Immortal Hacker Challenge (Part Three)

Dear hackers of the world, It is not superpowers but traits of character that need to be developed by means of avatars and immersion. People like to solve problems especially when they are virtual. By trying different choices we will learn what leads to pain and suffering and what to do in real life if similar circumstances occur. The player will develop understanding, resilience and compassion. There should be every day scenarios for people, like getting laid off after working for the same company for many years, not having savings and not being able to find a job for a [...]

The Evolution of Happiness: Improving Human Happiness (Part Three)

Increase closeness of extended kin If being deprived of extended close kin leads to depression in modern environments, individuals can take steps to remain in closer proximity or to maintain greater emotional closeness to existing kin. Modern electronic communication, including email, telephone and video conferencing might be exploited to this end when physical proximity is not possible. With people living longer, opportunities to interact with grandparents and grandchildren expand, offering the possibility of strengthening the network of extended kin. Develop Deep Friendships According to Tooby and Cosmides, people may suffer a dearth of deep friendships in modern urban living. It [...]

Omar Khayyam’s Wisdom

My father spent some time of his life in Uzbekistan, and growing up I was exposed to Omar Khayyam’s quotes and poetry. We had a book at home and I liked to read Omar Khayyam’s quatrains (Rubaiyat) which contain so much wisdom. Abdullah Dougan, a modern Naqshbandi Sufi, said: “Every line of the Rubaiyat has more meaning than almost anything you could read in Sufi literature”. From Wikipedia: “Omar Khayyám (Persian: ‏عمر خیام‎; 1048–1131) was a Persian polymath: philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. Throughout his life Omar Khayyám was dedicated to his efforts and abilities, in the day he would [...]

Hüzün in Istanbul

“Hüzün happens when we invest too much in worldly pleasures and material gain. If you hadn’t involved yourself so deeply in this transitory world, you wouldn’t care so much about worldly losses. Hüzün is a spiritual anguish we feel because we can not be close enough to Allah, because we can not do enough for Allah in this world. Hüzün is also when someone has no interest in worldly possessions, but suffers from grief, emptiness and inadequacy because he can never be close enough to Allah. He suffers because he has not suffered enough. Hüzün is in high esteem. Nothing [...]

My Mail Stop is 42

This is my 42nd post and I want to dedicate it to the girl I met 10 years ago. In the summer of 2001 three of us were staying in the loft on the second floor of a moving company building in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard. One of my roommates was Lena, funny, clever, sincere and charming. That summer she came to the States to work and travel for three months, and was planning to go back to Estonia and continue her studies. Lena was very artistic; she played guitar, sang and composed poetry. Three of us had summer jobs [...]

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

I was lucky to get tickets to The hedgehog movie during French movie festival in Boston’s MFA this summer. The movie is very new and was not shown in the States before. I wanted to see it because the movie is based on the book The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. I read the book and I loved it. It is so special to me that I even participated in defending the book against harsh critics back in Oct 2010. I simply felt I had to do something after I read complete book’s review here http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/popfr/barbery.htm#ours. So I [...]

Three Questions of Life

One day it occurred to a certain emperor that if he only knew the answers to three questions, he would never stray in any matter. What is the best time to do each thing? Who are the most important people to work with? What is the most important thing to do at all times? The emperor issued a decree throughout his kingdom announcing that whoever could answer the questions would receive a great reward. Many who read the decree made their way to the palace at once, each person with a different answer. In reply to the first question, one [...]

Making the Happiness Formula

Last weekend I finalized happiness categories to be in the formula. The whole process of identifying and validating them took at least four months. I had to read psychology books, self-help books, philosophical works, summaries of religious views, results of various happiness studies and tests. I studied Maslow hierarchy of needs. To collect more modern happiness categories from real humans, I conducted happiness survey back in March. I combined my survey findings with research findings and then removed duplicates. It is important to exclude overlapping categories as much as possible, but have remaining categories complement each other and to form [...]

Results of the Happiness Survey

Back in March I crafted a survey to help understand what makes people happy and if technology can help us become happier. Volunteers completed the survey anonymously either online or on paper. There were two groups of respondents: a) middle class, age range of 20-40 y.o., who use technology for social purpose, not particularly religious, mainly employed, b) middle to upper class retired people, i.e. 50 y.o. and above, who are not too fond of technology vs. face-to-face meetings for social purpose, mainly non-religious, but with high priorities on ethics and humanism (representatives from Boston Ethical Society). Thank you to [...]