The universe and the human brain have something important in common. The inner workings of both are invisible. At this moment you have no perception of what’s happening in your brain; neural activity is unknown to the mind of the person to whom the neurons belong without the invention of brain scans to reveal that activity, and then only crudely. Imagine, being a master of a house and not knowing or seeing what is inside the house.
“Got time? Spend it!”
An important insight into some of the things you can do when you have all the time in the world.
To spend time with loved ones is to maintain a sense of continuity, of simply living. Think of the stories from their lives and your own, stories you’ll pass on to others. If money is essential to subsist in a material world, then these precious moments are the foundations of a more humane world.
One precious thing about not being employed is, like what every employed person tells me, that you can do anything that you want, given that it doesn’t require much money in the process. So, having internalized that message while always on the look-out for job opportunities, I have pursued activities that I relished then and that I still love doing now. Apart from reading as if there’s no tomorrow, applying for a volunteer position at a local library, visiting local places that I’ve always wanted to go, or just simply driving around the city, one great…
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“Feed your brain.”
Different things can inspire us, motivate us, or make us think. The act of thinking alone is an exercise that allows our mind to explore alternative viewpoints, and gather new knowledge. Much like our bodies need nutrients, our minds also need stimulation. Think back to the last time you really stimulated your mind. What did you do?
I was fortunate enough to meet up with a few friends yesterday and meet someone who was a physicist. When I was younger, I used to love astronomy but I slowly let it fade into the background of life. Meeting this man was an opportunity to open my mind and have him try and fill it with what he knew. Our conversation turned to life, the universe and everything, and one of my friends asked him a complicated question: “What came before the big bang then?”
As a physicist who was used to some of these very complicated ideas, he tried to explain. “‘What came before?’ may not necessarily be the right question to ask.” And he proceeded to explain why. His reply was complicated, but he used many examples to eventually help us understand his reasoning. In the end, we were left with an image of our universe that was breathtaking, beautiful, and horrific at the same time.
Grasping these complex concepts took a bit of work. Occasionally we would ask him to give us a pause to process. But at the end of our discussion, all of us were left thinking. There was a kind of peaceful tranquility about having learned something new, and I could see it in his eyes too since he had just helped us all learn it (which had no doubt helped him process and articulate some otherwise very complication concepts).
Happiness can come from stimulation. But the feeling of “newness” doesn’t have to come from material possessions. It can come from new ideas, new perspectives, new experiences. Seek them out. A jolt of happiness and inspiration can be only one new idea away.
“Productivity can be its own reward.”
Our world is centered around productivity. At work, many of us are told to cram in as much work as we can into our hours to get as much done, so the cogs and wheels keep turning. Deadlines and timelines hang overhead ensuring that we stay on top of things and remain as productive as possible.
Recently, I’ve been noticing that productivity isn’t simply about avoiding missed deadlines, or getting things done. It can be a feeling of accomplishment as well. On days where I find myself less productive, I am sometimes left wishing I’d done more…but not because I will have more to do the next day, or because something was missed. I find myself wishing I’d done more simply because the feeling of making the most of every day can be a rewarding feeling on its own (there are a ton of entries about “letting go” and “taking it easy”, so on these days, that is how I should be approaching it).
Productivity isn’t just about how much work we fit into our work day. Its mostly about maximizing the things that you do in every minute of every day of your life. If you’re working, don’t be distracted by other more tempting things. If you’re relaxing, don’t be distracted by guilt, or work you COULD be doing.
That wonderful feeling of productivity stems from the fact that you can look back on a day and say: “I did my best”. THAT is the true definition of productivity, and that has its own rewards that can be isolated from the actual fruits of your labours. Meeting deadlines and getting things done is great, but looking back and knowing you were the best possible self and that you made the most of as many moments in the day, is an even greater reward.
“What do you believe in? What do you have faith in?”
While normally my entries encourage the exploration of WHY, this entry will return to the surface level and encourage you to ask yourself a simple question: “What do you believe in? what do you have faith in?” As adults, we have come face to face with so many realities that there are things we once believed that have moved from forward inspiration, to backward myth. We no longer believe in Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, Ghosts and so forth (many of us anyway). But if we have stopped believing in these, what do we believe in?
Do we believe in ourselves? Do we place our belief entirely in an external element, whether it is another person, or a deity? Take a moment to stop and ask yourself this question. Is there anything that you believe in? If so, take the strongest thing that you believed in at any point in your life…does it even compare? I’ve heard many describe “faith” as something that requires the most powerful of “beliefs” (I am sure others may disagree). Often, faith can be tied to religion, or God. Is it possible to believe in an idea/concept/analogy so strongly that it compares to that level of faith? I certainly think it is possible. But does faith require us to avoid exploring the question WHY, and seeking proof? Is faith simply wishful thinking brought into reality?
The journey of self-exploration is transfinite, an ocean so vast and so deep that exploring it entirely is almost impossible (imagine then how difficult it is to truly understand someone ELSE). But once you go deep enough, many things that “just were” become explainable (and as a caution, our explanations are often refined later on as we have more evidence). I’ve seen many adults question the world around them, ask WHY, which is an intellectual and spiritual exercise. But asking WHY has for some people cracked the foundations of the things they believed in because they discovered things were not as they originally believed.
Are there things that you now believe in that you did not believe in before? Has the quest to uncover the WHYs of life given you new things to believe in, while shattering old ones? If so, are these new beliefs more or less powerful than previous ones? Do you believe in them strongly? Are there things you wished you believed in more? What would it take for you to believe in them again? How do you define faith? Is it different from “belief”?
Many questions, many without answers. The ocean is always deeper than we expect…