Such talent. Such genius. Which came first? The chicken, or the egg…?
Such skill. Such a gift. Blind? Beaten?
Outside of the chaos I stand, observing. But only in those fleeting moments of freedom from my own cerebral circus, when the ring-master realises there is no audience, no demand for this freak show.
We are all given gifts. Some are fortunate enough to know what they are; others just naturally slot into their niche, or perhaps it is through nurture, that elusive concept so rarely seen. In the dictionary sense, that is. Psychologically, it is merely the cultivation of certain qualities and behaviours; this can be both positive and negative.
I know people – have known people – so gifted, but so troubled, and it truly pains me. For a long time, I wanted to help. I thought I could help. But eventually I learned; once a person gets to a certain age, the can no longer be taught, or even cared for; once a person gets to a certain age, they have to figure things out for themselves. It is the only way one can really learn.
It still saddens me to know that there are people with the talent and time to really flourish, but tormented by their own betraying minds.
I have my struggles – most of us do – but I have spent years trying to work on them; as the old adage goes:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
I heard this a good few years back, and although it was never in the forefront of my mind, it was certainly burned in the the back of it; this statement has helped me to recognise and accept my own qualities, as well as those of others; it has helped me to come to terms with the fact that it is hard enough work to work on one’s self, let alone trying to change other people, however much you might want to, and however much it might pain you to see them fuck up, again and again. One day they will learn.
When a person abandons their own hope, what other hope is there?
Ironically, just hours after cursing myself for my usage of Facebook, having previously ‘quit’, I came across one of those ‘inspiring’ quote images that I also curse. Well, I’ll be damned if it wasn’t one the most personally inspiring statements I have ever seen:
You can do anything,
But not everything.
– David Allen
Before I ramble, I want to thank fellow blogger MySpokenHeart for sharing.
All my thoughts today have been around gearing myself towards a single focus, because this statement is something that has been becoming more apparent; I am very aware that I spread myself too thin – the curse of a curious and capable mind.
My decision has been to focus on writing. Still not exactly sure what that entails, but I am trying not to force things too much – so today I ordered some photo prints and had a nap, then washed my car; it really feels like I am being unproductive, but the reality is, I am trying to allow my mind to settle – a busy mind is an unhealthy mind.
As Andrea says: “It’s deciding on your anything that’s the hard part…”
Beyond merely deciding on what to pursue, the next thing in all this is having to give up the other things I enjoy.
Chances are you will see a bit more of me in the coming months; if not, then something has gone horribly wrong.
Yesterday, the Daily Prompt asked if I had accomplished all I wanted to in the previous week; applying this to last week, the short answer is no.
I like to think I am goal setting machine, but truth be known, I just write daily to-do lists composed of the most basic things in order to make myself feel better:
- Don’t smoke
- Daily exercise
- Cook dinner
- Go to work
Of course, this is an exaggeration. I actually take my goal setting quite seriously, but more recently my to-do list has felt a little mundane; I am getting things done, but I am lacking specific direction, an actual goal, to be precise.
I roughly know what I want to do, but I need to break it down and get something of an action plan together. The other thing, of course, is that the goals I set myself for this month are a little… loose, I suppose is the best way to put it; they are not overly challenging in essence, but, at the same time, very challenging as they are not specific.
The main thing that has been preventing me from achieving all I set myself, is spreading myself too thin by taking on too many projects and pursuing too many interests; my main aim this month, is to simplify my pursuits and narrow my focus. Fortunately, as I have written so much over the years and spent so much time considering the things that bring me happiness and fulfilment, I have nailed what it is I love doing. All other activities are superfluous.
The second thing that holds me back, is forgetting to chill the f*$k out; I get so focussed on ‘getting things done’ that I neglect my social life and fail to leave free time for pure leisure. This is something I clocked earlier this year and I have become much better at accommodating this.
I like to make my personal goals deliberately challenging, so that I do not get complacent and, if I do get in from work and am too tired to get certain things done, I accept that without feeling guilty, because I know that I only have so much energy.
What I do need to do is refocus on my direction and get a game plan; but that can only come after I have simplified my current pursuits and eliminated those things which are superfluous in relation to the end vision.
I bet you wish you’d never asked now…
Is anyone else this militant about goal setting??
Idea inspired by the daily prompt: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/obstacle-course/
Saturday’s daily prompt asked about my “favourite book as a child” and how it influenced who I am now.
I didn’t read much when I was a child, though there was one book that really stuck with me: Salamandastron. Written by author Brian Jacques, it was the first novel I ever read; I must have been around nine years old.
Salamandastron was a story like nothing I’d heard before. It was only on television that I had seen such epic tales prior to reading this book. Although I was a slow reader, I loved the story so much that I read it several times; oddly, although this was part of a series of books called “Tales Of Redwall,” I never did read any of the other books. I say “oddly,” I was nine, so it was not as though I could just saunter on down to the local Waterstones to get the next one – Mum, Dad, I’m looking at you.
There was one phrase from the book that really stuck with me: “ate with relish.” Rather than influence me as a person, remembering this, out of all the things I could have remembered, helps me to realise just how early my neurosis set in; I remembered this tiny little phrase because I struggled with it. I knew “relish” was a condiment, but I did not know, at that time, that it also meant to ‘have a liking for/take enjoyment from.’ And so, my tiny little mind went into overdrive, baffled as to why relish was such an integral part of the meal. Poor choice of words, Mr. Jacques, in my humble, nine-year-old opinion.
I was arrogant even back then.
Idea taken from the daily prompt: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/bedtime-stories/
Yesterday I wished my fourteen year old self a good day.
Today, I am to write a letter to be received by myself in twenty years; this is actually possible and slightly safer given that there is no chance of destroying the fabric of space time by giving myself clues.
Firstly, I’m not sure I would even get the letter; who’s to say I will even be alive:
Are you even still alive?
More optimistically, I though about writing something substantial, but I have nothing to say to myself in twenty years aside from questions like ‘how many dreams have you failed to realise,’ ‘are you still seeing that Katie chick, or did she finally see through you,’ or ‘why am I even asking you questions given that you can’t write back, and what have I got to tell you that you don’t already know?’
So, with all that in mind, my letter would be as follows:
Alright, old man.
You’re 52 next month, loser; have you gone grey yet?
Thought I’d just rub in the fact that you’re getting older; but you’re ok with that, aren’t you? Of course you are, because I’m preparing you for it now, and am making sure I make the most of my younger years so you don’t have to look back with remorse. You are welcome.
I would ask you to write me back and tell me if things have worked out, but I know you won’t, so I shan’t bother; or, if you did, you’d probably just send some sarcastic note telling me to “mind my own business,” or to “have a nice day.”
You’re such a dick sometimes.
Anyway, hope your health is holding out. Don’t moan too much.
Yours in the truest possible sense,
Post idea from the daily prompt: From You to You
I do like the almost abstract aspect of a flat ground shot. These are some I took recently.
Idea from the Weekly Photo Challenge: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/beneath-your-feet/
Today, it was suggested that I write a letter to my 14 year old self. A great idea, but one that struck me as rather dangerous. Perhaps it is fear of the unknown, or perhaps I am just happy with the person I am now; sure, there have been some tough experience, but there have also been many good ones, and, when all is said and done, I am pretty happy with how things are.
With that in mind, my first letter reads thus:
Would you believe that I am you writing to you from the future? Well, I am.
Most people would probably take this chance to tell themselves about all the things they should and should not do, but not you. You see, firstly, if I were to tell you about what will occur, it is highly likely that your future would change dramatically; consequently, I (you) would not exist in the form that has led me (you) to write this letter, and so a paradox would present itself. This paradox would arise from the fact that your course would change in such a way that you would never get prompted to send this letter – so I would be wasting my time now – or, if you did, the prophecies would differ and hence any kind of attempt to alter the path that has been taken would have unimaginably unpredictable results.
Secondly, you may be pleased to know that things are pretty good now. I’m not going to lie; you’re in for a rough ride, buddy, but you will be ok in the end.
Believe me; I really want to give you some advice, but all these things you will learn in time.
Writing this, you are in your thirties, and you are happy and healthy.
Enjoy the summer holidays while you still get them, you lucky swine.
However, I still think this is too much and may lend me more strength than I would have otherwise had during these times; I suspect it was the fear that things would not be alright that led me to take action to sort myself out.
In light of that consideration, my letter would actually be the following:
Have a nice day.
Even this would be suspect; I had no friends.
Post idea from the daily prompt: From You to You
How often do you feel forced to censor yourself; your thoughts; your feelings; your expression?
I work in an office and am generally required to do this a lot; they call it diplomacy skills. I call it a slow erosion and degradation of my soul and core being.
The stronger my distaste for this fallacious behaviour grows, the more I seem to embrace my authentic responses regardless of what the consequences may be.
Today, I received some feedback from a client. It was conveyed with a remarkable degree of drama and ignorance, almost verging on plain rude, but because the person in question is a C-level executive, there is an expectation that the response would be tailored appropriately. Despite my burning desire to just let my response flow unadulterated, I proudly maintained my composure and gave a fair and polite explanation. An hour or so later, I got a reply.
The response was unexpected, not in itself, but the tone; I could not make up my mind about whether he was being mildly humorous or just plain pitiful. I decided to take it in a positive light and, in the politest possible way, laced my response with both humorous, honest and sarcastic subtleties in the hope that he would take it the way it was intended. I then paused for a minute or two before committing myself to putting it out there.
Knowing that I could not now take it back, I relaxed into the sensations of both satisfaction and mild anxiety about how it would be taken.
I am a decent, good-natured, laid back, realistic guy. Why should I feel as though my honest response would be taken the wrong way? Well, because I am also playfully sarcastic and rely upon facial expressions and tone of voice to fully convey the irony of the words I choose to use – in e-mail, the only thing one has, is words. That is why. That, and the fact that I hate people.
Joking aside, if you cannot embrace the authentic you – if, particularly at work, you have to consistently self-censor, curb your enthusiasm, stifle your laughter, bite your tongue – then you will slowly lose touch with what it is to be you. Life will be empty and frustrating, each day a battle to endure; your free time will be left equally empty as you are drained by the sheer demand of keeping yourself in a box.
Embrace the ‘authentic you’ and you will find your place; don’t fight to fit in where you don’t belong.
Have you ever had that feeling that what you are doing really is not right for you?
I suffer that a lot these days. Fortunately, I can sense the pull. I really was happiest* back when I was writing on my blog – it was a free platform on which I could write about anything that came to mind; whether it be serious or tongue in cheek. I miss that.
When you allow yourself no restrictions – when you just let your thoughts and creativity flow – that is where the magic happens. My convoluted thought processes result in some remarkably amusing output – even if this is for my own amusement, how could I possibly be disappointed with that; to be able to entertain and amuse one’s self, that’s a quality most often observed in children.
As adults, we become too dependent on input-based entertainment; TV, computer games, social networking (sounds far more productive than it actually is, doesn’t it!). With children, although they may have props, the entertainment is output-based, relying on their imagination to create stories and scenarios. For example, a toy car is no fun if it is just sitting on the floor, so the action and fun has to be created.
As adults, how often do we create our entertainment as opposed to absorb it?
Music, art and writing; three things that can act as a fast track to output based entertainment. For me, music brings peace, and writing brings humour. Sadly, due to my sense of humour, the writing doesn’t always translate, but I do the best I can to convey my thoughts as accurately as possible. But when all is said and done, I get it, and it cracks me up. What greater gift could you ask for than to be able to make yourself laugh? Monkey feet would be a close second – and clearly I mean to have instead of human feet. Although finding some smart shoes for work would be a nightmare…
*not saying I’m unhappy now, but just not as happy as when I was writing every day.
Willpower is what allows you control your behaviour. Willpower is the thing that turns off the T.V. because it’s time for bed, or gets you out of bed because it’s time for work. Willpower is what helps you do the things you don’t want to; it’s what helps you not do the the things you do want to (like calling your boss a jerk?). Without willpower society would crumble; without willpower we would all live (not very long perhaps) on steak, pie, donuts and beer; ok, I speak for myself there.
Willpower is essential in the pursuit of goals, we need it in order to effect any change in behaviour; motivation alone is not enough.
Imagine willpower as energy of the mind; much like you get exhausted after physical exertion, you can also get exhausted through mental exertion. Another similarity to physical exertion is that the rate of depletion can vary depending on the strenuosity of the particular task. The psychological term for this is ego-depletion. Numerous psychological studies have shown that willpower is an exhaustible resource and understanding this could have a profound effect on the way you approach your goals.
There is no question that willpower varies between people; however, there are things you can do to maximise your own.
First, what drains your willpower?
There are physical contributors; lack of sleep, poor diet and illness. All three of these share a common link and that link is glucose. Adequate sleep is essential for healthy metabolic function and the amount of sleep you get can have a big influence on the type of foods you choose to eat; paradoxically, what you eat can influence the quality of your sleep, and, of course, how you eat will affect your glucose levels. When you are ill, your glucose are also reduced. You will probably note that when you are tired, ill or hungry you have less willpower to get things done and you are more irritable (i.e., less able to control your emotional responses).
There are also psychological contributors; dealing with stress, making decisions, controlling thoughts & emotional reactions and controlling behaviour – consider those hard days at work and getting home thinking you cannot be bothered to cook.
How can you recharge it?
- Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes – self-flagellation is stress inducing and will drain you more;
- Have healthy snack (or meal if the time is right); get those glucose levels up;
- Take a time out; relax and do something that doesn’t require you to think or make decisions;
- Laughing and other positive social interactions can also be rejuvenating.
How can you optimise it?
- Eat proactively – not leaving it till you’re too hungry. Studies have shown that low blood-sugar levels are linked to low willpower, which means that it is incredibly important to eat properly;
- Make sure you get enough sleep; if you don’t rest properly and are thus tired the effort required to function is that much greater, and as a consequence willpower reserves are depleted quicker;
- Exercise regularly (keep fit)
- Practice; start small, by sorting your posture or making tiny tweaks, like recognising when you’re stressed and relaxing your shoulders more – over time, exercising control will get easier.
In order to be successful when pursuing your goals, you need to be smart about how you approach them, this includes understanding what stresses you and keeping it to a minimum or, if you can’t avoid it, plan your activities around your willpower peaks; for example, if you are trying to get to the gym regularly, you might consider going before work rather than after, the idea being that you will have higher levels of willpower in the morning.
As stated, every time a decision is made and control is exercised, you are left with less willpower; once the reserves are gone, people are much less likely to power through with positive action. Knowing that simply making decisions taxes our reserves can be transformational; the trick is to try and develop habits and decide in advance.
Saying that you cannot do something because you do not have the willpower is an entirely defeatist excuse; instead you should better understand the nature of willpower and how you can maximise, and make the most of, yours.
One of the fundamental things to take from this is that if you want to maximise your chances of successfully achieving your goals, you need to take care of yourself; understand your day and what drains you; schedule your time so you eliminate the need to make choices, especially in the evening. Above all, eat and rest properly.
I am Sage.