his website will inspire you to wander& learn. I'm a Harvard MBA who left the tech world in 2006 to pursue a more fulfilling mission: visit every country in the world and share their unique lessons with whoever gives a crap. First-time visitors:start with the best articles!
Although I enjoy receiving email from my friends, some of my favorite emails are from strangers. These strangers have read Hike Your Own Hike and are writing to tell me the positive impact it had on their life. Such emails are more rewarding than seeing a boost in sales (OK, except for really big boost).
Below is a excerpt from Hike Your Own Hike that spurred a reader to write how it impacted her. First, the excerpt:
When you’re good, you’re good
When good events happen or when you perform well at an activity, you should attribute it to your inherent skill. Do not attribute it to luck. It’s possible that a thru-hiker may believe she’s lucky to have hiked 20 miles of trail. Indeed, it’s possible that she was lucky. Maybe she was blessed with great weather, or a friendly Trail Angel who gave her some food and encouragement to press on. On the other hand, walking 200 miles of trail isn’t about luck—it’s skill and determination. Finally, when a thru-hiker has walked over 2,000 miles, clearly luck had little to do with her success—she accomplished that feat because of her pure will.
Most thru-hikers have a good understanding of their expenses, know how to control them, are good at saving money, and know how to resist upgrading. Successful thru-hikers usually follow four steps to prepare for and complete their journey. Let’s look at each step and how we can apply it on and off the long distance trails.
When someone asks, “Are you happy?” we tend to look around at our peers and see how they are living. If we’re better off than our peers, it’s likely that we decide to be happy. Therefore, one of the tricks of being happy is to change the group we compare ourselves to.
Silicon Valley gossip columns enjoy pointing out that Oracle’s software titan Larry Ellison, whose $40 billion net worth makes him one of the top 10 richest people in America, is not the happiest guy around, mainly because he always compares himself to Bill Gates.
Meanwhile, on the Appalachian Trail, some backpackers feel smug because they got a spot in a shelter (which only has three walls and frequently has rodents nearby), whereas the latecomers have to set up their tent in the rain. For some reason most backpackers covet the spots in the shelters, and prefer cramming next to snoring neighbors than setting up their tent.
I suppose if we put Larry Ellison on the Appalachian Trail, he might feel better about himself if we somehow made sure that he always got to stay in one of the shelters (and Bill Gates had to sleep outside under a shoddy tarp).
Venice is my favorite city in the world. Yeah, there's lots of tourists, but there's a good reason for that: Venice is awesome. That's why tourists don't flock to Hayward, California.
Also, you can avoid the crowds by going to parts of Venice that are less popular. Parts of the main island (far from Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal) have almost no tourists. Murano and Burano are also somewhat quiet. And the other islands, like St. Eramus, are almost dead.
Below are 27 photos of Venice, but first, enjoy this slide show video!
(If you are in Germany, you won't be able to see this video because of the soundtrack restrictions. So watch the Vimeo version, which appears after the 27 photos.)
If you're learning to do photography, Venice is perfect. A blind guy could take stunning photos in Venice. I'm not blind, but here are some photos to motivate you to visit, or revisit Venice.
Freedom is about having options so you can do what you love, pursue happiness, and get the most out of life. Yet how many of us are truly free today? How many of us can take a six month vacation? How many of us can afford to not worry about being laid off? How many of us can change careers and start at an entry level position in another industry? How many of us have the freedom to easily pack up our bags and move to a new city or country?
Most of can’t do any of this. What kind of freedom is that? Who has put these shackles on us to inhibit our options and possibilities? Who is impeding our ability to squeeze the most out of life?
Nobody knows for sure where the saying hike your own hike came from. Although I wrote a book called Hike Your Own Hike, I certainly didn’t coin the phrase. When I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2001, people were repeating that mantra often, so an anonymous hiker may have come up with the saying in the 1980s or earlier. Regardless, it’s an old concept. Native Americans surely had a similar saying in their languages 5,000 years ago.
What does hike your own hike mean?
Hike your own hike means that you should hike a trail in the manner that you enjoy, and not the way somebody tells you to hike it. Although you should ponder the advice of others, ultimately make your own decision and focus on having fun! For example:
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) tested 400,000 15-year-olds in 57 countries on science, math, and reading. Finnish teenagers placed number one in science and ranked number one overall. As a result, school administrators from all over the world have been descending on Finland to learn their secrets. For example, during one six-month period, one Finnish school had 300 foreign journalists visiting it. What they learned shocked some observers. Consider that the typical Finnish high-school student:
Gets only 30 minutes of homework on an average night.
Doesn’t have a school uniform.
Has no honor roll or valedictorian status to strive for.
Has no tardy bell to hear.
Didn’t start school until the age of seven.
Doesn’t stress that much about going to college.
When a student asks a stupid question, Finnish kids usually bark out, “KVG!” (which stands for kato vittu Googlesta or “check it out on Google, you cunt!”
Instead of sending their gifted students to special classes, teachers encourage the brightest to help their fellow classmates along. Nerds effectively become the teacher’s assistant. The smart ones aren’t as polite as the teachers. For example, when someone asks a stupid question, Finnish kids usually bark out, “KVG!” (which stands for kato vittu Googlesta or “check it out on Google, you cunt!”)
I can’t help but wonder what it says about the future of the human race when the smartest kids on the planet are calling each other cunts.
Part 5 of 5 of the "What Can Americans Teach Europeans" series
Snobby Europeans love to say that Americans have “no cuisine, no culture, no history.” Let’s refute this belief. We’ll begin with food. First, Americans brought hamburgers and Coca-Cola to the world. The French (and many others) will immediately sniff and say, “That doesn’t count.” Really? And foie gras does? That’s a dish that is prepared by force-feeding a poor duck. Now that’s really classy and sophisticated. Big Macs start looking like haute cuisine.
Moreover, America’s unique cuisine doesn’t end with a cheeseburger and a Coke. We’ve either invented or popularized banana splits, brownies, buffalo wings, cheese steaks, corn dogs, cotton candy, corn on the cob, doughnuts, fried chicken, fudge, garden burgers, grits, hot dogs, ice cream cones, Jell-O, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, onion rings, pancakes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pecan pie, popcorn, Popsicles, potato chips, Rice Krispie treats, root beer float, shoofly pie, sloppy joe, submarine sandwiches, and of course, the Twinkie. Not only does this list prove that Americans have plenty of dishes that are uniquely ours, but this list also explains why we are so incredibly fat.
Obviously American cuisine isn’t the most nutritious cuisine on the planet. The point is that we invented plenty of dishes. Besides, it’s impossible to find any national cuisine that is 100 percent healthy. Since the Japanese live the longest, they have arguably the best diet around. However, even the Japanese eat plenty of deep fried foods and white rice. And they often wash it down with beer or sake. Yes, Americans have one of the least healthy diets on the planet; on the other hand, I’ve never found a country that can make salads that are as delicious as the ones you can find in California. Finally, America is better than any other country at welcoming (and eating) exotic food from all over the world. Try finding non-Italian cuisine in Italy.
Part 4 of 5 of the "What Americans Can Teach Europeans" series
Americans are criticized for being ignorant of geography, languages, and the world in general.
Let’s examine geography first. For example, someone from Slovakia often feels smart because he can name at least ten countries near him and explain what’s basically going on there. He says Americans are stupid because they can’t do this.
Humans are regionally focused. Today, for the average human, that radius of interest and knowledge might be 500 km. For someone in Nebraska, that means being able to name 10 states around him. For someone in Belgium, that means 10 countries. The level of geographic knowledge is effectively the same. Europe and the United States are roughly the same size. Although it’s true that a Nebraskan won’t find Belgium on a map, it’s also true that a Belgium citizen won’t find Kansas on a map. And neither will find Togo or Cambodia.People are generally ignorant of anything that is beyond their geographic radius of knowledge.
Part 3 of 5 of the "What Americans Can Teach Europeans" Series
Europeans often criticize the “American smile.” They say that Americans are fake, because they often smile when they are not really happy. Americans pretend to be happy to see you, when they’re not. A customer service representative might greet you with a cheery, “Hi! How can I help you?” when she’s really a mean bitch.
Eastern Europeans somehow think that they are superior because they give you a scowl instead of a smile. Frankly, I’ll take a fake smile everyday over a sincere scowl. I might delude myself, but I don’t care. It just feels better. Why, when we have the choice between giving a smile or a frown, should we opt for a frown? The waiter and the person at the checkout counter has a choice. Why not put on a smile?
Some may say it’s not simply a choice between a frown or a smile. There’s a third way, the European way, which is a neutral face. This, Europeans claim, is the most sincere. “Why should the store representative smile at you when he doesn’t even know you? That’s insincere,” the Europeans argue. “It’s better to have a neutral face.”
Look at yourself in the mirror and put on your best neutral face. Imagine someone just walked into your store and you’re wearing that neutral face. What does it look like to the customer? It looks a bit cold, distant, unfriendly, and unapproachable. Obviously a frown is even worse, but the neutral look is off-putting too.
Furthermore, the neutral look would be fine if the customer service agent would immediately brighten up once they learn that you’re not trying to rape their daughter. However, they don’t. Even after you smile and are friendly, they often keep that same neutral, ambivalent face throughout the transaction. In Eastern Europe the neutral look will sometimes turn into a tirade against your simple attempts of communication. It makes for a lousy and cold experience.