Explorer Mikael Strandberg

3 pieces of advice for those who are trying to figure out life

БЮТ (byt) and dusha (Russian spirit/soul)….It is probably hard for a Westerner to understand how dusha and byt are interconnected for us Russians. We live poorly, but at the same time in dusha, we are on a pretty high level. Maybe in terms of material goods we look like Africa o something, but I know that spiritually we´re much richer, and if we start live much better materially, I am afraid we will spiritually get a little worse.”

Said by young Russian business man after perestroika 1992 in Omsk*


I have seen a dramatic change in the type of emails I have received lately from people with questions. Or I should say, Facebook messages. Almost nobody seems to write  emails any more. Earlier almost all questions I have received dealt with the issue how to become an explorer. A topic I have tried to answer in several blog posts throughout the years, like this one 9 tips How To Become An Explorer. The people asking about how to become an explorer where mainly Americans and British of mixed ages. Nowadays it is young academics, almost all female, who are asking for advice coming from all over the educational world, a reality which makes me very happy. Obviously one reason is that I concentrate more on the documentary scene nowadays, but I can also see a new generation of young females who are very strong and doesn’t see themselves in any way inferior to the males. Which even makes me happier!

In reality I don´t really like the American style in the line of 9 tips how to change or life and so on, because it takes the importance out of context I think. It is another quick solution to one´s problems, but I do also understand that is the world we live in today. Most readers I have come from cities, if not almost all, and that means a fast paced life. Which means, since I do get many similar emails on the same topic, how to succeed in your professional life, I gave it all a good thought over the weekend and even though I do not consider myself having succeeded, on the contrary, I have collected my thoughts in 3 pieces of advice which might be of help. Not only in the professional life, but more important, in life itself and as a human being. For me personally, it is better to be a good human being then a successful professional. Kindness and compassion beats trampling on others to reach your professional goal any day.

With my good friend Melanie, a good human being.
With my good friend Melanie, a good human being.

1. Avoid any negative and arrogant people around you.

Unfortunately there are people out there who will do their best to tell you that what ever you want to do, it is not only impossible, but stupid and will lead to personal ruin. These sad humans might belong to your own family, neighbors, acquaintances, other students or professionals and due to their own failures in life, they will do their best to make life hard for you. Avoid them as the plague. At times they are hard to distinguish from the good one´s, but anyone moaning about how unfair life have been to them or talking bad of others is a clear sign of belonging to the on´s to avoid. So stay positive no matter what!

2. Work, work, work.

That is, unfortunately, often what makes a difference. Working with what you dreamt about to do most of your life, takes a lot of work. If you choose this route, it has plenty of drawbacks, like finding a partner who understands.

3. Live life to its fullest.

Life is short. That is a fact. In a 100 years nobody will remember you anyway. Don´t become bitter, arrogant, a moaner and bad talker of others, just live and be positive! Try not to be perfect, I see few advantages with being a role model, but help others, not ruin their lives and work every day to become a better human being. This involves a lot of work, I am personally not doing to well, but I am trying my best. Every day.


*From the book Russia and soul by Dale Pesmen. (Cornell University Press)

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One comment

  1. I’ve struggled with letting my professional life go since my psychotic breakdown and learning I have a mental illness. Living to be a good person rather than a successful professional really gave insight into what emphasis to live by. Thank you. Kandace Krause U.S.A..

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