Most motivators and teachers say that you need to find your passion, make work a hobby that you enjoy every single day. I have even caught myself saying that over and over again (on Hacked). However, as I learned during the sessions in Dubai, more than 80% of us do not know what their passion is. I started to wonder if I knew what my passion is. And I’m still insecure about that. I do know that I want to contribute to the world, I want to help and serve people. I want to create things that I know other people will love; I want to leave a footprint on this earth.

I often have this mind experiment where I picture myself as 80 years old with bad health in my nursing home. Do I think that I managed to get the most out of life? Am I satisfied with all the things I achieved? Or do I have regrets and feel remorseful? The goal for every person on this earth is to be satisfied with your life when you’re near the end. I guess most people aren’t in reality. And that’s a big shame. Some people might regret that they worked too much, had too little fun, too few good experiences with their loved ones, too few memorable memories.

I pray that I will be happy with my life and what I accomplished.

How to find your passion

If you do not know what your true passion is, there’s still hope for you. You can spend years trying to find your ultimate passion. Think of what makes you happy, what you enjoy or care for. My strong passion for creating things started in my childhood. I always drew new inventions on a piece of paper and started small kid businesses. I played music; I was a drummer in a nu-metal band, I started to sing and rap and create songs. I painted and used my creative skills to visualize my thoughts. I traveled during holidays and experienced new cultures, new food. Oh, I love good food. I love cooking a great meal for family and friends.

I could probably achieved anything that I had/have passion for. I could have been a:

  • Cook
  • Artist
  • Painter
  • Drummer
  • Entrepreneur

I chose to become an entrepreneur mostly due to financial possibilities. As being financially independent was and is very high on my priority list. But that does not mean that I wouldn’t have a meaningful life being an artist with less money on my hands.

Economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman researched happiness and money in 2009 where the focus was on US standards, and it’s population:

So, where does the $75,000 come into play? Researchers found that lower income did not cause sadness itself but made people feel more ground down by the problems they already had. The study found, for example, that among divorced people, about 51% who made less than $1,000 a month reported feeling sad or stressed the previous day, while only 24% of those earning more than $3,000 a month reported similar feelings. Among people with asthma, 41% of low earners reported feeling unhappy, compared with about 22% of the wealthier group. Having money clearly takes the sting out of adversities.

At $75,000, that effect disappears. For people who earn that much or more, individual temperament and life circumstances have much more sway over their lightness of heart than money. The study doesn’t say why $75,000 is the benchmark, but “it does seem to me a plausible number at which people would think money is not an issue,” says Deaton. At that level, people probably have enough expendable cash to do things that make them feel good, like going out with friends. (The federal poverty level for a family of four, by the way, is $22,050.)

So if you live in the US, a goal for financial freedom could be $75 000 or $100 000 as income per year. If you make more than that, you won’t necessarily become happier just because of the money.

However, if you make too much money and you are in an in-group where your peers make much less than you do, you can be in a situation where jealousy and envy will affect your life. And that is not a good feeling at all. I believe that the people in the middle of the scale live the happiest lives. There have been numerous cases where people that won in the lotteries have ended their lives due to envy and jealousy from their friends and family. Where they thought winning a lot of money would make them happier, while it only magnified their problems.

Empathy

In Design Thinking, empathy is a crucial part of the process. The ability to feel compassion for other human beings. To understand their problems, feelings, and emotions and to share their pain, grief, happiness or sadness. I know for a fact that I could be much more empathic and that is something I will improve. See the video below that shows what empathy is:

We saw this video in Dubai, which almost made me cry (we were in a particular mood..):

There’s so much going on in that video. Mo Cheeks felt empathy with the girl singing the national anthem, and he could feel compassion since he had a daughter at that age.

Things change when you get a child, for me that has a daughter who is seven months, I can relate to the video above. You might not.

What characterizes a great leader?

We did a session where everyone in the room in Dubai explained what a great leader is for them. The list included:

  • Good listener
  • Empathic
  • Understanding
  • Good motivator
  • + more

Most of the points we as leadership potentials defined as a great leader had nothing to do with “IQ.” Most of them had everything to do with “EQ,” emotional intelligence. It is mindblowing that we do not learn more about emotional intelligence during school, and that all businesses focus on “IQ” when hiring, not “EQ.” I believe that is skewed and is important to reflect upon.

Mindfulness

We also learned how to be more mindful. They encouraged us to use 30 minutes to sit quietly, close our eyes, focusing on the now. Breathing slowly and try to get as calm as possible. There’s scientific research on how mindfulness can help you become more happier, healthier and more successful:

And then one of the many guides on mindfulness:

Communication

We did a session where we were paired up to use mindfulness to listen and repeat. A was given 6 minutes to talk about a challenge at work, B was given 3 minutes to repeat what he/she heard, A was then given 2 minutes to clarify what B might have misinterpreted, B was then finally given 2 minutes to repeat what A clarified. This was a session that made me realize how easy it is to misinterpret. This can be used in every aspect of your life. It is so easy to misunderstand what a person is saying or meaning, so try to ask a question after a discussion: “Did I understand you right, that you want…” or “Could you please clarify what you meant by…”.

Writing

A professor of culture and psychology from South Korea gave us a session on writing. How writing in a notebook can help you learn better and understand what was communicated. From now on, I’ll always bring a notebook in meetings and write with my hand. Then I’ll add the written information to my computer later on.

Emotions

We often say: “I am angry.” That is a big mistake. We are not angry, but we do feel anger. So whenever you “are angry, sad, or irritated,” say in your head that you are “feeling angry, because..” and you will be able to control your emotions in a much more sufficient manner. Do not let the feeling itself take over who you are. You are not your feelings, you simply feel them and they will pass.

And Finally, you have the Siberian Railroad: SBNRR: Stop, Breathe, Notice, React, Respond.

 

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