Uncertainty is a terrible thing to wake up with; uncertain if we want to go to work today, uncertain about the partner we wake up with, uncertain if we are doing the best we can for ourselves. It diminishes our enthusiasm for the day, as if our car tires hit a patch of quicksand. When we are slowed down, instead of choosing what to do, we revert to old habits (and by extension, our old life): brush our teeth, have our coffee–then autopilot–end up at work again. Years go by because we become accustomed to the uncertainty, habits and worrying. I think the answer to uncertainty is audacity. Ask for that raise, apply for a better job, tell people how you truly feel, go after the things and prove your self-doubt wrong. It might feel like familiar things are breaking down at first, but we can’t create something new unless we move on from the old.
If there is anything faster than the speed of light, it is the speed of imagination. It can take billions of light years to travel anywhere in space, but only milliseconds to imagine being there: we can imagine travelling to the Sun, survive its immense gravity and heat, and get there much faster than on a spaceship (that has yet to be invented during our lifetime). Back on Earth, we can imagine being at the bottom of the ocean much faster than actually travelling there. Our thoughts and imagination are immensely powerful because they are not bound by physical limitations. And although thoughts may not be tangible, they do affect our lives in every way because our perspective of the world is the world we live in, and how we think about ourselves shapes our own unique experience and reality.
An increased mindfulness for the way we talk to ourselves can determine the type of energy we radiate into our personal lives. The nuclear bomb was possible once we understood the relationship between E=mc^2, in which c represents the speed of light and m represents mass. It took some imagination (which provided the framework for the scientific trials later) to understand that the larger the mass of something, the more potential energy it contains. Likewise a small object with great speed, like a bullet, could yield just as much energy. A nuclear bomb gets it energy from displacing the nucleus of a tiny atom. And yet such a small change in internal structure is enough to wreak havoc on entire civilizations. What if we began to think of our thoughts as powerful weapons?
Thoughts may not have actual weight, but they affect everything in our lives. Thoughts have an unquantifiable mass and they move at immeasurable speed. Thoughts lead to action, and action carries weight in our world. How we imagine ourselves and others shapes our own unique life experience. We can create immense positive energy by increasing the frequency of gratitude, kindness and patience in our lives. Or we can “nuke” positive thoughts about ourselves instantly with negativity, self-doubt and entitlement.
Just as the center of the stars have billions of nuclear reactions happening simultaneously, the center of our brains are constantly reacting a myriad of opposing thoughts and generating great amounts of energy. As Carl Sagan once said, “We are all made of star stuff.” It’s no coincidence that we are, in many ways, just like the stars and cosmic energies to which we feel so tiny. Our thoughts may seem like nothing, but our perspective is everything.
The other day, I was waiting to checkout at the grocery store. Next to me, a short elderly lady wearing a golden plastic tiara (like the ones you get from party favor stores) was having trouble reading something on a movie box. She finally turned to me and asked, “Excuse me hun, but could you read this for me?”
“Yeah, no problem!” I sat my groceries down, grabbed the box and read: “Fifty Shades Of Grey.” She noticed the surprised look on my face and laughed.
She revealed that her daughter was into the Fifty Shades series, but she didn’t know much about it herself. Her eyes widened when I told her that I never watched any movies from the series myself:
“Oh gosh, there are more of these things?” Time seems to move quickly when having conversations in line because it was finally my turn to check out. I asked the cashier if she could help her find a box set for Fifty Shades. Turned out, the cashier Tina was a huge fan of the series herself. and even Googled a coupon for my new friend. It made me wonder: what causes someone to go above and beyond to help another person out? She didn’t have to “google” a coupon, nor have the conversation that followed after the initial exchange.
Perhaps it is the courage to ask, to initiate a conversation. In the simple process of asking, the little old lady created a moment for us three random strangers to connect and share a fun moment. Often times, we pass up potential moments of connection when we are hesitant to talk to someone new. But ultimately, most people welcome conversation about things that they happen to be interested in. There are plenty of reasons not talk to someone new. So that’s why I encourage you to find just one reason to talk to someone today. Talk to a few new people, and see where the conversation goes. Through conversation, we learn more about about ourselves, and connection makes the world a better place.
One of the things that I learned growing up was that we should always keep our promises. But there have been several times in my adult life where I’ve wanted to stop helping someone once I got to know them and their intentions better. But should we consider ourselves a lesser person if we negate our promise with someone?
Many years ago when I was a college student, one of my colleagues would often ask me for help on their chemistry homework. Eventually, I found that I was just being used to do their homework while they were out partying and posting on social media; I resented the fact that I was giving up my time so that someone else could have more to enjoy life. During the semester, they asked several other students for help on the other assignments, and they passed the entire semester on pure charisma, charm and cunning genius. I thought I could say “no” whenever, but instead I kept “helping” them while continuing to seethe inside–hopelessly expecting this person to realize how crappy they were. The truth was that I was an insecure doormat of a person who hated confrontation. Eventually we all finished the semester and I never saw them again.
I’ve seen this pattern appear in my personal life again and again. Looking closer, I realize that this (generally good) habit was learned from my own family. The problem is that boundaries aren’t often taught with “helping unconditionally” and the latter becomes a disguise behind “not being able to set boundaries well.” I think that as new information is gained, it is important to change our actions. When we help someone, we should do it without expectation. But if that “help” turns into the harm of another person, or resentment for the person we are helping, we should consider that a boundary has essentially been violated.
If someone helps us with the expectation of getting back help in return, we should be beware: that help has strings attached and is often costly to pay back. The act of giving unconditionally, which makes us uniquely human, becomes a transaction. Ideally, we want to develop an abundant mindset that doesn’t depend on the help of others, with the understanding that we are moving away from independence to inter-dependent relationships.
Like dating, every relationship is a risk. So it’s important to get to know people as best as possible before becoming vulnerable and giving out unconditional energy. And just like a relationship, breaking up with someone isn’t a bad thing–but someone who has multiple exes will be portrayed as someone who has commitment issues, regardless of how great a person they really are. The goal is then to become such a self-sufficient (not prideful) person that when we help others, we forget the favor as soon as we offer it.
One more day until the goal. But for now, we must work and make sure we get through the day. But depending on what we have planned for the weekend, the day can go by either quickly or last forever. And if the day is going by slow, there are many stimulants and pointless conversation to help kill time. During my college days, I remember many of the local bars would have weekday happy hours. When I later started working full-time jobs, I thought this was a great idea, because it would make the time go by so much faster by hanging out with equally bored friends. The more I was bored with my day, the faster I wanted it to go, so that I had time to do the fun things.
But the irony is that as we get older, we often wonder where the time flew by; we passed it by ourselves, not realizing that even though there are several ways to “kill time” there is no way to get it back. We never know when life gets unexpectedly busy until it actually happens.
The reason why it’s so important to start that thing you wanted to do today, is because only today is guaranteed. You are the youngest you’ll ever be today. As Elon Musk once said, “your responsibilites will only increase as you get older.” Instead of being bored and waiting for the next best thing to come, let’s create that best moment here and now. Otherwise, the future that we look forward to so much becomes just like that Friday: always fleeting.
Wednesday doesn’t exist. The days of the week don’t mean much to us anymore, because we often don’t even know what day of the week it even is. It’s almost like we turn on autopilot on Monday, and we don’t snap out of it until someone mentions that it’s “almost Friday.” It’s as if we live in a trance, inside the artificial world of our workplace where in order to to have financial freedom, we play the role of an extra in a really shitty theatre play, interacting with other uncommitted characters.
Most of us are wise enough to know that most jobs aren’t designed to create wealth, but rather help us make just enough to survive and help pay rent and minimum payments on our loans. And yet, we still participate in the race because it is more acceptable than branching out and doing something of our own.
We need equity in companies, investment in ourselves and businesses and a lot more education (financial and spiritual) to exit the rat race, and actually begin to not only taste freedom, but handle it well. To be independent, we must take risks and begin to act as independent people. And then, we can work with other equally independent people to develop our own inter-dependent network.
But for any of this to happen, we must begin to start snapping out of this trance, this autopilot, the illusion of a dream-killer: that we always have tomorrow. We can’t really live today in constant anxiety of securing our future when that anxiety is what prohibits us from taking risks and taking the actual steps to building a better today, each day. The future will eventually arrive, but let’s not drug ourselves with a paycheck until we finally get there. Let’s meet it as if we were preparing to meet a good friend–intentionally and consciously–and preferably in good health.
Tuesdays are not an often talked about day. By now, most people have gotten used to the misery of Monday, thinking that it will be easier from here on out. We’ve already endured the classically worst day of the week, and we are one step closer to the weekend. But there are many of us who might pick up a Saturday shift, or, in our current jobs will physically be at work for a minimum of 8 hours. So this way of thinking is fooling ourselves; the weekend is not free time.
It is difficult to persuade someone to free themselves, once they’ve gotten used to the weight of their chains. But these chains can be unshackled at any time, if we realize that what we do isn’t who we are; we are not our work, and our work is not us. But what we do for most of the day determines our temperament for the rest of the day. Maybe we will be used to the grind of our work, and the abusive nature of our managers and coworkers. And when we finally get home at the end of the day, we will be just as tired as we were yesterday.
We will be convinced that we don’t have the energy to put forth an hour or so, of time to start digging ourselves out of this trench to invest in our side business or learning a new skill. But we can do it. Just don’t believe the illusion that everything is okay when it is not. Perhaps some boundaries in our personal life and work have long been demolished by people who benefitted from us not having them; and the best way to reclaim our space again is to create a new identity for ourselves where we love what we do, and, at the very least, we respect ourselves. If we missed Monday, we can still get on the train this Tuesday to a new destination. Every day is an opportunity.
Mondays are one of the most interesting days of the week, because people are most aware that they either really hate what they do, or wish they did something else. It is a very polarizing day. But as the week goes on, the feeling eventually subsides into indifference…until maybe Friday, where we enter the weekend and have two days to undo the toxicity of the entire week (if we’re lucky not doing chores and errands on Sunday).
Many of us have different reasons as to how we ended up in our current job/career situation, but that doesn’t mean we need to be a prisoner to the decisions we made when we took this job or career. A college degree isn’t supposed to be a life sentence, and family expectations aren’t supposed to be nails in our coffin. Somewhere along the way, we believed someone else (who probably gave up on their own dreams) that we couldn’t live a successful life and support ourselves and our families if we pursued that which we enjoyed; that we couldn’t “have our cake and eat it too.” Well what if we don’t even fucking like cake?
One of the things we often hear people talking about lately is “good energy” and “positive vibes.” A person that is miserable for most of their day, their week and by extension their life, is frequently doing things that make them unhappy. What we frequently do becomes our frequency, our vibe. Then, the only things we attract are people who are also justifying the miserable lives they live with cliches such as “being an adult,” “a responsible individual” or “realistic.” And we buy into it.
But when we finally decide to change something, we tend to go back to the familiar instead of embracing the unknown career possibilities out there. This “Monday feeling” then becomes a negative stress that takes off years of our life. If we only do things that make us unhappy frequently, we will only connect with people who are also on that same frequency. And on the occasion that we do have a positive moment, it will fizzle out fast because our peace of mind and success are not intentionally created moments but random accidents. Don’t let the most important things in our lives be up to chance.
It’s not enough telling people to stop doing things. And it’s especially ineffective to criticize the way people do certain things because of the presence of ego. Usually, when we want to change people’s minds, we try to fight them or persuade them. But the first option, like most arguments, serve little to no purpose in changing minds. And the people who are listening to the debate usually look for justification for the way they already think. Persuasion on the other hand can be draining, because we never know how long it will take to change someone else’s mind, or to create habit change that will last indefinitely.
I present us with a third option: to create. Instead of using our valuable time and energy to fight or persuade others, unless it is absolutely necessary, we must redirect it to the one thing we have full control over: ourselves. We can create a community, build relationships with others who are lost in the dust just like us, make art that represents ourselves and learn to communicate our thoughts through better speaking and writing.
When we fight, we are defending the old, the things that are already archaic. There is nothing new to be found in the past. On the other hand, persuasion requires using the knowledge we already know, meaning that we have to feel that our way of thinking is superior to the other, so that they need to be persuaded. This is already a losing strategy against the ego of the other.
But to create is to be present, to use the energy we would otherwise use to defend established rules, traditions and systems in order to advance forward and create new support groups and communities in which new ideas can thrive.
One example I can think of is Bill Nye. Growing up, watching his shows was something that helped me feel like I have a place in the world; that there is a place for the fringe wandering individuals, the weird and the quirky personalities. It influenced my decision to pursue a degree in chemistry and eventually become a chemist. And I was more than excited when after many years, he made a return to the screen to help the cause of global warming and making science “cool again.”
When I see him now (especially when I chance to see him in person) all I see is an angry person who is (rightfully) angry at raising climate change awareness. I would like say that people change, but in reality, it’s people NOT changing and adapting that causes the problems that recur from the past. People are not creating enough, expressing enough and sharing ideas enough. Science was fucked the moment people started entering the field it for the paycheck rather than wondering how often they can be wrong about things through experiment.
Science has lacked the spirituality of creation for many years. The people who created original work, the Tesla, the Einstein, the Schroedinger, the Edison weren’t afraid to be wrong, and were actually wrong often before coming up with something novel and groundbreaking. And even then, ideas were stolen all the time. But, this didn’t really deter them, because it was less about (well-deserved) recognition, and more about constant learning. To create requires generous humility and courage, and this is the best option we have if we really want to start making some changes in the world: with us, with you and our creations.
When you say that you need to go find yourself, does that mean that you feel lost?
Did you find something that you would rather do instead?
A break is always nice, especially after working really hard. But taking a break with the intention of finding oneself is like trying to go fishing with the intention of catching a fish. At first, it may seem like “well why else would you go fishing if you don’t intend to catch fish?” Perhaps it is not so important what we do, rather than why we do it. Some people might want to spend time with their sons, or perhaps they would just like an excuse to be out on the boat. And what if you don’t catch any fish; would you deem the entire trip a loss? Being goal oriented is great, but we should always remember that, like Bruce Lee said, a goal is merely something to aim at.
If you take a break, then take a break. But going out with the intention of finding yourself is putting the same pressure on yourself that is making you take the break in the first place! There is no ideal version of you except for the version that you are right now. We are made to learn, mold and adapt. Whether we do it intentionally or have the universe do it for us, we are always under a constant state of change. There is no need to run away from yourself to find yourself. You are enough.