How to avoid fighting on Christmas


Do we lose all Empathy around Christmas?

Martha is looking forward to the holidays. Every year, she starts to prepare early. From the finest decorations to recipes that tickle your taste buds in the most delightful way: Martha takes Christmas seriously. 

What she loves most is that it's the only time of the year when the whole family gets together. Even her parents fly in from Florida. 

She looks forward to her favorite holiday every year. Sadly, also every year what is supposed to be the festival of love turns into a huge fight. 

Last year was extremely bad: 

  • Martha was mad at everyone. She prepared for weeks and spent 2.5 days in the kitchen but nobody, really NOBODY, appreciated her hard work. Instead, everyone was complaining

  • Maurice, Martha's son, didn't hide how much he hated the whole thing. He was the only one of his friends who was forced to stay at home. All the others met for possibly the greatest party of the year. Nobody likes to be blackmailed. (In Martha's defense: she had no other choice than threatening that she wouldn't buy Maurice the car she promised for his 18th birthday)

  • Erin was crying for hours. She wanted a PlayStation. But her uncool parents bought an Xbox. An Xbox 360. Where did they even find it? In the "free stuff" section of Craigslist?

  • Martha's parents were seriously unhappy. They are not the youngest and traveling is exhausting. They came all the way from Florida to spend quality time with their daughter and grandchildren. The grandchildren were in a devilish mood while her daughter spent all of the time in the kitchen. They were stuck with Bill whom they never liked. Who`s Bill?

  • Bill, Martha's husband, has had it with Christmas. All he wants is a bit of silence and peace. Week-in, week-out he rushes from meeting to meeting and the last thing he wants to do in the little time he has to himself is entertaining grumpy in-laws, juggle ill-tempered kids and listen to horrible Christmas music

Would you like more Christmas music? Follow the link at the end of the post and order your free album with Christmas songs. 

around Christmas

Why do we argue and fight on holidays?

Not just around Christmas, but also on vacations and other holidays: Often what is supposed to be a wonderful time turns into a stressful event. 

Some of the nicest people I know turn into selfish monster who want to force their idea of an ideal vacation/holiday onto others. 


There are several reasons that lead to this, for instance:

  • Overblown expectations
  • We're not used to spend so much time together

How to avoid fighting on holidays

The most important tip: Stay emphatic. Just like the rest of the year. Also:

  1. Don't expect too much. You will not get along better with people than the rest of the year

  2. Try not to force your idea of a perfect Christmas onto others. Everyone should be able to contribute their ideas and who doesn't want to participate shouldn't be forced to

  3. Avoid fundamental debates. It's unlikely that you will find consent about a topic you disagreed on all year long at the Christmas table

  4.  If possible, split the work. Everyone could contribute and be responsible for a part of the Christmas festival

  5. Don't force people to spend hours and hours together if they don't want to. It will only lead to arguments

  6. Don't force them to do things they hate. For example: if your kids don't want to sing Christmas songs - don't make them

  7. Don't overdo it. It doesn't have to be a 6-course menu. Consider preparing something festive but simple so that you are not already stressed out when it begins

  8. Gifts are supposed to make people happy. If someone doesn't like their present, they should be allowed to say so. Keep in mind: It's not a rejection of your person

Procrastination around Christmas

An interesting phenomenon is procrastination around the Christmas. Are you interested in some effective tips how to eliminate it? 

I wrote an article for you about this last year and, if you prefer, you can also listen to the audio edition. 

Article: Killing time around Christmas

Last but not least (unless you ... like me ... dislike Christmas songs): You can order your free Christmas album HERE: Christmas Special: Free Album

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The weight of life – A Short Story

Short Story The Weight Of Life

A short story

A student walked over to the wise old man.

"Sir," he said with a slow voice, "life is a heavy burden on my shoulders. It pushes me to the ground and I feel I will collapse under the weight."

"My son," the old man said with a warm smile "life is lightweight like a feather."

"Sir, with all due respect, you must be mistaken. I feel life pressing me like a load of thousands of pounds. Tell me, what can I do?"

"We put the burden on our shoulder ourselves.", said the old man still smiling.

"But ... " the young man started but the old man cuts him off by lifting his hand: "This "but" alone, my son, weighs 1000 pounds."

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Interview with Don Kerr

"The person, not the persona".

Canadian Writer, Don Kerr, asked me for an interview to learn about the private person Aurorasa. If, and only if, you want to learn more about me, you can read the interview here.

About Don Kerr

A brand creation, development, and marketing communication consultant with 30-years of relevant experience to creating powerful connections between corporations and their customers. His work is founded upon establishing a compelling emotional connection between a brand and its stakeholders revolving around three principles of effective brand expression: Clarity. Simplicity. Wit.
Leading branding efforts include organizations such as Wal-Mart, Château des Charmes, Kraft, Pep Boys Auto, McDonald’s and Disney.
He is also the creator of the Brand Clarity™ workshop and has been a brand leader for companies in North America, the UK, South America, and Asia.
A copywriter by craft, he also creates effective written communication for clients in all media including advertising, packaging, social media, and web.
Clients on this front include Tim Horton’s, Fuji Film, Astro Yogurt, General Electric and Irving Paper. He was also instrumental in introducing the first-known use of QR coding on alcohol packaging in North America. I recommend you check out his other work, he is a gifted writer and touches some delicate issues. Please consider supporting the crowdfunding campaign for his new book.
Twitter @dkridingshotgun

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Differences Between Changemaker and Troublemaker

Are you Change Maker or Troublemaker?

When Jim learned that the drinking water in his town is polluted for quite some time, he had every right to be angry. After all, he used the water to shower, cook coffee and most importantly to nourish his children.

The authorities did not share information about the degree of the contamination and which pollutants were found in the town´s drinking water.

His worry for the safety of his family and his anger that he did not get the information he so rightfully demanded, made Jim infuriated. I guess we can all sympathize with Jim and would have been angry too.

And the feeling of being helpless added to his anger. No matter how many times he called, he never seemed to be to be able to talk to the person in charge.

The problem concerned every person in the town so that they implemented a special phone number and hired agents to answer the enormous amount of calls from angry citizens. The agents had no authority whatsoever and certainly no detailed information about the degree of the problem.

In his last frustrating call, Jim got so angry that he started threatening the call center agent. It was not like Jim, but he told her that she should be careful because something might happen that would endanger the health of her family.

All of the calls get recorded, and the call center agent went to the police and filed a complaint. Jim had to pay a pretty high penalty and in addition to that, he was in deep trouble with his wife. Only when his wife told Jim that she would rather drink a whole cup of the toxic water than being married to a jerk did Jim come to his senses.

Jim started an action group and called it "transparency." The work group was soon able to get a court order that required the authorities to give them detailed information about the water quality and the pollutants the citizens had consumed.

Jim received a lot of appreciation from other citizens for leading the movement that influenced the speed of change. The group then continued to suggest actions to enhance the water quality and make sure of the safety of all citizens.

From troublemaker to changemaker

It happens to the best of us that sometimes we attack the bearer of bad news, rather than the source of the problem. Depending on the nature of the issue the source might be difficult to reach or persuade. Sometimes even impossible. That can make us impatient, and we could forget that we mean well and are uplifting, non-violent people.

We might engage in toxic behavior.

There are three problems with that:
  • we distract people's attention from the original problem
  • we behave hostile and hurtful towards people who neither have the authority to influence the change we are looking for nor have they created the problem
  • when we become aggressors, we will likely be seen as part of the problem, potentially the bigger one
It´s easy to get emotional about topics we consider important and "truth." The harder it is to influence the desired change, the easier is gets to occasional slip into a behavior that collides with who we are and what we want to achieve, especially when the "nobody cares" feeling kicks in. 

In my opinion, PETA is a good example of this. I 100 % agree and support their important mission but occasional the wording and actions throw me off a little bit

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

We see it on LinkedIn

A great example for the right message gone wrong is LinkedIn. I don't go to LinkedIn to solve math puzzles or share cat pictures. But many people do, and I tolerate that. Meanwhile, there are as many people posting trivial content as there are people attacking it. A third group is attacking people who do either.

Not only is it counterproductive because it helps to spread the trivial post. LinkedIn's algorithm rewards engagement. It does not differentiate between negative and positive engagement. What makes it even more absurd is that disconnecting from people or hiding their posts costs a simple mouse click. 

A scream for professionalism is most effective from people who act in a professional way, and not anti-social. 

Some people go even further and would like to ban certain professions from the site altogether (for instance the topic you and I connect through, Empowerment). I am not sure if they consider how attacking the post of a plumber that is trying to promote his service makes that person feel. 

I am sure though who will be perceived as the problem, or even a bully. Influencing change from the position of a "bully" is certainly harder. 

If I am unhappy with a system of a site like LinkedIn there are three ways to deal with it that will not make people mad: 
  • I can try to change it
  • I can remove myself 
  • I can accept it
It seems like such a silly example, yet it is a good one as it stirs up so much emotion that it´s not an uncommon place to see a changemaker turn into a troublemaker. 

Refugee "crisis."

This blog is not a political blog and will never be one. But each and every one of my readers also knows that I believe in humanity and treating people respectfully. I am not just a teacher of mindfulness but also a life long student. I make mistakes too.

Generally, I stick to the rule of attacking the sources of problems and not innocent people. Being hurtful and toxic is never okay in my book and before you know it you are the one in the wrong.

Please understand my statement from a humanitarian and pragmatic point of view.

It is every citizen's rights to be concerned about changes that seem to endanger their culture. It is also every human's right to look out for his safety and the safety of his family.

Attacking a person that executes his right to make sure of his survival and the survival of his family will most certainly only change people´s perception of us - not create change or constructive discussion.

Those are just two obvious examples you and I see every day. Examples where I wished people would show a bit more empathy before they decide on appropriate actions to reach their goal.

Creating change

The "how to create change" question can probably never be answered in a universal statement. It´s dependent on too many factors. But here are some general thoughts on how to wrap an idea in a non-toxic way: 
  • To create change we have to modify the source of a problem
  • Becoming an aggressor can distract from our intention and message
  • Generalizing can lead to hurting people we are potentially not aiming at
  • Whenever we are a part of a diverse community or society, empathy and tolerance go a long way when attempting to influence change
  • Having realistic expectation regarding the time, measures and traction needed to influence change can help with frustration


We could reflect from time to time to make sure that our behavior is still in line with our intention and goal. 

Changemakers chose constructive approaches while troublemakers most of the time do not help a solution. 

Each of our actions creates crimps through a matrix of causality that we cannot see at first. 

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When Words become Weapons

How to spot manipulation

Words have a lot of authority, and they change our brain. Negative words as well as positive words.

The Power of WordsCurrently, our society is brutalizing. That makes it even more important to keep in mind the power of words. We are living in times when hate speech becomes socially accepted. We hear words of hate, negative and limiting words on TV. Even in political debates.

I usually write and teach about the positive power of words. And how we can use words and thoughts to send active marching orders to our brain to get us what we want. To make us happier and more successful.

This article is about negative words and manipulation. Some of us do not seem to be as aware of the damaging effect of negative words as they are of the power of positive ones.

Words ...

  • can shatter souls
  • are sharper than knives
  • can break people
  • can make us sick
  • make us suffer
  • are like traps and loops
  • build walls
  • can destroy and ruin

Just try this little experiment: Say aloud "I love myself" 20 times. Does it change how you feel? I bet you are feeling better than before. But negative words have the same influence. 

Influence, Manipulation, Propaganda

Not just our words influence us but also the words of others. Many people know about this power and use it against us. In normal times, I would say "Just remove yourself from people attempting to influence you by using negative words, words of hate."  But these are not normal times, and I would tell you to stop watching the news or political debates. 

There are many ways to use words to manipulate and influence us: 


Disinformation means the act of suppressing information, playing down the importance of information or change its meaning. 
  • Twisting the meaning of a fact
  • Exaggerating
  • Leaving information away

Word Manipulation


Example: 60 % of clients are happy. How many have they asked? How did they ask? Did they maybe just ask ten buyers at the checkout to nod if they are happy? 

Emotional words

Words that stir our emotions have a very influential effect. For instance: "family", "quality of life." 


Instead of "guest worker" you use the term "foreign worker" or even "alien worker."

Twisting words and meaning

Instead of terrorist you call it "freedom fighter."

Elimination of harmful words

Goebbels (Nazi) for instance disallowed the use of the term "assassination."


Just like with auto-suggestion repetition is a powerful influence-enhancer. Repetition is often used in the context of influencing us towards negative feelings. By the hate speaker who might also attempt to invite the crowd to hate chants. A very powerful weapon. 

Choice of words

Doctors and therapists use this method as well. Author Paul Watzlawik wrote about a surprising phenomenon: A doctor helps a kid to get rid of his warts with the following trick: He gave the kid a coin and told him that he will buy the wart from him. 

This absurd statement causes psychosomatic reactions. The blood vessels shrink, and the wart dies off. With the coin, the ownership of the wart changed. 

Any absurd negative statement would have a similarly strong effect. For instance: "I will build a wall, and they will pay". 

Qualitative and quantitative information

"The big tragedy of our society is that we have too much quantitative information and too few qualitative. We know way more than our ancestors, but we know it less good. We need better information by getting the information in a better way - not by getting more information." P. Lévy. 

Way too often the spectacular comes before the important, the meaningful gets suppressed by the sensational. 

That keeps us from seeing clear and coherent. 

Our perception of quantitative results can be influenced. Example:

Test result of a heart treatment pill:

A = Number of heart attacks reduced by 33 %
B = 1.4 % less heart attacks
C = 95.9 % of the test group given placebo has not had heart attacks, while 97.3 % of people who used the medicine where heart attack free

Naturally, we would prefer alternative A that decreases the number of heart attacks by a full 33 %. 

The funny thing is that it´s the same medicine and the same study. The results of the "Helsinki Heart Study" were: 

4081 patients have been observed for 5 years
2051 received the real medicine. 56 of them had a heart attack
2030 received placebo. 84 of them head a heart attack

The treatment was successful in 28 additional cases. That is 33 % of 84 heart attacks without the medicine. The placebo was ineffective in 84/2030 cases = 4,1 %. The treatment only in 56/2051 = 2,7 % of cases. That is a reduction of 1,4 %. The treatment made 2051 people attack free = 97,3 % - as opposed to the placebo with 95,9 %. 

Suspicious wording

Travel agencies are masters in questionable wording:
  • Natural beach (probably full of seaweed and stones)
  • Easy going guests (they will hit on you hard in the hotel disco)
  • Ideal for guests who love great beach holidays (enjoy the day, because it´s dead here at nights)

Insecurity can increase trust

Sometimes we perceive statements as more believable when the speaker signals uncertainty. Unpolished speech, searching for words can come across more trustworthy than a perfect, polished speech. 

Speaking in pictures

Not just in hypnotherapy pictorial speech is used. Who speaks in pictures, speaks more forceful. The pictures get stored in our long-term memory. Word and image (right and left brain) get connected. 

Example: It has been proven that creating a picture of fat cells can influence: 
"The greedy cells are white-yellowish, oval, and they build up in high, honeycomb-like layers. They grow and grow incessantly."

Even though this statement is incorrect from a scientific and medical point of view, obese people have been found to be influenced by it. 

Politicians use this form of pictorial speech with great success. 

How to spot propaganda

Typical manipulation techniques: 
  • overstating advantages
  • understating disadvantages (or not mentioning them)
  • censoring or ignoring other opinions
  • knowingly stating false facts
  • getting personal
  • missing indication of sources
  • strong emotional appeal (prejudice)
  • denigrating opposition

People that are afraid or insecure can be manipulated the easiest. Everyone is looking for stability in times of uncertainty. 

Nobody knows this better than the pipers. 

What can you do?

To make sure that you cannot be manipulated against your will you will need a high level of Emotional Intelligence. A high EQ allows you to understand your own feelings, the feelings of others and be in control of both, your emotions and your actions. 

If someone with a hidden agenda tries to manipulate you, you will see right through it. You will also be in the know about the source of your emotions so that you are immune against manipulative speech. 

That said, a high EQ also comes with the power of influencing others. It allows you to have better relationships in business and life. 

You are invited to join my free EI training, just click on the picture below to learn more and join:

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Stay True To Yourself A**hole?

Keep it real?

"Stay true to yourself" is great advice. Or not?

Stay true to yourself a**hole

Does that apply to stalkers, child molesters, psychopaths, sociopaths, liars, intriguers, thieves, drug dealers?


Are liars, intriguers and thieves aware that they are scheming and fraudulent? Or do they put lipstick on the pig and convince themselves that they have legit reasons for being unsocial and who they are?

Blind spots, sick people, the mean world and even meaner circumstances and such ... they always find someone else to blame. They might break into your house or your computer .. but whatever they take - they never take responsibility for their actions.

Well, if these unpleasant people do not realize that they are unsocial, yucky people ... do I know I am not one of them?

If unpleasant people sugarcoat the reality of who they are to themselves, then I would do that too, wouldn´t I? And maybe I too would not even realize that I am an a**hole.


"Be yourself. Be true to yourself." Maybe that advice is not great after all. Some people would be better advised to change and not be anything like themselves.

Other people might warp too much in their attempt to comply and be liked.

Therefore, I am changing and re-wording my advice:

Be yourself as much as it is right for you and those around you. And change if you do not make your life and the life of your loved ones better.

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Self-Esteem: Do Your Own Thing

Accepting my unique self

I was at a crossroad. In front of my eyes, I saw two very different scenarios, two very different visions of how my future can be.
Not an easy decision. I relocated from Germany where I spent most of my career in sales. I have done very well. The niches I was working in were overpaid, and I had a pretty remarkable life. 

So here I was in the United States ... my English was not good. My first option was that I was offered a sales job with the opportunity to become the district manager. 

My second option was to follow the voice of my heart. I wanted to help people. Not the salesy kind of "consultative selling" - really help people to become more successful and happy. Also, I wanted to create a future for myself where I do not have to work crazy hours and drive to the office or appointments every single day.

I knew I wanted to empower people. Bottom line. 

Farmer or Eagle?

As I said, not an easy decision. The trainer I owe my 15 years of sales success to is Mike Bosworth. Since I attended his training in the late 90ties (Solution Selling) I had sales success. But for as long it rang in my ears: "You are not one of the eagles". 

You see, Mike had classified salespeople into two categories: Eagles and Farmers. Obviously, Eagles were the more unique, rare type. The super sales guys. Mike said that both kinds are needed (to me it sounded like: dumb kid, I love you too). As you can see in 2016, I am still not over the fact that I am just a "farmer" (;   I tried to comfort myself with the thought that eagles leave behind a lot of burnt soil. 

It takes an eagle to start a new business in a new country when you can not speak the language well, right? Successful entrepreneurs are eagles, aren´t they?

I was so full of doubt. I might have good stuff to say. But ... in English? Aren´t there like a trillion unsuccessful blogs around already? Isn´t it true that most coaches can never make a living? What if I fail? What if people hated my grammar mistakes more than they love my content? 

A path of insecurity and risks. Am I delusional or can "my thing" actually work? I mean most new businesses fail. That´s a fact. 

I wrote my first few posts and won my first coaching client. Lucky enough someone took the time to write a detailed email on how my article had helped him. My first client was so happy that he referred me to my second one, and I could also gain fantastic regular readers. Mike Bosworth, the legendary sales trainer, was one of my first newsletter subscribers. 

That was like a breakthrough. I could see that even though I still have to learn and continue learning it will be possible to make a great living while doing my own thing. Following my heart´s desire. 

And the craziest part? Mike Bosworth asked me to work with him. That´s probably the only sales-related job I´d ever accept. I am now in the process of becoming a certified trainer for Mike Bosworth Leadership.

Not too shabby when the guy you looked up to for 20 years and who made you very successful asks you to work with him. What this guy does is and has always been top notch. 

And as you read this my blog is ten months old and has lots of wonderful readers. 

The nature of doubt

It´s not conventions or the society who keep us from living our dreams. When making a seemingly irrational decision, you feel like an outsider. Not only will you have to make it work but you also have to defend what you are doing. Against yourself and others. Especially should you fail. 

These doubts nearly kept me from following my dreams. But then I realized: it´s not important what others think of me or say about me. Or if I act against conventions set up by our society. 

What matters is that you can accept yourself. 

I had to accept that I am not an eagle. And not the tough, dynamic career type. I just played him for years. I had to accept that career, and social status is not more important to me than my beliefs and my desires. 

And the hardest part that I had to learn: Not you, the society, or my lack of formal education had made it hard for me. You did not keep me from starting to live my dreams a long time ago. I did. 

And when I got pretty sick for the first time in my life I realized: You have only one life. I don´t want to live it for headhunters, role models or buying sh ... to compensate the pressure of playing something I am not.

Getting to know yourself 

A "psycho-hygiene" diary can help you learning about yourself and understanding yourself better. To distinguish between boundaries set by yourself and real ones. I will publish an article on how to write such a diary soon. 

Accepting yourself if you are different

Accepting yourselfIt does cost a lot of courage to act against conventions and the rules of our society. And against your own. But if we do not accept and like us for who we are we create our hell. We will do things just because we think we have to. 

We will make decisions that do not suit us. We will live a life that does not make us truly happy. 

Can you accept yourself and your desire?

I have decided to follow my desire, and I feel triumphal about it. Whenever I feel like I am at a dead end, I ask myself: Is it an external problem? Or am I just having a problem with myself? Is it related to accepting myself?

Most of the time it´s not about the judgment/opinion of others. But just about my own or my perception of the expectation of others. 

Ask yourself: Where do I have problems sometimes accepting who I am or what I would like to do?

That is the first step towards a life in which you can truly be yourself. 

Here´s the deal

Mike´s current program, Story Seekers® helps salespeople and other people to excel in roles that are not even them. It can also support anyone in a sales related role wanting to do their own thing. 

No matter if you are selling yourself (for instance job seekers, consultants, and many other influencers) or if you are in a sales role (sales manager, online marketers, salespeople, realtors, fundraiser, lawyers, entrepreneurs...).

Story Seekers® offers a proven framework for 
  • influencing without authority
  • building instant trust
  • influencing change utilizing the power of story
  • creating an instant connection

Today, I would like to ask a favor of you: 
Please have a look at the Story Seekers® program. I bet you know a few people who could do with more sales/clients/new donors. Or maybe you know a sales manager with an underperforming team. 

I would love if you could send me referrals. 

To sweeten the deal: 

Let´s make it a triple WIN. For every referral that books our class (per person! if it´s a company or more than one it´s for each person), you receive your choice of $ 150 Amazon gift card (or PayPal), or you bring 3 and can come for free. 

It helps the person you refer; it helps me, and you get a small (or if you chose the free class BIG) reward just for recommending a legendary trainer. 

Click to learn more, grab a brochure and send your referrals: STORY SEEKERS®

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Why the World is not getting Worse

2017 Update: We must keep in mind that progress is not a linear process. 

After a year of terrible attacks and crisis, many people have the feeling that the world is getting worse.

The World in 2015 - A Retrospective

But is that really so? Here is my year-end speech for you (;

An article I read today and my FB newsfeed inspired me to add some facts to the subjective feeling that everything is becoming worse.

The world in 2015 - A retrospective

With all the terrible things happening all over the world it is easy to see why we would get the feeling that 2015 was a terrible year and humanity is going down.

Paris, Donald Trump, the comeback of the MacRib, German Wings, Wars, Syria, Refugee Crisis, ISIS, Mass Shootings, Roundup, Gang Violence, Deflation, Inflation, Ebola, Corruption, Racist Blame Games, Drug Abuse - one could think that the world has become a large pile of crap.

And that politicians attempt to turn their powerlessness into all-powerfulness merely with slogans like: Whatever it takes - we will make it happen.

It would be silly to say that all is good because most of us own a smartphone, clean drinking water and family guy announced another season.

But we should have a closer look. Some numbers and developments show that the world is getting better in many aspects.

Good things do not happen at the speed we would hope for and in the intensity we would love - but they do happen. For them to continue to happen and happen faster we need every person to be active and engaged.

Extreme Poverty and Hunger

Especially when a feeling is foggy it make sense to keep to the facts. There are many small successes and trends that point in the right direction. They imply that we live in a world where terrible things happen but also in a world where more people are in a good position than ever before.

200 million people less than 2012 suffer extreme poverty (less than $ 1.90 per day). That means that still a horrifying amount of 702 million people suffer extreme poverty. That´s 9.6 % of the world population. In 1999, that number was still 29 % while in 1990 37 % suffered from extreme poverty.

795 million people suffer from chronic malnutrition (I hope I am using the correct term, I mean undernourishment - not corndogs). That is so terrible it´s hard to find words to describe it. But 2012 it was still 821 million people and 2005 even 942 million. In the early 90ties, over 1 billion people suffered from chronic malnutrition.

The number of malaria infections has gone down 37 % since 2000.

The child mortality rate is half of what it was in 1990.

In America, for the first time since ages the number of obese people is going down. For the first time in like forever McDonalds is forced to close more restaurants then they open. Monsanto is facing trial for crimes against humanity.

Education for all

America might still have a lot of homework to do, but we are looking at trend worldwide. Compared to 1999, 48 million children more are send to school. The illiteracy rate fell from 18 to 14 % since 2000.

Clearly, the message is: That´s not good enough. But the message is also: Things are NOT getting worse and we just need to keep pushing.

This list could be extended. The Human Development Report of the UNO sums it up like this: We achieved more since 1990 than we dared to dream. 

Why do people still see only negatives?

When some of the numbers are positive why do many people still have the feeling that the world is getting worse? The first reason for it is our perception.

Many pessimists can produce statistic in an instant that suggest the world is in a terrible state. "The glass is half empty" statistics historically have an easier job of influencing us.

The UNESCO rarely mentions successes. That´s part of their job, they need money to achieve all of the many goals we have not yet achieved.

The solution of former President Bill Clinton is as current as ever:

"Follow the trend lines, not the headlines."

How about Wars? 

That´s where our distorted perception shows most clearly: War and organized crime.

The renowned Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) said back in 2014 that the 126.000 victims are more than in the last 20 years.

Do not get me wrong. I am 100 % pacifist. I do not even eat meat. 80 % of my shoes are from El Naturalista, a brand that uses sustainable caoutchouc, a natural rubber. I do not even kill mosquitos - I use natural oils to keep them away (basically, I get bit a lot).

My point is: You have to read beyond the headlines. A deeper look into the report of the UCDP also shows: "Compared to the many international wars of the 20th century the number of death was relatively low."

"The world is less violent than in the times of the cold war." "Seven conflicts registered in 2013 were pacified one year later." "A positive trend is the number of peace agreements since 2011".

The number of conflicts is growing since a few years. From 31 in 2010 to 40 in 2014. In 1990 49 conflicts have been registered. From 1997 - 1990 it was 40.

Every conflict is one too much and every victim of violence is one too much. But is the world getting worse every year? I do not think so.

Is there still a lot to do? Absolutely, and therefore, the world needs us active - not depressive.

Perception and Social Media

It is not always the numbers that change but also our condensed perception.

If the world is bad today how was it when civil wars rampaged the Balkan Countries? Or when the Hutu in Ruanda killed so many Tutsi, that this number has been excluded from the genocide statistics and showed separately.

A few years back if at all we saw a few pictures of the horrors in the news. Today every terrorist films his terrible crimes with a smartphone and puts it on social media where it goes viral.

"Share" and "like" on facebook. A disgusting reality of our modern world.

Facebook also censors our newsfeeds. You follow/like one topic? You will see more of that. And even more. FB will present you with a completely one-sided view of the reality.

Terrorist propaganda becomes a war of content. Everything gets shared, reconstructed and analyzed in a speed that maybe our brain can process. But not the rest. No matter if you call it "heart" or "soul".

We are left with a diffuse feeling of threat and sadness.

And then we are easy prey for those who want to manipulate us for their ulterior goals. Whether it´s hate speech or the government canceling the last bit of laws that protect our privacy.

Neuroscientists explain this knowledge paradox. We know more and understand less. We know everything really fast, every detail in live ticker mode - but we cannot comprehend the complexity.

Neuroscientist Mark Waldman offers the great advice that it´s easier for the mind to comprehend bad news when we read them (as opposed to watching). And he also advises to sometimes for the sake of your sanity take breaks from following the news.

Analysing problems

Religions and ideology offer seemingly simple solutions to handle the complexity. And we try to interpret it with simple patterns and overstatements.

What can we do to not get lost in a fog of bad news and negativity?

Besides our perception, that is often distorted it´s also about our attitude. Where is our basic trust that crisis made by men can be solved by men? 

And where is our believe that we can solve problems that seem unsolvable today with future innovations?

Many things in this world are so cruel and unfair that it must tear every decent person´s heart apart. Since the very beginning of the human race. 

The world has not become worse in 2015. 

Let´s all keep on pushing and be the little drop of water that helps to carve the stone. 

Life is great and where there is hope and love change is possible. 

Your world needs you. 

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The Four Candles – Short Story

An Advent Story

Four candles were lit on the Advent wreath. It was so quiet that you could hear when the candles started to talk.
Advent Short Story

The first candle with a sigh of resignation said: "My name is Peace. My light shines, but the people do not keep the peace." Her light became smaller and smaller until it faded.

The second candle flickered and said: "My name is Belief. I am completely needless as the people are not interested in me anymore. There is no point in me burning. A draft of air blows through the room, and the candle was out.

Quietly and sad the third candle started to speak: "My name is Love. I do not have strength to burn anymore. The people ignore me. They only see themselves and not the others they are supposed to love." With a last flicker, this candle went out too.

A child entered the room. It looked at the candles and said: "Hey. You are supposed to burn." The child nearly started to cry.

It was then that the fourth candle started talking: "Don´t be afraid. As long as I shine we can lit the other candles again. My name is Hope." The child took a match and relights all of the other candles.

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Heaven and Hell – Short Story of a Samurai

About Heaven and Hell

A very aggressive and combative samurai once asked a zen priest to explain to him what heaven is. And what hell is.

The wise priest replied scornfully: "You are nothing but a bully, I do not waste my time with the likes of you."

Heaven and Hell - Short StoryThe samurai felt insulted and disrespected. He tore his sword from its sheath and yelled at the priest: "You will die for your disrespect!"

"That", the priest said laid-back, "is hell."

Astounded by the realization of the truth in what the priest said about the anger he just witnessed the samurai calmed down.

He put his sword back in its sheath, bowed down to the priest and thanked him for the insight.

"And that", the priest said, "is the heaven."

Old Japanese Saying

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