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.

questions of the Self, a most annoying plague

Books and movies tend to portray “the Self” as something you find after a life struggle or going on a trip to a foreign country. In our everyday life, however, the more we look for ourselves, it seems the more we lose it. When we try to address and find this thing that seems to have consciousness, we miss it.  The self is dynamic and we can find ourselves cut up into so many parts, it’s hard to see the overall vision. Are you the person who wakes up late? Are you the person that takes short showers? Are you fashionable? Kind? All the little details of who you are changing all the time, and so who is the person underneath it all? Are you the voice reflecting on yourself? If so, who is the self you are looking at?

Philosophers, neuroscientists, biologists, poets with large egos, plenty of people have tried to tackle the question of consciousness. It is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries in the universe, and we can only consider its mysteriousness because of it Itself. Where we are right now, we don’t understand what it is exactly or how it works. While it would be comforting to know, we don’t have to understand it to live our lives. If it is something that captures you, heart and soul, you can research into it, try and understand it. We probably won’t find a perfect model of it.

I realize that’s not a satisfactory answer because it’s not a hard and fast explanation or even a definition. However, it’s not stopped you from reading this, understanding this, and impacting your life. You are conscious, whether or not you understand it. Consciousness may be a process, and we can’t see that process clearly because we are it. In a similar way, we may be incapable of seeing and understanding ourselves. When we introspect, we are automatically splitting ourselves off to look at it, and that splitting off is necessarily limiting what we are looking at.

As to say, the “Self” that people often look for isn’t some distinct character who likes A, does B, and has traits C, D, and E. We know we are splitting ourselves up with possible actions we could be taking, and that partitioning is driving us to doubt who we are. However, we will always be our Self. Your Self is you, you’ve never lost it in the first place. If we take one path or another, those two eventual Selves would likely be different. But who are we to know that? We can’t see the bird’s eye view of our life. We’re on the ground, subjective and ignorant of so many things– it is who we are, and those limitations make us who we are.

More often than not, what we are looking for is confidence. We never make the “right” decisions, we can only make the decision we think is best. Even when we feel like we are being pulled by so many options, we have faced every single choice before and gone with it. Choices are inevitable, and if we mess up, we can choose to try and fix it. Maybe your Self yesterday loved coffee, and today your Self loves tea, but you were yourself yesterday and you are yourself today.

what a fan

A fan works, in the simplest terms, by little weird curvy blades swhooshing around really fast. In many ways, this should be our goal in life! To have a cycle and a goal and to carry it all out for the sake of someone besides ourselves. As we know from history, stories, and psychology, we are our best selves when we are focused on other people.

When we get overwhelmed with life, it’s usually because we aren’t looking at it from a community perspective. We see our own problems the easiest because they are the most salient to us. We know that we were late because we had a crazy morning that resulted in spilled coffee and the like. However, how willing are we to take that perspective for someone else who comes in late? We don’t see the morning, we just see the entrance and we assume that they must not care as much.

In a similar way, we can become consumed with this idea that if our plans aren’t fulfilled or carried out, everything will be over. We make our own life the be all end all. But how realistic is that? It’s actually a glorious thing that we aren’t the center of the universe. It means that we can ask other people for help. It means we can find a place to go if the worst case scenario rolls out. It means that even if our personal point A to point B can’t be connected, that we can make another plan. And maybe going from point C to point D is something you wouldn’t have expected to make you as happy as it does!

Other people exist. It’s a bit annoying at times, but it’s also an incredible gift if we have the right mindset. It helps us, but it also means that we can help other people, and that’s something really precious.

not flawless

Our experiences are tinted with all that we are, context, and natural human biases. Just misunderstanding the tone of someone’s voice can cause a massive conflict. Intent matters, but so does what actually happened, and what other people understood it to mean. We’re flawed, but so are the people around us.

My point is that your opinions and experiences matter– and so does everyone else’s. We cannot make a bubble for ourselves and give ourselves extra rights. But it becomes frustrating, because, as humans, we like to feel special. It’s our psychological tendency to blame context for our failures and give ourselves credit for our successes. Even though logically we know both choices and context matter, we ignore the role of whichever one is most uncomfortable to recognize.

We could do a variety of things with our lives, but at the end, we need to take responsibility of all our choices. Context matters. Environments can change personality drastically. We could want to be set apart and admired, but first we have to earn that and work towards that. We’re human! We mess up! The real question is whether or not we’ll chose to step up to the plate when the pressure is on.

the little choices

There good things, bad things, and about everything inbetween in this world. Life is a complex beast. But what remains every day is something absolutely incredible: a chance to make that day what you will. No human can control everything, but you don’t need to control everything! You have control over yourself! It may not seem like much at first, but it’s really an amazing gift!

If we want to take a nap, we can. If we want to sing out Britney tunes, we can. If we want to be productive or be lazy, we can. It’s our choice a majority of the time to do what we want. The problem is that it doesn’t always seem like that; afterall, we have responsibilities! We get forced into situations where if we want to appease the people in our lives and survive, we need to make sacrifices. We could not go to school or work, but the outcomes would be so negative, we doesn’t feel like an choice at all.

However, what we tend to overlook is that there are more choices than we think in our lives. What we decide to do, for the duration we decide to do it, they all impact us. From more meaningless questions like “Which stall should I go into in the bathroom?” To “Should I speak up in front of these people?”, we are making decisions almost constantly. We aren’t cognizant of them being choices because they don’t seem big or fancy enough.

We are not trapped into some cage. Each moment can be a step into bringing us closer to who we want to be! There are certain things that are our of our control, but don’t underestimate yourself! You are capable of so much more than you think!