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.

don’t feel bad about feeling bad

Chet Baker singing “I Fall In Love Too Easily” is one of the smoothest, purest, and delightful experiences I have ever had in my life. Good music is just something that makes me happy, and I think it’s a fair assumption to say other people typically feel the same. There’s just something beautiful about when a song hits you “right in the feels”.

But as magical as songs can be, real life seems to match it with ugly construction sounds. There are moments when we are socially suave, where we fit, and there are also moments that are painfully awkward. We realize things are a balance of the good and bad, but it doesn’t make the bad feel less horrid.

Here’s a fun little challenge: don’t feel bad about feeling bad. When we start pathologizing our own emotions, it can lead us down tricky roads. Maybe your mental state is unhealthy and should be treated, but even if you think you can diagnose something on your own, don’t treat it on your own.

It often comes down to, if you need help, get help. If you are unsure, ask. Even the rarest conditions, the ones where truly no one feels and experiences the same thing as you, have some semblance to something else.

This applies broadly to mental health, of course, but also to the little things, and for the people who think there’s completely fine. If you feel something, you feel it for a reason. It may be irrational, it may be nonsensical, but it’s how you feel. Emotions change and will change, but often the hard part is allowing yourself to feel the way you do, and subsequently forgiving yourself. Feelings do not equal actions. They are related, but they are still separable.

Your actions are your own. If you know something is wrong, if you know that you’re in a tempting place, physically get yourself out of the situation. Take a walk. Listen to some good music.

When we feel emotions, they can take us over. We can feel so engrossed in our own experiences that we forget we’ve felt other things. But we have, and we will.

being clean

Hygiene is a matter of taking care of yourself. People who look good typically have amazing hygiene because they see themselves as something to groom and nurture. Depression can come out in poor hygiene for the exact same reason; if you don’t see yourself as something worth taking care of, you won’t take care of yourself.

Here are some good reasons to brush your teeth, clean yourself, shower, wash your clothes, and put on deodorant of some kind. One, when you take care of your body, it feels good. It may take effort and is a big hurdle for people, but after you do so, you psychologically feel better because you can’t feel or smell the grease and dirt any more. It’s easier to see yourself as handsome when you’re operating at your well-groomed level.

Two, you may not care about your body before a shower for example, but the physical act of washing cues our brain to see ourselves as something worth washing. Sometimes our thoughts cause our actions, but other times it’s our actions that cause our thoughts. And three, we care about other peoples’ opinions, and that’s not always a bad thing! We care about other people seeing us in a good light and that can motivate us to be better. You should want to take care of yourself and look good, but what we should want isn’t always what we actually want. That’s okay. Knowing the two previous reasons, the important step is being hygenic in the first place. Pick someone you care about mentally, from a parent to a friend to a dog to a celebrity, and take care of yourself for them. When we are clean, we are more confident, healthier, and more prepared for social situations. Some people struggle with it more than others, but the bottom line is that everyone is worth taking care of.

to Gen Z

Technology has such a psychological impact on us because we can compare so much information and so many people consistently and constantly. No matter how fast you go, someone is faster. No matter how smart you are, someone is more intelligent. No matter how hardworking you are, someone else is doing more. But it doesn’t end there! the expectation has shifted so that the pressure is on to be the most intelligent, athletic, social, and hardworking individual all at once. Or at least, that’s what the pressure feels like and seems to say.

The other half of the pressure is the force to become your own individual, to have clear characteristics and quirks, as long as they within some acceptable range. It’s bland to be uncertain. We want to be able to quantify our traits, in order to feel like we have traits to begin with. The problem arises because we aren’t going to react the same in every situation. The mood, the environment, how much sleep we’ve gotten, our health, etc., to say we are one thing a near blatant lie.

Overall, both of these pressures turn into an assumption that we need to be figured out.  Whoever we are, we need to be established, going for gold in all areas of our lives. The problem is, we aren’t. Age is a factor, but it’s not a defining one: our identities are dynamic things. They flow, they change, they develop into new and beautiful patterns. So we aren’t going to be amazing at everything. We are going to mess up, and we are going to be lazy. We might very well be living train wrecks, but the important thing is that we are alive. Even if the progress doesn’t seem fast enough, we’re moving forward anyways. We’re pushing through and learning more about ourselves. Sometimes we’ll have to make new labels and new boxes, and that’s okay! It’s okay to be uncertain.

 

when you don’t know what you don’t know

The most problematic aspect of uncertainty is that it doesn’t go away even after you acknowledge it. For most other problems, once you recognize and diagnose it, you can begin to solve it. If you’re tired, get more and more consistent sleep. If you know you aren’t healthy, the next step is usually pretty straight forward: drink water, exercise, get a good amount of sleep, eat a balanced diet, etc. If you aren’t doing well on a project, you assess why. Maybe you look up youtube videos or read a book to learn what you don’t know, or try to communicate better with your group. Realizing you aren’t sure? How do you “fix” that, where’s the solution?

The initial intuitive key is to learn more. If you don’t know what you don’t know, then you can find out by trying to “know” more. But where do you begin? If you are trying to learn about a new subject, it’s good to try and get an overview of things first. You can read articles and watch videos that sum it up, then look at what famous people in the area say about it, and from there start using key words to find out about more of the details. What if it’s more than that, however? What if it’s an emotional, relational situation? Things get messier when you start throwing humans into the mix. You have to respect others and their experiences. Still, just because they think a certain way and have a line of opinions to tell you doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them. We have to balance respect and self-respect, communicating tactfully while completely and truly listening to what they have to say. However, the uncertainty question comes back again: How? How do you be assertive and yet respectful when you aren’t ever 100% sure of how the other person thinks? Or sometimes, how do you just be respectful when you find their opinions despicable?

Sure, you can realize that you are uncertain, but when the next step isn’t clear, things are plain difficult. And the most terrifying but realistic answer is that we don’t ever truly know the next step. We will always have to deal with some level of uncertainty. What we can do is try to move past it. You don’t know what you’re doing, or even what questions to ask? Tell someone you don’t know what questions to ask. Wing things if you need to just get them down. If you try something and it doesn’t work, you’ll know for certain at least that that particular route doesn’t work. Diagnosing the fact you are uncertain doesn’t feel like a huge step compared to diagnosing other things, but it actually is a bigger step than we realize. If we think we know and we don’t, we can’t have the opportunity to fail, and if we don’t have the opportunity to fail, we can never learn. The next step may be foggy, but that’s okay. Just take that step anyways and try to learn what places to avoid.

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when life throws you off a cliff for fun

Life happens whether we like it or not. Things get in our way, we are thrust into horrible circumstances. We miscommunicate about something important. We forget something and have to pay the price. Something happens that messes up our plans and it’s discouraging! We struggle and struggle and find that the struggle keeps continuing.

Yet! As much as problems block our path and we get thrown into circumstances beyond our control, our struggles are not the only thing we experience. We also are constantly breathing– just because something takes continuous effort doesn’t make it bad. It also doesn’t force “breathing” to be an all-encompassing label upon our life. We breathe, and yet we don’t typically think of ourselves as “breathers”. In the same way, struggling doesn’t define you. It is an important part of you, but it’s just one aspect of being a complex individual. We are more than our problems.

We are made up of so much! And no matter how terrible you your life may be, there is always something beautiful in it. It could be a friend, or a class. Heck, it could even be as small as a pretty painting! But life isn’t so tiny to be boiled down to our difficulties, and therefore we have so much more to live for and experience. There is always hope, its just a matter of finding where to look.

worth and the human’s work

We live in a society where oftentimes our worth is associated with our productivity. Yet in the broad spectrum of life, productivity for each individual means something different. If someone has to work extra hard to do task A, and another barely has to lift a finger to do both A and B, who is more productive? Externally, we’d day the second person, who did two tasks. However, the first person is more productive in that they’ve put in more effort. The question becomes, what kind of focus should we have, praising those who put in the effort, or praising those who get things done?

Theoretically, those we admire the most are those who work hard and get a lot done. However, psychologically, if we focus too much on the ends, we can end up with some very unhealthy situations. If someone doesn’t need to work hard, they won’t know how to work when the true obstacles come. If someone does things only to get them done, quality can go down. Yet, if only effort matters, what’s the motivation to actually bring things to a conclusion? Besides, wasteful effort isn’t helpful for anyone. The answer is that both effort and accomplishment are important parts of productivity, which makes judgement that only reflects accomplishment lopsided in perspective.

Yet, should we even be comparing worth to productivity in the first place? It’s certainly effective for businesses and schools. Still, is this the whole of life, what our education and career says of us? No! Productivity is a single measure of success, meaning there are other measurements and factors to it. Working hard is important for our well being! But let’s remember that productivity is one part of ourselves, and that even that isn’t so clear cut. Putting in effort counts for something.