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.
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. Weneed 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.
We can always improve ourselves in small ways. But when we stop believing in our ability to make a change, we begin to suffer. If we try to live a life detached from reality (usually characterized by a false defeatist mantra of “life sucks”), this can translate into trying to live vicariously through others (i.e. parents’ expectation for their children, friends expectation of friends, etc.) because we relinquish accountability for ourselves. Sometimes, we expect so much more from people other than ourselves, that we forget that we are the only person that we have the most over. The foremost person we should expect anything from is ourselves, and the rest is just icing on the cake. We all have the infinite potential to create an inspired, joyful life; but only if we believe that there is more to life than our current difficulties.
Whenever we revisit the past, we must make sure to enjoy the good moments as much as we scrutinize our bad moments. It’s easy to spend time scrutinizing every mistake you’ve ever made – who else besides us knows every mistake we’ve ever made? But for some reason, it’s so easy to forget the things we do correctly: the good decisions. The decisions where present-day you would be proud of younger you for making that choice. Most of us (when invited) would easily celebrate the victory of a good friend or someone else we care about, but why do we forget to celebrate our victories as greatly as we scrutinize our pain? Perhaps we’ve contlditioned to look for the faults in others, instead of improving ourselves, because the former is much easier than the latter – judging others is easy, yet changing ourselves requires a lot of failure, pain and introspection. Is there a painless way to learn? No. Pain is an integral part of the human experience. Suffering however is optional. What we choose to do with the pain is what ultimately transforms us into the person we want to become. We’ve learned to become who we are from the pain of our mistakes. Pain is guaranteed, but suffering is optional.
Whenever you have a lot of big changes happening all at once, the most important action is to focus on one thing at a time. If you try to focus on everything, you focus on nothing; so we have to prioritize. This is difficult because everything right now may seem important. But when we get overwhelmed, usually its a reminder to take a step back and remember your major goal right now. And then focus on that thing first. And then knock it off the list. The other things further down on your goal list will be there if they’re meant to be there. You won’t regret prioritizing your goals over them.
One of the things that many of us have in common is a past we cannot change. We’ve often heard many life coaches and motivational speakers talk about continuing to work on the present and moving forward, that we should keep the past behind us. As appealing as this advice may be, I feel that ignoring an important part of ourselves isn’t really complete advice. Ultimately at the end of the day when we are by ourselves and we become introspective, where does our mind go? Often to the past.
Since the past isn’t something we can change, it’s important that we look at it from different perspectives. Just like with people and situations in our lives, if we can’t change them, it’s important to change our perspective. As I sit here, I think about all of failures I’ve had in the past. For some, reflecting on things that’ve gone wrong might be debilitating and discouraging. But with the right perspective, it can be liberating. Each time we’ve failed at something, it means we’ve displayed courage and took a risk. And most importantly that we’ve survived.
We fell down seven times, but something made us stand up an eighth time. What was your reason for continuing to keep trying? And can we cultivate that into a passion that keeps us interested in life?
When I used to work as a cashier, occasionally a parent would come up to the counter with their child and have them pay (usually from the parent’s own money, sometimes from the kid’s own allowance). But regardless of where the money came from, wisdom was being shared with the child on how to ask and communicate.
So many of us grow older, but we might not have learned the correct way to ask for things; we are afraid to ask for help because maybe we feel like a burden to others. Sometimes we don’t feel like owing anything to anyone. Or maybe asking might make us look weak and unable to provide for ourselves. Often times when we go through difficult moments in our lives, we know that we should ask for help, but we don’t know how. No one person has everything figured out, yet we have this exceptionally high expectations of ourselves that we should have it all figured out.
But this is mostly ego. For some reason, there seems to be no price tag high enough of being fiercely independent – be it depression, self-isolation, financial constraints, or one of many other reasons. There appears to be a lot of respect and demand for appearing capable and stoic. But those who do a lot, may also suffer greatly in private. Is it worth it to assume that people will think less of you for asking them for their time? Is it worth it to suffer in private rather than risk being vulnerable and connect with someone who might also need encouragement to speak?
There is nothing glamorous and stoic about being trapped in the mental prison of our minds. By working together and communicating, we can surely begin to heal. Maybe we didn’t have anyone to teach us how to ask, but maybe the “how” won’t matter if we learn “who” we are. Are we slaves to the ego, or sentient beings who favor growth?
Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest athletes of our time, but his opponents extended far beyond the boxing ring. We too can be the champions of the battles we fight each day if we are adaptable and courageous.
Being a black Muslim in the 1970’s produced its own challenges in the forms of racism and Islamophobia. One of the characteristics that made Ali so remarkable was his ability to stand firm in his beliefs, regardless of who was opposing him. If you look up any video today, you’ll see ferocious confidence in his self-expression.
Being unique today requires tremendous courage to challenge the status quo. Heroes are scarce in our generation because most of us have been taught to limit our critical thinking for a paycheck; by fitting into society like a standardized cog in a machine. Ali found courage within himself and became an individual. You can also cultivate this courage for self-expression.
In nature, a butterfly is able to float because it is light, agile and curious. On the other hand, a bumble bee has similar capabilities but different mindset: workers that’ll defend the queen and hive with their sting. Humans however are not restricted to any particular pattern, because self awareness allow us to change our perspective when presented with new information.
When Muhammad Ali’s saying, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” was also a comment on how humans can adapt their nature. We can be light on our feet and observe like a butterfly, but change and strike with purpose like a bee. We are not restricted to nature’s patterns, but to recognize and change them requires self-awareness and that courage deep inside you. Adapt, and you will overcome anything.