When one contemplates the burden of choice presented to our early ancestors between having to become either a hunter or a gatherer in life, one can't help but notice the fucking plethora of choices available to us today as masters of our own universes.
I have no idea what our early ancestors were like but, compared to growing up in a world where how one branded oneself was how we determined who was winning or losing in life, shit is fucked up.
The primary theme I hear as a Millennial when being condescended to by someone from Generation X is the fact my life had more choices available to me than they had theirs and, therefore, my life was easier.
Hmm... easier. Easier how? Easier because there's more choices available to the individual to choose from?
How is that easier?
What I think people fail to realize at times is that having more choices actually frustrates us as human beings.
Think about it.
If you had to navigate a 10-way intersection in rush hour traffic, would you feel calm?
When we go to places like McDonald's for fast food or even look at lists like the Billboard Hot 100 to listen to what's good, what we are doing for ourselves is acquiring something with minimal effort exerted.
Because these places reduce the burden of having to choose between a lot of different things to consume and, instead, tells you what to consume by filtering your choices to something easy but nonetheless following the same formula.
This would be like being told where to go on a road trip instead of going on an actual road trip and exploring the world one stop at a time.
What I'm getting at here is that life comes with a shit ton of choices. We just don't see them for what they are at times.
Because the burden of having to know all those choices is far too much for any one person to contain without losing their shit.
Humans don't operate well when the path before them splits into two, and then two into two into four into five million.
That's what growing up in the advent of the internet felt like.
If you don't know all the paths that lay before you, you just continue walking the trail you're on.
But inevitably, when we do come upon forks in the road in life, we do in fact make a choice.
Yes no. Left right. Up down. Yay nay. Tomato ...tomato.
To start to bring this point home, because girl I'm off track right now, when you decide to miss out on an experience in order to allow for more time for something else, what you are doing is making a choice.
Life's true currency is time. Every second you spend doing and planning and thinking about things you don't really want to be doing is more of your life lived in shadow instead of the light of your desires.
You may think you don't have a choice in a matter but, when the rubber hits the road and life happens, you will choose left or right when backed into a corner and forced to make a decision.
It may seem like it doesn't matter on an episodic basis but, for those who get to observe you for your choices in life, you will be remembered for how you made them feel. Which is to say, they will remember you as being inauthentic to the cause of being human, not for trying to be nice.
This is why it is important to be as real as possible in the moment. Always in the matter. Where possible.
To be present is to be alive. To be remembered is to still live. And to forget you're still here and have a choice in the matter may as well make you dead.
We must stand boldly in our choices in order to represent our feelings, for they are what brand us like a Letterman's jacket for life.
You can't take it off and you won't know what you're going to regret. Everyone has one and they have to represent it. It's them.
Just do something you feel will bring you joy, be compassionate to yourself when you find yourself off track, and life will take care of the rest.
Everything happens for a reason and we are always part of the reason because we have a non-zero stake in the happenings and occurrences of our lives that cause us to feel victimized.
Life isn't fair, but sometimes the situations and circumstances leaving you feeling powerless are just the karma of your choices catching up to you.
Frustrating yes. Make a decision dammit, but not the wrong one or it's gonna bite you in the ass! What does one do?
When there are so many idealized ways of being represented in life through advertising in social media, life becomes a game no one can win.
The achievement list for life cannot be completed by anyone.
Life's ultimate bucket list should really contain just one thing: find what allows you to paint your life with a palette of colors you find joy in using. Not just the ones you were given.
If something does not bring you joy, it is far more value-adding to ask what it is about yourself that does not feel like it is 'enough' in the matter.
If you're feeling jealous, don't manifest your fears by attempting to control another person. Ask yourself what it is about the situation that is making you feel like you don't matter, that you're not enough.
In the end, we make everything about ourselves whether we realize it or not. It's selfish.
But we're also fucking animals. All animals will do what it takes to survive. Survival of the fittest.
At some point, it really is every human for themselves.
That's not selfish. That's scary. Scary as fuck.
When you realize that, and really realize it, it means everyone feels that way. Scared.
So what do we do about this then?
Hone in on your purpose, find something to be passionate about given the context, and ignite your energy into what will actually drive you instead of trying to square peg a round hole at every turn just because of something that happened to you in the past.
Circumstances are circumstances. Everyone gets those.
You know what else people get? Choices. And when you make the choice to complain about your experience of reality you are making the choice to be irrational for not accepting reality for what it is as it is so you can actually do something about it.
When you make the choice to complain about your circumstances, you consume more of that time budget doing something that works against you. It's like credit card interest. But worse.
Yeah you had to put the last term of your master's degree on a credit card, but you should have considered the cost it would carry forward by doing that instead of trying to save the money for impressing somebody.
What I'm getting at here is we all make dumb decisions at times that impact our monetary budget, like parking in a spot that is about to be driven through by a street sweeper.
That's called self sabotage. It is when we, intentionally or otherwise, take steps to prevent ourselves from reaching our true goals in a situation.
The reason self-sabotage isn't clear to us in our day-to-day lives is because, I feel, we only see its impact in retrospect.
When we look back upon our choices and see where it was obvious we were not representing ourselves authentically in a matter, we sometimes recognize those situations as containing regret.
Sure. Regret it.
If the pain of an experience is what is real and suffering is what comes thereafter, regretting any choice you've ever made is to willingly suffer in the present for pain you only truly felt for what it was in the past.
It's not moving forward. It's looking at a zit that appeared because you didn't wash your face and choosing to pop it. And then squeeze it. Then push it. Now it's red. Fuck.
Moving forward means coming up with a plan. Determining a strategy, even if its just recommitting to the same task of washing your god damn face Brian. Fuck!
It is getting back on track. Without swearing.
The longer you spend time complaining and berating yourself and others, the more you delay yourself from getting back to where you wanted to be in the first place.
What I'm getting at here is, that if our minds were factories of thoughts, that the factories that manufacture the thoughts around regret, shame, and agitation are polluting your mind and need to be regulated.
That is where therapy helps. It helps you see where you are mismanaging your minds resources and helps you attenuate your thoughts around the thoughts, feelings, and actions you want to actually be taking for yourself in moments where your actions matter most.
Struggling to get off your ass and get to the gym? Go to therapy first. There is a lot of shame associated with trying to lose weight, especially with the standards we put in front of ourselves and the way we idealize those who fit such archetypes as superhuman.
It's literally debasing yourself as something sub-standard of a human being when we all learned at birth that all humans are created equal.
If we were all created equal, then we are molded into caricatures of what initial impressions we make in childhood as life pushes us more toward what reinforces our desires and pulls us away from our truest intentions.
Mindfulness, awareness, equanimity. Such qualities are something everyone may possess, but we were created only with the ability to cultivate it. It wasn't bestowed upon us.
Our minds are like gardens. We all want to think the thoughts we want to think, especially when we think we're right, and those are the prize plants we cherish in our gardens.
They are what we devote our attention to, our priorities toward, and our focus in doing. Even when we think we are trying to focus on something else, we are all obsessed with one of our plants.
That obsession is what drives us to cater our entire gardens, our entire lives, around it in order to complement the feeling you get when looking at such thoughts about yourself.
This is the ego, ladies and gentlemen.
Your ego is what reveals itself as a thing when you act upon a desire to establish a particular way of being or feeling that is different than status quo.
It gets you off your ass to find the remote when you're sick of watching what's on TV.
With respect to status quo, in all other circumstances, our minds manage life by exception to the rules we maintain and claim to follow.
Example: if we care about parts of our identity that represent our ability to be punctual, our thoughts will then be directed around intentions and actions related to assuring we are punctual more often than not.
If you didn't care about being punctual, you wouldn't bat an eye at 1:02 as you come into a doctor's office to sign in for a 1:00 appointment. Your behaviors are correlated to what you care about, especially being 'right'.
If you really cared about being punctual, you would be freaking out about only arriving by 12:59 with ten seconds to spare, but maybe that's just me.
The difference here is the standards we have for ourselves. These standards for ourselves are what we minimally expect out of us on a given day in order to feel like one competently expressed oneself as human who actualized their intentions and has earned itself some contentment.
Standards are things you can see. They are things we acquire through time as we find positive, repeatable results from trying to accomplish the same task but in a better way.
This is what is called innovation.
When one self-innovates, they are improving their ability to start and end their days feeling more self-actualized with their intentions than those feeling what is called depressed.
Therefore, self-innovation is necessary to the cause of experiencing a better version of reality than what you are currently feeling frustrated by.
How do we self-innovate? By changing the colors we paint with when painting the picture of reality we see in our heads.
Life forces us to grab the paintbrushes we have painted with most in similar situations in order to survive, but what happens when pthalocyanine blue you've been relying on doesn't work with the teal spilling into the picture?
Are you really going to be that person who complains about traffic going over the SF Bay Bridge every time it happens? And if not, you do it enough to be perceived as doing it every time anyway?
Uff, fuck that person. So impatient, so focused on what was convenient for them. So inwardly focused on the world they're trying to create instead of the world they actually live in.
What does this look like in our garden? Too many standards.
Can innovation go too far? Hell to the yes.
This is why preservation of the traditions, rituals, and memories of things that impart joy, wisdom, and satisfaction are worth stopping and appreciating long enough to save into our memory banks as something truly meaningful for ourselves.
There is a reason why people say certain periods of their lives caused them to lose themselves. The worst part about losing yourself is all the work you need to do to uncover who you were in the first place before you went astray. THEN you can get back on track.
But what's worse is to sit there and continue to complain about what took you off course in the first place.
There technically never 'was' a course.
There was just a choice. A choice between hunting and gathering.
If you go hunting, you'll likely come back with some meat. If you go gathering, you'll likely do the same with some plants. We see what we want to see and ignore the rest.
If you want to find a problem, you'll likely find one. If you don't, then the ego will create one for you. Just so you can still feel right.
But right doesn't do anything. Being right about the grocery store being closed still doesn't put dinner on the table.
The point was that you were feeling hungry. Hungry for something you felt disempowered to think you deserved.
That's okay. We're all humans with needs and desires. We 'should' all get what we want, but that's also not how life works.
Include yourself in your own experience of life by seeking out road signs in the mind that help to redirect you back on track with your actual desires when you find yourself astray.
That is how you get your power back. That is how you get back on track.
Back on track with feeling connected to your experience as something you want to be witnessing as meaningful.
So with respect to whatever problem comes to mind right now, is your next step going to be to sharpen your spear at whomever you're thinking of or to gather the strength to be better than that?
Depends on the desired outcome. Does one want war or acknowledgement?
Methinks all humans just want acknowledgement.
Especially for when they were strong in moments they were scared and alone.
But when we share ourselves in those moments for who we are, that is exactly how we get it is we wanted in the first place.
To feel connected.
Now go get 'em Tiger.