Browse Category: Psychology

The ugliest doll in the world

The ugliest doll in the world

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I visisted my friend. We used to play outside all the time, but then she moved to another house. By bike, it was about 10 minutes away from my home, but since we were small it seemed like she had moved to another country.

My friend always had a collection of the latest toys and dolls and I admired her playthings. But, as it turned out, there was one doll she hated. She did not like that doll at all. I could have it, because, as she said:”You play with every doll anyways.” I did not know that about myself back then, lol. That was a new truth for me. Out of a drawer, my friend took a couple of dolls I could have. And one of them was indeed the ugliest doll I’d ever seen. Rough platinum blonde hair, a weird smile, a dent in her head and a weird pale skin tone that did not match the rest of her tan body. I gulped. That doll was hideous. Still, I took her home.

And I played with her, along with my other dolls. She could sit on the shelf with my other dolls as we went to sleep. I did not initially like her, but she kind of grew on me. And I still wonder about those words my friend disparangly uttered. “You play with every doll anyways.” Were my standards that low? Was anything good enough for me, no matter how bad or hideous? I wondered about that. I saw it as a bad thing.

However, I am NOT tolerant towards the kid who did this to my dolls!!!!!!! I will get you!!!!!!!!!!!! The doll on the left was a Sailor Jupiter doll, FML :'(
According to my dad, the hairs of these dolls have probably deteriorated.

But now, I’ve changed my mind. Now I think it’s a good thing.

To reject or to accept?

Sometimes you come across something or someone you don’t initially like. For example. what if you’re a bubbly, extraverted and popular person. Being bubbly and talking all day long is normal to you. And you happen to express your emotions easily. What then, if you come across a guy who is quiet and loves to think and come up with ideas. And this is hypothetical, because there are a lot of extraverted people who are quite tolerant, But you happen to be someone who doesn’t like that person! You met him and you couldn’t stand him! That person makes you uncomfortable, because you can’t deal with the silence or the thinking. There are roughly two options you can choose while interacting with this person. You could reject and bully this person, make up lies about him, because his silence and sharp mind make you uncomfortable. You can take a stereotype and project all kinds of prejudices upon this person, which are not true. You can set up other people against him and tell them that he is arrogant, cold and all kinds of other things that aren’t true and which you don’t have any proof for but you “just feel it”. You could be a big bully.

But another thing you could do is giving somebody the benefit of the doubt. Giving somebody a chance. Learn from him and make him learn from you. You could choose to not be ignorant and try to see that despite the differences, he really is a great guy! You could be patient with him and you could even become friends. You could try to see the good in another person, even though he or she is completely different from yourself!

Now, I could have used other dichotomies, such as race, or gender, or sexual orientation, but you get the picture. Instantly rejecting somebody, because she is different is a thing that causes a lot of grief. I would feel bitterly hurt when I was treated in an unfair and unintelligent matter.  I’m sure countless other people have had this experience. So much useless, baseless grief.

And that’s why it ultimately makes me proud that I had accepted that ugly doll into my room even though I was little. That doll taught me a great lesson. To give people a chance.





What is a generalist?

Being a generalist; the good and the bad

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).

So many people, so many hearts (and brains)
So many people, so many hearts (and brains)


Specialist advantage

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.

Being a specialist can lead you to the path of success.

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:


Generalist definition by Google
Generalist definition by Google

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).

"Hi, my name is Jack the Jester and I can juggle, dance, tell jokes, play the ukelele and trip over my own feet."
“Hi, my name is Jack the Jester and I can juggle, dance, tell jokes, play the ukelele and trip over my own feet.”

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.

Generalist overview

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.

The generalist is like a (reversed and normal) glass prism
The generalist is like a (reversed and normal) glass prism

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.

Leonardo DaVinci

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.

Leonardo DaVinci
Leonardo DaVinci


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.



Tending to the “Generalist” side myself, I have written blogs about various subjects. Click here if you want to read a blog post about my band. And click here if you want to read about an article about 10 things that you really have to experience in Seoul, South Korea.







7 Tips on how to deal with Envy

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.

Tall Poppy Syndrome img src:
Tall Poppy Syndrome img src:

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.

Subjective, untrue thoughts generated by envy.
Subjective, untrue thoughts generated by envy.

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.

turn envy into something good
turn envy into something good

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 ^-^.

Public speaking: Mensa and teaching Japanese – Highlights of 2015 part 3

Japanese lessons

This year, I started teaching Japanese to people who were interested in learning about Japanese language and culture. It was exciting and interesting to do this. I could put a lot of creativity into my lessons. Lesson structures, new ideas, thinking of ways to explain things, making drawings and illustrations. And most of all: creating a fun and educational experience for the people attending my classes. Certainly one of the highlights of my year.

Eating sushi with my students of my Japanese class (part of class)
Eating sushi with students of my Japanese class (part of class)

Another highlight of my year flowed from this experience.

Being a Public Speaker at the Mensa October Weekend

One of my student was somebody of the Mensa branch of the Netherlands (for privacy reasons, I will not mention his or  her name). Mensa is a High IQ Society. We clicked and he or she always had interesting stories to tell. He or she told me there would be a Mensa event in October of this past year. That was the October Weekend of 2015. He or she asked me to give a lecture of 1.5 h over there. Continue Reading

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Pinterest