Posted in Life, personal growth, Salient Thoughts

The Firm Foundation Your Life Needs

Sometimes it will look like nothing is working out in your favour. Sometimes it will feel like the universe is conspiring against you and luck has turned its back on you. Sometimes the feeling of helplessness may become so overwhelming that you are forced to consider lowering your standard.
If you’ve ever felt like that, you are not alone. It is a natural feeling in times of distress.
But there is something that serves like a support system in this trying times that everyone needs to have, and it’s none other than the good foundations provided by correct principles.

Principles are the foundation of anyone’s character. The kinds of principles your life is based on determines the kind of person you are. It also determines the kinds of virtue and skills that can be built on it, virtues that are compatible with the principles. Continue reading “The Firm Foundation Your Life Needs”

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Posted in personal growth

Why You Shouldn’t Focus On Happiness

Every new beginning is said to come from some other beginning’s end, but what point marks an end? If an end is also a beginning, does a true end exist; is there an absolute end to any process?
Look at a virus for example, outside of a host, it becomes inactive and relatively ‘dead’; it can no longer thrive or reproduce. But re-insert it into a conducive environment, a suitable condition within a particular period of time, and once again it is alive.
A writer begins to write a story. It goes on and on and on, plot twists, climax, humour, all wrapped up into one beautiful story and then he finally writes ‘the end’. He then packages it and believes his work is done. But then he picks it up later, re-reads, and finds that there could still be more, the story could end even better, or even better, it should not end just yet, it should have a sequel. A little change here or there could make the whole story even more intriguing.
In school, you start from basic to intermediate to higher institution. Bit someone who truly gets the essence of schooling realises learning isn’t restricted to within the walls of school, that is just the starting point, the real lessons are learnt in life, so learning never ends for him.
Look at a business. you start from scratch, little or no money, no popularity, but you’ve got a good product or service to render and so you market the hell out of it. Now, business is booming. You work so that you can earn more, you can take your business global, cover more ground. You do not a point where you think, when I make this amount of money or when I am known all over the country or continent, then I’ll close up shop, that’s it for me, I’ve reached my goal.”

The point is, there is no true end to process, you only reach milestones. Now the milestones vary from one process to another and the significance, the closeness to looking like an end varies based on how important we see the project or how big it is and how many points we break the project into.
Just like energy can neither be created nor destroyed, its form can only be changed, the same can be said of processes, the do not possess a true end, their supposed end can be transformed into new beginnings. This is seen either as a direct continuation in which the new process builds directly on the foundations of the previous process, or as an indirect continuation, in which case the new process builds on the inspiration from the previous process.

What is the point?

What this means is that, at any point in time, we are surrounded by endless possibilities. We can do anything with whatever we are dealt in life. We can build on that good luck or that turn of fate that seemed not to be in our favour, or we can build on something that we’ve got going and get other things done, because growth itself is a process and it is closely related to something we seem to need in our lives; happiness.

Happiness is a by-product of process. It is mainly seen as an end. It is widely believed to be end product of either hard work or going after your purpose in life, like it is a prize or reward at the end of a competition. This is not the case. Happiness itself is part of the process of working and pursuing your purpose. It is also commonly illustrated as a butterfly, the more you try to catch it, the farther it flies away, but when you decide to let it be, when you sit still, it comes to gently rest on your shoulders. While this is a good way to see happiness, it is also important to note that happiness doesn’t come as a result of inertia or inactivity, it is a by-product of action, and not just any action, only actions that work toward revealing more of our ideal selves, what I’ll refer to as the positive action, as opposed to a negative action, in which we slave away just for the sake of gaining material things that doesn’t add or isn’t in line with our ideal selves.

Happiness and pleasure, though sometimes go hand-in-hand, are different things. Happiness is closely related to growth. A positive action will propel you to grow, and growth can be painful or unpleasant because it pushes you to expand, to become bigger than your shell and crawl out that space. Pleasure which can be experienced when you get out of the shell and into a larger space, more comfortable and allows you more space to grow, can also be experienced through negative action, so the presence of pleasure does not guarantee the presence of happiness.
Take a tree for example, as it is growing, it will reach certain milestones of achievement such as the point where it starts yielding fruits. That milestone can be described as pleasure, while the painful growth process itself, the process of the root taking firmer hold in the ground, shedding off old leaves, requiring sunlight and water, that process is what happiness is. It is the feeling of surviving all odds that gives happiness.

And that is the purpose of supposed end, those moments of pleasure from doing the work, they are not true ends, but rather a brief pause that adds the incentive we need to further grow, to get out of the shell we’ve outgrown and in essence gives room for more happiness.

Happiness is not a reward waiting at the end of a process. It is the reward that accompanies the process, every step of the way.

Negative action-those things we do to gratify our outer self, to seek external validations from the people around us-is not so different from inaction-sitting on your ass and doing nothing to propel yourself for the right or wrong reasons. And that is where the major difference between happiness and pleasure lies: Happiness is only achieved on the positive side of the action scale while pleasure can be found on both sides and even at the point of inaction.
Sit on your ass all day and play video games or do drugs, you’d definitely find pleasure in that, just as much as you would find pleasure in working hard just to make enough money to impress people around you or to have money so you can go to the club every night and sleep with different people. But none of this things bring happiness. Making enough money will not bring happiness at the end, because it is the same as the moth that keeps flying towards the light of the moon. It would never reach the moon before it dies, and even if it does, it would only find that the moon does not have a light of its own and it had been chasing after a mirage for so long, at which point would be too late. Waiting for happiness as well would only keep one waiting for what would never arrive.

The Take-Away

The implication of these is that, focus shouldn’t be on finding happiness or pleasure, but on the process, the beginnings, and how to turn the ends to meaning new beginnings, pleasure and happiness will follow.
This is why continuity is essential to life and is the definition of growth. Scientists are working hard to find a ‘cure for death’, to find a way to stop the ageing process and make humans a-mortal, because they recognise that death is perhaps the only true end for now, the rest are just temporary ends that can be reawakened like the virus.

Posted in Life, personal growth, Salient Thoughts

Having a Voice Worth Hearing

​Basic exercise:

Close your eyes.
There are two people in the room with you. One is near your left ear, the other towards by your right. One has a story to tell you and the other is dumb.

They are both quiet.

Can you tell with your eyes closed (or even opened) who has a story to tell?
Chances are, no, you can’t.
A person who doesn’t speak in this context is no different from a person who can’t speak.

There is a lesson that says, “always say less than is necessary.”

Meaning, what you FEEL you need to say, is most likely not really needed to be said.

Continue reading “Having a Voice Worth Hearing”

Posted in Life, personal growth, Salient Thoughts

The Paradox of Our Uniqueness

Sometimes I feel like life is a game put together by supernatural forces and all they do to us is just for their amusement or a mere show of power. But even at that, it still feels like their twisted sense of humour gave us something good to help us cope.

When I observe people, their ways, their likes, their wants and interests, I can’t help but wonder if all is just an intricate web designed to make a person unique. You would never find someone who has something unique to them alone in the whole world, however when you check the combination of the similarities in random orders, it makes a person unique.

But this is what begs the question of ‘nature versus nurture’ in psychology. Are we the product of our biochemical make up or of our environment and things we were exposed to growing up, and every day?

The focus for now however is on the similarities in our uniqueness. What that means in simple term is this:

Continue reading “The Paradox of Our Uniqueness”

Posted in Life

Understanding Challenges

“There is an old Celtic legend that says, just before each person is born, they are allowed to choose every hardship that they would experience during their lifetime. In this tradition, everyone selects the challenges that they would be able to overcome, the situations and conditions that would push them to learn and grow but that would not defeat them.”

I came across this in a guided meditation on Surrender: Letting Go by Jason Stephenson, and it made me realise that most of us had been going about challenges all wrong.

Most times when the word ‘challenge’ comes up, it almost automatically associates with words like deterrent, hindrances or insurmountable, in our mind. But really, a challenge is a demanding or stimulating situation. A challenge is meant to test us and see if we are fit for promotion. It is meant to ‘stimulate’ us for the sole purpose of growth.

Continue reading “Understanding Challenges”

Posted in Life, personal growth

The Power of ‘Proactivity’

Life deals us a variety of cards on a daily basis.
Some are in line with what our goal in life is and others seem to push us off our path and we have to fight or struggle to get back on our path.

But there is an interesting question to consider: is it possible to control if we are pushed off our path or not?

There are two things we have to consider, and they are:

  • What it means to be reactive, and
  • what it means to be proactive.

Continue reading “The Power of ‘Proactivity’”

Posted in Life

The Need for Paradigm-Shifting in a World of Diversity

It is natural to meet or listen to people we don’t agree with or share their point of view. In fact, it is part of being human, to be able to think in a way that is not necessarily general. But there are certain people that seem to think in ways that you can’t just understand what is going on in their head.

During NYSC I encountered a guy by chance. A young lady was trying to sell some beautiful bead necklaces she had made to my friend, but this guy came from no where and said something like, “this is a waste of time, can you get rich doing this kind of trade? blah blah blah…” and some other things that sounds worse than my paraphrasing. People around him–myself and my friend included–just stared at him, no one could think of an appropriate response to give him. So he walked away.

I have to admit, a lot of responses came to my mind and some of them were not nice at all.
Thinking back to that encounter and many other similar ones prompted the question, “what do I do with people that have a different POV and I don’t naturally agree with? Continue reading “The Need for Paradigm-Shifting in a World of Diversity”