delays and de-lazy

I apologize for the delay in posts, I had a draft that I forgot to publish two days ago. That in and of itself is a bit symbolic for how my head has been. I’m lucky enough to be so supported by a good circle of family and friends, but my mind has been struggling to focus. The issue is that I have a significant amount of work that I need to do.

So here is my advice on the topic: get back up. Even if you’re late responding to an email, respond. Even if you’re late to class, still show up. If you made mistakes, if you couldn’t get the things done you wanted to, jump back in. Do what you can.

“Do what you can”, is incredibly vague. I realize that. Some things we can physically do, but we really shouldn’t or we’ll screw ourselves over in the future. In the most technical semantic sense, you probably could kill someone (it’s what you can do), but that doesn’t mean you should.

When I mutter to myself, “Do what you can”, I’m referring to those specific tasks on my to-do list. Aim for accomplishing as much as the list as possible, and by the end of the day, try to be okay with the fact you only were able to accomplish half.

Some days we are more productive than others. I’m beginning to learn this, although the trick is learning how to be consistently on top of your productivity game.

Some of those tricks include sleeping well, eating well, and staying consistent with your schedule. You can live a fun, novel, and flexible life while still going to bed at 11pm and waking up at 7am. You can enjoy the deliciousness of a good meal while remaining relatively healthy.

Structure isn’t the enemy. When it comes to being free to live your life, there is a certain level of limitation that actually serves us. Limiting our intake of alcohol, decadent food, media, etc., are all ways that improve our ability to be happy and available to do many things.

The issue with structure is that it’s sometimes difficult to implement in our own lives. Sleeping in feels great, even if it ruins the rest of your day.

Furthermore, there are some mistakes we can’t avoid making. Sometimes you forget to publish your post, for example, and there comes a shame because you failed yourself. We wake up late. We miss important emails. The random errors of life will always complicate things.

But so what if it’s difficult? Everything is difficult. The choice is what kind of problems we face for the outcome we want. Again, if you miss the email, respond anyways. If you make a mistake, try to fix it. Misery is comfortable at times, so make yourself uncomfortable.

Moronic mistakes

We can always tell what was an idiotic decision after we made it, but somehow rarely before. Hindsight is 20/20. We want to believe that we somehow will be immune to the faulty thought processes in the future. At the end of the day, however, our mistakes are our own. People have died in ridiculous ways because they just didn’t think about it. On paper, it’s super easy to point out the logical inconsistencies, but we don’t often operate on logic as our primary method of processing.

Our initial emotional reaction is what drives us, and logic is just a filter we put over it. Logic is a filter that requires effort and energy to use, so when we’re tired or just cognitively lazy, we don’t use it. Everyone makes stupid mistakes because everyone gets tired. We become lazy and take risks that don’t always pay off like we want them to. We should avoid stupid mistakes, it’s true. However, we are always going to end up making them. 

And that’s okay. When life throws us obstacles, we learn how to drive better. It’s bothersome and takes up our time, it’s genuinely not fun at all. Still, we are better for it afterwards. We learn to be more careful with the dishes, not put expensive  things in precarious positions, learn to control our tongues– we learn. That is the key. It would be nice to not feel uncomfortable at all and always do everything perfectly, but we are mortal. It is bring able to be a moron that makes us appreciate when we get it right. It is by learning and growing that we are given purpose. It’s okay to be an idiot by accident. 

Make music but make friends first

As physics has progressed as a field, we’ve gradually realized that basically everything is made of waves. Light, gravity, even physical objects are frequencies in some aspect. So actually, it makes sense that sound waves connect to us, because that’s the nature of our reality. Somehow mixes of rhythms and notes with a variety of volumes can speak volumes to our sense of self. Music is the closest thing we have to magic, and it can be absolutely amazing. The focus word there is “can”. If you’ve ever heard any normal children’s choir, you can attest that not everyone can reach the level of magic through music. 

What’s even more amazing is the parents somehow seeing past the horrid screeching at looking at their child with pride. Here you have something that can move people to tears, inspire billions, convince people to give up higher paying jobs, and instead it’s a wreck. But it doesn’t matter because it’s parents caring about what their children do.

Music is incredibly important, in so many ways. Yet it’s power depends on making us feel connected to other people. Songs are great because the emotions it gives you make you feel less alone in feeling them. As to say, music is great because it means that people have felt the same way you have. We need people. We need annoying people to remind us that patience is a virtue. We need beautiful friends to encourage us. We need authority to keep order and challenge when corrupt. There are lots of marvelous things, topics to delve into and analyze, but we should never forget that things aren’t as important as our relationships with others. 

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.

From where you’re at 

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 nature of courage

Being able to learn is a gift. One of your common phrases of conventional wisdom is that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. The idea someone would purposely do the same thing over and over again is absurd because who would ever want to live that way? Stagnant? A common horror trope is having someone live the same day over and over again. Even if it’s a wonderful day, over time it becomes a miserable prison. The real question, however, is why we let ourselves remain stagnant when we’re not even caught in such a loop. 

I’d argue that we are mostly held back by our fear. It’s easier to fear the unknown, so we tell ourselves its okay to live without ever really moving forward, even if we’re miserable there. It’s not that you don’t want to be an artist, it’s that you fear being able to support yourself. It’s not that you don’t want to write a book, it’s that you fear no one will like it. It’s not that you hate strangers, it’s that you fear they will hate you. The core destroyer of dreams isn’t some parent or teacher or reality even, but the fact that we are afraid of what we don’t know. 

And yet! We long to grow. It’s the most satisfying part of every narrative. We are humans who love to learn, we’ve developed entire fields based on a simple question: “Why?” Maybe you feel 100% content with your life, but if you do, you are in a very small number. Everyone can improve themselves, everyone can learn to be better than who they were yesterday. Fear is always there. Courage, however, is being able to scream and crawl your way past it so you just get it done. Be courageous, learn and grow, even when you want to play things on repeat. 

where we focus our aim

Habituation is when a stimulus in your environment is so constant, your mind ends up filtering it out; think about white noise, the feeling in crossed legs, a chair that’s always there. Our minds get used to the information coming in, so the neurons stop firing so much. The ‘cure’ is focusing on it, or moving. When it comes to life, we filter all these little things out a lot. It makes sense to do so, and so our brains are designed to work like that. However, it’s important to remember that we do filter things out because we have to choose what we focus on; we can’t take in everything.

We have a bad habit in America of wanting to achieve 3,000+ things and then ignoring when the stress messes up our health. No matter how talented, experienced, or clever a person is, they can’t be amazing at everything. We each go through periods of our lives where we focus on a a particular goal, where we have to be selfish and get our careers figured out, or where we have to be  selfless and figure our relationships out. There are different stages of life, and we learn how to deal with our problems as we grow through them. 

It’s okay to be habituated to white noise! It’s okay to give yourself a break on one things and focus on another. Today is a good day because you’re figuring it out, even if it seems like some massive knot of a problem. Just focus on improving a little bit, and then the little bits will add up. 

Again putting situation and context in place 

As much as we want to see ourselves as beings with solid identities, who we are is fluid. We can be kind amongst our friends, but would a stranger ever know that? Would a co-worker ever know that? We might tell oursleves that we are hardworkers, we just need the right motivator, but then have no paitence when other people act lazy in a task they don’t care about. I love personality quizzes, but most of the time, even valid results can only accurately predict in certain situations. 

Cultures have a massive impact on people as well, there have been a lot of studies in various east asian countries as well as in western countries. A large part of how people define themselves depends what their culture values. If you value honesty, you’re going to be much more accepting of a blunt reality than having to live a lie. If you value harmony, you’re going to be a lot more self-sacrificing and considerate of others with less room for your own needs. If you value individuality, you’re going to value exciting endeavours and personal pride over other people’s feelings. 

However, as much as we are different in the situations we go through and cultures we grow up in, we have to remind oursleves of what really matters. Not everyone is kind and hardworking and the perfect model, because no one is perfect. Still we can strive to be the best we can be, in all situations, to all peoples. 

Caring is hard. There are just some people that get on your nerves, there’s actions people take that’s unfeeling towards others. Not everyone tries their best, and sometimes those people get “ahead” over the people who try really hard. When we want to judge the world for injustice though, we need to put into perspective how injust and hypocritical we can be oursleves. If we want to make a difference on a large scale, we also need to make a difference interally as well. Caring is hard, but we should do it anyways, for the betterment of the world. 

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.

Counter to the facts 

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.