Los Angeles has such a rich religious culture. From scientologists, through the Unitarian Universalists, to shamanistic associations. Every time you start talking to a new person, you can end up with a private lecture on a completely unexpected, spiritual topic in this place. This time, two folks whom I accidentally met at a cheap hostel at the Hollywood Boulevard, took me to some workshop on self-development. ‘Self-development in Hollywood might mean anything’ - I thought, and I was very curious about it.

‘Yes, people do become successful after reading motivational books but the thing that made them succeed is the same thing that had driven them to read the motivational book in the first place - The desire to succeed.’

I noticed that there are lots of similarities between the life of a scientist, and a life of a DJ. DJs spend their whole days on creating music in the studio, behind the closed doors, on their own, and then go out to the crowd to play the new pieces during huge events. Once you are successful, everyone expects that you will only produce high-class hit songs from now on. Can you then still be faithful to the rules you vowed to yourself at the start of your scientific career in such a situation? Once you go under more and more pressure, you just need to develop that thick skin in order not to get overwhelmed and depressed.

There are two types of things: important things, and urgent things. Unimportant and urgent things should be delegated. Unimportant and non urgent things should be postponed (or delegated). Things that are important and urgent should be prioritised. Things that are important and non urgent, are the crucial ones and should be taken care of on the regular basis.

Passive income became a popular key term over past few years. It comprises all the possible ways of making money which you initiate and then can let go, so that the money, in a word, keeps on producing itself. Most of the time, passive income relates to online activities, such as writing e-books and selling them on Amazon Kindle website, releasing an online course which can be downloaded at a price, releasing popular youtube videos so that you can capitalise on advertisements, affiliate marketing, Fiverr freelancing (which means that you can offer any service at a fixed price of five bucks), launching an online business that can be automated to a high extent such as an online store with one or two employees, etc.

These days, I was thinking a lot about all the factors that hindered my development during first three years of my PhD. Every time I deliberate on this topic, I come to the same conclusion: the biggest problem I had was being driven by fear. I have 13 courses completed, much more than necessary. And now, finally, the time has come: I need to learn some genetics. And I have a strong resolution to do it without opening a single textbook.

I could not understand how people can deliberately abuse their own freedom. I guess that people are naturally afraid of decision making, which might explain why reducing choices to the minimum might soothe them a little bit, and give them some comfort of not being obliged to take a decision.

What does the competitiveness come from? It is not a very prominent feature of the Dutch society -  this society is more about equity and cooperation. No wonder: once you look at the educational program at the Dutch primary schools, the first class they ever have is ‘working in teams’. Which is very much in opposition to Polish schools where they were always telling us to compete.

Just a few years back, kids posting on youtube were just a niche phenomena, aggregating a small audience of hipsters willing to watch. Now, more and more of these - usually teenage - performers, became quite popular and a good few of them collected nation-wide audience. One reason to talk about youtube culture is that, interestingly, even though it is a completely unsupervised and nonhierarchical system, the mechanisms which evolved in this community are similar to science: similar issues and similar coping strategies.

The popular belief is that people who perceive themselves as successful and lucky, are those who just take opportunities – notice the money lying on the street and take it. Or, those who interpret some events as lucky whereas others would rather perceive the same events as unlucky. For instance, if you were stolen a wallet, and the wallet was retrieved with a credit card missing but all the documents in place, would you interpret this as misfortune or luck?

Happiness is not given forever. You can put yourself together and fool yourself that happy times are for good, but in fact, the feeling of happiness will vanish away with time if you do not take care of it properly. It is just like a plant that needs to be watered every day.

I sometimes wonder what happens during the maturation process, when people slowly turn from fragile, troubled and empathic PhD students which they were in the past, into a bit psychopathic, emotionless and calculated bosses who push others to do things not necessarily optimal for their development. Just as everyone believes they will make better parents than their parents were, everyone also seems to believe that they will never copy their PIs’ mistakes.

Recently I started teaching, and I have a plentora of feelings relating to this new experience. First to say, it is definitely true what they say: 80% of our fears is completely unnecessary.

The doctors were truly confused; they knew about my previous records, but could not really explain what had happened to my body in the meantime. But I think I know why this is the case. Namely, my lifestyle, including too many activities per day, poor amounts of sleep, a tendency to drink coffee, coke and some booze, did not change since seven years ago. Only one thing substantially changed.

I was studying extensively in Warsaw, where I was going through three Master programs at a time. Throughout my studies, I experienced a lot of less and more painful exams. Some were funny, some were nerve wrecking. I think the fact that I had such a long list of exams and qualifications to take, might play a positive role on the general stress resilience.

‘Productive’. A simple word, however the it bells in my ears like a threat. In Poland, no one around me was ever describing themselves as productive. Could be motivated or bored, could have a flow or not, but ‘productive’ was not in anyone’s personal vocabulary. In the Netherlands, I hear this expression quite often though, which might be due to the competitive nature of science in here. People around seem to be quite obsessed with the concept of productivity. And, every time I hear about it, I always start wondering: am I productive? What if not? Maybe it is counterproductive to even think about productivity? And so on and so on.

The truth is such a relative thing. I saw its relativity in the recent Netflix’ series of ‘Making a murderer’, a documentary about Steven Avery. This poor guy was convicted twice, firstly as an innocent person, and then, secondly, probably as an innocent guy as well. When you watch the process, you cannot really believe that such a course of events, including clear fabrication of evidence and bias of the judges, still happen in twenty first century.

There were the two of us: I was the sense, she was the sensibility. We met fifteen years ago as second year high school students, and we were close friends ever since. I think we were both sort of gifted, hard working and enthusiastic but there was one major difference between us.

The end of the year is coming, which is a perfect occasion for little considerations of what happened in 2015, and what is, hopefully, about to happen in 2016. Some of my goals were achieved and some other goals I have to put on hold. However, in general, I feel that I am going towards the right direction.