Mika Launikari


All my yesterdays, all my tomorrows

Published on

It seems that these rather difficult and turbulent times make people more conscious of their past, present and future. At least this is what I have been observing when communicating with my family members, friends and colleagues in Finland and abroad. Lately many of them have undergone unexpected changes, major difficulties and sudden losses, and are now reflecting on what all that possibly means to them as well as how that influences their daily lives now and eventually redirects their paths in the future. Some of them keep saying that there is hardly any sense in life anymore, while some others remain rather optimistic regardless of their miserable experiences and rough circumstances.

Common to all these people is the simple need to understand what happened and why things went the way they did. Often these ponderings and wonderings come together with questions and concerns about “should I have done something differently to avoid this to happen” or “why on earth did I not see this coming”. In many cases – luckily so – once people get over the worst and the most acute phase passes, they usually try to learn from their experience and see a deeper meaning in their everyday lives. But sometimes people are in denial and have difficulties in admitting that they actually might have contributed to the negative developments themselves or the shock of the loss might be so tragic and dramatic that they cannot mentally handle it right away, but need more time and even external support to process it.

We humans vary in our ability to tolerate uncertainty. Therefore some people wish that they would know beforehand what the future holds for them. Knowing tomorrow’s news today would allow us to plan our lives ahead with a minimal level of uncertainty. But dealing with uncertainty – sometimes even with unusuality and unexpectancy – is an unavoidable part of daily life. No matter how great control freaks we may be, we can never ever have a complete control of all the developments unfolding in the world around us. We simply have to accept that it is fully normal to be a little uncomfortable with uncertainty, yet the positive aspect is that we can always develop mental and practical methods to be better able to cope with it.

Future consciousness is part of our awareness of time and it comprises the normal human abilities to anticipate and imagine the future, to have expectations towards the future as well as to define goals for the future. However, in our efforts to minimize the inconvenience caused by uncertainty, we should neither fall into the illusionary trap and think that the future can be predicted based on the past (i.e. if the past was good to us, then the future has to be good as well), nor should we fall into an imaginary wishful dream world either and pretend that we are so well protected – especially in the western world – that nothing bad can happen to us in the future. Life is not made like that.

But while thinking about the future, it is always good to remember where we are coming from. In today’s world planning ahead, evaluating different choices and possibilities, creating a positive vision for one’s own life, clarifying one’s own motives, beliefs, feelings and attitudes about tomorrow is crucial. Facing the future calls for endurance, persistence and adaptability as well as tolerance of uncertainty and most importantly acceptance of one’s own past with its goods and evils.

A Happy Prosperous and Successful New Year 2015!

Published on and modified on

“Have a Happy, Prosperous and Successful New Year 2015!” was something that many of us kept hearing and saying during the last days of 2014. But what do these pretty abstract concepts of happiness, prosperity and success actually mean to each one of us? Most likely pretty different things to different people. Still I imagine that most people on this planet associate only good and positive meanings with these concepts.

What happens in your mind when you hear the word success? Or prosperity? Or happiness? What is the mental image that is instantly being created in your brain then? For success, don’t we normally think of material benefits, accomplishment or a wealthy person with a fancy car, a gorgeous house and a huge bank account? For prosperity it is maybe good fortune, a flourishing or thriving condition (especially in financial respects) that first comes to our mind. But when we try to share our understanding of happiness, we most likely end up having a never-ending debate, because it is the most innermostly experienced one of these three concepts and therefore rather difficult to be defined.

Achievement means more to some people than to others. While some want to be successful at any price (and unfortunately sometimes at the expense of other people as well), others are contented by simply trying and giving their very best. The only way to make our achievements truly meaningful to ourselves is to have a personal definition of what success means to us and how we eventually measure it. If we only strive to succeed according to other people’s standards and expectations, it does not necessarily bring us a sense of personal accomplishment and might only leave us unhappy, unfulfilled and unsatisfied. We should always bear in mind that one of the most rewarding and motivating experiences we can have is when we work really hard and reach a goal that we have set for ourselves.

If somebody we know is successful at what he or she does, we will most certainly acknowledge that by congratulating them on their outstanding performance. At least this is what should happen, but there is the other side of the coin as well. Another person’s achievements may create envy in us and provoke us either to ignore their success or even worse to be mean and nasty to them. Normally this negative human reaction only gives a concrete proof that indeed the person considered successful has done something extremely well as the others have difficulties in accepting it.

I do not know for sure, so therefore I only keep wondering, whether or not these three concepts of happiness, prosperity and success are closely intertwined and thus one cannot exist without the others?! Or can each one of them perhaps be regarded as something individually self-standing allowing them to be achieved and enjoyed separately? Simply and shortly, to me personally success is a complex and multifaceted concept and it can be experienced in any area of life (professional, social, emotional, physical, …). In summary, I would describe prosperity as doing well in life in general, and happiness (=being well) involves both a short-term dimension of daily positive emotions as well as a more long-term global sense that life is worthwhile.

Greatest achievement 2014?

Published on

The Observatory park in Helsinki (25 Dec 2014) from where I normally start my jogging round.


The other day a friend of mine was asking me what was my greatest achievement in 2014. I got a little puzzled and had difficulties in giving him an answer. Before I was able to make up my mind on anything, I wanted to know, which criteria should be applied to defining the eventual achievement and in which category it should be (e.g. intellectual, social, spiritual, physical, financial, professional, …). This made my friend somewhat annoyed and he responded in an irritated way that I should not create a problem out of his straight forward question. I should simply give him an answer. Hmm …

After a moment of pensiveness it was clear to me what my biggest achievement in 2014 was. It was something I was genuinely proud of, something that was the key to all the other achievements during the year. However, I also strongly felt that this was not my biggest achievement in life as that was (hopefully) yet to come. Should we not always look to achieve more tomorrow than we did today and strive to improve ourselves all the time? Should we not try to be as self-motivated and determined as possible, and in case of failing, learn from our mistakes and do it better the next time? Should we not show the world how dedicated we are at hitting our targets and that we always do our best to achieve what we set our mind on? These are good qualities to find in oneself and in other people as well, I was thinking, when my friend started getting anxious to hear my answer.

“So, do you have an achievement or maybe not?”, my friend was inquiring.
“I do indeed!”, I gladly responded.
“What is it then?”
“All the kilometres I have been jogging this year!”
“What? I do not get it. Could you clarify it a little?”
“As you know, I have always liked jogging. This year while on a sabbatical leave I have been more flexible in terms of organizing my daily schedule between doctoral studies, professional activities and free time. This has given me the opportunity to make sure that I can go jogging on a much more regular basis.”
“Exactly how many kilometres have you been jogging? Some hundreds?”
“All in all, these kilometres could be expressed in a number of times I have run from Helsinki in the south to the most northern point of Finland (a distance of 1000 km) or in a number of marathon races.”
“I do not recall you having participated in any marathon races this year.”
“I have not either. Expressing it as a number of marathon races is only a matter of calculation.”
“Now I want to hear the figures!!!”
“Slightly more than 2100 kilometres … twice from Helsinki to Utsjoki in the north of Finland or some 50 marathon races.”
“Wow! Not bad! Quite impressive! Well done!”

All the kilometres run have contributed to my physical and mental well-being in 2014. The hours spent on jogging have been a tremendous opportunity to reflect on my life and they have boosted my performance in other areas of life as well. Moreover, running is a good way (as all runners know) to get rid of any tension, aggression, frustration and irritation you may be feeling in your mind, body and soul. It is refreshing and purifying, it is something I have to admit being addicted to ;-)!

P.S. The photo (25 Dec 2014) shows the Observatory park in Helsinki from where I usually start my regular jogging round along the seaside.