A Birthday Indeed Different than the others
My 30 years’ birthday was approaching. It was a few days before now that I am writing this post. At this point of my life I am feeling stronger than ever. Or, who knows, I may say that to encourage myself 😉 Anyway, it is only in the last few years that I have at last managed to acquire a real “purpose” in my life (at least according to my views). It is true that we all struggle towards a meaning. It’s existential. We all want to have a true reason to live, something to get up from the bed in the morning. Extensive self-research and studying have produced in me a vast number of thoughts and I decided to capitulate some conclusions which I find important for every human being as they are clearly based on our natural tendencies. This article is about them.
By the way, do you believe in coincidences? It doesn’t matter anyway, I personally like them when they happen. So, these days before my birthdays I came across a study from the psychologist of UCLA Hal Hershfield and New York University’s Adam Alter. What they found was that people most likely to radically shake up their lives as they approach big birthdays. Which means that at the end of a decade we have a ‘crisis of meaning’. More or less it was what had happened to me the last years before the end of my 3rd decade in life! And this study was published a while before I closed my 3rd decade!
Not that I woke up one day and my whole life’s perspective was different. There were ideas and beliefs that were keeping “floating” inside my head but I had never put them into practice. But there comes the time that you say STOP, things just can’t keep going like this. It’s inconcievable how many things we take for granted or how many others we ignore but are extremely significant.
1. Take Initiatives
The last years have literally been the first time in my life that I am taking real initiatives. I recognised that I had never cultivated any actual skills of taking initiatives so I knew I had to build a lot on them whatever the results might be. I am convinced that they are an outcome of my worldview and my uniqueness. I wasn’t “instructed” to do what I do. Neither was I forced. And above all I am trying to overcome the fear of doing something different.
And this is the problem with most of the people. We actually learn from school not to take initiatives and we pass all our lives by hardly taking any! From a very early age we are taught to behave according to rules they set to us. Respect the authority and the hierarchy and don’t criticize them. They are “authoritarian” enough to know better. Like super-humans. Our parents, our teachers, our friends etc have expectations from us and it’s really hard to “fail” them by choosing a different direction. Even the thought of losing their acceptance is freaking scary.
Try to Understand when you have really taken an initiative
When I talk about initiatives I mean real ones. Brain washing and influence work in strange ways. The intelligent influence is when you think you took initiative but you actually didn’t. I was a very good student, I passed in a good university that was my first choice and then I studied a masters which (I thought) was, also, my choice. My parents, after I finished school didn’t directly pressurize me about anything ever.
However, when I look at it closer, I figure it wasn’t actually my choice. I’ll have to say it the hard way even though it may look like I generalise. I don’t actually think that most people attend a university degree because this subject is really something they enjoy. Most of the times the universities and the subjects are picked according to their prestige. We choose them not because we are passionate about what we’ll learn. Instead we choose them for the salary and prestige the corresponding job will offer to us. The only thing we seem to enjoy in a university are the parties. Apart from that we submit the projects in the last minute, we don’t follow the classes, we read the last night before the exam and learn things by heart. I’ve been there for many years and everyone considers it perfectly natural… All of the above serve the purpose to achieve something that we think has value but in most countries is just a commodity. And no one else seems to care how well can we really apply all these beautiful things we have learnt. Instead of the big firms who seem to take work experience and references by far more into account than the degrees.
Of course there are a few people that have really learned in higher education. But they were passionate about it, they were doing their own private research and they were asking also questions that weren’t contained in the taught modules. And there exist also some others that would gladly do the previously mentioned but unfortunately they had to consume their time in copy-paste projects and preparations for parrot-fashioned exams.
Others choose universities according to the family tradition. The son of the doctor becomes a doctor. The daughter of the lawyer will become a lawyer. While there is a rationale in this as the parent can help the child start however that doesn’t imply the son’s or daughter’s job satisfaction and sense of meaning.
There are very rare situations where there is an organized research on the kid’s talents when choosing an area to be expertised. This is very soon proven when people apply for jobs. It’s an almost random process. In fact they apply in jobs that are appropriate for the degree that they have and they are waiting which one of the hundreds will let them work for them. Also, when they go there most of the times they don’t even know their specific duties. It’s not a coincidence that salary is mostly what is discussed when talking about jobs. And this lack of initiative will continue harming the people as most of the times they are unsatisfied by their jobs so they look for another hoping that things will get better. And so on, and so forth…
Find Your Talents
So the first major step for a human is to realise that they have to start taking initiatives. Learn what are your talents, the tendencies you have as a unique human being and start training them in order to become strengths. These talents will help you pick ways to offer help to other people. And in case you care about your survival, build a system where these people will gladly give you an amount of money in exchange for that help. This is a real business building mentality but can be applied in any sector in life. It’s called value giving.
In the majority of the situations, our talents are our interests, too. We enjoy doing them. However, realistically you shouldn’t think of an interest as a goal. Then you will spend your life with “CAN’T” as your lover. Think of your interest as a theme.
“Let’s say I’m interested in basketball. I’m not going to be a professional basketball player.
Realistically, I can’t be one.
Primarily because I’m 46 years old. Otherwise I would definitely be one, no question about it.
But I CAN write a novel about basketball. I can be an agent. I can work for a team. I can be a marriage counselor for pro basketball players. I can be a referee. I can design homes with basketball courts inside of them.” ~James Altucher
Even in the process of looking for a job imagine how different things would be if you had first and foremost looked inside and decided that the sector you are in indeed gives you a meaning and serves a long-term purpose for you. As long as you have set a plan, of course. And in case it serves the purpose, search for the people who have succeeded in your area. And only after this you could do your best to work under their instructions.
But this random search for a higher salary or for a more prestigious company (that is supposed to offer more money instantly or in the future) I’m afraid is a road with a dead-end. Nature is hard and ignorance gives to the knowledgable people the chance to easily exploit you.
I hear people having ideas to start something but most of the times they block even before the starting. In the majority they evaluate them as “not good ideas”. Apart from the fact that the implementation is more important than the idea itself, I personally encourage everyone to start putting into practice ideas even if they don’t consider them as “good ones”. Only to be careful to not risk much in the beginning. It’s the experience from the application that will lead them to the “good ideas” and the correct implementation.
2. Be Creative
We don’t need science to understand that the human brain has a clear tendency to be creative. Or we don’t need to mention Evolution to learn that a species like humans with no significant physical advantage managed to survive for millions of years in hard environments due to its adaptiveness and thus creativity. And with creativity I don’t mean only art but generally the creation of ideas in any aspect.
So we are talking about one of the most distinguishing characteristic of humans. And at the same time we have a society which actually causes to rot any creative tendency from humans. It only recognises them when they start becoming famous. Schools favor commitment to lessons and parrot fashion learning of the subjects. A creative and inventive student most possibly will not do well at school, the examples thousands.
Creativity Ignored from very Early
If I am not mistaken, the teachers at schools and universities mark the exams by comparing our answers to the ones that are already given to them or are set anyway. So you need time and commitment to do the memorization. Then you’ll be a good student and your parents will be proud. You understand that this never implied actual learning. The better you have learnt by heart what needs to be answered, the better your grade. And your creative participation in that process? Z-E-R-O. If you don’t agree you can go in a history exam, for example, and write how you see the events and not what the books says.
Then we have the jobs where most of the activities are purely standardized. Human beings attend day by day their office hours and engage in the same tasks. This repetition, not only is boring and so non creative that they don’t even have to think about it, but it actually doesn’t evolve them. What only matters is how quickly they can finish them or to submit a project before the deadline. That’s why as time is passing more and more employees are substituted by machines. Because these jobs are purely mechanical and there isn’t even a need for human creativity in order to be implemented.
Unfortunately, when we don’t evolve skills to take initiatives and be creative is like being a bird without wings. Although we have a tremendous potential, we will never fly. And everyone has potential. By not building our own strengths sooner or later we will be relying on others. We will always need to be under the tents of people who obviously have taken responsibilities and have been creative. Even though a dependency on our parents might look secure, dependencies on others most of the times cost. A company will pay you less than what you produce. That’s fair, the system is theirs and you are just a participant in order to earn your living.
Towards an Attitude of Resourcefulness
If you aren’t trying to evolve towards your predispositions means that you are following a set of rules given to you. You immediately accept the place of the servant. You may not understand it but this shapes you. Your everyday behavior is influenced by it. You lose your individuality and thus your social value. You give your time in helping leaders that most possibly will exploit you. You take for granted preaches that have absolutely no basis. That’s why they’d set these rules in the first place. And human beings have excellent detectors – unconsciously – to recognise what position you have accepted in the social hierarchy…
Of course we can’t fully avoid dependencies but nothing is black or white. I am talking about a mindset of strength, that you behave towards becoming self-sufficient. And of course this will make your life easier if you want to also help others. Being more self-sufficient than others most possibly means that you are also more resourceful than others so you can provide with more help. I believe more or less we all have good emotions and we want to help. In my view, it’s a duty to our human nature to come forward and present what we are and what we have. Learn who you are, learn what people want, find a combination and give it to them!
So what matters to me most is to ensure that I am behaving according to my values, my excitements and to my infinite search for new knowledge that will help me change and grow. I always search inside to find out if my choices are really mine and serve my purposes. It is masochistic to fool myself that I am enjoying something I don’t really enjoy. And it’s a pity to not explore my existence and waste the potential of the human brain that is able to understand so much more about ourselves and our environment than any other species on this planet.
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