i will focus in 3.. 2… wait-

It is much more difficult to focus in this day and age because of technology. In short, we have more things to distract us, things literally designed to grab our attention away from our responsibilities and other tasks. Knowing this information however, doesn’t give us an ‘out’. What we need to do still needs to be done. Having access to the resources we do online means we also have the ability to make ourselves focus.

What I mean by this is using what we know about our brains for our own benefit. Multi-tasking drains us and leads to ineffective efforts in both. It doesn’t matter if you’re ‘good’ at multi-tasking, it’s still less than your best if you were focusing on one thing. There’s apps that help us close out everything until a set time. If technology itself is too distracting, we can usually do it by hand and upload it digitally later. We have entire genres of music designed to help us zone out into our effective work mind-sets. Planning is difficult, but the number of applications that can help us get our lives together are numerous and usually free. There’s meditation apps, writing idea apps, scheduling apps, just about anything to help you focus.

At the end of the day, it’s still on you to a large amount. If you allow yourself to open up youtube and surf cat videos whenever the urge strikes you, you’re going to be much more prone to giving in to those urges. You don’t have to be that person. If you want to be more productive and effective in your work habits, you can do so. Technology isn’t evil or good, simply a tool we use for whatever we were desiring in the first place. Procrastination is a society-wide phenomenon, but procrastinating work doesn’t make you better than anyone else, and it helps few matters. You are stronger than it, your self-control is your own, and you can do this! I believe in you.

oh ugh. Excercise.

Exercise is a funny beast that most of us hate. There are those who make going to the gym their life, but there are the rest of us too, who try to rationalize walking to the fridge as a decent amount of physical exertion for the day. It’s natural, afterall. Excercise is uncomfortable. It’s hard and it feels weird when you aren’t already fit.

However, getting out there and being physical every day is amazing for you. It lowers your risk of practically every disease, makes you more attractive, and improves your psychological staye! Working your muscles makes them stronger, and lowers the chance of things going wrong. Furthermore, people who practice self control by working out also tend to eat more healthy too, since they’re exerting all that effort in the first place. It helps your mood too, not only that day, but overall! There’s plenty of studies out there, and practically all support the thesis: exercise is a vital and wonderfully beneficial part to include in one’s routine.

The problem is, of course, that we hate it. Especially in America, it tends to come down to those who exercise like crazy and those who don’t exercise at all. We tend to go for the extremes, when it’s not a competition! We don’t need to look like models. We don’t need to be super muscular and thin. All we need to be to healthy, and that can be accomplished through small habits, building up to something moderate and sustainable. It’s good to want to be healthy, but actually do it. Get started. Start working out. If you don’t want to deal with the looks, work out in your room or a private space. Go for a bike ride if you have the means. Walk for a bit if you can. Be healthy for you, because it will make you happier, prettier, and stronger. People may do as they may, but you might just save your future by putting that effort in.

when you have zero motivation

Sometimes it seems like the point we need the most motivation is the point we have the least. It’s easy to have the drive to do amazing things in the middle of the peptalk, in the middle of the conversation. However, when we need to wake up or push through, motivation somehow disappears through the window.

It is at these moments where we need to pull through and make our own motivation. No human can magically show up everytime we need it. Instead, we need to find the motivation to motivate ourselves. When we can’t focus on our task, we need to instead focus on finding the way to get to that point. Look up quotes! Listen to some intense music! Jump up and down!

We can do amazing things, but only when we have the strength to pull through. Even if you think you don’t have that power, you can build it up. Our willpower is like a muscle. You can’t go straight to the 500 lb. weights and expect to not hurt yourself. So challenge yourself with something that still seems beyond you but that isn’t too far out. Then do it. Take the time. Take the risk! Motivation doesn’t always come organically from within and that’s okay– find it elsewhere and push through.

understanding the self

There are entire worlds we know nothing about. That includes possible life on other planets, but mostly I mean the experiences of different people on Earth. Watching documentaries can show a lot of that. Even watching reality tv shows about individuals from a certain culture can seem so strange to us because it is strange. It varies from what we normally expect. Part of what makes technology such a game changer is that is allows us to see the lives of people from different races, circumstances, professions, ethnicities, physical wellbeing, personality, and social group interactions! Everyone has troubles, but the flavours vary an amazing, frightening amount.

When we experience emotions, we experience them for a reason. Even our irrational bursts, there is always an emotionally rational reason beneath it, even if that reasoning isn’t fair or logical. Humans are emotional beings. We can’t act as if all emotions are good and healthy, but what we must do is deal with our emotions, all of them.

Feelings are defined as fleeting things. You feel them, and then it’s gone. The more logical side of you kicks in and suppresses the urge. That’s a good, healthy thing for your mind to do; it’s a sign of self control. But there are also deep rooted issues that keep coming back up because we keep pushing them down, and in that situation, we are ignoring instead of solving the problem.

When we want to improve ourselves, we have to put ourselves into context a bit. Like we watch and read about other cultures and people, we have to understand ourselves and our own people. We also have to put context over our emotions: is this just some fad I can push away, or is this a sign of something deeper? And the answers aren’t clear. However, just as other people live in worlds so different from our own, we can make our future a world that is different for the better. To get there, we have to know who we are first, and it’s not going to come all at once. But you can do this! You are stronger than you know. Keep fighting for a better world.

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.

When was the last time you wrote a poem?

Humans are petty, we like when people notice the small things we put effort into. The extent of which varies from culture to culture, but when we know other people notice our efforts, it’s nice. It feels good. “Oh is that a new shirt?” “You have really neat handwriting, that must’ve taken a long time!” “That’s a cool photo! How did you do that?” It doesn’t have to be big (although noticing the big events can be very important as well). There are billions of people on the planet but how many of them feel lonely? How many people feel lost and unloved? Too many. 

 Lots of people dream of becoming celebrities, in part because of the money, but also because we have this desire to be adored. If that’s true, then let’s be genuine fans of other people. There’s a lot we can do to make the people we care about feel and know it.  Let’s try our best to notice the details. Notice someone’s favorite song. Remember what things they do on the weekend. Actually listen to the people who talk to you. Do unto others that which you would want done unto you. 

Love poems seem clique and old fashioned, but sometimes we need to be clique and old fashioned. Afterall, who said love poems only have to be romantic? St. Valentine himself wasn’t writing lines to his girlfriend but letters of encouragement to his friends. Dear friends can be even more important than a lover. Let’s try to treat others like we are writing them a love poem with our actions. The closer we draw to those around us, the more at home we become. 

Own up and glow up

Koalas have unique fingerprints like humans. In fact, in some instances stolen property was traced back to a specific mischievous koala. I’m not sure if the koala was represented properly in court, but the thing about fingerprints at a crime scene is that it’s not as upfront as it may seem. You only get partial prints, or perhaps the person was there but didn’t commit the crime. DNA at a scene of crime can be planted purposefully. In the case of the koala, I don’t think anyone nefariously decided to frame the beast. However, it is a thing of importance to remember that responsibility for our actions is primarily our own choice.

The funny thing about humans is our bias. We overestimate our abilities in forseeing an event in hindsight, we compare ourselves to those who are slightly worse than us. We even convince ourselves we are skilled at certain tasks by twisting the definition of “skill”. Maybe Sally doesn’t make the best tasting food, but she makes food in a systematic way that keeps her kitchen more “put-together” looking. Taylor has food everywhere and is a mess, but the outcome is delicious. In both Taylor and Sally’s minds, they are both “good” cooks, but they define it in the way that works out best for themselves. (Gilovich, 2011)

That being said, humans hate taking responsibility for when we mess up. It’s not pleasurable in any manner. With only bits of information, we can convince ourselves it was someone else’s fault. However, that only hurts us in the long term. By being honest and saying , “I messed up”, we get to move on. We get to grow and become better people. It’s up to us, whether we want to go after who we want to be. 


Sources

  • Gilovich, T., Keltner, D., & Nisbett, R. E. (2011). Social psychology. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Where the drain goes

My phone drains its battery at an incredible speed that causes me a slight pang of anxiety at all times. If its always on battery saving mode and loses a percentage every minute, there’s a problem somewhere. If I’m being honest with myself, that problem is too much information. I have tons of photos and apps and songs downloaded, and I don’t want to get rid of any of it. However, if I really want to solve the problem, I’m going to have to make a change. 

That absolutely fascinating story aside, its hard to, in modern terms, “block the toxicity”. I’m unhappy but clinging to this idea that it will all work out perfectly. It’s hard to change. We only have a certain amount of self control before we’re exhausted. So pyschologically speaking, to get to where we want to go, we need to make sure our focus goes into things that matter. 

Like a phone, we only have so much battery before we need to rest up. We have limited time and lots of things to do, to the point it may seem overwhelming. So don’t do everything. Don’t take on the world. Focus on one, maybe two things. Use your self control well and build it up. Make changes to the important things a little bit at a time. You can do this.

Just think about it for a second

Last fall semester, students at the dining hall ate outside during the nicer weather. Then they ended up leaving their glasses outside, with the remnants of sweet slick soft drink. A swarm of bees ended up making their home nearby, seduced by the sugar. Needless to say, most people didn’t go outside to eat too much after that. It’s not that they meant to attract bees, but their own recklessness led to a revocation of their privilege. 

We can lose items, forget to clean up, embarress ourselves whichever way, but we should be careful to not be reckless with our relationships. Afterall, you can always clean up the bathroom later, but a human heart isn’t so easily fixed. Our connections with other people make it so that its power also is its weakness. Our actions aren’t isolated variables in a lab, but impact those around us, as they impact us. 

So maybe not cleaning up is just a small reckless thing, but to the person who has to clean it up, its a small reckless hurtful thing. Those little things add up, and the price of a lack of consideration may be very steep. We can’t control every tiny little thing, but we can be kinder than we are, more cautious to how our behaviors affect other people. Today is a good day to be kind. 

There’s nothing wrong with backups but triplets of everything is a bit much

The thing about minimalism is trust. Will I have enough money to replace this one thing I have in two weeks? In two months? In a year? We hoard less because we are attached to the things and more because of what it represents. Accumulating junk tells our psyche that we’ll be prepared, for any of the infinite possible futures ahead of us. However, we can’t be prepared for infinite with finite resources. We can’t always be ready, and that’s a frightening thing to realize.

College is beginning for a lot of folk, but even if you don’t see yourself at some sort of pivotal moment in time, we all can work on faith. Everyone operates on faith, on the smallest levels when sitting down or crossing the street. As much as our human minds would love to be able to be some sort of floating mass unattached to anything, we are all physical beings in a physical world affecting each other, for the moment at the very least.   We have to operate on trust because there is no other way to live, we have to hope that the probabilities will work out well. But even more importantly, we have to try anyways.

There will always be fear and doubt. There will always be the need to hold on to extra things. To a degree, it’s smart to prepare for what could happen, but we should remind ourselves that even if we aren’t ready, aren’t prepared, we’re going to do our best to face the future ahead. Because just as there are many possible crash and burn outcomes, we could also achieve so many great things if we muster the courage. The result of standing by has been proven by billions and billions of people throughout history to only result in more pain and misery. It’s frightening, but go for it anyways, just a little bit today. And then go for it again a little bit more tomorrow. Then try a little bit more every day until you are the person you could be.