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.

‘thank you’s are a little awkward, so this is how you do it

There is no shame is needing someone. Turning down offers may seem polite in certain circumstances, but if they offer food and you want food, who benefits from that situation? Giving makes us feel better, and encourages us to be even better people. Accepting a gift or a favor from someone makes them feel like they are generous, kind people, and you get a gift or favor in return! But the awkward part, the part that gives us the most grief, is what to do afterward.

Gratitude is strange. It makes us tense, because we have these emotions, and yet we might not always know how to express them. ‘Thank you” on it’s own may seem too short. In order to remedy the situation, here’s a quick crash course on how to say thank you:

1. Start out with thank you, and/or some sort of exclamation like, “WOw!” or “Oh wonderful!” This first part initiates your response and if it seems like their gift has made an emotional impact on making your life better, the first reception of the gift should be exciting.

2. Explain why you love the gift. If you don’t really know what it is, ask in an interested way about some details of it. Even if you know what it is, pointing out some immediate details that catch your eye that you like. Some situations are more difficult than others, but do your best and practice will makes things easier over time. Noticing the details makes people feel like you are going to use every bit of it.

3. If you can, directly say how this will improve your life. Lay out a difficulty you have that this problem will solve. Again, people want to know that what they are giving you matters to you.

4. End with another thank you. It’s hard to get angry at somehow for being overly thankful, because generally we tend to not be thankful enough.

If you can, the best way to show gratitude, is to do something kind back, especially further on down the road. Remembering and helping them when they need it means something. Hopefully receiving gifts should make us more gracious to other people, and a consistent show of love helps all of our relationships.

tactics to solving uncertainty

Uncertainty is like being on the outside of giant inflatable bouncy house. You run around the perimeter, checking the folds and flaps but if there’s no one actively leaving the bouncy house, it can be hard to tell how to get in. It’s seeing a goal, having a desire, even knowing the basics of how to get in, but being unable to do so because you’re missing something critical. So what do we do when we are unsure? How do we survive?

One of the first things we can do when we become nervous and unsure of what to do, is to calm ourselves down. As stereotypical as it is, deep breathing is a wonderful tool to doing so. In addition, try to block everything out for a moment. Get some silence, some area with stillness, so you can think properly. When there’s chaos around us, it becomes easy for there to have chaos within us. Stimuli also takes energy and focus to understand, so getting away from that gives you more cognitive resources to put towards solving that uncertainty.

Then ask yourself, what do I know? With any problem, there is context. Try to map out what you understand and what you don’t. From there, it’s easier to make an educated guess about some of the gaps in your knowledge. In short, zoom out on the problem. Put that uncertainty in its natural broader environment. Then, if you can, do something to solve your uncertainty by getting more information.

If you happen across a strange dog at night, there are different solutions that you could come to, but you could solve that uncertainty of what to do in a pretty quick fashion. Not all uncertainty is like that. Sometimes it’s longterm because its a big question. The tactic doesn’t change too much however. Put it into the broader context and try to get more information. Uncertainty can be a harsh, powerful emotion, but you can tame it with logic.

how to accomplish something in an ambiguous world

There are two basic steps to accomplishing anything: 1. Figure out the problem. 2. Solve the problem. The difficulties lie in doing just that.

The problem with the two steps is, what is my problem and how do I solve it? It would be lovely to have only clear answers to those, but it’s rare to get a single clear answer to anything. We then become stagnant because we are unsure. We face the world and feel overwhelmed; life can be similar to having to fill-in-the-blanks and not being sure if it’s a Mad Libs or a tax form. But what do we do? Even if we know we should do something, how can we know what to do?

There are few people in this world who genuinely know what they’re doing. A vast majority of us are just doing what we can. If you don’t know the problem, you ask around until you figure it out. If you’ve gathered all the information you can and it’s still unclear, take your best guess. It could be wrong, but it’s that first step, and that first step is important to take. Then you have no idea how to solve it. Look around, ask people, get all the input you can! If you’re still not sure, take your best guess. Even if it all turns out horribly, you’ll know for next time to not do that.

Life is ambiguous. There’s so many different scenarios and contexts that the “right answer” isn’t clear cut and it may not exist. However, don’t let that scare you off! Everyone is doing their best in their own way. It’s okay to be unsure. But keep going. Take those two steps and get something done! If you’re unsure, get more information until you’re more sure. If you’re still unsure, they take your best shot. We are all learning, it’s okay to make mistakes, just put yourself out there and make something! You are braver than you know.

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.