Self Mastery

THE PARADOX OF CHOICE

​Do you look at the vast things you can do and try, do you look at the beautiful experiences, skills and places around the world you could be at. Do you ever look out at all? Do you see the cool shit you could do, all of the exciting possibilities and projects and yet you are unable to act, you are frozen in choice. 

The more choices you have the harder it is to choose anything. Just like FOMO it can be a real mix. By definition, its one’s inability to choose in an existing number of options. Its a real thing. 

Plagues our daily lives and we may not see or notice it often. Think of it this way, like a kid in an ice cream shop, so many ice cream flavours to try but, you just can’t decide and in truth, you cant eat them all.

With the paradox of choices, making decisions becomes obsession over making the wrong decision. Fear of the wrong career, wrong love, wrong food and etc. Our ability to choose also depends on the information we are given as we strive to choose. 

In our day and age, let’s just say information isn’t a snow ball’s chance. Barry Schwartz author of “paradox of choice” advocates “the idea of good enough” that is, Most of the time, we don’t need the very best and only rarely is it worth struggling to find the best choice. 

Truth be told, being frozen in choice really means we want the best and that’s not a bad thing, we all want to make the best, get the best out of what we do but, is the best always the best?…not really..
Two things one must keep in mind when put in the box of the paradox of choice.

Firstly, theres always a lesson to learn in all options. One must view making choices as not making a lifelong commitment and choosing one path doesn’t preclude you from pursuing all of your other options either simultaneously or in the future.

Secondly, changing direction later really doesn’t equal failure and it doesn’t render the energy and hard work you’ve put pointless and meaningless. You will pick up skills, knowledge and experience. Pursuing different paths allows us to grow, learn and experience more of life.
When you are stuck, make a list of stuff you would like to pursue. Write down small steps you will do each week to get through your choice. Get more information .Taking action, even incorrect action makes it easier to take more action and correct oneself.

We like to think we can plan everything in advance, avoid pain and disappointment, we can’t. We learn from doing and remember the only wrong choice is no choice at all.

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WHY HATERS HATE

​In a wealth and fame obsessed world, everyone has their few share of narrow ideologies and to this births the identity or the one, we all call “the hater”. Is the hater a thought provoker? A champion of change? Or just plain petty?

Before answering that let us examine who exactly isn’t a hater?

Greek philosopher Dio genes pursued a life style away from social conventions, He didn’t simply flip everyone off, he actively loved and lived his philosophy, he said reason is greater than one’s passions, courage greater than wealth and social conventions should be brushed off whenever necessary as all three make life complex and make a virtuous life difficult to attend. One will be free if he let’s go of these things.

Of course, separation, That is from the status quo isn’t easy, and many may think it makes life worse and no better. Dio genes believed in pursuing freedom and a self-sufficient lifestyle.

In short, someone who doesn’t hate, simply minds their own business, someone who is concerned with living their life, but of course, Dio gene was a little extreme, one must find a balance between these things. 

Haters are superficial and petty by definition, as they don’t like what’s not the “in thing, haters hate for many reasons but, have common features to their hating and as much as they may find it “fun” to hate some people, It is not meaningful and doesn’t achieve anything as said by Dio genes

Dio genes was cynic and put his social status in harms way, the hater just stands back and does nothing to their own view, life or philosophy, mostly they are jealous of the things they don’t have, have not overcome their fear to achieve what they want, haven’t worked hard enough to achieve what someone has and in most cases are extremely petty and egotistical.

Haters should not be confused with someone who passes a comment on someone’s “unwise action” but, someone who loves and feels better about themselves over the expense of others in the act of passing said comment.(Hence me speaking about haters isn’t hating.)
Hating should not be mixed or said to be the same as satire or constructive criticism.

Kierkegaard said haters Showing that they dont care about me, or caring that I should know they dont care about me, still denotes dependence. They show me respect precisely by showing me that they don’t respect me.

In truth, haters aren’t player haters, they are self-haters, hence haters are just plain narcissistic and weak, as Fromm said” it is true that selfish persons are incapable of loving others, but they are not capable of loving themselves either”

Haters feel hating will cover their own insecurities. A hater can be like a parasite as its lives or finds its worth in this case in its dependence on feeding or shaming its host. So haters do care but, want to show that they don’t care. A hater denotes someone prejudice, misinformed and someone choosing to not use their intellect.

Haters will always be there in our finest and lowest moments, and whatever form hate takes it can be hard to deal with. So whats the solution? A common answer would be not to care right? Well no, because the statement “I don’t care” is masked with some little vibes of caring and the idea that “haters should be my motivators” isn’t bad but isn’t the best solution as well. The true solution to dealing with haters comes in two forms.

Firstly, is knowing the nature of said hater and secondly, its not accepting what they say and one must be tolerant, because in most cases what they say is meant to get to you, to make you feel inferior in order to lift themselves. 

So be the “bigger man” accept who you are because no one will, be authentic, love yourself and treasure what you stand for, because the good or bad (I don’t mean stupid) things you do will still be met with hate, the words will hurt but you must choose to not let them KEEP hurting you, whether the words are true or not.

This is no easy task but, its better than indirectly letting other people who don’t know better, move or tell you who you are and this solution should in no way make us egocentric instead, make us embrace ourselves, tolerate others and be true to these old words,Sticks and stones may break my bones but, words (will as I choose and know) can never hurt me”

The best way to counter-attack a hater is to make it blatantly obvious that their attack has had no impact on you.

 Timothy Ferris
“True Strength is tolerance

​FACE EVERYTHING & RISE

Do you feel weak? Do you feel crippled by fear?

If so, hold on to that feeling,

That’s proof that you haven’t given up on yourself yet,

If you have the guts to not give up, you can do anything as seen fit,

The one who acquires the ability to take full possession of one’s mind,

May take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled to.

We are living creatures that don’t have wings, but still reached the sky and stars.”

To hope is to be human and to fear is to be human. Fear can arise from many sources. Early humans needed the fast, powerful reactions that fear causes as they were often in physical danger from big problems– before modern living took over. 

Our minds and bodies still work in the same way and we still have the same reactions to more modern worries. But we can’t run away or physically attack these problems.

In “Passions of the Soul” Descartes put fear this way, “we can hope for or fear something that doesn’t in any way depend on us. But in cases where we do think of it as depending on us we may find it hard  to decide how to go about getting or avoiding it, or to bring ourselves actually to do what needs to be done.”

 The difficulty gives rise to indecision, the opposite of shrinking reluctance is courage; the opposite of fear (or terror) is boldness.”

Margaret Wheatly says, “Fear is the necessary consequence of feeling hopeful again. Contrary to our belief that hope and fear are opposites where one trumps the other, they are a single package, bundled together as intimate, eternal partners. Hope never enters a room without fear at its side. If i hope to accomplish something, I’m also afraid I’ll fail. You can’t have one without the other.”

Like most modern situations, we are more often presented with events we don’t and have no say in the matter but, to how we response to it’s presentation is indeed the moment of true victory and mostly certainly the defining moment. Unlike our ancestors, fear should draw us to live and embrace life as is. 

Fear does aid us in our ways but if not in its place can indeed make anyone miss out on what this world has to offer. Creating a mental choreography around fear is as such a necessity to living as modern man. 

Decide to make life an adventure, by virtue of you being alive, you can sense, you can create and inspire, you can know joy, laughter and beauty , there is so much to be lived for, explored, experienced and this means embracing the fear. Fear is as necessary to living as is courage.

Being a conscious entity means being aware of our humanity and being aware of our personality. To find that unique voice that is you – but, that one saying does still hold true “man is a slave of his culture.”

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music” Fredrick Nietzsche
How do we transcend this or “going against the grain” or being a non-conformist so to speak? Joseph Campbell says we start by realising that there is no one road map to reality. We are able to create our reality that if we are bold enough to condition our thinking.
 
Only people themselves can give their lives any meaning through the goals they set themselves, the choices they make and the actions they take. Being oneself is wanting to be what we make ourselves be by the way we choose to act. 

In Truth, any meaning that is to be found in this world must be established by each person from within the sphere of his own individual existence and that’s what it means to be a mad one.

Being the mad one is deciding to make life an adventure. Being mad to think, mad to dance, mad to love, mad to dream and mad to choose for yourselves. You are who you are, love who you are.

“What a man can be he must be. This need we may call self-actualization. It refers to the desire for self-fulfilment, namely to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially .This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is  capable of becoming”

Abraham Maslow

“Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘Just as Courage imperils life, Fear protects it” 

Leonard da Vinci

​FOMO – FEAR OF MISSING OUT

In a growing world of information and technology ,its fair game to want to be updated with the latest news, trends and pretty much anything that’s new and exciting to one’s fancy or not.

 
The need to get involved, to see, experience new things, gain new skills, meet new people, see new places, read that one book, Listen to that album and yet sometimes within this vast world of options and experiences, one may feel like they are missing out. Being the one in control of what moves you and what you are obligated to may intensify this reality. One of life’s melancholy and yet truest moments.

This phenomena has been dubbed, FOMO – Fear of missing out. FOMO is a mix of envy and insecurity which can lead to anxiety and in most cases indecision. 

The more FOMO consumes you the more you are paralysed with not making any moves(FOMO is the brother of the “paradox of choice”),the pain that one feels from having the thought that others are doing something we ourselves desire may make us feel unhappy and unfulfilled with our current situation. There are two ways of looking at FOMO that is through a romantic or classical view.

The Romantic feels pain that someone out there is living a life that they desperately want. The constant thought of “if only” I had that job, I had that car. They believe in a divine, defined centre. Life is in two parts the mediocre and the elect, they want to be the elect. 

The classic minded do admit that there are indeed wonderful things going on in the world but, the obvious signs of glamour to them isn’t a good guide to finding these wonderful things. They view that good may exist in the ordinary, everything is in mix. 

Fame and fortune may not be a true indication of true intelligence, famous people may be dull and unattractive people can be interesting or remarkable. You can have all you ever wanted by really still be unhappy. They do fear missing out but, view it in that, one can miss out if they are so quick to find happiness away from self, elsewhere.

Whether you feel like you are none, both or one of either, one thing that does matters like a disease – a cure. How should we view FOMO when it does hits us in those moments in your life? 


1. Be willing to not have it all, Accept things will happen without you
You are not a superman or wonder woman. Yes, FOMO can indeed be misleading. Desires and wants can blind us to real life. Accepting the futility of or stop trying to fulfilling every desire is impossible. 

Having the wisdom to control and know when to indulge in – be it in one’s impulses and gratifications is the only super power you have. You may not do everything but, make the best out of what you have.


2. Practice mindfulness by slowing down
Being mindful like my mantra is being present. Taking it slow(I admit, am working on it too) from what I have learnt is slowing down does not mean taking your time or being slow, it means just being at speed with the present, not too fast not too slow. 

The world is a big place, things are going on every second rather than chasing after what maybe an illusion of happiness, make the best with what you have, giving no hard judgment or negative thought to either you or what others are doing  or that you maybe or maybe not missing out on. Take it easy.


3. Prioritise what really matters
Prioritising is one lesson everyone needs. Quality relationships are better than quality possessions. Envy can become resentment if we fail to recognise what we have now and the opportunities that you have to make something of your life. 

Prioritising gives clearer attention to those things that have heart and meaning. Rather than fame, symbol, possessions, focus on a feeling of accomplishment, adventure, self-respect, freedom and fun with people you care about and a life that truly matters.


4. One day at a time by cultivating an attitude of gratitude.
There is always something to be grateful about. Life can be a shit storm. We don’t get what we want, but we do have times of joy, peace, strength and virtue. Enjoy the process of life, life is story, embrace it and live brave.

Pleasure and great FOMO fulfilling experience may be wonderful but, being too occupied with FOMO diminishes our ability to experience the deeper fulfilment that comes from nourishing one’s mind and body.

“Be present-it is the only moment that matters”

A PLACE BETWEEN HOPE & FEAR

​”Your present circumstances dont determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”

 Nido Qubein
An ever growing world can be a very exciting yet, a scary place. As Margaret wheatley puts it this way,” hope and fear have been in the news .We watch for years as the future disappeared under disabling clouds of fear, then suddenly we again could see the sky,  with hope and the possibility of change”. 

This is pretty much how things have been since humankind had realised consciousness, from periods of great joy and prosperity to times of deep pain and suffering.

The world is a big bad place, a deep mix of both fearful fear and dead devotion. With this thought in mind, Albert Camuss hero-Sisyphus holds voice in each persons heart and as firmly put in his essay “there is but, one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide, judging whether life is or is not worth living that is the fundamental question of philosophy”

In the grander scheme, life can be pointless as many existentialists put it, when solid hope is taken away by constant endless evil as our lives will be forgotten and our species being constantly corrupt and violent. 
Despite all this, we should endure none the less. We must cope with whatever we can with whatever we are supposed to do, we must acknowledge the absurd background of our existence and triumph above the constant hopelessness. Life is worth enduring.

 
Once you properly realise the absurdity of life, you may be on the edge of despair but, also have a desire to live life more intensely. When motivated by hope, but then further confronted by fear and failure, we become depressed and demoralised.
 At such a time, we learn the price of hope and the paralysing nature of fear. Rather than inspiring and motivating us, hope has become a burden made heavy by death and all of its friends.

According to Wheatley, to have a meaningful life means, we have to abandon extreme hope, all of us, and learn how to find the place “beyond hope and fear.” She believes this is the present.

Being present should quicken us into action, this is a better way of planning a progressive or self-driven life as this is a first step in creating a meaningful one. We create a clear vision for the future we want, by relating and doing what’s needed to be done instantly now, as this breaks the wall between strategy and action (which can be a big issue for humanity as history evidently repeats itself).

We focus strategically on doing only those things that have a high probability of success and also embrace failure in all its forms. As long as we are present and work smart, our endeavours will at best create the world we want. 
How could we do our work, if we don’t take pride in our work presently?

As Wheatly puts it this way “all fear and hope arise from looking forward or backward.” The present moment is the only place clear to see the uncloudedness done by hope or fear. Both are necessary as tools and not as a master.
 Fear is the necessary consequence of feeling hopeful again. Contrary to our belief that hope and fear are opposites where one trumps the other, they are a single package, bundled together as intimate, eternal partners. You can’t have one without the other.

To be present means mastering both, living life in pain and pleasure, seeing life as worth living, having a purpose, building self-value, self-esteem, overcoming one’s feelings of doubt and shame, having the ability to love and mean it, embracing self-knowledge as an essential to building a future and having the courage to keep fighting. 
Being present makes us make the most out of all moments, small or big, it makes us less self-centred, it makes us learn to care and not be small minded. It makes us appreciate others and ourselves. It ultimately helps us cope with the bad times rather than run or reminisce in the good old days. 

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, nor to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

 Buddha

A RACE AGAINST TIME

​“At least three times every day take a moment and ask yourself what is really important. Have the wisdom and the courage to build your life around your answer.”

Lee Jampolsky   

“So much to do, so little time”, many among the common phrases used to express just how little time we have in a busy and progressive world. Strictly speaking, Time management unnoticed to these who advocate anyone and everyone to be time cautious is that at its core, time management is really self-management or an important aspect of self-mastery. 

Managing one’s self means organizing your life in accordance with a purpose or meaning that reflects your own unique individuality. Only in this way can you be said to truly control your own self. Ask yourself what constitutes your ultimate worth and significance of your being and begin to see that time is everything and of the essence. 

Without a reason to keep time, you won’t plan what to do with it. Without a sense of responsibility for the time you have alive, which is obviously minimum – one may not be living but, in truth be unknowingly breathing to death.

Making firm choices about how to give shape to your life is necessary to live as an individual, but being a self still requires more and this means being time cautious, because the meaning you give your life must be unique to you as an individual and be within your sphere of existence, your time space.
 

To succeed at being a self means being noble, which means being time oriented or having a deep sense of time management.

“Now consider the law of supply and demand to see how much those moments of life are worth to you. When you treat death as an event that’s far off and distant from you, you’re clearly reasoning that that you have a decent amount of supply (of life) lying around.”

 
“You’re convinced that even if you’re going to die, it won’t be today or tomorrow or even next week. You see supply as high, so the value of life winds up being low. That’s why the important stuff gets put off. You think you have plenty of time to get back to. You live frivolously.” This in itself isn’t a call to perfection but, a realisation that in the long run each moment does matter.

“If the supply-and-demand theory of life is accurate, the answer is no. The supply of life would go up, infinitely. But if that’s right, the value of life drops infinitely as well! As a consequence, immortality doesn’t sound particularly attractive.”

“Sure, you’d have an infinite amount of time to experience things. But you wouldn’t value the moments. You’d forever put things off. Why not? You could always do the important stuff later. The immortal would live with no zest. No passion. Not for us, thanks! We’ll choose death!” Gregory Gale

It is easy to be swayed by recognizing exterior values or meanings, so to avoid being pushed to and fro, you give yourself a self-created purpose as you use your time and make decisions, make your goals fluid and possible to be achieved as they need to be.
 

Hence the idea of “I have no time” is just in truth poor time management but, ultimately means poor life management or poor self-mastery.

True self-mastery as with time management means deciding what you want to get out of life, what you want to achieve, committing to it and setting forth a road map to do so. 

Heidegger has a way of thinking about your existence as temporal, If being authentic means thinking about your future as aiming toward your eventual death, “What should I do now?” is a question that necessarily requires your conscious involvement in the answer and the act of realization of making your actions to come to life. 

To Heidegger, knowing that your time is finite, you no longer wait but drive forward in an active sense, resolute to forge courageously toward not only your death but by living as an individual in light of the projects you commit to.

Although your future possibilities are fixed in the inauthentic future, in the authentic future they’re open, and you take an active role in determining what they are and this means knowing how to plan your time. Pay attention to the way you’re existing right now. 

Are you just in the moment? Or are you always looking ahead into the future, trying to see where to go next? You’re always reaching ahead of yourself into the next moment. Hence thinking that your past, present and future are distant or individual is a great and common misconception.

Not having a good perception of your time is disowning a large and essential part of yourself. Think about time existentially seems very different; time is central to your way of existing, one in which moments in the past, present, and future are related to one another in the way you experience life as meaningful. Existing for you means living across time.

Being a time keeper means being yourself, your way of existing must strive to live in your past and future specific to you as a self, just as much as your present acts. 

Only in living this way can you hope to succeed in pulling together your whole self and can you really enjoy life in colour, despite time and the human life being very finite as Horace put it: “we are but dust and shadows”.

“Character is the result of two things: mental attitude and the way we spend our time.”

Elbert Hubbard

I Can & I Will

​The French novelist Honore de Balzare says, “Passion is universal humanity. Without it religion, history, romance and art would be useless.” To that the age old question, what does it mean to be passionate?
 A core ingredient in living passionately is finding a cause or giving your life meaning within your individual existence which in truth, you alone are responsible for your own existence.
 The meaning you find for your life should be one you’re willing to work for, commit to, one you have given thought to as you have chosen and might I say, one you would  die for, one you’re willing to embrace and to organize your whole life around. 
To be truly passionate, such a choice must also embrace a degree of mystery or uncertainty. David Hume, a famous 18th-century philosopher, once said about life that “The whole is a riddle, an enigma, an inexplicable mystery.”
To that, living passionately means choosing to be vulnerable in the face of your own life. It means recognizing the insecurity and unpredictable nature of events that surrounds your life choices, but also recognizing that those choices still need to be made with solid resolution and committed force.
This means embracing the power that is in your hands and no one else.
Freedom is an essential part of being this passionate person that you desire. You’re different from the nonhuman creatures that surround you, so the way in which you approach your own life should be seen as different from the way animals approach theirs.
Seen in this way, nonhuman objects, being entirely natural in composition, don’t make choices; they’re not free. You’re a natural being too. Sometimes your movements are dictated by factors in the physical natural world. 
From birth, you don’t pick and choose your race, religion, name, location or type of socialisation or any other general facticity.
In view, one must realise that there are always instances in which you can be self-moving. This intentional action isn’t the result of some set of environmental conditions in the world. When you do act intentionally, which includes deciding how you face up to your impending future-your actions are up to you alone and nothing else.
Your freedom to choose how to act in the present and face the future has limitations placed on it by the world you live in. 
The unique nature of your freedom shows that although you do live in the world and are subject to its influences, you also transcend the world, because you’re not determined by it.
To transcend, to be of passion doesn’t mean that you float above the world like a disembodied spirit. It just means that you can rise above the physical cause and effect explanations that seem to govern nonhuman things. 
Freedom is an essential part of what you are, it’s a facet of your existence that you must cultivate if you’re to live in an honest, truthful, or authentic way. You must be true to this special aspect of what you are. 
This cultivation requires that you take the question of how to face your future and your existence very seriously. Which in turn make up the formation of what it means to be passionate about something.
Because of this shift in reality, a passionate life isn’t just about doing certain specific things. It’s not what you do but, how you do it, how you choose to embrace your existence with your means. The “how” is always more important than the “what”.
It’s up to you to figure out what path, out of all the ones possible for you, to take. After you choose that path, pursue it with hope and engagement, with a fire of lived intensity. As Camus puts it ” Mystery and risk are what give life that weight; they’re the fuel from which the fire of passion burns.”
 By making these kinds of choices and commitments, you can make sure your life embodies the kind of risk that passion thrives on. 
Cultivating a beautiful relationship with your own existence requires you to choose a direction in life that expresses your individuality. 
No two people can share such a direction. Because passion requires that you express your own freedom and subjectivity, you must revolt against allowing your choices and projects to flow from any influences outside your individual nature.
At the most basic level, being passionate means being very aware of the very particular concrete world that you live in. Living passionately means saying ”I can and I will” A passionate life emphasizes how you go about living and not what you end up actually doing.
Understanding a passionate life is to draw the distinction between living as a participator and living as a detached observer.
 Living passionately means cultivating a bond with your own life that doesn’t approach it as a problem to be solved, but as a relationship that you need to involve yourself in and remain open to.
As Kierkegaard once said

 “that the pagan who prays passionately to a false God shows more truth than the Christian who prays falsely to his real God.”

Mind Your Mind

“​Loving yourself and knowing what you what are necessary keys not only to master the art of willpower, or in a better light Self-respect is the fruit of discipline;  the sense of dignity grows with the ability  to say no to ones self.”Abraham Joshua Heschel

The possession of willpower and self-discipline or their lack, play an important role in everyones life. One may have goals, plans and schedule to achieve what is to be gain, in order to reach, reap and bear said fruits, the art of sowing must be known, practiced and mastered.
A general attitude toward the idea is that it is rigid and authoritarian, is centred around the virtues of frugality and saving, and in many ways was hostile to life and there has been an increasing tendency to be suspicious of any discipline,
 and to make undisciplined, lazy indulgence in the rest of one’s life the counterpart and balance for the routinized way of life imposed on us during the eight hours of work, waking up early, hard work, moderation and indulge in unnecessary luxuries.
How does one practice discipline? To get up at a regular hour, to devote a regular amount of time during the day to activities such as meditating, reading, listening to music, walking; not to indulge, at least not beyond a certain minimum, in escapist activities like mystery stories and movies, not to overeat or overdrink are some obvious and rudimentary rules.
 It is essential, however, that discipline should not be practiced like a rule imposed on oneself from the outside, but that it becomes an expression of one’s own will; that it is felt as pleasant, and that one slowly accustoms oneself to a kind of behaviour which one would eventually miss, if one stopped practicing it. The East has recognized long ago that that which is good for manfor his body and for his soulmust also be agreeable, even though at the beginning some resistances must be overcome. Erich Fromm 
Now here is the mountain to climb in the idea of willpower. Leon Seltzer states that The price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret. Surrendering to immediate, self-indulgent attractions or enticements inevitably leads to your becoming subservient to them.
And as a consequence, the likelihood of achieving longer-term goals is seriously undermined. Self-discipline: a willingness to do whatever it takes to reach personally valued goals and objectives, independent of whatever challenges, or unpleasantness, may be linked to the process of attaining them. 
Learning to feel really good about ourselves is a major part of what personal growth and evolution is all about.  And our progress in this venture requires us to become more adult in our thinking. 
Giving up pursuing transient feelings of euphoria and instead seek out those things that culminate in far-more-lasting positive feelings about self is one that will also boost our self-esteem. And it will promote a self-love that is totally separate from any mere narcissistic gratification.  
Self-discipline is an act of cultivation. It requires you to connect todays actions to tomorrows results. Theres a season for sowing and reaping, minding your mind helps you know which is which.

No one is free who is not master of himself.  (Shakespeare)    

Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.  (Seneca)

Who are you?

​”I think, therefore I am” 
 Desecrates

“Who am I?” There comes a point in one’s life, this age old question spores, be it in the briefest of thought or in a metaphysical pondering. Whether we got answers or left with a bigger floating question mark on top of our heads, we to say the least,crave for the deep reality of said answer.

We indeed NEED to know the answer to this, one of life’s fascinating questions.
The day you were born, you began a learning process that will continue for the rest of your entire life. You were from the beginning moulded by your surroundings. Be it parents, relatives, friends, teachers, the people in your area. You absorbed all the general attitudes, ideas and beliefs-the good, bad and ugly. 

You came in contact with each new year of life added to your past, changing the way you view every new day, influencing how you reacted to everything from the simple to the complex. Events touching you and your experience in the world we live in

Bertrand Russell says “as a child, there is nothing unattainable, good things and desires with a whole force of a passionate will can be obtained and yet impossible to them is not credible.” 
We subconsciously carry and express certain manners and attitudes we had as kids as we grow.

As you grow older, you interact with people from far and wide with different backgrounds and ideas about life. Like most people, you probably belong to that vast river of mankind, which lives each moment in the easiest and some-what pleasant way possible.

Believe it or not, most of us are voluntary prisoners of our minds, unwilling to question who we are and get definite answers and we are happy to just simply roll along through life. 

Most of us will live from birth to death in a world, we fashioned from our past to suit our present. Few of people ever stand free from present and daily lives to ask, to wonder, to think and to explore.

Each of us is born, we live various lives and then we will die. We should remember that we have a separate nature which is our own and which sets us apart from every other person who lives or who has lived. We share similar characteristics but, each of us is unique.

You are YOU. Russian born author Ayn Rad formed the concept of “the sense of life” .She described how the sum of all your thoughts, experiences, ideas and emotions about our life form the sum of the state of who we are.

 Our sense of life and your perceptions as individuals are based on previous experiences and how they are integrated in our personality to evoke our emotions, thoughts and values. 

A person’s sense of life isn’t some programme by a single evaluation, it is an integration of countless evaluations over the course of one’s life, a person’s integrated emotions and value judgments related to all aspects of living.

It dictates the internal dialogue, the ongoing conversation you have with yourself about the world and people in it. It is the basis of your self-esteem, if your sense is controlled by external forces, then your self-esteem will suffer and you will feel that you lack control over your life.

Increasing our awareness is a never ending process. Taking control of your “sense of life”, influencing it with reason and steering it in a positive constructive direction is the most important thing you can do to arrive of being human.

Humans have an instinctive feelings of self-preservation and satisfaction as you can choose. 

That also makes you unique, our choices seem to be based not only on what you believe will happen if you make a certain choice but, also on what you want to happen. You can choose the opposite of what your instincts or personality tell you. You call the shots.

Your decision is your decision. Your decision is a product of your singular existence and being. Being able to engage in rational thought and to choose freely among various courses of action based on those thoughts, you are in a very real sense what you choose to be.

“Remembering the past as it gives thought to the future which is important, but only to the extent that it helps one deal with the present”.
To that I say you are who you are and like Nietzsche said “we must become who we really are.” You are the sum of your decisions.

“We are born originals and die as copies” 
Kierkegaard
 

On An Attitude of Gratitude

​All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 9.6

From the onset, the idea of gratitude comes from a place of appreciation and gladness in the everyday endeavour from the big to the small acts of goodness toward us.
Gratitude being itself not an emotion but value and virtue is more important in daily living then most may think. 

From the rituals of religion to the labs of academic thought, to be grateful isnt only pragmatic but, is an underlining root of human maturity and mental serenity.
Cicero believed that gratitude is a precursor for all of the other virtues, including happiness, kindness, reason and courage. Wealth, possessions, and good fortune are not necessary for happiness
Gratitude in its linguistic sense comes from the idea of being thankful, pleased and agreeable, but at its core has more to offer than just useful social, psychological and physical benefits. 
You hear a lot of talk about gratitude, but most of the time,It’s hard to do and most seem adamant, but gratitude is at its essence an active process of constant practice, willful attitude and purposeful self-reminder.
To have an attitude of gratitude comes from a place of revolt, maturity and appreciation toward life’s goodness as opposite to its ever present bad state. A stoic attitude of kindness, humility and proper response to a good state of affairs,be it by divinity, chance or the probability of the reality of things.
It is a call to the human heart to affirm the goodness of others and a reminder that we are beyond ourselves. It is an unescapable fact,we are dependent on each other.
To be grateful is dynamic, realistic, its a loving endeavour, the bridge to common courtesy, kind recognition and mutual kinship benefit to the solace of our minds and the people around us.
The attitude of gratitude stems from 2 stances, one must ask themselves, what it means to be a giver and what does it mean to be a receiver?. It goes without saying but pillar to these two positions is knowledge and clarity on the elements of what constitutes a grateful response is critical for developing an accurate account of what gratitude actually is.

THE GIVER 

No one is  truly obligated to give anything really. To give is just a gesture of goodwill. To give as McConnett states mostly deals with ideas of cost, sacrifice, risk and liability. So why give at all? Why go the distance with if in most cases, no real benefit at all?

We are givers if we do it out of love, love by heart but accompanied by attitude and deed. To be mature is to give more than you take out of life. We celebrate the present. We give because it is a good thing to do.

Gratitude is the truest approach to life. We did not create or fashion ourselves. We did not birth ourselves. Life is about giving, receiving, and repaying. We are receptive beings, dependent on the help of others, on their gifts and their kindness.

William Arthur Ward states that “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”We need to know how, who and when to give. The mature giver learns not to give for giving sake. But from an uncommon place of kinship with a right heart, motive and mind set.

It’s often thought that a reservation in giving is an attitude of selfishness but thats untrue. Unmindful giving is just as destructive as untamed egoism. To give well comes from the pillars of healthy self-Awareness with undying empathy.

Be a grateful giver is having in mind you are doing this because it is what you want to do, or because it is the right and or sound thing, responses of the receiver becomes unimportant. Accept that some people simply expect people to continue to just do things for them with no reciprocation or acknowledgement. 

Some people don’t know or are unable to show almost any emotion or emotionally stunted and I doubt if most intend to convey what they conveying,that is to show no gratitude. But then again, we don’t know people perfectly and its unhelpful to assume malice as a norm to said individuals.

You will meet people who may be completely self-absorbed to the point that they don’t even understand that other people are just as human as themselves. If you have it in your mind you are doing something because it is what you want to do, or because it is the right thing, their reactions become unimportant.

Be polite and respectful. No surprise, this can be hard to do, though. You have to constantly recheck your reactions and thoughts, Being the giver is as Seneca part of “living with the lot’ of life, living with the occasional resentment and not be possessed by it. Living above the pity thoughts, one needs to find a way to still be kind and gracious without building resentment and never giving out of some moral superiority.

It means we have to strip down our egos and be aware of this unhealthy sense of false entitlement or indebtedness because of our very act of goodwill. We can’t change people and should not be in our interest to forcedly teach anyone to show gratitude.  We should draw respectful intellectual and emotional lines.

Joseph B. Wirthlin put it like this, Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character.” We like to be around those who are grateful, Being a mature giver ultimately means you are motivated by an appreciation of people, possessions, the present moment, rituals, feeling of awe, social comparisons, existential concerns, and believing that behavior which expresses gratitude is good for us all, a badge of love and resilience.

THE RECEIVER

We all begin life dependent on others, and most of us end life dependent on others. The human condition is such that throughout life, not just at the beginning and end, we are profoundly dependent on other people. Bring a grateful receiver means not falling prey to Forgetfulness, apathy, pride and laziness  towards the acts of others. 

In truth, we will never  really have enough of what we want to pursue, only if we dare to relax our guard long enough to draw pleasure from what we have, an embrace of our gifts  and ultimately our mortality.

Dr. Robert Emmon and others heralds of gratitude advise us to taking time to count our blessings, displaying positive character traits, appreciate the quiet moments of nature and by keeping a daily gratitude journal where we express joy for all of the good things that happened to us.

As such they also suggest that we are wired to take things for granted. The garden variety of daily dissatisfaction, fears of life and complacency can make gratitude arbitrary. All these sadly cemented by unfair, unrealistic conscious or subconscious comparisons of our peers and the world around us.

Novelty and gratitude wear off quickly. To be more grateful or its practice stands in deep conflict with a central drive in human nature: ambition and desire, the pillars of the human ego. Human beings are not just beguiled by the occasional reminder to be or see no reason at all to be grateful. 

We use what makes us happy as the default, the baseline from which things are judged. We start to feel entitled to have things the way they are, instead of in most cases due to luck or the efforts of others. So practicing gratefulness is a great art and we would be less likely to take life for granted.

 Our lives get transformed, Seneca stressed that time is a fleeting and slippery possession. Every moment of every day we die. This is completely outside of our control. It makes sense to value our time and use it well. This lies at the heart of what it means to be a good receiver.

As such, the receiver is at most content with how things already are. The attitude may sound like a kind act of pretension but with a world full of constant indifference and usurp, to be grateful is a humble acknowledgement and one of life’s noble insurrections.

We may not get all that we want or be eternally happy and fulfilled. Bad stuff may be the talk of the day but, we don’t need to become slaves to our lot and fear- big or small, we fight light with darkness. 

We need to remedy ourselves with the reality that more often than we should that we dont yet recognize the dissatisfaction that arises is our unrealistic frequency of attraction to things, this only is perpetual to the cycle of dissatisfaction, hatred and ungratefulness.

A mature receiver isn’t a stance to pull us away from our real ambitions, or to not be absorbed by the lights and glamour of the world, it just means that it doesnt let it get in the way of a better life. 

Camenisch (1981), suggest that just as forgiveness, the receiver may not feel a sincere need to say and express thanks but the act prompts developing grateful beliefs, feelings and other dispositions that they may not have at the time of thanking and in turn signals the giver to commitment to ridding negative thoughts and feelings that are bad if it had not been said. Which is a healthy characteristic of human relationships, sounds obvious but is extremely pivotal.

In the beginning, exerting an effort and attitude of gratitude in many cases need not be inconsistent with being grateful, just as exerting an effort of will to help a friend under similar circumstances would not make one a bad friend. Hence what’s truly at the center of gratitude isn’t feelings or acts but an attitude prompting them that makes its essence.

The very act of expressing the words “thank you” is the least yet best thing one may do and the giving of thank-you gifts or the doing of return-favors isnt and shouldnt be due to indebtness and in truth, must be done when possible as is a cardinal foundation of good and healthy relations.

The very act of expressing the words thank you despite, the depth of a relationships stands as a statue and a frequent reminder of humility and as an oasis to the monotonous hot ego expectations of the everyday giver.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Albert Schweitzer. The mature receiver exercising their perceptions and by reaching out to friends by celebrating their progress as we would our own and this requires that we first get over ourselves.

The attitude of gratitude as such means we recognize and accept  that there are already at this moment very good reasons ,even if its  minimal to be a little more satisfied with who we are, what we have become and what we have.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow…Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

Melody Beattie