November 25, 2008


Have you heard of the book "How to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie? Of course it is one of the big classics and a huge bestseller since its publication in 1936. This is one of the books that in spite of having a title that sounds like manipulation and another set of business tricks, has had a profound impact on me. It basically is a simple guide on how to treat people in everyday life, be it professional or personal and I found a lot of the advice really helpful and universally applicable. It has nothing to do with unproper behaviour, although manipulation probably comes in at some point, though not in the way one would think.

Among ideas like "Remember people's names (because for everyone their own name is the most important word in the world)" and such memorable quotes as "Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do", there is one piece of advice that has been the most important for me:


It is the number one thing you can change in yourself that makes your life better by the minute. Smile when you buy a train ticket, smile when you get stopped by the police, smile when you thank someone for helping you out, smile when you get criticized, smile when no one understands you, at least they can like you then :) Smile on the phone, too! We can hear when someone is smiling!

Today smiling is easy for me, but I have had days when it was really hard. For those days there is a special trick: Stand in front of a mirror and try to smile. If it does not work at once, take your hands and help your mouth. If that does not help just laugh about how unwilling you obviously are to feel better ;)

Take care, and have a wonderful day!

November 05, 2008

Happy for the United States of America

Tonight Obama won the US election and people are celebrating all over this planet. Many are beaming with hope and Jesse Jackson had tears in his eyes when he learned of Obama's victory. People are yearning for the unifying force this first black man in the White House can be. They expect him to fulfill his promises and are enthusiastic about his personality. I am also genuinely impressed and content with McCain's way of bearing his defeat like the good man he is, aparting himself from the division his campaign created during the last months. This is a very good day for all of us!

As the pundits on TV already discuss what Obama's first steps as president should be, I leave you with the videos of the speeches of those two different but equally interesting people.

November 01, 2008

Good friends and life right now

Do you ever get the feeling that a good conversation with a friend can heal your soul from the inside out? I have had such conversations. Conversations that left me with new hope and a different perspective on the problems I would have to face at that time. Those conversations could also make the best moments in life even better because I find it is equally important that you share your joys with friends as your griefs. You are not less interesting because you don't worry about anything, you are not a spoiler of someone else's fun if you tell them about your sorrows. To learn that is essential for a good friendship!

The friends that can give me that feeling are the most appreciated and closest. I am trying to be for them what they are for me and hope I tell them often enough how much I need them and enjoy their company. Some of my friends are also part of my family, some family members are among my best friends. So I am not sure it is important to make that distinction.

Since my new semester has begun I have been quite busy, preparing a presentation on "The Sociology of Violence", a really interesting topic whose objective it is to analize the way we handle violence in public. On the one hand we never quite get to the core of the matter if we just occupy ourselves with the reasons and circumstances under which violence statistically or typically arises. On the other hand we enjoy ourselves watching movies that hardly ever get around showing some violence, because after all it is an integral part of the human condition, whether we think it will always be so or not. So that is one of my new topics.

Spanish also has made a good start. I sit in classes that discuss varieties of the language, historic development and almost extinct dialects, literature and morphological analisis, by which I mean splitting words into their smallest elements... I am amazed at how little effort I need and how much more motivation I have for this than for my former law studies. It makes me confident that I really could finish my studies as planned in less than two years time.

Meanwhile many of my best friends are just about to graduate or beginning to think more seriously about their future jobs. I can't think about it right now and although my future is on my mind a lot some things I cannot decide right now. But seeing the development in my friends certainly gives me that inner impulse to get on with it and reach the point where they are now. I have so many intelligent and interesting friends and wish I could be around most of them more, which I guess is part of my international life.

Now I am on my way once again from my parents' house to my university town. There is a party with some people I have not seen in a while and I am looking forward to exchanging some stories. If you feel a little lonely right now, leave me a comment and then call a friend you have been planning to contact for some time. It will be worth it. For me it always is! Be happy and have a nice Sunday!