That glass with water in it to a 50% capacity mark

There is almost always an opportunity to be unhappy. Life can be brilliantly beautiful and yet an individual can still choose to find how horrible things are or will become. I’m not talking about depression, but rather the poor cognitive habit that people can develop that turns them into pessimists.

Often, pessimists might claim they are not pessimists but realists. They understand the risks that may come in a particular situation and want to be cautious. They might feel that optimism is for the young, naive, and delusional. However, being realistic is an interesting claim to make, because optimism and pessimism aren’t about the facts but the interpretation and desire behind those facts.

If we were being realistic, the glass that’s either half full or half empty exists in a context. Maybe you filled it up to the top and have drunk half of it. If you want more of the drink, you’d be more inclined to call it half empty. If you wanted less of it, you’d be more inclined to call it half full.

There’s also social convention at play; how many people legitimately refer to a cup as half full? The statement may or may not actually reflect the optimism/pessimism of the individual who says it.

In order to be ‘realistic’, one has to acknowledge both the opportunities and risks with a course of action. A pessimist might miss the opportunity, an optimist might miss the risks. It’s rarely a boon to be on the extreme either way in the long run.

In some ways, the question of glass-half-full or half-empty is a question of trust. It’s an indication of how a person feels the world around them is worthy of their trust. Do they want to blindly trust others or shut themselves off? Like most things, the answer is somewhere in the middle.

However, my focus is on pessimism because people are rarely consistently too optimistic. It’s good to be careful, but fear can go overboard very easily. Gratitude is the best way to help temper our habits of becoming too shut down. Of course, things can go wrong. At least one thing always will, life is unpredictable. The truth of the matter is that we need to be careful in watching why we’re being careful.

Are assuming the worst because you are afraid? Are you assuming the worst because you’ve been hurt before? For those who claim to be realistic, are you actually taking probability into account, or are you making an interpretation separate from the stats?

 

not just a work bod

There is so much more to life than work. There is so much more to life than looking a certain way and achieving some ideal you aren’t actually happy with. There is so much more, and yet we still get stuck on these basic things of loving ourselves and being content with where we are.

We fundamentally feel empty when we reach grand milestones without the backing of social support. If we aren’t making a difference, if we aren’t paying attention to the people around us, it’s just hard to have any motivation at all. We can strive after money, freedom, success, all of that, but we are nothing if we are alone.

Granted, money, freedom, and success are all nice. But we feel like we are using our money wisely when we can support ourselves and those around us. We feel free when our bonds to others are healthy instead of constricting. We feel successful when we are able to feel secure financially and are connected to others. Sitting alone in a pile of gold has a similar feel to sitting on a pile of rocks alone.

We struggle with motivation at times because we’re often going about it the wrong way. We try to use fear, but fear wears away. We try to use logic, but logic isn’t very inspiring. We try to use self-discipline but that’s something we need to build up over time and for the right reasons.

It’s true, we need money to survive. This shouldn’t be a spot of shame on us. We might not love what we do– that’s okay. If we are miserable, over time we can work to see if there is a better path. It’s easy to fear getting stuck. Midlife crises are unfortunately common. There’s that terrifying idea that we will blink and our life will have passed us by. But if that is your fear, then act. Take charge of your decisions. Whatever you chose in life, chose it willingly. Chose it without regrets. We are forced into all sorts of situations, but we take responsibility for who we are, we are empowered.

Life will be difficult in some way, no matter what. There will always be boring situations. The key to being okay with that is realizing that even the boring moments are moments of our lives. There is a beauty in everywhere if we look for it. There is always something interesting, and when we open our minds to it in the little moments, we can begin to trust oursleves that we’ll find it in the important moments.

drifting in and out of loneliness

People drift in and out of our lives. We can try to hold on to varying degrees, but sometimes people just lose touch.

We are physical beings, and proximity has far more of an impact than we realize. Radical as this may sound, that’s okay. Sometimes we need to be around particular people, they teach us lessons and hopefully, we help them, and then we part ways.

There’s that line of thought that we are the sum of the five people we are closest to. It makes sense that we want to hold onto people who, in some way, are a part of us. Yet, we change, life goes on, and so the people around us end up changing also.

One of the downsides of letting people leave and enter our lives is that if a rough time hits us in a moment of transition, we can feel alone.

You are not. You’re just stuck in a mindset where it’s easy to feel like there’s no one out there who can understand. But if millions of people feel like no one understands, the likelihood is that, yes, someone does, you just haven’t run into them yet, and the good news is that there is so many of us on the planet we’re overwhelming the planet.

Things change, for better sometimes, for worse others, but far more often than both of those is change itself. If we stop expecting our ideas of situations to fall out exactly into predetermined categories, we may be able to enjoy them more.

If you think a situation will be absolutely terrible, of course, it will be. If you think a situation will be fun, it probably will be. Our mindset works like a self-fulfilling prophecy at times, and sometimes even happy expectations can let us down.

As to say, things may or may not turn out like we expect, so try not to expect too much. Be prepared, but be open. Let people go, let things go, and let them in so we can appreciate every moment we have to the fullest.

‘thank you’s are a little awkward, so this is how you do it

There is no shame is needing someone. Turning down offers may seem polite in certain circumstances, but if they offer food and you want food, who benefits from that situation? Giving makes us feel better, and encourages us to be even better people. Accepting a gift or a favor from someone makes them feel like they are generous, kind people, and you get a gift or favor in return! But the awkward part, the part that gives us the most grief, is what to do afterward.

Gratitude is strange. It makes us tense, because we have these emotions, and yet we might not always know how to express them. ‘Thank you” on it’s own may seem too short. In order to remedy the situation, here’s a quick crash course on how to say thank you:

1. Start out with thank you, and/or some sort of exclamation like, “WOw!” or “Oh wonderful!” This first part initiates your response and if it seems like their gift has made an emotional impact on making your life better, the first reception of the gift should be exciting.

2. Explain why you love the gift. If you don’t really know what it is, ask in an interested way about some details of it. Even if you know what it is, pointing out some immediate details that catch your eye that you like. Some situations are more difficult than others, but do your best and practice will makes things easier over time. Noticing the details makes people feel like you are going to use every bit of it.

3. If you can, directly say how this will improve your life. Lay out a difficulty you have that this problem will solve. Again, people want to know that what they are giving you matters to you.

4. End with another thank you. It’s hard to get angry at somehow for being overly thankful, because generally we tend to not be thankful enough.

If you can, the best way to show gratitude, is to do something kind back, especially further on down the road. Remembering and helping them when they need it means something. Hopefully receiving gifts should make us more gracious to other people, and a consistent show of love helps all of our relationships.

right now

The best time to exist is right now. There are pros and cons to every era, but at the end of the day, if you’re reading this, you are most likely significantly more wealthy than a majority of the people on this earth. That’s not to say that you somehow don’t have problems, but they are different in a variety of ways. Having food, water, and shelter, for those reasons alone, makes us so incredibly lucky.

And at times, it’s hard to accept the fact that we are lucky. Politics are crazy, we may suffer internally and emotionally, we might have difficult relationships! There are plenty of things that are wrong, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is right. We have a choice to be grateful. We can choose to be thankful for what we have.

You haven’t reached tomorrow yet. Yesterday is already gone. What we have to work with is the present. So let’s use it! Other people may have opinions on how you live your life, but in the end, it’s not their life is it? It’s smart to listen to what other people have to say, but listening doesn’t mean following the whims of anyone who comes into your path. Furthermore, if you’re tied down with what they Might think, you’re fulfilling only a tiny segment of who you could be.

This is right now, take it and live it.

tis the school season

School is coming, and for some, it’s already here. The students are heading back, as are the teachers and other school employees. It’s at times like these when we realize how important it is to be thankful for our experiences in the summer, and to realize that we aren’t dumb, it’s just going to take us a while to get back into the swing of things.

No matter how we’ve spent our summer, we can be grateful for it. If you’ve vacationed to different countries, it might be easier to be thankful. However, each moment we have is precious and limited. Today is part of our lives. Today is this incredible concept and period of time in which we can take action! While we have this new opportunity in our lives each day, we don’t know how the day will turn out. It is special, even on the days we forget to see it like that. All of the days we’ve used over the summer, they meant something. They’ve developed as people, for better or worse. They’ve brought us to conclusions and given us experiences, even if those experiences are familiar and worn.

Moving forward is difficult because there’s mountains of work to overcome. School often feels like a switch, where you’re suddenly thrown into an old world at the drop of a hat. It’s disorienting, so give yourself leeway. You will adjust to the schedule and place. You will get back into the swing of things like always. Some people have been working all summer, or using their brain at camp, and it may seem like they are above you intellectually. Don’t forget! Your mind can work as well! With a little practice, it’s like riding a bike to get back into things. You aren’t dumb, it’s just been a while.

Be thankful! And face the school year with a sense of positivity because you’ve changed over the summer. You can do great things!

thankful for an abacus

My brother got me an abacus for Christmas, this massive nicely painted black one from the thrift store. It was a symbolic gift more than anything else. But it was interesting that out of anything he could have found in an antique thrift store, he felt this abacus was the thing that represented me the best. I can’t help but think that I must come across as calculating.

It’s interesting to get those glimpses into other’s perspectives on you. Parts of your personality that you view as dominant might not be so to others. Who we are is dynamic, fluid, yet constant in some ways. That’s why is so very important for us to be thankful. In the changing seas of life, having people by you is something really amazing once you think about it. Being able to grow together, or even being able to open yourself up to new sorts of people, these are all incredible events.

It can be frustrating because we may work hard and not get acknowledged. We may go through times of great change and no one may notice. But those changes will be obvious in how we act, and over time, the right people will take stock of it. But it is our opportunity and joy that we get to help other people. If we want to be acknowledged, we should help turn the spotlight on others. As counterintuitive as it may feel, we are more ourselves when we’re focused on others. Our relationships are so important; we should be thankful for every gift we’re given, physical or not.

keep your eyes open

It’s easy to drudge from day to dull day. The regular routines we follow typically aren’t exciting. We get up, work, eat, maybe have a tiny bit of fun, and then go back to sleep. However, a lot of the dread we have around work is a monster we’ve created ourselves.

We struggle throughout most of lives, so how can we find joy in that? By changing our perspective as much as we can, and if need be, our circumstances. There is always something we can do to make life a little brighter. When I say dread is a monster we create, I don’t mean that we can somehow snap our fingers, change our attitude and float away on a magicial pink cloud. No matter what we do, sometimes life sucks. However, we can make it seem worse than it is when we constantly think to ourselves, “I don’t want to do this, there’s no meaning in this, I just want to go home…” Wherever you are, you’re there. You exist in that location. This is a part of your life, and it can be just as precious as any other part of your life. Focus on the good things to get you through, to distract you as much as you can, even if you have to start being thankful for dandelions in the sidewalk.

If the situation is really that bad, then get out of there. That’s not always possible, but it may be more possible than you realize. We often convince ourselves that things lie in a certain fixed pattern and there’s nothing we can do to change that. However, is it? Look at where you are again. Research your options. Talk to other people, maybe there’s a solution you’re missing.

At the end of the day, yes it’s just another day. But it’s also another day of your life. We may be experts at making ourselves miserable, but we don’t have to stay that way. Slowly, we can change our outlook on life. Maybe we can’t escape a situation just yet, but that won’t always be the case. Have hope! Keep your eyes open.

but what even is kindness anyways

Kindness is one of those mysterious things where you don’t exactly know how to pin it down at times, but you know it’s there. People who are kind just feel that way, and when we really think about it, it takes us a while to come up with a specific example. When we talk to strangers, we can sense a bit of their personality, and even right after we’ve met them, we assume how nice they are based upon it.

Kindness is a level of love that any two individuals can share. It means respect for the other person’s opinions, genuine compassion and interest in their life, and taking time out to do something the other person needs, or might find difficult on their own. Sharing food is often seen as kind because you’re directly restricting your own well being to give someone something they might require.

Yet, kindness is still mysterious because if you’re not used to it or not in very specific situations, it’s not clear what the right, nice thing to do is. Take the example I gave before with sharing your food with a small animal, like they typically show in movies to prove the protagonist is a good person. That feeding might teach animals in real life to become dependent on humans, which increases the likelihood they’ll be hurt because they’re hanging around humans too much. Furthermore, the closest animals we typically could feed are the common species that don’t need the extra food. Not feeding a pigeon isn’t going to kill them, they’re going to hop over to the next family and try their luck again. My point, regardless of your opinion on pigeons, is that kindness is a broad term, and there will always be ways to justify not taking action, for better or worse.

It’s okay to not know how to be kind. We get out of practice, and some people are naturally more compassionate than others. However, we should strive for it, as unnatural as it may seem. We won’t always know what the best, most sincere, and respectful route of action is. Life is ambiguous, but we can always be better. It’s a matter of keeping our eyes open and seeing where we can help. A good starting point is getting into the habit if literally asking, “Hey, is there anything I can do to help?”

the magic of doing something

Typically if you don’t sleep well one night, it doesn’t hit you until the day after. When it does hit, you feel it in your whole body. You experience how tired you are in every inch of yourself. When we’re awake and everything’s fine, our awareness of our bodies usually is zero or around that. It’s only when we’ve put our body through some level of stress that we are aware of it. It’s similar to how losing something makes us finally realize how grateful we were for it.

Telling someone to “Be thankful” seems to belong around some holiday table, or come from an angry parental figure. At different times, we may see the little positivity posts with the fancy script that talks about being grateful, but what’s the point? It’s easy to blow off the advice because it seems like something only yogi vegans genuinely aspire to. Being grateful however, is a habit. It’s a habit that improves your life, no matter what kind of person you are.

So how does one “become” a grateful person? How do you magically become peaceful minded from it?

There’s likely no one correct way to be thankful for what you have, but the key is to actually be thankful, and that can be difficult to achieve. Especially if it’s a new thing to you, make being thankful a task. Don’t just say you’re grateful. Write a long letter expressing how much you appreciate someone in your life. Go out of your way to buy a cup of coffee for someone you know needs it. Be nice to your cashiers, even when they have an attitude. All of this things may not seem like activities we associate with gratitude. However, if we are thankful, by definition we need to thank them. It can be through a gift, extra patience, time spent with them, or whatever you know they’d appreciate themselves. Yet, try to not take the easy route out and just say it. Words mean nothing if they aren’t backed up by action.