On this cold day, Azusa and me traveled from Tokyo to Nagoya. In terms of inhabitants, Nagoya is the 4th city of Japan (about 3 million inhabitants). But before we got onto the Shinkansen (Bullet train, one of the fastest trains in the world), we went to Tokyo Station. Because Azusa had an appointment to meet her friends who she met in India near Tokyo station. So we had a wonderful lunch and I got to meet her nice friends. They were Japanese, but all internationally oriented and they had lived in differen places around the world. It was interesting and fun to meet them.
This morning, we walked from the Minamisenju area to Asakusa. I have been to Tokyo before and I have a special place in my heart for Asakusa. I love that it’s so quiet and that there are plants and trees in places you don’t expect them to be.
Purikura, Shibuya 109, Liz Lisa bag and small faces
I will write a short blog today. We did a lot of things today and one of them was going to Shibuya. Shibuya is known for its hip fashion stores and for the crossroads in which people from all corners start crossing the road when their traffic light turns green. And it’s really the place to be if you want to emerse yourself in some gira gira, or “sparkle” of Tokyo. For other things that we did today, check another blog (link will follow soon). After visiting Meiji Jingu, we met up with a friend of Azusa and he brought us to Shibuya for Purikura. He and Azusa spoke Japanese with eachother and he told me had a small head. Apparently, that’s a very good thing in Asia (although back home in Western Europe, I believe not a lot of people care about face size, including me). Beauty standards in different parts of the world are fascinating to me!
Today, me and my friend went to Akihabara and Shinjuku for a shopping spree. Shopping is a large part of Tokyo’s entertainment and of the “Tokyo Experience”, so it’s a pleasure, not even a guilty pleasure. Even if shopping is an activity that I only like in moderation, shopping in Tokyo can be an exciting experience. After I woke up (which was a bit late due to the fact that I’m jetlagging like crazy -> is that a verb? No? Well then now it is ^^), we went on our way to the metro station. It was a very cold day today. Three layers of clothes and a coat still wouldn’t keep us warm.
Today (or actually yesterday, because there is quite a big time difference between Japan and Western Europe), I went to Japan by plane. My dad brought me to the airport and I got on the biggest plane I have ever been on: the KLM jumbo jet (747-400). Another time when I went to Japan, the airplane shook and trembled in the sky the whole time. Not this time. This airplane was so big and I sat next to the left wing, that luckily I hardly even noticed any turbulence. You can see a picture of my view from the plane when you scroll all the way down this blog ^^.
In Tokyo, my friend Azusa came to pick me up at Narita airport, Tokyo. I hadn’t seen her in quite a while irl, although we regularly speak on Skype. We had a lot of catching up to do! We took the train and the metro to Tokyo to our hostel Japan Palace.
After that I thought I wasn’t tired. But I slep and I slept and then Azusa said: we have to go to the Sky Tree! She was right. So off, we went. We ate lovely soba near the Sky Tree (Azusa treated me on it, lucky me!). And then we walked towards the Sky Tree.
The Sky Tree is the biggest building in Japan. I will put pictures of it on this blog as soon as I get home (Because I took them on a camera and therefore I can’t put them on my laptop just yet). It was a impressive sight. Later on, we went to the City Hall in Shinjuku where we looked out over Tokyo. For free (going into the Sky Tree is very expensive).
Later on, we went back to the hostel. We came across a super market where we bought breakfast for the following day. I saw Nijntje (I’m not going to call her “Miffy”, cause that’s not her real name) everywhere! It was nice to see something Dutch being so popular here.
After that, we went back to the hostel, where I gave Azusa a presents from me and my mother. She was happy with the presents and that made me happy :).
Memory at the Sky Tree
However, the most important thing that I saw today was this little porch in front of the Sky Tree. It was also in front of a simple apartment complex and next to a vending machine. A while ago, I sat there with my friend Bas and my then boyfriend in the evening on a hot summer day. We were watching the Sky Tree that was under construction back then. Suddenly, a light behind us went on. I looked back and I thought we were going to get scolded by the owners of the condos. However, a young Japanese guy came out the door opening. He said: “Come!”
We followed him. We went to a vending machine and he bought us all ice cream. After that, we ate it at the porch while we were watching the Sky Tree. He told me that he was a construction worker and he worked at the Sky Tree Project. Then he went inside. We looked at eachother and thought: “What a nice guy.” He came back and he wouldn’t stop spoiling us. He gave us fireworks and he gave us a bottle of his best sake (we knew this sake was great, because later on we went into a supermarket and the shop owner was impressed by the sake). This was an absolute “flow experience” as Bas would call it.
Sweet N’ Bitter Tears
I saw the same spot as where I happily sat with my friends at that time. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Everything around the Sky Tree had changed. But that was still the same. We had to cross a park and a bridge to get there. But there it was, that porch and that vending machine with ice cream for sale (Azusa made some pictures of me, sitting at that exact same spot). That’s why I knew it had been that exact same spot. I felt natsukashii (sentimental/ feelings of missing something dearly). It was one of my best experiences in Japan ever. We swore that we would go back there when the Sky Tree would be completed. This never happened. Some things are not meant to be, no matter how hard you try. That’s how life goes. Life is beautiful, but it’s also full of sweet n’ bitter tears.
If you’re living in a first world country, chances are that you are surrounded by people who are really good at something or are working towards become really good at a certain subject. They are called Specialists. On the other hand, there is a much smaller group of people that has different interests and tries to specialize in various topics. These people are called Generalists. I have to confess that I am not completely comfortable with pigeonholing people into groups. Therefor I’ll state that the Generalist – Specialist is usually more of a spectrum than a binary. There nearly aren’t any people who live for one craft alone or who collect information about 10.000 subjects. But a lot of people tend to lean closer to the Generalist’s – or to the Specialist’s side. For reasons of clarity, this article will sketch hypothential situations and at times exaggerate the dichotomy between Generalists and Specialists (and “Generalist” and “Specialist” are written with capital letters, while that is not common practice).
One of the reasons that our society is as advanced as it is, is the tendency of people to specialize in a subject. Their knowledge about the subject increases every day, because Specialists are working on the subject of their liking every day.
Physicits will be theorizing and experimenting, surgeons will operating their patients and pianists will be learning about music theory and practice their fine motor skills. By doing these things day in, day out, their craft improves. Or take for example people who are members of -and specialized in- a certain subculture. The knowledge they gain about their style of dress, music to listen and “culture appropriate” interests refines their subculture. We see that Specialists have the ability to generate progress in a certain field, whether it’s the sciences, or a cultural subject. Seeing the advantages of Specialists and their contribution to society, what do we need Generalists for then exactly?
Good stuff about the Generalist
On the internet, there is a lot to be found about what generalists are allready. I see different definitions. The standard Google definition of the Generalist is:
But on other websites, I come across a different meaning, namely that Generalists are “Jack of all trades, master of none”. This implies that the generalist can’t do anything right. I think this definition is a bit derogatory and doesn’t seem to take generalists seriously (see Jack the Jester).
So, it’s fair to say that I lean more towards the first definition; that a Generalist is someone that is being a specialist in different subjects than being this “master of none” kind of person.
Perhaps not every Generalist will gain the same level of knowledge that a specialist has in a field (But some of them will definately do!). However, there is a chance that a Generalist will gain unique knowledge about a subject and see similar principles and rules come to the surface in different fields, making his or her knowledge invaluable.
I think that a Generalist will bring unique knowledge of the table. I don’t know if this is true for every generalist, but I think that sometimes generalists can develop some kind of “bird’s eye view” of the world. Up in the sky, they can see the limits and shortcomings of the various fields they are interested in.
Foundation and principles
Example: Law and Japanese
On the other hand, Generalists are usually able to see the foundation of a field and they are often able to see certain principles resurface in various discipines. I, for example, am interested and specialized in law and Japanese. I see similarities in the Japanese language and in (Dutch) law. Both Japanese and the science of law have quite a strong framework that is dynamic at the same time. There are certain rules in both disciplines which you must follow, or you will be penalized. For example, the penalty of not following the rules in law is that you will be getting a sentence or a fine. The penalty in not abiding the syntax of a language is that some people won’t take you seriously or they won’t understand you. However, there is a dynamic streak going on in both fields. Laws will keep on changing. Based on what the government does, on what the parliament decides and on the verdicts of judges, laws and juridsprudence will change. The laws of 2010 are different than the laws of 2015. And language is also a dynamic phenomenon. New proverbs will become part of spoken language, old words will be forgotten, words from other languages will be adopted and new advances in technology will lead to entirely new words. In summary, both fields know strict rules, that always change over time. Seeing similarities between fields will safe time understanding yet another new field of knowledge.
Figuratively speaking, some Generalists can be seen as a reversed prism. They take in a lot of colourful ideas and they beam out one ground rule. They can be seen as a normal glass prism as well. The unshattered light beam can be seen as a generalists and the rainbow beams that come out of the prism are like the various interests and specialties of the individual.
Out of the box thinking
By having knowledge of various disciplines, the possibilities are endless. Generalists are the ultimate “out of the box”-thinkers. Because of their knowledge of different fields, generalists can be a creative bunch and find solutions for certain problems. I can imagine a historian who is also a jurist being able to see the implication of the phrasing of certain laws that are being created in parliament. Or an engineer / surf dude could in his spare time create the ultimate indoor surfing experience.
To me, Leonardo DaVinci is definately a role model. He was a painter, a scientist, a botanist and a sculptor among others. Combining his talent for painting with his research on the human body resulted in beautiful paintings and sculptors that we can still enjoy today.
We need both
In summary, I think we need both specialists and generalists in society and we should appreciate both. Specialists are going in a certain direction with their field of knowledge. They improve the field by refining their craft/ their knowledge. On the other hand, we need generalists too, because with their unique insights, they prevent tunnel vision and discover new directions to follow and new paradygms to build upon.
For most of us, envy is part of the human experience. It’s that nagging feeling you get when someone owns or has something that you would really want to have yourself. That material or immaterial possession makes you green with envy of another person. Most of us know the feeling. Your classmate has better grades than you do and you hate her for it. Another guy is dating the girl of your dreams and you feel terrible about it. Your aquaintances have a bigger house than you do and you resent them for it. Your colleague gets a raise while you are stuck with the same salary for the next 6 months. Or you could be in the situation that your friend is more popular than you, while everyone is overlooking you!
Whatever the cause, envy can have a crippling effect on people. Envy has the ability to consume rational thought and therefore I consider it a dangerous emotion, when it goes unmoderated. In various cultures, envy is seen as something that is bad, and it is sometimes being called the mother of all sins. It is called that because envy can lead to anger and greed among other things.
In some countries, the instinct of trying to demean succesful or happy people is called “the Tall Poppy Syndrome”. That means trimming down the majestic flourishing poppy. It’s figurative speech for the tendency to disparage or discredit the succesful, the happy, the lucky, the pretty, etc. That sounds kind of mean and terrible, if you ask me, and also a bit backwards. What if we envied Einstein or Tesla for their intelligence and we would haved oppressed them mercilessly so that they would have been entirely crippled? Then they would not have made the discoveries and they would not have thought of their very useful theories. They would not have furthered the sciences. In that scenario, a lot of the perks of modern life would not have come to be.
Now, if you’re feeling envious, what should you do about it? Below are 7 tips on how to deal with feelings of envy.
1. Count your blessings
Envy is the opposite of rosy tinted sunglasses. While wearing the Glasses of Envy, you cannot see hope or perspective. With such a clouded vision, it’s wise to start by digging into your own mind. And convince yourself of this truth: “My feelings of envy are purely subjective.”. Perhaps Mary is jealous of Jane, because she has great hair. And Jane is jealous of Peter, because he has a better job than she does. And somebody could randomly harbour feelings of envy towards me, because I am really good at first person shooters and I have great taste in shoes! If you look at it like that, it’s not really useful to be envious of anybody really. We all have things going for us that other people could potentially be jealous of. Better to count your blessings. Instead of hating Will for his great pianoskills, find joy in the fact that you yourself have great people skills. If after you’ve done that, you’re still feeling envious, please continue reading.
2. Open your eyes
Look at the situation objectively. Is the position of your the person you feel envious of really that admirable? If you look closely, you will see that no life is easy, really. Everybody goes through struggles. Even the subject of your envy. Seen in this light, he or she could become the object of your empathy rather than your envy. But your envy can put faulty, untrue thoughts into your head. You may read arrogance into the words and actions of a succesful person where there is none. You can come to think that somebody thinks highly of himself, while he is really humble. Envy distorts reality. Your feelings of envy are like sunglasses which allow no sunlight to go through. Get rid of them. Open your eyes and look for the truth.
3. Realize that there’s plenty for everyone
A common thinking error of envious people is that they think that somebody else’s happiness may leave less space for their own happiness. They see it as if beauty/ talent/ popularity is scarce in supply. They think that their own possibilities are limited. It’s the “her win is my loss” – mentality that runs rampant through our society.
But no, that is not the truth at all. In fact, if you see your friend succeeding at something, you should congratulate him or her. Because they showed you that there’s a possibility to excel. So that means there’s possibility for happiness and success for you as well! That brings me to the next point:
4. Be envious Be inspired
When you see someone succeeding in your vicinity and you feel bad about that, try to turn that primitive, instinctive and immature emotion into something good, like “inspiration”. Feel inspired by the success of your acquaintances or your colleagues. Your classmate got an A? Maybe you can get an A too if you really try for once. Feel inspired to do your best. Because feelings of envy could really be:
5. A wake-up call
Sometimes, feelings of envy mean getting a wake-up all. You have been not been doing as well as you could be. You neglected your health so you got sore or you were mopey to people so nobody likes you anymore. When you’re in that situation and you see someone that can run as fast as the Roadrunner and is loved by everybody, feelings of unease might crawl up on you. Because you know that you should be in better shape if you would only try and you know that people would like you better if you would not snap at them. Don’t make the thinking error that these people are just better than you, they usually just work hard. That brings me to the next point:
6. See the hard work
A beautiful person is usually not born beautiful. Ever seen a supermodel without any make-up up? Or a celebrity? They usually don’t stand out. But with a sense of style, proper grooming, exercise and a friendly demeanor, an “average” (nobody is average really) person becomes a very attractive person. Beauty is hard work. Intelligence is hard work (brain training, studying). Being rich is hard and smart work. Excelling at music is hard work. Decide if that hard work is worth it to you if you pursue these things.
7. Take it step by step
That elegant woman spent years on developing her personal style. That rich man read up on investing and economics every day. Every day, they worked on their craft and they became better at it. We as humans have a very plastic brain and a body full of potential. That means that we can choose something that we really want to master and that we can work towards it, while our brains and bodies are adjusting in the process. If you want to accomplish something go for it! But take it step by step. It’s like running a mile every day and getting quicker at it every time.
Envy is a unpleasant emotion for yourself and for your environment. But it’s not impossible to overcome these toxic feelings. I hope these tips were of any use to you. If you have matters to comment on or a question to ask, please feel free to post them below ^-^.