Don’t starve yourself from people

For social beings who by nature need communication and contact, we have a really bad habit of isolating ourselves. We would prefer to hide behind social media, small talk, and our own self-doubts rather than try and make connections. Socialization is hard work, even for extroverts. You are a bubble of experiences, ideas, thoughts, temperament, and genetics and you meet another bubble that has all its own experiences and beliefs. Who knows if youre bubbles overlap? Trying to find similarities is frightening because people don’t always click right away.

Making friends means being vulnerable, and vulnerability is uncomfortable because it means not being able to predict the future as well. Even something as minor as revealing you love dogs: what if they hate dogs and have had traumatic experiences with them? It’s unlikely, but the more personal the topics get, the more risky it is to share them because you don’t know how they’ll react. As much as social anxiety is seen as over reacting in our culture, it’s actually not that unreasonable when you consider how socialization puts identity and sense of self at risk.

We like focusing on the ‘good stuff’, especially in American culture. We like feeling good, looking good, and being happy 100% of the time. When we talk and risk oursleves, we demand and expect payback for that socialization risk. Yet sometimes the result is awkward and embarrassing. It’s not required to be pretty and it usually isn’t  smooth at all. In fact, it can be uncomfortable and unsatisfying.  Talking to other people is hard, that’s proven by how entire college majors are dedicated to simple communication.

It’s okay to be socially awkward, everything gets better with practice. It’s okay to miscommunicate something, you’ll keep at it and they’ll eventually catch on. It’s okay to not know what to say, you’re not a mind-reader. It’s natural to have some difficulties when bridging the gap between two entirely different lives. Keep at it! Keep taking risks and communicating with people. Closing ourselves off socially is starving ourselves of a basic pyschological desire, so stay fed! It might not always seem worth it in the moment but it is in the long run.

 

The Fans

Not all passions are equal in the eyes of our culture. People who care about TV shows seem somehow “less” or more frivolous. That arises from the fact that it usually doesn’t require a higher degree of education or complex thinking to watch it. Furthermore, spending all of your time thinking about a show takes away from thinking about something more valued by our culture. However, I’d like to try and change that view point just a bit: why do most people care more about shows than we do real things?

Shows are captivating because they have story lines. As humans, we love stories, we think in stories. Yet they are also captivating because a vast majority of them have character development. You can trust someone is going to change, and most likely it will be for the better. It’s comforting. Also, if they are done correctly, shows can be amazingly interesting. Science is absolutely fascinating, but not thrilling like watching dragons attack a castle. Books are entertaining, but people don’t like spending the energy it takes to imagine and process the words.

When you compare random bits of data, it’s much harder to get excited than over Person A killing Person B over Person C who loves person D who loves person B. In our lives, we love stories, but we also get frustrated when our lives work out more like a series of random events and less like a path that leads somewhere. Not all passions are equal because some roles seem to be only available to those who are skilled enough to achieve them. Fans are a dime a dozen, but lawyers? Learning the Law takes years of extra schooling. The problem is most lawyers probably aren’t that passionate about the law. 

 What if we were as passionate about our lives as we are by really good shows? What if we could see ourselves as the protagonist and the hard work as a mighty challenge that’s worth overcoming? Consider becoming a fan of your own life.

A kind of battle cry

Today is a good day. Sometimes that doesn’t even have to be true, but you have to say it, and furthermore, you have to believe it. There’s this kind of advice: even if you feel bad, don’t look bad. Its this idea that if you feel aboslutely horrible, if you take the time to put effort into what you wear, you’ll feel better. It’s a battle cry of effort, I will not be defeated by my exhaustion! Even if it doesn’t come out through physical apperance it’s important to care about living your life, especially when it’s hard. 

One of my favorite songs is Nat King Cole’s “Smile”, and one of the lines is this, “when there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by”. As to say, sure. Life isn’t perfect. There are so many people who are hurting and struggling. However, if we give up when the going gets hard, we’re letting our true potential slip by. Our ability is not determined by talent alone. Honestly, at the end of the day, talent means very little. What you can change is the part that makes the most difference: your effort. 

You can’t live at 100% all the time, but we can usually give at least 5% more. And if we decide to not put in that effort, we find ourselves in a cycle of stagnancy. If it’s difficult, you’re getting somewhere, so keep fighting. Today is a good day.

Hey you’re pretty skilled!

Everyone has different gifts. Some people naturally are caring or wise, others can really work hard and persevere. There are such a wide variety of people, all with different talents, and it’s honestly amazing. Even That Jerk you know, from work or around your neighborhood, has a few qualities that could be really amazing if they used it right. 

We all have things we can do well, but those things can also be our weaknesses. People who are in tune with emotions recieve the full brunt of them and there’s no dial to turn it down. People who are honest and ambitious tend to hurt those they care about because others’ opinions genuinely didn’t occur to them. People who work hard can be taken advantage of and treated like they are less just because they do have to work to get where they want to go. 

We do all have talents though. Books with segmented groups based on personality are fun because the reader wants to find out where they would fit into the world if they were in it; it’s why Hogwarts houses, what Divergent group, and Percy Jackson’s Olympian houses grab our attention. If we know how others see us, we can play a role and be accepted by the community we’re in. The problem originates in the fact that no one fits a stereotype perfectly. There’s no one perfect ‘Slytherin’ or ‘Child of Hermes’. We expect our full spectrum world to fit into distinct categories because it’s helpful; the hueristics makes things easier to understand and deal with. 

Honestly, maybe you don’t fill into a label solidly. Maybe you’re on the fringe between two categories. Maybe you think your talents don’t even exist. Life can be hard, and it’s easy to think that your own individual skills are worth nothing in the whole scheme of things. However, little actions build up, working with people to join your little skills together can make something sincerely awesome. Just because it isn’t clear to you what things you’re skilled at doesn’t mean you aren’t skilled in some manner. 

You don’t have to be depressed to write a good poem

Happiness is related to a stronger immune system, better cardiovasular health, reduced pain, better sleep, higher performance in general, and surprisingly, creativity. I’ve personally always be prone to the belief that miserable people tend to be more creative and intelligent. However, studies don’t support either one of those. IQ has minimal affect on happiness, and as stated before, happiness actually improves creativity (Gilovich, 2015). So why do those stereotypes exist? And why does it matter for us?

First off, we think creativity and intelligence  is related to misery because throughout history, some of the most depressed people have been the most intelligent and creative. You think of people like Mozart, Van Gogh, and Hemmingway. In fact, it would be too simplistic for me to say that happiness is the only way to be creative; there is a connection afterall, between mental illness and creativity (Adams, 2014). However, the key here is that you don’t have to be miserable to be creative. As Adams talks about, mental illnesses can make a person take in more information, which leads to stranger associations and more flexible thinking. Happiness can help do the same thing, without the horrible side affects.

We can learn to be more happy by being more grateful, by surrounding ourselves with social connections, by giving more than we recieve, and meditating (Gilovich, 2015). Being happy doesn’t “cost” intelligence and creativity. The only thing holding us back is oursleves. 

Adams, W. L. (2014, January 22). The dark side of.   creativity: Depression anxiety x madness = genius? Retrieved September 24, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/22/world/the-dark-side-of-creativity-vincent-van-gogh/index.html

  • Gilovich, T., Keltner, D., & Nisbett, R. E. (2011). Social psychology. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Orange’ya glad I didn’t compare you to an apple?

It’s strange to consider that oranges, which are now commonplace in America, were once considered to be rare treats, gotten maybe one or twice a year. Oranges are sweet, but I doubt most people would consider it to be like a candy. We wouldn’t because we have actual candy to compare it to. Even though oranges themselves haven’t altered, they’ve been debunked from a candy to a sweet addition to a meal. The oranges didn’t change, the things around them did. If we consider ourselves to be an orange then, how do we take and utilize this principle? We start off by not comparing apples to oranges.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you have a generic person who has an IQ of 100, as that is the average. First, you put them in a room full of people who have an IQ of 90, learning a task the generic person already knows but the rest don’t. Then, you put them into a room full of people who have an IQ of 110, learning something that everyone else knows but they don’t. These situations aren’t fair. However, even if the generic person knows the situation, they are still probably going to feel brilliant in the first class and like a moron in the next. That’s considering the situation while knowing that it’s unfair.

We don’t know the situation a lot of times. We make attribution after attribution on halves of knowledge. Our sense of who we are and what we can do depends tremendously on who and what we are around. It’s not everything, of course, but the environment is a huge factor in our identity. Let me suggest this however; you might be an orange once a year or you might be the commonplace orange. If you think you’re all that, you might just be surrounding yourself with people who are less skilled than you. If you think you’re worth nothing, you might be leaving out a massive chunk of the real population. We don’t have glasses that tells us how much money, IQ, or how many friends each person has. We can’t see the details, we don’t know where people are coming from a lot of times. Your ‘sweetness’ is relative.

So what can you do? You can keep on being sweet. You can keep trying your best, because that’s the best you can do. Help others, be kind. Be ambitious and chase down your goals. Try to keep in mind that both fruit and chocolate bars are sugary and delicious but taste completely different. Keep going, you can do this.

Step by step dolphin training

What we want is mostly irrelevant. Likely millions of other people want the same sorts of things. We are held in check by going after them by these silly things called responsibilites. That’s why the childhood dream of adulthood is so far off; adults technically could do whatever they want, but do they have the resources for it? Would their credit score be impacted? Would the people closest be okay with it? There’s so many factors in the idea of “adult freedom”. However, we are given a wonderful opportunity.

That opportunity is life itself. I could want sleep, food, a few spare billion dollars, and a more clear cut view of the future instead of the responsibility of work. The fact is, what I want isn’t going to fall into my lap. However, I can do two things to significantly make my situation better. 

1. I can work out how I’m going to reach my goals. We can write out plans, research opportunites, and actually take those risks. Want to become a dolphin trainer? Where’s the nearest training academy? Maybe you live in Idaho, work out how you’re going to save up money, and make a kickstart. In the meantime, read some books on it! See if you want it enough even after reading through manuals. 

2. I can be grateful for where I’m at. Someone always has it worse and someone always has it better. There are always pros and cons. Achieving your goals isn’t going to make everything work out perfectly. Being a CEO means a lot of money, but it also means a lot of stress. Every situation can teach us something. 

So do something about your goals. Live. Refine what you want, nail it down, and go after it. Today is a good day to be the best self you can be. 

Do the thing

Effort is not lost. No matter what you spend time on, humans develop skills to do that task better. The problem is most of us spend our time on netflix and social media instead of tasks that will be beneficial to us. If we spent our time better, we could do a lot more, be a lot more. If we put in the effort, we could acheive amazing things! But we don’t because its hard and it doesn’t seem to have a point. How many people quit going to the gym after going there twice? It hurts, but more importantly, they don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. They don’t see the big goal.

I think we can genuinely surprise ourselves with how much we can do when we put our minds to it. We just need to do it, not put it off; use methods for getting yourself to focus. It’s easy to zone out. So easy that we end up missing most of our lives and spend the rest complaining about it. It’s never too late to live the best life you can, and it’s never too early either. You can do this! Write sticky note reminders! Set little goals and accomplish them! Do a little at a time and trust it to build up. Today is a good day, and there’s no time like the present to live.

Be nicer

Celebrity worship is a cultural custom of America that is strange and likely highly unhealthy, but we can all learn a few things from it. Number one is that anyone can be loved, for stupid little things even. A fan watching an interview with their favorite actor or actress can literally find anything to freak out about, like their smile or how they move. Even people who wouldn’t be considered traditionally attractive can suddenly become lovable in the public eye. Granted, that love can go sour easily and celebrities are flawed humans, but everyone is flawed. If someone can see a person from afar and accept their imperfections, is it really unthinkable that we can be kind to others, that we can be kind to ourselves?

Rich people are often physically appealing simply because they can afford to be healthy. They have health insurance, so they can be preventative. They have the resources to buy skin care products, clothes of high quality that fit, etc. In the right circumstances, anyone can become healthy and more confident. Just because someone is poor doesn’t mean they are refusing to try. We all should strive for greater things. Still, its worth remembering what people are capable of when given the resources to do so. 

You can always respect people. Its easy to hate other people because we see where they are right now and forget that humans can change for the better. In the right light, in the right circumstance, we all can be better, prettier, smarter, healthier, etc. Humans are flawed, and we are where we are, but if we can worship regular humans as gods, we can also remember to be kind to the regular people around us. 

We should all try more 

The wonderful thing about art is that two artists can have completely different styles, totally different subjects, and both create something beautiful. We tend to get into a habit of comparison with lots of different things, when its apples to oranges. So when it comes to our lives, the goal should be to make it the best we can, not making it look like somone else’s best. 

So today, do something crazy: make a list. Make a list of what you want to accomplish today, small reasonable goals. Then, even more fantastically, do it. Do as much as you can, completed to the best of your ability. That way you can never say you didn’t try. 

And why would you not want to try? Nothing gets better until you put in the effort to make it better. Don’t wait for your life to pass you by, jump on the train and start shoveling the coal. This is your life! For better or worse, and you can always make it better. You can do this.