Why I choose human connection over money

“Each Contact with a human being is so rare, so precious, one should preserve it”

~Anais Nin

As a youngster I used to sit inside a lot just playing computer games, trying to get the new gadgets. Since working was possible from the age of 16 where I live this wasn’t really a problem, students pay almost no taxes anyways. So I went on, wasted all my money on stupid things a new cellphone, laptop, … every time an upgrade was available I would get it. This resulted in whenever someone wanted to go out I wasn’t able to. In many cases this was very frustrating, even now it still is if that occurs.

This made me think back of a family holiday I had when I was about 11, my uncle married someone from a poor Ukrainian Family. They met while both working in Germany. After their marriage we got invited to stay with them for a month. I remember the spoiled brats we were and how most of my cousins and my little sister didn’t really enjoy it there. The toilet was just a plank above a pit near to the pig stable, they worked in the field a lot and they used the local river as a junkyard. Even though they were living in poverty one thing really struck me, they were happy. These people were just living life, enjoying being with each other and seizing every day like it was the last one.

Because we are from Belgium and were from a wealthy family compared to them we brought them gifts. We gave them tons of chocolate, a deep fryer, a washing machine and some other stuff  they could generally use. After the first day I noticed something, they were giving us food not wanting anything back. The children got a lot of chocolate that we gave them. So even though they were poor they shared everything and just considered that the most normal thing in the world. This is something really beautiful.

When I was 19 I went to live by myself and I soon noticed it wasn’t easy. I went to get a lot of take out because it was easy. I wanted new stuff like furniture, clothes but whenever I got a lot of these things I noticed again that life is really expensive and that most thing you spend money on aren’t really something you need. It made me think back about our family vacation when I was 11 and at this point I decided this was not how I was going to live my life. I’d rather have less money and not get the things I don’t need. This way I’m able to spend it on new experiences.

One of the things I love the most is being and nature, and I only figured this out by simplifying my life. Now I tend to meet with friends, just sit outside in nature and have long talks. I noticed after only a couple of weeks how much more meaningful certain relationship became and after a while I started taking couchsurfers in the house.

For those people who don’t know couchsurfing, it’s a website where you can offer people a place to stay for free. In return you get feedback on your profile which can be either good, bad or neutral and by these ratings people can see whether you’re a trustworthy person. The concept is simple and you can use it yourself to meet new people, host people or get hosted in various countries around the world for free. This way you’ll meet locals and these locals are more likely to show you places you wouldn’t if you don’t have a local guide.

My first couchsurfers made me realize something more, even though I didn’t have a lot to offer to them they still appreciated every small gesture you did. We would drink tea together, cook, go around the city and much more. And in a small amount of time real friendships would be formed, which for me was a very strange thing to experience. How was I able to talk this deeply to a random stranger I basically met on a travelling website?

Then it hit me, people use phone apps and websites to meet others and expect to get something out of this. Whether it’s a friendship or relationship we tend to get something out of every contact with another human being. Couchsurfing had taught me not to expect anything, just go with the flow and enjoy the human connection at hand and I started doing so. I’ve met the most interesting people by now, I’ve done things with strangers I wouldn’t have done before and I loved this.

“Strangers are endearing because you don’t know them yet.”
~Dejan Stojanovic

In conclusion to this article I just want to tell you guys, that if possible try enjoying other people’s company and just go with it. In general people are good-hearted and you might learn a thing or two. It’s well worth it, I’ve never regretted doing so and it got me tons of new friends around the globe where I could just knock on the door and stay for as long as I need. Real friendships get formed this way, and everybody can give you these small life lessons that might change your view on the world for the better.

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Technology, both a blessing and a curse

Haven’t you ever found yourself wasting countless hours online, even if it is just on your phone?
Technology tends to help us a lot but it also has it’s downfalls.

The internet is a beautiful invention, you can polish your skills, your knowledge or indulge in anything that you find useful. The problem is we spend too much time online or with electronic devices in general. Look around when you’re driving a bus, or waiting in front of a store. 9 out of 10 you’ll see someone scrolling on their phone or tablet. When we are at home it’s also easy to escape reality and just spend our spare time online. Social media is something that made this possible. Being social without being social.

A weird concept isn’t it?

While it is a good thing that it there is such a thing as the internet. There are other ways to spend your spare time and even being productive while loving what you do. Try grabbing a book for example, what happened to those pieces of literature that can actually change or life. For example “The power of now” by Eckhart Tolle. It’s healthier to just grab the book instead of reading it on a screen. Give yourself a break from technology once in a while. Let your eyes and ears rest.

Maybe you want to achieve something, try talking to people instead of spending hours behind your computer. Find yourself a real mentor who can teach you in the things you want to learn. Someone with experience, this can improve your learning curve a lot. Making your goal within reach a whole lot faster.

While on the subject of skills, social skills are obviously very important to have. You can’t learn those by being behind a screen or with your headphones in. If you have certain social fears try stepping out of that comfort zone. I myself had this problem as well, I didn’t go out a lot, I didn’t even think about talking to strangers. Eventually I decided to step out of that comfort zone and this got me a job in face-to-face marketing, which in turn has everything to do with social skills. Developing these skills by actually doing instead of procrastinating will help you to get to those goals a lot faster.

Now, let’s put your phone, laptop, whatever you’re holding away and let’s start doing things that can actually improve your life in the long run.

I’ve been there, I know what it feels like. By going out and actually improving you’ll automatically feel better about yourself and achieve a lot more. It won’t come in a day, but keep stepping out of your comfort zone and give that learning curve a little hand!

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Less is more

Living in our society we grow up with cellphones, computers, TV, … but does this truly bring happiness to your life? My answer to this is no. Yes, it can be nice to get yourself a new gadget or new clothing but we all know this is only temporarily. So where does real happiness come from?

Everyone has certain passions in life, all we can do is pursue them or stay at the place we are. Most people tend to stay in their comfort zone instead of actually risking to fail doing what they love. Having a purpose in life is gold, and people who are passionate about what they want are the people you want to surround yourself with. You don’t want to look back at your life in 20 years thinking you should have pursued that dream.

There are various way to actually achieve true happiness, for some it’s traveling for others it’s just social contact. But one thing is for sure, we cannot replace our true happiness with gadgets, money or anything that you ‘own’. In essence we’re still animals, we live through our basic instincts which are still survival, reproduction and so on. Why wouldn’t you go back to a simple life where all you need is people around you, a roof above your head and nature around you.

We’ve lived this way for ages, and for some reason it seems hard for people to go back to their roots. While I was the same way, working on farms, working with people and saying no to materialism made me find the essence of human beings, the essence of true happiness.

‘People tend to try to find happiness in materialistic things while the pure emotion and lives of other living creatures in their own way can show you what real happiness is about.’

What I mean by this, if you look around to animals, plants and any other creature you can see the minimalism in their lives. They don’t need a fancy phone, car nor computer. They’re surrounded by their own kind, living day by day just doing what they need to do. They’re ‘clean’. We as human beings can do this too. Try packing all your stuff into boxes, and for 3 weeks take what you need out of those boxes. You’ll notice that 85% of the items you possess are not Necessary.

Only if you do this you’ll notice that you can focus on other things, personal relationships, chasing your dreams such as traveling, learning to play an instrument and much more.

Go back to where you came from and you’ll see life will be simpler, that doesn’t mean easier. But at least you’re now living a fulfilling life.

Meditation, a powerful tool

About two years ago I was introduced to a powerful tool, meditation.

Why is it so powerful? It allows you to clear your mind from any thought, which in itself is the ultimate relaxation. As you start to meditate more often its effects will become stronger over time, allowing you gain a lot of energy from it.

Today I’ll be teaching you my way of meditation.

Personally I’m a big fan of what people call ‘mindfulness’, a very easy way to get into meditation! What is mindfulness? It’s focusing on all your senses, which in turn allows your mind to go completely blank. How do you do this?

It’s fairly easy! First of all find yourself a quiet spot, somewhere in a park or forest. I personally prefer nature, which allows me to focus on my senses even better. Just sit or lie down and start focussing on my breathing.

Breathe in and out at a steady pace. Relax all your muscles and become your own version of a rag doll. Start feeling the wind, feel how it touches your body. Try to focus on the smell, but don’t think about it. Experience it!

At first, all of this will seem weird. You will still be thinking a lot, but that doesn’t really matter during these first stages. Meditation takes time and patience. Even I still take up to 15 min. to get into a completely relaxed state of being.

However there is a small exercise that you can do to start this kind of meditation.
Get random items that are clean and that you can put in your mouth. Put them in front of you, grab a random item and put it in your mouth. Start to play with it and feel it for 5 minutes. Roll your tongue around it, feel its texture, its form. When you’ve done this, start focusing on its taste. Combine this with the previous step.
Finally, bite on it. Is it eatable?

This little exercise might tell your more than all previous text, simply because it’s so easy to do. I learned this during the time I was depressed and it was the only way for me to relax and calm my mind. I noticed that once your mind goes blank a heath wave of relaxation goes through your body.

You’ll regain your energy and it will allow you to focus on other things.
You feel relaxed.

Thatbro.com going live!

Life gives us certain things, skills and insights. Who’s that bro? A 21 year old guy that likes to write about them.

My name is Nicholas, I was born and raised in Belgium by let’s say ‘normal’ parents. As a child I had various dreams, weird views on the world and I still do today. But one thing I would have never expected is that I love to write. As of 20/08/16 I took my final step thowards my dream of being a lifestyle blogger by purchasing the domain thatbro.com.

Now you might have been asking yourself, who is this guy? Well… Some might describe me as someone that likes to shock people. I find humor in the darkest of things, darkness in the most happy events but more important I’m full of a healthy dose of sarcasm, irony and dark humor.

As I go a long this blog it will develop further, I don’t know which way this will go but I’m sure I will be having a lot of fun doing working on it.