Sometimes

Sometimes I really wish I could have a mentor. And yes, if you are thinking of a wise Buddhist middle-aged man, that’s exactly who I’m thinking of too.

On a serious note, it wouldn’t really matter what form my mentor would appear in. All I need is a wise individual who knows how to keep secrets. I would tell them all about my life, my goals, my problems, and they would use all of their wisdom and experience to help me do amazing things. Someone who would keep me motivated no matter what, tell me that everything will be okay and remind me to get my shit together when necessary. Someone who would remind me about all my responsibilities, but in a way that would be encouraging and not stressful at all. Someone who has been a mentor for months, and years and decades prior to meeting me, and would already know everything there is to know about helping people to focus on what they want and what they need to fix.

I know it seems fantastical, yet a person can dream. Think about it. Wouldn’t you prefer to have someone like that in your life? We’re all encouraged to be our own mentors, yet it gets so tedious that we start to go easy on ourselves in the most detrimental way possible. And when we do get our shit together, so to speak, we find ourselves in a bubble of stress and last-minute panic. I don’t know what the moral of this post is, but I’ll probably finalize it on the following note: if you are not lucky enough to have a mentor, try to be your own mentor (I guess). Imagine that you are two people instead of one, and encourage yourself as you would have liked to be encouraged by somebody else.

Damn it, can I at least have a mentor until 2018?

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Autumn Blur

Autumn is a very hazy time. Leaves fall, nature dies, and everything just seems to die with it. And yet, no matter how tired/sad/moody/indifferent I find myself feeling every autumn, it is definitely one of my favourite seasons.

I’m the type of person who weirdly enjoys feeling melancholic. When you are sad, you have the opportunity to rethink things, re-evaluate goals and gain a better understanding of who you are. Happiness, on the other hand, is like a professional camera with the brightness turned all the way up – in focus, yet unpleasantly blinding. Sounds pretty deep, but I did warn you that this season turns me into a weird existential mess. It’s not like I lie in bed all day: I still have university, with all its endless group projects and exams and assignments; I still have a part-time job; I still try to get my ass to the gym more or less regularly – as well as out, just to ensure that I still have a (more-or-less) good social life. Yet everything becomes blurred, sleepy, weird – unreal.

Time loses its grip during autumn. The days just seem to gradually grow from one to the next, without any particular feeling of what date it is, or even what hour of the day. In fact, I am almost convinced that Lewis Carroll wrote “Alice in Wonderland” based on how many experience the months of September, October and November – you have a vague idea of who you are, yet nothing around you seems to make sense.

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From The Heart

I haven’t posted anything for over a month – a result of several factors, I guess. In terms of significance, the two main reasons would be that I spent three quarters of this time lying on a beach in Greece, and the fact that I didn’t really know what to write about. You see, I’ve been pretty busy, but not necessarily in the best way. Apart from my (not-so) little vacation, things have been slightly…tricky?

The saying “not everything will go according to plan” is a popular one, yet we don’t always fully acknowledge it every time we make those plans. In our mind, everything seems logical and perfect – you take the following steps to obtain the following goals. But life is a messy, messy thing – for some more than others.

As far as I know, the majority of us have things we don’t wish to talk about, especially in detail, which is why we prefer to hide them from the world and build a much happier image of ourselves. However, this can be pretty detrimental since we end up feeling like only we are the ones who are going through some sort of mess, when in reality, very few people are as happy as they look in their Instagram pictures. Promise.

I’m less tolerant to discomfort; when things go wrong, I complain. No, it’s not because I’m ungrateful, but because I don’t think it’s necessary to try and hide normal human reactions. Listening to others’ advice can be good, but when my mum occasionally mentions that “things could be much worse” I can’t help but get slightly irritated. Following the logic, you should also consider that things could be much better, which is something I strive for. However, I also continue doing what I initially planned to do, since the universe is not about to wait for some 20-year-old female from a small country to sort her issues.

Life is hard, life is messy, and life loves to fuck you over sometimes. And the funniest part is that, until we die and see (or not) what the last several decades have been all about, we will never know why some individuals tend to get luckier, and some don’t. In my culture, it is a social sin to refer to yourself as “unlucky”, since there are always people who have it way worse. Also, many people are scared to refer to themselves as such, mainly because they think they will genuinely become unlucky.

If luck could be measured on a scale, I honestly don’t know where I would place myself. Since this is purely subjective, I don’t know whether it is an accurate assessment of the current state of affairs. I know that one’s quality of life depends on how much effort they put in, and I know for a fact that I put in a lot of effort. But there are also a lot of things that keep going sideways: from work, to health, to people, to general little unpleasant surprises. Don’t get me wrong – I’m very far from depressed, since I’ve got a lot to appreciate and a lot to look forward to. Not depressed or sad, just slightly tired. In fact, the problems I mentioned above are somewhat manageable; they just require dedication and patience. I guess I’m in the process of accepting that everything is always much more picturesque in our head; we see an empty highway instead of what is actually there – a long, winded maze.

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I Know That I Don’t

Most people come to a point in their lives where they are no longer sure of who they are, what they want and what the future holds. I like to refer to it as the 20-something crisis; a more optimistic version of the mid-life crisis, during which people seem to forget “how to life” for a period of time. In spite of the fact that being unsure is a perfectly natural state of mind, our society is very unforgiving towards those who express reasonable doubt.

Not knowing what to do is somehow unacceptable in the 21st century. I mean, how can one NOT KNOW what they are striving towards? So many resources! So much support! So much good (although standardized) education! So when successful stockbroker Jordan’s teenage daughter comes home from school one day and says “Dad, I’m not sure what I want to study at college”, it is likely that she will receive the following answer: “Don’t be silly honey, you’ve always wanted to study finance!” (cheers to anyone who got the reference)

However, doubting earlier ideas is definitely not silly – it’s a sign of a healthy rational thought process. The problem lies in how we see the concept of knowledge itself, and how that affects the way in which we perceive the sentence “I don’t know”. Theoretically, knowledge is a very factual concept, based on information which can be tested for validity. We know that the earth revolves around the sun; that a year has 365 days; that plants photosynthesize and so on. So when we are unaware of certain facts, we perceive it as a gap in our knowledge.

But here’s the problem – not all knowledge is factual and unchanging (not to mention that “facts” often change throughout the years themselves). So what we think we “know” concerning who we are, what we want and what the future holds is, in fact, a vague idea. It’s okay to “not know”, because you never really knew in the first place anyway.

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On The Peculiarity of Life

I didn’t expect to be gone for over ten days, but I also didn’t expect things many things. The last couple of weeks have been busy, messy and full of surprises. Suddenly there were so many things to do/sort; from work, to medical, to personal – which always happens before I go to Greece for some reason. I’m also required to drink this tiny pill for a few months, which is pretty light in general but occasionally causes the annoying side-effect of insomnia. Guess who got lucky.

Anyway, all of this chaos got me thinking about how weird life can get. When you really think into things, life starts to seem like one big trip. No, seriously. You’re born pretty much by chance, and then spend the rest of your years feeling like you’re the center of the universe before your body shuts down one day and hell knows what happens next. But while you’re still alive, you experience things in a very particular way, and automatically assume that others must be feeling life the same way. But when you think about it, they don’t.

See, this is the part that really gets me. Because you’re YOU, everything you see/touch/smell/hear/taste is filtered through your own personal prism of how you experience things. And that’s why we automatically assume that everyone probably has the same general feelings towards the concept of life. But it’s not like that in reality.

Before you think I’m on some kind of drug (God, I love G-Eazy references), I do not condone substance abuse, so I’m really not about the stoner life. It’s just something that’s been on my mind lately, and as much as I’m keeping this blog more “serious” than my last, you are going to get some trippy philosophical posts from time to time.

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Let’s Talk About Willpower

Willpower – something that stops us from lying in bed all day with our laptops, right?

It is no secret that the majority of people have certain mandatory responsibilities, whether it be work, university, school, children or even just grocery shopping. It is also no secret that the majority of people tend to feel lazy – some more than others. This is why humans are equipped with this mysterious magic weapon by the name of “willpower”.

Since willpower is intangible, it cannot be observed by the naked eye. Nonetheless, its consequences are always visible; the university student sighs, hits the off button on their alarm clock, gets up, makes coffee, gets into the shower and proceeds to crawl to their morning lecture. Although they don’t always want to hear about Macroeconomics at 9 am, they know it’s mandatory, so they gather all of their remaining willpower and go.

Based on the slightly odd description above, it can be concluded that willpower forces us to do the things we don’t want to do and stops us from doing the things we do want to do (Google seems to agree with me). However, I personally did not require any background analysis to understand the concept since I’ve been in an unstable relationship with my own willpower for the majority of my life.

They say that willpower is like a muscle – it can be trained. At first, it seems strange to refer to something intangible as a “muscle”, but this statement actually makes perfect sense. Let’s think about it; although the majority of people seem to have the basic level of willpower that forces them to complete mandatory tasks (except for that kid who has more fails than passes, or that one friend googling how much strippers make because “I’m done, I just can’t get up for work in the morning!”), there seem to be several levels to  this “invisible muscle”:

1) Willpower Base – forces us to do the most mandatory tasks, such as survival, education, work, looking after our children etc.

2) Trained Willpower – forces us to do the tasks that are not mandatory, but improve quality of life, such as exercising, following a (more or less) healthy diet, maintaining a good social circle, working on self-development through hobbies and interests etc.

3) Higher-Level Willpower – forces us to be in control of our feelings and emotions; gives us the ability to rule our minds by (almost instantly) dismissing negative thoughts and encouraging positive ones, allows us to drastically change what we don’t like about our personalities through repeated mental training.

Now, these three levels shouldn’t be taken as a confirmed theory; these are just my suggestions, and how I visualize the concept. What concerns my position; I suppose I’m still working on the second level. Although the third level is the most challenging, I believe it is easier to successfully transition from the second to the third rather than from the first to the second.

Last night, I decided to do that activity where you write down a list of your problems and then include a rational solution under each one. And you know what? I was somewhat amazed to see that all of my problems could be solved via stronger willpower. Don’t get me wrong; the concept itself isn’t going to eliminate all possible issues in one day, but it is a crucial element to completing the required steps of every solution. Since I don’t want this post to be personal, let’s consider a hypothetical example:

Jane weighs 95 kilograms (not a pseudonym – I’m 55). Although she is pretty heavy, she is not suffering from any health issues and her doctor told her that as long as she doesn’t gain any more weight, it is unlikely that any issues will arise in the near future. Therefore, it is not mandatory for her to lose weight. However, Jane is still unhappy; she feels unconfident in her skin, suffers from fatigue on a daily basis, and finds herself unable to walk up a flight of stairs without losing her breath. Now, if my hypothetical woman only possesses the first level of willpower, she will stay at her current weight, since all of the current problems related to it are not completely detrimental to her existence. However, if Jane masters the second level, it is likely that she will find herself 30 kilograms lighter by this time next year. Why? Because she will use that willpower to improve her diet, take part in regular exercises, make healthier choices and so on.

And you know what the funniest thing is? Getting to the second level isn’t hard. We’ve convinced ourselves into thinking that training our willpower is unpleasant and difficult, but it really shouldn’t be when considered from a step-by-step perspective. Going back to my example, it seems much harder to make lifestyle changes that will allow one to dr

I don’t know about you, but this seems pretty mind-blowing. I mean, think about how many people would achieve their goals via stronger willpower by taking it one step at a time instead of considering them on a grander scale. Doing a bit of extra math every day instead of constantly reminding yourself that you need an A by the end of the semester is more likely to get you that A, because now you are less overwhelmed. Willpower training is just like a good work-out: if you view it as a chore, yet expect outstanding results, you’re not going to get anywhere. I know it sounds cliché, but (for the most part), we are in control of achieving whatever we want; the only thing to remember is that we should learn how to channel our willpower in the right way.

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