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.

spacetime is bread and sensation can be surprisingly scary

Sensation is an interesting experience, partly because it’s one of our only experiences. If we want to, we can become aware of our entire body. We can become aware of the noises occurring around us. Our skin, our eyes, it can feel the temperature of the air around us, in different waves. Spacetime is such an incredible concept because the more we think about temporality and spatial reality as a giant loaf that encompasses our existence, the more we think of ourselves as a point in that amorphous blob.

Awareness of sensation is so revolutionary for the mind to experience because it forces us to flip our orientation: we are not the center of the universe. We are a part in a much greater whole. People can differ on what sort of whole it is, or the medium in which it exists, but besides the solipsists, most people agree that we are not the only thing that exists. As terrifying as this may be, it can also be comforting.

If you mess up, life will go on. If you’re awkward and fumble in a social situation, the people you fumble in front of will probably forget about it within the next five minutes. No one obsesses at night about someone else’s social faux pas, they obsess about their own. For most individuals, other people will generally respect you and not wish ill upon you. If someone is unusually cruel and prejudiced based upon your basic attributes (things that you can’t change or don’t have an influence on the kind of person you are, morally), their judgment is irrational.

Generally, people don’t care. It’s the default. However, the actions you take have an influence on others, and you can make people care. You are here right now. Your decisions are your own. We make mistakes and then we try to fix them and avoid doing the same in the future. You are here right now, and you, this point in spacetime, are pretty amazing.

what to value

Our work should be prioritized. But so should our relationships, our mental and physical health, and our values. There are so many things that matter to us in different ways, but it’s difficult to put them into a hierarchy, because it depends on circumstance. We care about so much, and that makes it difficult sometimes for us to know what the “right thing” to prioritize in each situation is.

Frankly, sometimes we will never know if we did the right thing. Sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances where each option has a uncontrollable downside. We look at our situation and know that there is probably a better way to go about solving it, but we can’t see it. In the original Star Trek, Kirk is almost always placed in a pick A or B choice where both are horrendous options. But he finds a C, and things turn out okay, even if it’s a huge risk.

We should strive for our option C, for being able to do as much as we can for all of our values. There are few situations in which C will not exist. However, just because it often exists doesn’t mean we see it easily. We see nothing easily but that which we want to see, and nothing is easier to see than a bad end when we’re under pressure. We don’t know what we want, what the most desirable ending is, and even when we do, we don’t know how to get there. There are so many unknowns we must constantly juggle. But practice makes perfect. Even if we don’t know how to balance things right now, doing our best will eventually teach us what to not do. There is a time for everything, if we make it.

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.

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.

spell out where you’re at

Traditional weddings are a lot of planning, stress, and drama. Whenever you have large numbers of people to organize, then you throw in personal bonds that may or may not be the most sturdy, and ideas of how perfect the day needs to be– it’s significantly stressful. However the most important part is the promises made.

That’s the meat of the event at the end of the day. People will leave the venue, the set up will be packed up, flowers will wilt, and family and friends will scatter back to their personal corners of the globe. The thing that lasts is the idea that, “I love you, and I am committed to you and this relationship”. In practice, maybe that idea isn’t meant or kept. But when we look at the ideal traditional wedding, the point is that this couple is being upfront about their feelings and intentions and promising to keep those intentions alive every day. No matter your romantic relationship status, we all can do with more honesty and love.

Promises and depth of connection don’t have to limited to romantic couples and special days. Each day, how we interact with those close to us is our way of speaking a promise to them. Maybe it’s, “School comes first, but I’ll help you after,” or “I like hanging out with you but I don’t trust you with my personal struggle” or any of a large number of things. We don’t have to be super close with a large number of people, it is difficult, exhausting, and has little benefit. What we can do, however, is look at those people who are close, or who we want to be close with. We can decide to actively be honest and loving to them because they are special to us. By reminding ourselves, we hold ourselves accountable to treating them like they deserve.

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.