shivering in me timbers

Out of our raw emotions, fear is one of the most potent feelings to deal with. It’s easy to be afraid, and even the smallest things can make us shake in our boots. We can be afraid of irrational, rational, abstract, or physical possibilities. There really is no limit on how many different things that can terrify us.

We have fear because it makes sense. If there’s a bear, we should not bother it or aggravate it. Our fear in that instance makes sense and helps us survive. Even the more abstract things like losing our job make sense. We fear it because it’s our safety net, its what we do every day, and losing it means we’ll be at risk of not being able to support ourselves. Not all fears are rational, but a good many of them are, and there is reason to be afraid.

That concept might not seem too inspiring, but think about this: you realize there is risk in a dangerous situation and are afraid. If you’re afraid, that means you’re alert and wary. If you are on your toes, it can help you focus on solving that situation. If the fear is irrational, acknowledging our fear is still an important step to getting over it. No matter the state of the cause of our terror, if we know the cause, we can do something about it.

Fear is natural. Fear may even be good in some instances. Being afraid doesn’t mean that that’s our only option, and it most certainly doesn’t mean that we have to stay that way. It may be difficult to move on from such a powerful emotion, but we can do it. We always can.

minimalist goals

Spurned on by my messy room and a random TedTalk I decided to become minimalist. It was relatively easy for me because I’m young, poor, and have little attachment to most physical things. For others, its probably a much larger step. I’m likely not a “true” minimalist just yet either because I have a pile of old clothes in storage I needed to get rid of, but I’ve taken the plunge into owning less and keeping it that way. I suggest it, it’s way easier to clean, to find the things you need, and allows you to really think about what you need.

However, I’m still working on being more minimalist in my goals. I recently read a LinkedIn article on why “finding your passion” is horrible career advice. The bottom line is that it assumes we have one passion, and that’s just not realistic for most people. I have adored and taken dance lessons for most of my childhood, but it would be incredibly difficult for me to seek back into becoming a professional dancer at this point, especially because I’m really quite inflexible. Some things pass us by, or aren’t good fits. Sure, you could make the effort. With enough practice and time, you could become good at anything! That’s the key phrase there, “with enough practice and time”.

We often can’t give ourselves to a singular passion, but then again, we also have so many things we want to do that we don’t. We struggle with being minimalist in our goals, because we think that, somewhere, somehow we’ll be able to achieve all of them. We won’t. Or maybe we just might, but we can’t if we think of it as achieving all our goals at once. Rather, we need to list out what we want to do, and work on them one at a time. Split effort means more overall work and less overall result. When we work with fewer results, we aren’t as motivated to keep going.

So avoid splitting yourself up! Have those few goals you want the most, and post them up everywhere you look most often. Think about them. Work for them. Realize why you want them and go for it! Don’t think you have to find one specific thing to devote your life to, just focus on one specific thing right now, and trust yourself that you’ll get to the other stuff.

the micro-culture and my math teacher

I had a math teacher who told me that How I Met Your Mother had a massive influence on the alcohol consumption of millennials because the characters on the show would casually buy a bottle of wine to consume in the evenings. Regardless of the truth of that information, shows do and truly impact how we percieve “normal”. Frankly, It’s amazing how linguistic quirks spread. From person to person, phrases and mannerisms spread like a disease, until entire regions share a style of communication. Through things like television shows and social media as well, habits can become ingrained in an entire nation.

Yet, think about language and culture on a smaller level. Then even smaller than that. Even families and friendships develop their own culture, which is why sometimes you visit someone’s house and its a culture shock. However we’ve gotten there, our individual micro-cultures have been developed by a massive amount of factors. Your mother might be the main cook in your because that’s the expectation of our society, but you might also give your siblings all of the stuff they’ve left in your room wrapped in a present on their birthday because of a youtube video you saw once. Or, there are times when you have strange games you and your family may play that you haven’t heard of anyone else playing.

Culture is something that’s created by humans, influenced by geography, biology, and history. But it’s also created by us and influenced by us. We may not be able to change what’s normal on our own, but we can start a trend, spread an idea or thought. People tend to think of culture as something stagnant and musty but it’s actually the mental backdrop of your life. You don’t know why you save plastic bags, or maybe you do, but you do it without thinking.

Everyone has a culture. We have cultures within our families, friend groups, schools, communities, cities, regions, nation– all on different levels and all special to help defining your world view and behaviors. This does not take away from those behaviors or justify them, just helps explain them. No matter how disconnected you may feel at times, you aren’t. Your actions and manners of expression are part of the fabric of a living culture.

in sick and in healthy times

When you’re sick, it’s not the horrible physical pain itself, but the length of sickness that’s excruciating. Torture isn’t about the amount of pain, so much as the timetable. If you had to undergo all the pain you could physically hold, as long as it was in a short enough period of time, you could take it.

That’s why its so important to remember to breathe. No, seriously, breathe right now. Take it in. Be slow and deliberate. Then be thankful because (probably) you aren’t stuffed up or coughing right now. Long scale pain becomes such a problem because it requires so much of your attention. When things are going right, we often don’t appreciate our bodies. It is only when things are going wrong inside them that we begin to curse them.

Sickness may come. Misery surely will. Pain will be there to haunt us throughout our lives, in various forms. The worst pain comes from the extended period of time we experience it. But the beauty is that we get to live so much and so well without it! Humans tend to fixate on the negative; it’s more motivating for us to avoid the negative results than to run towards positive ones. Yet we experience good things for long period of time as well, in the forms of good relationships and circumstances. Let’s celebrate that! Let’s live gratefully, and let the time of our joy increase that joy!