Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t done what you want yet. It doesn’t matter if you’re a wreck right now. It doesn’t matter, because it’s not the end. Every moment doesn’t feel like a new chance, but it is. Most of the time, the bars and limits we have are those we put on ourselves. If you want to do something more, you can achieve that.
It’s easy to think that couldn’t be the case. We think that if we want to go see a new movie in theaters, we have to go with friends. You don’t, you could go yourself. We think we can’t switch careers, because we wouldn’t even know where to start. Fine, you don’t know where to start, but knowing that means your first step is finding out what the steps are. We think that if we don’t stay or become a certain way, we’ll be alone forever. Surely, there is an importance to listening to what others have to say and heeding their advice, but at the end of the day, there is a line between listening to others and letting them rule your life.
Everything to this point matters in that it has built you up into who you are right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to play your hand out exactly like it’s expected. We are in a processing of growing, and its going to take a while to get to where we want to go. It’s terrifying to abruptly change, and there are many things that seem way beyond us– and that’s okay! Changing overnight is a difficult and natural thing. What is good is teaching yourself, step by step, to creep towards those goals of yours, pushing what’s comfortable for you. This moment is a chance. This moment too. If you don’t take it now, seriously ask yourself if you ever will.
Many things are out of our control, to the point where we may think everything is sometimes. It isn’t. We influence the world just as the world influences us. We are not static beings in our environment, but rather dynamic individuals.
Having faith that things be okay is difficult, because honestly, sometimes things won’t. We’re not going to be able to succeed every time, or get the answer we want, or fulfill our responsibilities. Still, as the world throws obstacles and situations of all sorts at us, it’s important to remain calm. Know there is a chance you’ll fail, but also know that there is a chance you’ll succeed. Try anyways, for the things you know you must do. Maybe the problem will be too big for us to handle alone, but that’s okay, because we are never alone.
Failure is always an option that might occur. That’s okay. It’s a part of the natural waves and crests and troughs of life that we won’t feel or do our best every day. But no situation is so straightforward that you can count it as a 100% failure in the first place. We can learn from anything, take the good parts of any situation, grow from our confusion and struggles! Yes, many things are out of our control, but that doesn’t mean our actions and choices are pointless.
In life, we can get apathetic. If you’re feeling slow and lazy, I offer two primary options: if you can sleep longer during appropriate times, do it. Go to bed at 10 instead of 11. Avoid long naps, 20 min at most. The second option, when you can’t at the moment expand your sleeping schedule, is to get pumped.
Sometimes when you feel apathetic, your body needs to move. You need to get it to move! Exercise where you can, listen to upbeat music! Life is short. We only have so much time, and all of these things we want to do. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Our lives could be changed dramatically at any moment! But if it is, we want to be able to be adapt to that new situation. So be awake! Be present in what you do. Get your body going so your mind can be there for the things that matter.
If you find yourself in a funk, try to get out of it, even if it feels pointless. You’ll never know which effort allows you to pull through. This is your life! It is your own, and you’re doing the best you can! Whether you feel like you’re behind or ahead of people, know it’s not a race.
The most beautiful part of any day is the fact that it exists. Particularly among the younger generations who’ve grown up alongside social media and computer technology, there’s a generally negative culture. Posting something means you are motivated emotionally to do so, and in most instances, we tend to feel more motivated by negative emotions than positive ones. That means what’s going onto our walls and blogs reflects those same emotions. There are jokes about the void, nihilism, and the ‘sweet embrace of death’ because we deal with these heavy feelings through humor. Linguistically, we’ve developed a form of hyperbolic speech contrasted with minor events and appropriated entire concepts into slang like “same”. However, we can get easily overwhelmed by this constant stream and begin to cultivate unhealthy thought processes.
Just take a moment to pause yourself and think about what you see everyday. We like to think of ourselves as unaffected by propaganda compared to the normal population (It’s called the third-person effect) but the truth is that, statistically speaking, you are affected by the media. There’s a whole slew of phenomenon and theories about it, but spending hours on social media has an impact on your psychological health. I am not immune, you are not immune, your friends aren’t immune; it’s just a result of living. It’s not always a bad thing either, but it is always good to be aware of what we are reading.
When you read these jokes and are surrounded with an atmosphere that mocks existence, it can be easy to feel purposeless. However, the existence of existence is important. Some claim that it would be better to not have been born at all. If you weren’t born, after all, then you would’t feel all the pain of living. You also wouldn’t even be able to appreciate nonexistence. Because we are, because we exist, we can feel every emotion. We can feel the positive feelings as well as the negative ones. We can laugh at stupid jokes and feel idiotic for not seeing something obvious. Existence and nonexistence aren’t comparable. Existence means being able to do something and grow past the difficulties. Existence means that you have the opportunity to both screw up your life, and also to fix it.
Davison, W. (1983). “The third-person effect in communication”. Public Opinion Quarterly. 47 (1): 1–15. doi:10.1086/268763
Intelligence is actually incredibly hard to pin down with a solid definition. Academic success depends on the class, past knowledge, family situations, even who you sit by. IQ can only predict success to a certain degree, and it judges only how good people are at finding new patterns and solving problems. Some argue only looking at academic intelligence cuts out creative or practical intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a term for how well people know and understand their own and other’s emotions; it’s been shown to strongly predict interpersonal success. Even from culture to culture, intelligence can be seen as something focused around how you deal with people, or how you deal with information. It is multifaceted and the line between intelligence and talent is slimmer than most people realize.
However, we are obbsessed with intelligence. We want to believe it’s something you are naturally born with, that you can’t escape, but that’s not necessarily true. A person can actually raise their IQ to a certain degree, more effort can increase one’s grade and success in the workplace, and happiness isn’t even correlated with IQ! Pyschologists have been trying to pin it down for forever because it’s not as simple as “If you are intelligent, you will succeed in life.”
I have my own little theory about intelligence, and it is this: intelligence is how well a person can adapt and solve problems, while wisdom is how well a person can apply things they’ve learned to the “real world” ane real relationships. There’s overlap between the two. People have different amounts of each. It’s hard to judge something as complex as intelligence in something as small as a single number. When you go out and about your day, just remember that you can improve from wherever you’re at.
The thing about kindness is that you don’t have to really ‘mean’ it. If you are a human that exists, you have affected other people, thousands of people, even if only in some minuscule way. Each action says something about you, whether you want it to or not. While it would be amazing to able to care about everyone all the time, we can’t psychologically handle that. People across the world tend to be too abstract for us to care about. That’s why we have things like religion, belief systems, and morals in place: You don’t have to be emotionally involved to show kindness. If you work at a soup kitchen, being supportive and bubbly is awesome, but even being there grudgingly helps out too. We have this strange idea that if we can’t put 100% into something, we shouldn’t do it at all. However, we get excited by the things we do. If you never do something, you’re never going to be excited for that thing in the first place.
Our thoughts become our behaviors, we know this. If you expect the party to be horrible, you’re going to act more anti-social and won’t enjoy yourself as much. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy to some extent. However, it works the other way around as well. Our behaviors influence our thoughts. Sometimes you have to be at the homeless shelter to actually care about the homeless. Perhaps the greatest gift our humanity has given us is the motivation to do things we don’t want to do initially, things that don’t directly benefit us.
How many times do you turn on the news and witness horrible events? Now, think about how many times you’ve genuinely cared about that, how many times you’ve donated your time and money to help. Churches and temples and synagogues and other places of worship usually involve some amount of charity because it takes higher forces to convince us that giving our time and money to others is worth it. In Puerto Rice right now, they don’t have power. In many areas, there’s not enough water resources for thirst or basic hygiene. This isn’t some minor hurricane that the island is used to, there are 3.4 million US citizens who are struggling to survive and no one seems to be trying to help.
The basic fact is this: you probably don’t care. This doesn’t have an obvious affect on you in all likelihood. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t help. You don’t have to care, you just have to do something. The act of putting in your limited resources is a show of strength of character. We can afford at least some small act of charity, some small thing that will bolster our own self-esteem. Donating for selfish reasons is better than not donating at all, don’t wait for your ‘heart’ to be in it, just help. The action will affect your thoughts, and your thoughts will affect your future actions; no small act of kindness is ever wasted.
According to Gilovich et. al’s Social Pyschology, counterfactual thoughts help make something tragic. All the fancy lingo aside, when something is almost avoided the whole situation seems much more dramatic. The boy who died of thirst three miles away from a town is much more upsetting than the boy who died of thirst three hundred miles away from a town. Running into your future best friend on the one day you decided to go into starbucks vs dunkin donuts seems much more important than meeting them in your every day hustle. Humans are so unique because we are able to travel in time mentally, through all these possibilities, and yet that gift also amplifies our sorrow when “almost” is an option.
Almost is such an important word because it represents our hopes and anger with chance. It hurts us to consider how close we were to something because we don’t like to be reminded that alot of things are out of our control. We can’t change the weather. We can’t make the traffic jam disappear. We can’t magically gain some idealistic body in a second’s notice.
However, what’s important to consider is this: we don’t have to be able to control everything. Trying to do so leads to a paranoid neurotic life. We can daydream and consider all the possibilites we want, but nothing we think is as potent as what we do. Thoughts and actions feed into each other, but we have a habit of letting the big dreams with hard choices become marginalized. We pick the easiest routes because its difficult to challenge ourselves. Whether for good or ill, the word ‘almost’ jolts us out of our comfort zone. It reminds us that the little choices matter. So keep your eyes open, keep your mind awake. Keep things in perspective and actually go for your dreams.
A clever note to myself is to never again put coconut milk in a sugary coconut black bubble tea, because while coconuts are fabulously delicious, gulping down pure coconut syrup-like gunk as fast as I can on my work break isn’t my most thoroughly considered decision. Nor is going to talk to my boss and blankly standing there because I can’t think of basic words my proudest moment. The fact is, we make a lot of mistakes, I make a lot of mistakes. Not the dramatic ones as much as the just plain annoying ones. Part of the allure of cheesy action adventure movies is that when the unrealistically huge explosion goes off, the hero still looks put together. A deep part of our humanity is desiring that, wanting to look suave and perfect.
But we aren’t. As much as we try to be and look professional, we can’t always keep the facade up. A big part of life seems to be learning how to not care if the image doesn’t line up in perfect little boxes. Are you selfish? Are you honest with yourself? Are you being the kind of parent or child or sibling or lover or friend that you should be? Life is demanding, there’s a lot to it, and we miss a lot of opportunites when we don’t have our priorities straight.
Looking professional is awesome, but when our public ego driven lives becomes more important than who we truly are as people, there’s a problem. When your automatic “How are you?” isn’t sincere, it’s a sign that you’re missing something important. Everyone is in a state of becoming, whether its for better or worse, and its always better or worse, there’s no plateau. We can either accept the silly mistakes and go after solving the big problems, or focus on the small things and miss out on something really huge. Go for it. Live. You’re not a power ranger, its okay to take shelter from an explosion.
When an artist sits down and creates something, they view that thing as original. However, are we ever truly original? Even more accurately, do we ever really “create” anything, or just reorder materials? If it’s an almost an exact reordering, then its either a dispicable plagery or a marvelous copy. What is “new” depends on the situation, on our past experiences, and the knowledge that nothing is 100% original. We just do the best we can.
To do the honorable thing would be to understand each process, to see each mechanism and appreciate its origin. But frankly, little Eli isn’t going to be thinking of the history of wax when he scribbles on a piece of paper. For most people and most situations, we don’t think about the origin. Are french fries really french? Why do we say “from out of the blue”? What makes blue frosting blue without tasting like blueberries? No one cares because it’s not as pressing a matter.
However, as we grow older and become more educated, we should. If you take the metro everyday, shouldn’t you understand it’s past and creators? Everywhere we look we can see where people have put in effort. We just don’t focus on it because it doesn’t particularly matter to us. Still, maybe even just once a day, look around. Be grateful.
In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life comes at you pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it.”
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.