Honest Self Expression

Honestly expressing yourself…it is very difficult to do. I mean it is easy for me to put on a show and be cocky and be flooded with a cocky feeling and then feel like pretty cool…or I can make all kind of phony things, you see what I mean, blinded by it or I can show you some really fancy movement. But to express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself…now that, my friend, is very hard to do. –Bruce Lee

Is it exhausting to express ourselves? It is for me when I try to censor myself.

There are many steps between feeling an emotion and how we express it.

Taking an emotion that changes so constantly and trying to snapshot it with words, colors and/or music is already difficult enough.

Further processing how we feel into a socially acceptable package, and diluting the language to avoid offending others is tiring; and a disrespect to ourselves.

Say what you want and deal with the consequences. The truth will either strengthen meaningful relationships, or weaken superficial ones.

We are not living if we are not polarizing, embarrassing, exciting–anything. Don’t be a living corpse because you stopped expressing honestly.


Be Present Or Be Prisoner

Photo by Mark Neal from Pexels

Adventure is all around us, but the courage to go out on them is not.

New adventures means willing to look like a fool and having people make fun of us, because we’re doing things for the first time and voluntarily introducing stress into our lives. Who would want any of that?

Yet, adventure is the very thing we crave when we become accustomed to the monotonous repetition of our daily lives. On the other hand, those of us who live a life of frequent stimulation and movement fantasize about having a simple, predictable life that can be more easily managed and anticipated; because eventually, we become tired of searching for that next new thing, relationship or place.
The world is only as vast as our mind can envision. If we are prisoners of the past and future, we will seldom be allowed to exist in the present. We will always search to recreate nostalgia, or we will continue to move our anxieties into a future where we imagine a “better tomorrow.”

The real courage is to be here and now, to not compare ourselves to others; that way, we can achieve a level of freedom that others only dream about. To achieve that freedom, we must be willing to be misunderstood by the people we love who are prisoners to the opinions of others.

Their limitations are their own, we can only inspire others by achieving our own freedom.

The Immense Power Of Imagination

analysis-blackboard-bubble-355952If 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.


 

Conversation In The Checkout Aisle

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Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

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.


 

Friday.

We’ve finally made it to one of the most sought-after days of the week: Friday. The majority of the week is behind us, and now we can start planning to do some actually fun stuff! Except, this is probably not true for most of us. As the week progressed, the “laundry list” of things to do (including laundry) piled up and now we have a shit-ton of things to catch up on. But still, its not so bad because for at least a couple hours this week, we will have some time for ourselves to sleep in, listen to music, see more of our family, friends, dog, and others we care about.

But, we’ll probably be exhausted and trying to recover from taking the beating of the week. Driving somewhere far might not seem so fun. Staying out late means adding to the sleep-deprivation we already experienced throughout the week. Our bodies are literally in a state of trying to re-establish an equilibrium, except we are only giving it just a few hours to undo the entire wreck of a (minimum) 40-hour work week. And that’s only if we are lucky and not working a salaried job, or coming in on the weekends to spend more time doing work. But at least we made it.

While we were growing up, a family member or some person of authority told us that “life would be hard” and that we had to, in one way or another, “suck it up.” And somewhere along the line, we equated doing things we didn’t want to do as a part of life. But often, the people who say these things live the majority of their life doing things they don’t want. We definitely need to work hard, but what if what we are working towards in not something that we even want for ourselves? What if this whole time, we’ve been subconsciously following the rules of people who, like us, don’t really have life figured out any more than we do?

Are we not as qualified to disagree with them, and make a better quality of life for ourselves? What’s the point of working hard and doing things, when we cant even fully be present with the company of others, see our family often, and go on a trip without being a stressed-out physical wreck?

I hope that as you’ve joined me on this journey this week of breaking down each day, that we had the opportunity to reflect and make sure that we spent some time each day to work towards a way out of this unpleasant cycle, and creating a new one that would at least let us enjoy our lives a little more. I hope that each day that you daydreamed this week, you did a small action that will allow you to achieve those dreams into reality, be it a hiking trip in Hawaii, delicious food-trip in Thailand, building-gawking in Europe, or a spiritual journey through India. In any of those endeavors, I wish us well in our actions, to be that much more peaceful and happier. You can do it, we can do it. Because the next thing we know, Monday will be here again. Let us meet each week as a different person each time. Happy Friday.


Thursdays

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

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

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

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.


The Engine We Call A Brain

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Photo by Mike Bird from Pexels

This post was originally posted on Medium.


The minds of different people see the world differently. Some people can have minds that process a lot of information like a powerful V8 engine. And others may have a 4-cylinder that is more than enough power to sustain analytical productivity. Do you know what type of mind you have, and is it suited for success in what you’re doing?

More powerful doesn’t necessarily mean better. Often times, people with overactive minds tend to process a lot more information than others. This doesn’t mean they are better or more intelligent, but rather that they are better suited for making connections between things. For artistic minds, if all of the cylinders are not fired to accomplish a large, complicated task, the leftover energy gets transferred into boredom, self-analysis, and creation of falsehoods about ourselves. An artistic mind needs a more challenging path in the form of complex problems.

Every path we take in our lives has its own challenges, so it’s important to use the right tool for the right job.It doesn’t matter how powerful of a car you have, a 500+ horsepower engine driven into the ocean is a massive failure. In this instance, even a rowboat is more efficient than drowned car. From childhood, we start learning societal social norms and are expected to follow the paved path/freeway that is often: work your 9-5, raise a family, be amiable, retire, travel. There is nothing wrong with this path, but if the thought of this makes us uncomfortable then we are not meant for that life. Unfortunately, the majority of people today have falsely convinced themselves that this is the most secure path for them in life. But people that are not meant to belong in the corporate machine are adding more misery to an already overpopulated demographic. People have become so accustomed to travelling on this “normal” path,  they forget to exit to refuel, to go fishing, to smell the roses, to go off-roading, to go camping. They forget why they were ever on this path or freeway in the first place. The V8’s are wasting way too much fuel idling in traffic, whereas they’re meant to go off-roading or something with that power elsewhere. People feel restless from having unused energy because their engine doesn’t match their road. They need to exit. We need to exit.

But not everyone needs to exit, because some are on a path that gives them true happiness. Just like how creatives are happy doing deep work, analytically-minded people cringe at the thought of processing so much data. What seems crazy to them, is easy for the V8 mind. And what V8 mind finds difficult (marketing, hitting deadlines, etc.) is where this mind is expert. Everything and everyone has their place in this interdependent web. The Analytical V4 is an efficient engine that gets shit done. Every bit of energy has a task or purpose, unlike the V8 mind that constantly needs direction and information. These V4 people are better suited for being goal-oriented and being to the point. Unlike the rowdy, boisterous artistic mind that thinks laterally from concept-to-concept to make connections, the analytical V4 thinks vertically in steps, from task to task. The analytical minds know their purpose. The artistic minds are conquering uncharted territory. They both need each other because the analytical minds are the ones that help the artistic minds realize their goals into reality. If Shakespeare was a V8, the entire cast of people, set design, lighting, etc. were the V4’s that helped realize his dream and plays. And each person was happy doing what they did (or so one would hope).

We both need each other to make movement happen, like Yin and Yang. The kind of engine or brain that we have isn’t an indication of our worth or ability. Each brain requires a different level of maintenance, and a different path to conquer. We shouldn’t be comparing abilities in the first place, but rather, how we can better help each other, and by extension ourselves by practicing self awareness. Success is different for everyone. Each person requires their own type of care and fuel: the care is meaningful relationships and the fuel is gratitude. Instead of being convinced by others to stay the course on the beaten path, let’s recognize the power of our engines and drive accordingly.


Jay-Ram is a former Industrial Chemist turned writer who aims to help others use deductive reason and the scientific process to gain deeper insight into people, and create deeper, meaningful relationships between his fellow humans.