are you more of a Rothko or a Magritte?

When we think of art, we tend to think of something visual. A blue sailboat on a blue sea under a blue sky. Sometimes we may think of abstract sculptures, but even with those pieces, there is a tendency to think of them as their shape only. Part of what makes art fascinating, however, is even our traditional sense of what ‘art’ includes so much more. The texture of paint, brushstrokes, all add a three-dimensional aspect. The materials used can change our feelings towards the same object. The smells of paint or old books add to our understanding of a piece. Those who argue cooking is an art form can incorporate taste as part of their work. When we understand art, we understand it through any means of sensations, even if it’s not an overtly conscious choice.

Our understanding of ourselves is both limited in that we can’t see ourselves from the perspective of everything else we lay judgment on, and unlimited in that we are the only human that knows what it’s like to be us. Sometimes we need to ask if we’re seeing ourselves with a single sense. If art that is lifeless shouldn’t be boiled down to looks alone, then why do we have the desire to do the same to something that is living? We have to approach our understanding of ourselves like we do a work we see in the museum. What section are we in? What time? What author? Without context, how can hope to understand why we are the way we are?

Explanations aren’t justifications. Understanding how someone, for example, became an abuser or a killer doesn’t make what they did right. Knowing how you developed a problem doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to solve it. Even if you understand how a work of abstract art was meaningful for the time, you don’t have to like it. However, when we put things into context, it can make us think a little more clearly, and by thinking clearly we can figure out where and how to fix the situation. Say you look at yourself like a work of art and still don’t like what’s going on. That’s okay. We can improve. Even as we have our eye on the future, we can still realize that there is something in each of us to be grateful for. We can be both improving and appreciative of our strengths. Like art, sometimes things aren’t clear or even good, but they can have value anyways.

Picking the right path

It’s hard to stay committed to our goals. It’s easier to not care, to be selfish, to take the easy way out and give an excuse. We promise ourselves we won’t give in to our temptations, but we do. Over and over again, we have to recommit ourselves, and try to be better.

No one goes through this life without challenges. Everyone has a vice, and everyone has let that vice win themselves over more than they want it to. Sometimes it’s pushing people away, sometimes it’s giving too much of yourself, sometimes it’s a drug, sometimes it’s a person, sometimes its an illness, but everyone has something that they need to overcome. Our troubles may be unique to us in kind, but they are never unique to us by nature. We are both special and not at all special.

You are a special individual because you’ve gone through specific circumstances and were born the way you were. However, as strange as it may sound, we can also take comfort in the fact that we aren’t special at all. Someone has felt your kind of pain. Even if they haven’t jumped over the same hurdle, they know how you feel. Sure, you may be broken, but everyone else is too, and we’re trying our best to get put back together. So it matters that you try and be better than who you were yesterday, but if you need to recommit yourself to your goals, that’s okay. Recommit yourself every day to live the life you want to live.

aspiration, not constant label

We like to divide people up into two categories: good and bad. There are those who put in effort to help others and make the world a better place, and then those who are all for themselves and want to tear things down. Even though we can typically sense that’s an overgeneralization, we still live with those categories in our mind. The jerk who just cut you off in traffic? Bad person. The person that let you go ahead of you in line? Good person. Life is ambiguous, and we all know that there are different parts to every person, but we still want to believe that all of these things have points and overall, you’re more good than bad.

We have a positivity bias in this, that we all think we’re just a little better than average than everyone else around us. However, since everyone has this, statistically, that means you’re probably not. We want to believe in our goodness, but far more often, we ignore the bad parts of ourselves because we don’t want to deal with it. That, or we focus so much so on the bad that it paralyzes our ability to do anything.

No one is fully good, nor is anyone fully bad. We do both noble, selfless things, and cruel, selfish things. We have those categories of good and bad because it helps motivate us. No one truly wants to be bad, everyone is just searching for purpose and happiness and go about it in different ways. Some are more effective than others. Even if we want to be selfless, it’s hard to will yourself into having better motivations. We’re used to be selfish because we want to survive. We want the good things in life, and we also would greatly prefer to not have to work and wait for them. The labels of Good and Bad are dangerous because calling ourselves Good can make us think we don’t have to try anymore, and calling ourselves Bad can make us think there’s no hope. But there’s also a similar danger to labeling ourselves as Gray, because if everyone is a mix, you can justify doing something immoral by saying you’ll do better things later, or that you’re not so easily pegged down.

We have a deep understanding that it is good, it is better, to put others first. To think before we speak. To be kind, but firm when needed. To have self control. To have compassion and help those who are in need. Things are wonderful things to aspire to, and we should aspire to them because not only does it help others, but also it inadvertently givers the doer purpose as well. But being Good like this doesn’t mean that we don’t take care of ourselves, or that we rip ourselves down. Instead, it means we are comfortable enough with ourselves to focus on someone else. However, the process of helping others in itself helps make us more comfortable with ourselves. It’s hard work. We get distracted easily. We constantly face conflicts between our ambitions and helping others, but aiming for the Good, avoiding the Bad, and keeping in mind our Gray can help motivate us to be better people. We don’t have all the information on everyone else, so we have no place to judge them, but if we want to place things into categories so much, we should focus on how we can strive to be better ourselves.

October :)

October is here, even if the weather disagrees with the idea and decides to be summer-warm, but it is here and it is lovely! People love October for different reasons. The turning leaves, the cooler temperatures, the color themes, the flavors, Halloween! It’s not one piece of it per se, but the whole vibe made up from those pieces.

In a similar way, we aren’t so simple to condense down. Autumn is who we are, but our traits are harder to pin down specifically. Like fall changes from year to year and place to place, we may become different sorts of people throughout the span of our life. That’s okay! You are still you, even at the times you’re not sure of what defines you. Furthermore, it’s okay if you don’t like parts of yourself. Fall also means a lot of work, and darker weather can make people feel depressed. It doesn’t mean that everything is horrible, it just means those particular parts of it aren’t what you want them to be.

There is always a good side and a bad side to things. Even something as amazing as pumpkin pie can become disgusting in excess, and even something as horrible at the cold can be relaxing in moderation. Whatever our traits are, whoever we are, we are always in a balance to express them in the best way possible. Life is hard, and we’re all learning. That’s okay! Have a wonderful October.

caffeine is not a goddess (on its own)

Caffeine affects people in different ways. For some, it heightens the senses, attention, and just about everything else. I’ve heard a surprising number claim that it makes them sleepy. For others, it has no effect at all, and personally, it makes me sick and jittery in high quantities. Caffeine coffee addicts might be tempted to think that caffeine is some sort of miracle that grants focus, but it’s not just the caffeine. It’s the way your body reacts to the caffeine.

In a similar way, even when two people seem to be in the same situation, they’re not. Biologically, they cannot be the same person, which makes them different at the very least on genetic level. But then add our experiences, our psychological state, our associations of that situation, and all bets are off. There’s no guarantee that the way we see things are 100% the whole truth, and most certainly that usually isn’t the case. Such as the way the symptoms of anxiousness and cues of dislike are similar, we can miss the intentions of other people. We can read ‘anger’ when there’s really only ‘uncomfortable’. We aren’t omniscient, and we can take comfort in that thought. Not-knowing keeps our lives interesting and meaningful in our journey to understanding more of it.

No situation is entirely equal because people are never exactly the same, and that means we can’t actually accurately compare ourselves to others without some sort of intensive scientific methodology. There will always be people who don’t like you. There will always be people you don’t like. There will always be a problem to grumble and be up in arms about, but that doesn’t mean you have to grumble and be up in arms about it. Our choices are important. We can be both positive and realistic.

when 17/18ths of the buttons of the control panel of life are closed off

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.

Click A if you’ve messed up

We are not always our best selves. Most of the time, we are our typical selves, the ones that mess up in social interactions, miss due dates, and surprise ourselves with our own mediocrity. We have conflicting desires to be unique and fit in. We want to be noticed, but not out cast or put under too much pressure.

The thing is, that’s okay. It’s okay to look at yourself and realize that you are a normal person, because we are each normalized to our culture and time. If we didn’t fit in to a certain degree, our ability to survive would be greatly lessened. There are enough differences in our experiences that we will always be able to learn something new, and that’s a good thing! Being able to expand our knowledge is exciting and helps us consider other people’s perspectives.

We aren’t wholly put together, and we fail daily to do all the things we want to. We are human, mistakes will happen. However, we can do more! We can be kinder, smarter, healthier, more curious, more driven, more considerate! You’ve made the mistakes you’ve made, and that will always be the case, but starting in this present moment, you can try to be better than that. Trying again is terrifying at times, but it’s worth it because it helps us experience the best life we can get.

right now

The best time to exist is right now. There are pros and cons to every era, but at the end of the day, if you’re reading this, you are most likely significantly more wealthy than a majority of the people on this earth. That’s not to say that you somehow don’t have problems, but they are different in a variety of ways. Having food, water, and shelter, for those reasons alone, makes us so incredibly lucky.

And at times, it’s hard to accept the fact that we are lucky. Politics are crazy, we may suffer internally and emotionally, we might have difficult relationships! There are plenty of things that are wrong, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is right. We have a choice to be grateful. We can choose to be thankful for what we have.

You haven’t reached tomorrow yet. Yesterday is already gone. What we have to work with is the present. So let’s use it! Other people may have opinions on how you live your life, but in the end, it’s not their life is it? It’s smart to listen to what other people have to say, but listening doesn’t mean following the whims of anyone who comes into your path. Furthermore, if you’re tied down with what they Might think, you’re fulfilling only a tiny segment of who you could be.

This is right now, take it and live it.

getting out from under apathy

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.

escaping your head

We get in our own heads so much that we don’t realize how difficult we make things for ourselves. Spending 80% of your energy criticizing yourself for being indecisive about something, means 80% of your energy taken away from making a decision. A lot of times, our own dread makes our responsibilities 10× more difficult. At the core, we tend to make a huge fuss emotionally and mentally, when it’s really not that big of a deal.

But it can be a part of your wiring! How do you suddenly not care about things when you’ve been in the same mindset and same pattern of thoughts for most of your life? It doesn’t matter if it isn’t a big deal if you make it a big deal. We can’t let ourselves think that there’s no escape, however. Probably, we will always be inclined to thinking too much. However, what we can change is how we react to things, and in the process, our own thought patterns.

We can change. We can always change, even if it feels like we won’t ever. Furthermore, we can always change for the better. There is always hope as long as we are alive, but the point is to capitalize on that. The first step is to be thankful. Forcing yourself to be grateful puts you in a mindset that looks for the good things. Make a list of ten things you are grateful for every day! The second helpful step is to meditate or pray, getting yourself away from the small picture problems and putting things into context. Then, trying to be positive. It’s hard. It takes practice and it doesn’t come easily, but forcing yourself to be positive is the practice that helps it become easy. If you need, therapy is helpful to anyone and everyone. But for things you can do on your own, be thankful, put things into context, and be positive. It’s weird, and it’s hard at first, but it really does make a difference in your life.